We recently had the delicious and delightful opportunity to eat a very nice meal with some good friends. I don’t know if you’ve been to Daryl’s Downtown in Jackson, Michigan, but if you have then I only must mention one word: bread. That Daryl bread is pretty fantastic; Daryl butter only makes it better — as the American Butter Council has been known to say. But not only did the bread taste great, so did the rest of the meal. Emily had some goat cheese (you could barely taste the goat) and I had a hamburger (you could barely taste the goat). Of course I kid regarding the goat references: the food really is outstanding and I hope it never goes away unless it’s going into me. But I do want to say something about the whole customer/server relationship that I have observed dozens of times before and found particularly interesting last night.
The waitress came to our table and began the ritual of restaurant ordering. Jeannette asked “How’s the sirloin salad?” She didn’t ask the rest of us who were sitting at the table and that’s wise. After all, how would we know? She did ask the waitress, though, which makes sense since not only is she in the food service industry, she has also probably consumed that very meal at that very restaurant. You might say that our waitress had a certain level of expertise regarding our meal selection, which is handy because no one wants to make the wrong decision when it comes to dinner. Her expertise is tantamount to our enjoyment.
As you might remember from the previous paragraph, Jeannette asked the waitress: “How’s the sirloin salad?”, to which the waitress replied “really good.”
I like that response. It leaves no room for discussion regarding the overall quality of the meal. It is, as the expert has stated, really good. I like those odds. And, if I remember correctly, she found that the sirloin salad was really good. Mmm. Just as the prophecy foretold. The waitress was right, bang on, correct, true and accurate.
But what if?
What if the waitress didn’t like the meal? What would she say?
Customer: “How’s the sirloin salad?”
Waitress: (wincing) “Um… I wouldn’t.”
Customer: (slightly befuddled) “Oh. Is it too…” (thinking the word “Cajun”)?
Waitress: (glancing around for the owner) “The sirloin is made from real gnomes.”
Customer: “Check, please”
Of course this never happened and hopefully never will. It most certainly didn’t last night. It was a great meal. But I started thinking about how funny it would be if the waitress accidentally shared all the secrets of the kitchen. We pay these people to guard us from the terrible facts of food preparation. And for that I am glad.