Being a waiter in America is rather akin to being something between a nanny and a nutritionist.
First there is the encouraging that one must do in order to get people to actually sit down at their table.
Couple A is having dinner with Couple B. Clearly they haven’t seen each other for 25 years. The women do a lot of “Oh my GARD…..you look FABulous! You’ve had work done! You look aMAZE-ing! The men do a lot of back-slapping and harr-harring.
The reunion is taking place in front of the hostess’s podium.
“Sir….um….ma’am….would you like to sit down….this is your table…” I suggest.
I am ignored while they hold a caucus about whether they should put more money in the parking meter or whether they should move the car.
After an age, one of the men takes pity on me and says “Oh sorry! We haven’t see each other for 25 years.”
I arrange my face in an expression of politeness – i.e.organized indifference.
Eventually they settle and the women hook their expensive handbags on to those metal clips so that they won’t have to put them on the floor. (Americans take germophobia into another stratosphere.)
“Hon? Hon! Can you get a bag of ice for my finger?”
One of the wives waggles a perfectly healthy looking finger at me. Mine is not to question. I go into the kitchen and fill a plastic bag with ice.
Before I take the order I face a barrage of questions.
“I am gluten-free. Is there anything gluten-free?” One of the women looks at me like an anxious hamster.
“I’m on the point count diet” interrupts her friend. “Do you think I should have the salmon or the cod?
“I have a dairy allergy and he has a nut allergy…”
Mr Nut Allergy looks at me, half-bovine, half-sheepish.
“She’ll order for me,” he says looking adoringly at his wife, clearly an ageing hairdresser.
Mrs Teasy Weasy is to-ing and fro-ing about whether she wants Pom Freeties (sic) or mash.
When I finally get the order I scurry away and mutter under my breath
‘Forgive O Lord my little jokes on Thee
And I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me.’