Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Macaroni Grill brings out the drill sergeant in me

Last night I went out to dinner at Macaroni Grill with Arvind, Larry, and Carlee. It was intended to be Larry and Carlee's last big pasta hurrah before starting their new diet. I was impressed that neither of them cleaned their plates...if I was headed into months of deprivation I would totally pig out.

Anyway, our server, Tiff, was new, and under the supervision of Jan, the trainer. I remember their names because they wrote them on our table. If you've never been to Macaroni Grill, let me explain. Instead of table cloths they use butcher paper to cover the tables (and to give all their patrons paper cuts), and they provide you with crayons so you can scawl at will. One year, I went to a Macaroni Grill in California for my birthday, and I wrote "Happy Birthday Melissa" on the table, then spent the rest of the evening trying to cover it up with plates because I didn't want the server to see. As if regular waiters and waitresses singing some non-royalty-protected version of natal well wishing isn't bad enough, Macaroni Grill often has trained opera singers going around...having one serenade me would turn my cheeks crimson and make me want to crawl under the table.

All right, so back to the server-in-training. She was awful. I was unwilling to cut her any slack because, as the trainer told us, she was in her second fourth "follow," or observation. Meaning, after initial instruction, trainees get followed four nights by a mentor server. After the fourth go-round, they should be ready to be on their own. But this chick was on her second fourth follow. Funny they don't call it a fifth, but rather a second fourth. Of course, I was perfectly courteous to the trainee's face, but when the mentor asked my candid opinion, I was honest. The girl interrupted us constantly, disappeared toward the end of the meal, and had zero personality. Or rather, not the personality a waitress should have...you know, friendly, outgoing, at ease with new people. Now, I'm sure this lovely girl is perfectly adept at many skills and tasks at which I fail miserably, but some people are just not cut out to be in the food service industry. I openly admit I'm probably one of them, but then again I'm not working in a restaurant, am I?

Well, one of my dining companions (who shall remain nameless because turtles love anonymity) thought I was being rather harsh in my judgment of Tiff's skills. Granted, I was in a very spicy mood last night. I get that way sometimes. Usually I'm compassionate to a fault, but I felt fully justified in my assessment. As I explained to the server, I used to be a teacher, and if someone is not performing up to standards, you should not pretend they are. It behooves everyone in the long run, although it can be a little wince-inducing to deliver the news.

So here's where the table cloth and crayons come into play. The nameless turtle decided to express his dismay with my hatefulness by writing "Big Meanie" on the table, then drawing an arrow pointing to me. In response, I wrote "Big Weenie" and drew an arrow to him. Not content to let the immature insults end there, he proceeded to scrawl "Poopy Head" and draw a less-than-flattering portrait of yours truly. Yes, this is the kind of witty repartee my friends and I engage in. Delightful, no?

Notice how the N's are both messed up...we were writing upside down and who knew that a capital N upside down is the same as it is right-side up? Guess you learn something new everyday. Unless you're Tiff. Ouch. Did it again. I'm so hateful.

You'll be relieved to know that if Tiff doesn't make the cut as a server, apparently she still gets to keep her job. She'll just be a hostess instead.


  1. I would just like to use this opportunity to thank Melissa for referring to me as a turtle, since even my dearest loved ones do not do so, despite my repeated requests. Furthermore, I would like to reassure the reader that Melissa is, in fact, a poopy head, and that in real life, she bears a striking resemblance to my drawing of her which you can see in the photo.