By Anna Sachse
Here’s why: For five years, I was a waitress in a ridiculous Hollywood night club (the kind of place where people leave cocaine as a tip). For $20-an-hour, I also worked the catered special events that took place at the club: premieres, awards shows, celebrity birthday parties, etc. But in December, the holiday party reigned supreme. During these events, it was my job to stand behind the buffet for five-plus hours, explaining to dimwits that the little, yellow kernels were indeed corn, or pretending to laugh at their “Halibut just for the Halibut” jokes. I know it’s not very Mind.Body.Spirity of me, but after being hit on for the thousandth time as if my position next to all that free food meant I also freely gave away my genitals, I wanted to go Patrick Swayze, Roadhouse style, on their throats.
Although I’m willing to admit that my vitriol may have had a teensy bit to do with burnout, it was also the end product of a simple equation: stupid, greedy, rude and/or obnoxious people + trapped behind buffet = angry, mean server. For example, when people would ask me what the mashed potatoes were, I’d pause for an awkwardly long time and then respond, “What do you think they are—Cream of Wheat?”
So then, despite the fact that I’m no longer in the industry, as a favor to both you and all the local service folk, I’m now going to share three simple tips that should make everyone’s lives a little more Fa-la-la-la-laly this holiday season.
Please avoid the following at all costs:
1. Behaving as if you are starving to death. Party planners often like to have appetizers for an hour and then open the buffet. It’s not up to the staff. But people actually became violent during a few holiday parties I worked because they wanted the buffet opened early, and they had to be escorted out by security. We are not in Ethiopia, people. I bet you had a chopped salad or In-N-Out for lunch. You can wait.
2. Trumpeting your particular eating neurosis. It’s incredibly tiresome when people complain about the fat content in the food. You’re at a holiday party buffet—everything is covered in oil so that it looks shiny and perfect in your company photos. If you’re concerned about your weight, eat less or chew some gum. As to you vegetarians (like me), don’t pretend you’re surprised when you have nothing to eat. You’re not being sent to the back of the bus. Pack some tofu in your purse and stop acting persecuted. But even the veg-heads get credit for not sucking as hard as the folks on protein diets—recoiling from the butternut squash ravioli as if it were a chafer full of syphilis, they blab on and on about how they “don’t do carbs.” I used to tell these people that another good way to lose weight quickly is to do meth.
3. Putting your dirty dishes on the buffet or your used napkins back on the hors d’oeuvres plates. Did your mother teach you to shit where you eat?
For those who choose to ignore this advice, I’ll let you in on this little tiding of comfort and joy for beleaguered servers: the cooks sweat in the food.