“100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” sparks vitriol, praise
The latest New York Times piece to go viral (we’ve been e-mailed it no less than 10 times) is “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do,” and it has sparked a word war between the communities of served and servers in the Big Apple. The two-part piece has also led to discussions in other newspapers, on waiter blogs, on podcasts and has racked up 1,829 comments on the Times’ site—and likely untold numbers of profane ones that have had to be taken down.
The author, Times blogger Bruce Buschel, is soon to be the proprietor of a Bridgehampton seafood restaurant. No doubt fearful of hiring would-be American idols who’d rather slip headshots to customers than quietly serve the bisque, Buschel seems to insist that servers are seen only when necessary, rarely heard and certainly never felt or smelled. The jumble of rules range from the reasonable (“Rule 12: Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass”) to the contradictory (“Rule 46: Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other” clashes with “Rule 100: Guests, like servers, come in all packages. Show a ‘good table’ your appreciation with a free glass of port, a plate of biscotti or something else management approves”).
Buschel’s detractors point to the author’s class snobbery: “Please tell me how much money you pay your staff, Massa Bruce. You seem to think restaurant staff are personal servants, perhaps in a British country house in the 1920s.” Others offer unconditional praise: “This should be a must for every server and restaurant employee to memorize.” Others add their own advice: “Please don’t say ‘Are we ready to order?’ I didn’t invite you to eat with us.” And while people seem unanimously hateful toward the question “Are you still working on that?”, one of the most contentious points so far is Rule 41: “Saying ‘No problem’ is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm.”
Oh, does it really? And here we thought it was just a standard English idiom. Clearly we have a great deal to learn about being a server on Long Island. In the meantime, though, we’re going to wonder how many waiters and waitresses will want to work for Buschel now that he’s become the most strident boss no one’s ever had.