Remember the 1995 Castle Rock Entertainment romantic comedy Forget Paris, starring Billy Crystal and Debra Winger? I'm a fan of both actors and many of the pro basketball players that made cameos but I'm the first to admit that this isn't exactly Casablanca. There is, however, one character that enters my mind every day I work at the CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE Cafe... Winger's senile father-in-law played by the outstanding character-actor William Hickey. In a complain sequence, Crystal bemoans his father-in-law's irritating habit of reading aloud every sign that he encounters. Here's a clip:
You are probably asking yourself, "What on earth does this have to do with food or the line cook experience?" Allow me to introduce you to the latest cafe character:
The Parrot - Unlike its portrayal in popular media, the cafe parrot is neither amusing nor lovable, and it's reasonable to question its overall intelligence. This creature insists on reading every item on every menu, to oneself or one's entire party. Sometimes this is a mother or father reading to a child but, more often than not, this is one half of a middle-aged couple that is just way too excited to be in a cafe, on the one hand, and questions their partner's ability to read, on the other. Whatever the reason, I can say that the endless drone of this customer's voice is enough to make me want to leap across the line and deck the person like Lawrence Taylor after a QB.
Adding insult to injury (to my patience), the parrot is far more likely read the entire menu item name and description upon ordering. This isn't really a big deal outside my growing irritation of having heard our menu transformed into a treatise about why I should hate people. Let me break it down: I know what the entree is... and the quesadilla, the soups, the special appetizer, you get the idea. And I want orders placed as quickly as possible. Rather than repeat every world encountered and then spell out the entire dish, give me a simple "Entree please" and let me get my cook on. Don't make me listen to all of the entree components like I'm learning new and secret information. I got it. I'm not a dufus. And here's the thing... neither is the person with you. Channel this enthusiasm into a nice quiet hobby, like knitting or underwater basket weaving.