The TUMS aren't working. The after affects of one of my worst diner experiences ever are still being felt. Kev warned me. He said I'd be sorry we didn't go to our usual haunt, the Americana Diner. But did I listen? Nope. I wanted an old school, straight up diner tuna sandwich on rye toast with a side of fries and one of those little cups of slaw with a dill pickle wedge. No fancy schmancy gourmet fare for me today, no sir. Give it to me old style.
And that's what we got. We got old style. Real old. Like...I wonder how old this food is, old. I got an oddly hot tuna sandwich that was not meant to be a melt and he got a mousekakka. How a Greek diner can mess up a moussaka is way beyond me, but whatever that waitress handed my hubby in a casserole dish strongly resembled something the cat yakked up. A very large cat. Think mountain lion.
I love a good Jersey Diner. Sometimes even the bad ones are enjoyable. They're a trip. Exactly like what you see in the movies. No kidding. The guy who seats you is usually old and shifty. He looks disinterested and vaguely involved with the mob and usually there's a frenzied female manager - probably the middle aged daughter of the owner - who is running around freaking out about something, maybe the size of the matzoh balls.
Then there are the waitresses. They are the best part. Each diner we frequent has one that is a caricature of herself (or himself - actually there are some pretty amusing waiters too) and perfectly fits the model of "Jersey Diner Waitress". Some are older than others, all are salt of the earth, take no prisoners, six pack and a carton a day pistols. Some are just tired.
Hey - can you blame 'em? Waitressing is hard work! I've done it and I'm not talking about my Jehova Waitresses residency either. I'm talking on your feet for hours, dealing with
asshats the general public, burning the toast, resisting the urge to spit in the coffee, waiting tables. Remind me to get into that some time. I've got some good New York waitressing stories. But this is about those Jersey gals that serve up the dish and survive to chain smoke their next break away.
So Me-yul, kiss mah gri-yuts! (wrong accent).
Here's my list of the 10 Things Ya Gotta Do If Youz Wanna Be a Real Jersey Diner Waitress:
1. Refer to groups of customers as "youz". Otherwise, it's not autentic. (I purposely left out the "h" for autenticity purposes.)
2. Refer to individual customers as "Hon". No intimate relationship required. Doesn't matter if you've never laid eyes on them in your life. It's "Hon". They won't feel any closer to you and it might even result in a smaller tip because to some, that awkward false sense of familiarity is a little unsettling and off putting. But go for it anyway! You're a Real New Jersey Waitress!
3. Try not to clean your finguh naiyuls. That's right. You heard me. If ya wanna be flirty, yuz (singular) gotta keep 'em dirty. It just shows the customer your sense of dedication to the job that you don't slow down for extraneous mundane tasks such as washing your hands. Sure it's gross, but people will respect you for it.
4. Always carry drinking glasses by the rim. You don't got time to worry about how you get 'em to the table. Just get 'em there and slam 'em down quick. Remember to always keep it classy.
5. Always let 'em see yuz sweat. If the kitchen's backed up, Big Nick just sat a 10 top in your section and you're feeling over extended, make sure that you let all your customers know how frazzled you are. Go as far as to get a little cheesed off when they ask for the mustard. They like that. Sharing the
stress love only bonds you to your customers. And they will remember you for it. They might even put in a word for you with the manager on their way out. Though, I can't guarantee what that word will be.
6. Try to act as tired and disenchanted - even put off - as possible. This makes the customer appreciate how hard you're working. Because nothing says "Leave me a sizable tip" like letting the world know you have a chip on your shoulder the size of your serving tray. And just as heavy.
7. Stand out from the rest. Assert your personality. And by that I mean when they ask you if there are any specials, point sarcastically at the menu. Ditto, when they inquire after the dessert selections; point laboriously at the case while pedantically mentioning that "They're over theyuh." That'll learn 'em, the rubes.
8. Don't waste your time checking on your diners after their food arrives. By all means, wait until they either wave their arms wildly in your direction or just sashay on by in time to clear the plates. If you ask 'em how the food is right after they get it, you might have to fix things and that just cuts into the time you have to spend with your other customers. Drinks empty? Hey - nobody told 'em to suck it down in record time, right? Don't like their food? Just take it off the check. They filled up at the salad bar anyway. It's not your problem. Get 'em outta theyuh so yuz can get another table full of numb nuts to tip you. Whatevuh. No big woop.
9. Try not to memorize the menu or any part of it. Have yuz seen those diner menus? They're YUGE! Whaddya wanna waste your time memorizing one for? What you don't know won't hurt them. You know what I'm talkin' 'bout? Right? Just make 'em point at what they want. Make 'em tell you the numbuh. What's the vegetable today? You just smile and say - no, wait! don't smile - that blows the mystique. Just say "I dunno." What's the soup? Follow that dumb query up with "How should I know" or better yet "I'll go aks." That's not a typo. Wink. Wink. You don't need to check that shit when the apron goes on. Get the 411 from the kitchen when somebody akss...
10. When it comes to the check, leave 'em hangin'. Will they get the check and when? That's the big question and you are in control. You're at the helm of this ship, Madge, so go have a cig and give them a little time to savor those last moments of atmospheyuh. Oh - and when they aks for the dessert that comes with the lunch special (because you're certainly not volunteering this information), list 'em off by rote in a tone that lets them know they're boring you to tears. They've been here before, the morons. It's pudding, ice cream, a brownie or a cookie. Get with the fucking program already. They want their food boxed up? Bring 'em a couple styrofoam containers and a bag and call it a day. You don't do windows, pal. Stick to your guns. You're a cowboy - just like Bon Jovi. Remember that.
Will that be all? Yes. Yes it will. Check please.