My Grilling Life in New Jersey has been particularly grueling these past few weeks.

Waiting tables in 107 degree heat and 99% humidity makes a shift drag like a ball and chain.

I have also been scolded more than is fitting or indeed necessary.

I haven’t been punished like this since I was ten.

This week I was reminded of  Mrs Holscher, my class teacher.

Mrs Holscher was annoyed because I was passing notes to my friend. She called me to the front of the classroom and told me to give her my hand. I duly presented my palm and she slapped it twice with a ruler.

This week I was subjected to a similar scolding. This scolding, however, was rather more protracted. It came in the form of a long, extremely detailed letter from an aggrieved diner.

All Mr Aggrieved-Diner wanted, he wrote, was to have a “nice night out.”

I was the large impediment to his goal.

“Many of the evening’s problems centred around our server. To start she was having so much difficulty opening our wine that I was sincerely concerned that someone at either our table or the next was going to wind up with a corkscrew driven into their neck….”

Since the restaurant is BYOB, opening someone’s wine is merely a courtesy but Mr Aggrieved-Diner clearly doesn’t know this. I can’t remember having the difficulty he described but no matter.

I tend to only remember the better bottles of wine and shampoo that I am asked to open.

Apparently it was when I returned to the table that “this is where the real fun began. One by one, she aggressively upsold our party, badmouthing our initial selections…(”If you want to have fish don’t get the scallops, have the salmon”) and extolling the virtues of a pricier entrée.

“Assuming she knew more than we did about what to avoid on your menu we largely took her recommendations.”

“She then, equally aggressively pushed for everyone to order appetizers. Three of us eventually relented and with her sales quota met she finally left us to our conversation…”

Mr Aggrieved-Diner clearly mistook me for someone who gives a f*ck about “sales quotas” (there is no such thing where I work), or indeed what the guests choose to eat.

Although I am a firm Second Amendmenter, I did not have a Glock to his head. When people ask me what I would recommend I tell them. C’est tout.

The letter sprawled over three pages. There was a lot of “she then” as in “she then, equally aggressively pushed for everyone to order desserts”.

“Not long after we finished she then arrived to push dessert….

“Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing the evening was only going to get worse. We arrived home about 30 minutes later and soon after I began to feel ill. Before long, I was dizzy, sweating profusely and alternating between bouts of vomiting and diarrhea…”

The screed ends with Mr Aggrieved-Diner imploring that “proper action” must be taken to “save future diners”.

The manager thinks that ‘proper action’ involves me paying for the meal.

It was difficult not to laugh in his face so I laughed in his face.


The next night I was handed a typed sheet from a diner.

“Life-threatening allergies” it announced in bold caps.

Please read this information. It could save my life!

Eating any of the following foods will close my throat:

A comprehensive list of potentially deadly vegetables followed. So did an A – Z of spices and herbs. Just in case it wasn’t clear ‘All food items containing the above – a list of seventeen ingredients including capers, Hoisin, Wasabi etc etc.

I was extremely tempted to say “Stay at home and have a tub of yoghurt, would you?”

Since when has being a server become a life-threatening occupation? I am a PONTI – a Person of No Tactical Import. A food sherpa.

I have only recently learned how to boil an egg properly.

There is a catchy ditty in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera “The Mikado” about ‘A little list.’

How very fitting that a waitress should find herself on this satirical take on the original song.

As someday it may happen that a victim must be found.

I’ve got a little list; I’ve got a little list

Of society offenders who might well be underground,

And who never would be missed–they never would be missed!

There’s the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs

All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs–

All children who won’t speak without an iPod on their head

But can E-mail, text and download without getting out of bed!

And customs men who insist on fumbling through your underwear  

They’d none of them be missed, they’ll none of them be missed!

CHORUS: He’s got ’em on the list–he’s got ’em on the list;

And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed.

There’s the beggars who write letters from the Inland Revenue 

And the gossip columnist, I’ve got him on the list

Fake Rock bands, those “Pop Idols” and that Simon Cowell too,

They never would be missed–they never would be missed!

Or waitresses who make you wait and lawyers of all kinds 

And actresses who kiss & tell and wiggle their behinds

And poncey little singers who to entertain us try 

By dressing up as women and then singing far too high;

And the TV advertisers who just never will desist–

I don’t think they’d be missed–I’ve got them on the list!

CHORUS: He’s got “em on the list–he’s got “em on the list;

And I don’t think they’d be missed–I’m sure they’d not be missed!