For centuries, the premise of a bar or restaurant has been pretty simple: You arrive hungry, select what you want to eat and drink, and then pay for your food and services when you’re done. But current technology has completely revolutionized the dining experience and made waiters’ lives hell. From booking a last-minute reservation at a nearby restaurant to checking in your location for your friends to see, these gadgets that we all love so much have created convenience and playful new methods for customers to engage with their favorite businesses. But as a fellow waiter amongst service industry people, they can create a lot more bullshit for us to deal with.
Customers with unnecessarily loud ringtones are the worst. These high frequency and totally irritating alerts can be heard by fellow diners in the opposite end of the restaurant, as well as any dog within a three-block radius. Oftentimes, those people are also the ones speaking at a decibel so loud you thought they were on a helicopter. Then came the blessed arrival of the annoying customer who’s too busy and important to stop yapping on their phone as they interact with you. Next came the fun game of every single diner placing their phones on the tops of tables because they know how waiters just love having to navigate through all that. Then, of course, began the photo-taking movement, where no ingredient or customer’s duckface is above being elegantly captured for the rest of time.
Though the worst offenders, who are sweeping the food businesses all across America like a massive swarm of locusts, are customers who want to charge their cellphones and gadgets (iPads, Kindles, etc.) in a restaurant. This odd practice has become the norm for many, and I don’t understand why.
Mobile technology and social media have dynamically transformed the way many industries work within the past decade or so, and the restaurant industry has had one of the biggest impacts. With more exposure and transparency comes positive changes and responsibility for restaurant industry employees, but charging your cellphone is not one of them. Making sure your order is adapted to your severe food allergies is our responsibility. Knowing the answer to any ingredient-related questions is our responsibility. But juicing up your near-dead cellphone? Get the fuck outta here.
Instead of assuming that your cellphone or gadget will get charged at a restaurant, just charge it at home. Or purchase a portable charger that’s readily available in stores. We don’t give a shit where or how you charge it—just stop bothering us about it. While people go to bars and restaurants for a wide spectrum of reasons, I’m certain that, “Oh, we have to go there! They have the best electrical outlets in town,” or “I was just there again the other day and their electricity just wasn’t the same this time,” are not usual factors. So leave your phone-charging expectations on the gum-ridden sidewalk because none of the waitstaff cares.
For most restaurants, there’s a reason why you don’t see electrical outlets randomly scattered about the dining room. It’s because they never intended nor want to charge any of your cellphones and gadgets, asshole. Would a doctor’s waiting room have a nail clipper? Would the post office have a row of irons for you to use?
Being a waiter, we have a lot of nights where it’s an insanely busy, nonstop circus of multi-tasking and prioritizing all that needs to be done so that you can enjoy your meal. It’s an absolutely important skill. And yes, I get that when diners ask to have their cellphones charged, it’s not the end of the world. But it’s not a priority for us and takes our time and attention away from providing the food-related service that’s required and that’s an actual part of our jobs.
We’re currently living through the age of nouveau-technology. With all of the rapid societal and global changes that new technology brings, it also comes with previously unknown and sometimes knucklehead behavior. I’m sure that future generations will look back on this time of history and learn from all that we’re doing. Until then, go to bars and restaurants to have some delicious food and drinks, and accept the fact that if your cellphone dies, the world won’t end. Your temporary inconvenience will help restaurant servers stay sane.