The food issue of The Uniter got me thinking about my job. I’ve worked as a server for almost five years now and I am still completely flabbergasted at how I am expected to apologize for my customer’s – oh, excuse me, my “guest’s” – mistakes.
“I’m having the quesadilla,” demands the middle-aged woman, accompanied by her two children who only take breaks from their hand-held devices in order to suck back their Pepsi like sugar-deprived vacuums.
And so I bring the kids their chicken fingers and I set the quesadilla down in front of their mother as she stares at me like I have 7 eye balls.
“What the hell is this?” she demands.
I tell her it’s a quesadilla, smiling so hard that to cease would mean the collapse of my entire face.
Her facial expression changes to look as though now, not only do I have seven eye balls, but I also killed her cat and then hung it from the antennae of my car while blasting some Tom Jones.
“This is not what I ordered, you totally screwed up my dinner! Expletive, cuss, *&%#! I wanted the…”
She will then go on to describe the fajitas, not the quesadilla like she had verbally requested, and I will make her describe the fajitas to me for four minutes longer than necessary because as soon as she told me she didn’t order the quesadilla I knew she wanted the fajitas because this happens all the time.
And in order for me to retain any piece of the dark, straggly substance that serving idiots like this woman has transformed my soul into, I have to screw with her for a while and act completely oblivious, if only to emphasize for a fleeting moment that she is the moron here for mixing up two completely different words, even though I will ultimately take the blame for this mistake, apologize profusely and then get my manager to discount her meal.
This has been a long-winded segue in order to bring up an important problem facing our society today: illiteracy.
I’m assuming these illiterate restaurant “guests” are the same people in my classes who, when reading aloud, mix up words, invent their own, take half an hour to read a five-sentence paragraph and don’t understand that a sentence is meant to be read as a whole and not as a disjointed, unrelated series of words like Microsoft Sam.
I don’t know how to solve the problem of low literacy rates, but I’ll bet you an order of cheese bread that the problem worsened when we shifted from being a primarily print-dominated society to a visual, image-based one.
Reality television shows and viral videos feed our entertainment cravings, and that would be fine if we read as much as we watch Jersey Shore, but for a lot of people a book is something you use to put your cocktail on.
Reading is fun. Reading is cool. Reading is sexy.
And it will improve your ability to order food without killing the soul of your waitress one fajita/quesadilla at a time.