More Tales of Food and Cigarettes

Yesterday’s post about food and deliciousness and the service industry got me thinking about the good old days when I was a server. I’m not joking. I actually enjoyed working in most of the restaurants or bars I was employed in.

I like to consider myself to be one of the laziest hard workers I know. I was lucky enough to have parents that put me through my university years, but I was a pretty typical university student, in that I spent absurd amounts of money on things which, in no way, shape, or form, had anything to do with my academic pursuits.

So, to balance the old chequebook, I worked. And to be honest, I worked my ass off. My part-time job of choice has always been working tables (not dancing on them, although in hindsight, the money may have been better). At one point in time I was working three part-time jobs as well as going to school and partying my ass off. Job number one was in a cafe making lattes, sandwiches and serving up muffins and the like. Job number two was working for the same boss, but it was banquet serving at weddings and functions. My third and favourite job of the trio was being a waitress at a little Lebanese restaurant called the Mediterraneo, which sadly has since closed its doors.

The Med was the ideal workplace for a number of reasons. First of all, no god awful uniforms. At one point in time I worked at TGIFridays, but let’s save the suspenders for another story.

TGI Fridays suspenders only dream of being this awesome.

Secondly, the servers were allowed and encouraged to bring their own music. Thirdly, the regulars were absolutely fantastic. One morning when my co-worker failed to show up, one regular customer went around refilling coffee for me when he realized I was all alone in a completely jam-packed restaurant with 20 tables and a line-up out the door. Finally, the food at The Med was fan-fucking-tastic. If you’re never had Lebanese food before, please go treat yourself on me (metaphorically, of course). Nothing cured a hang-over better than a large plate of lentils and rice, fresh pita and a cheese fatoyer.

The real money maker at The Med was the weekend breakfast, though. Unlike most partying students, I actually loved to work Saturday and Sunday mornings. I volunteered for the 7am to 1pm shift readily. In just six short hours you could rake in upwards of $200. If you factor in the minimum wage at the time, you could be looking at nearly $40 an hour to sling coffee and eggs. It was a dream, until….


Once upon a time in a land called Nova Scotia, patrons of restaurants and bars could smoke their black, tarry lungs out whilst they ate, drank and socialized. Times have changed, but during this time, something horrid happened. Something disgusting, vile and horrendous.

A young, slightly hung-over, but ever cheery and competent server took an order from a table full of regulars. The regulars came in every Sunday. A table of six to ten young men and women who attended the server’s university and who were great tippers. Every Sunday they all ordered The Med’s famous breakfast. This Sunday seemed like any other Sunday until the server brought over a plate of breakfast to one of the regulars.

The regular, like any other Sunday, plopped some ketchup on his plate, sprinkled some salt and pepper and began to nom on his nom-noms.

The regular, then turned a ghostly shade of pale, tinged ever-so slightly with green.

The server, being astute and observant, quickly made haste to the table.

What she saw was unforgivable.

“That,” she pointed, “is the most fucking disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.”

What, you ask, could possibly be so nasty? So vulgar that she would curse and very nearly start crying (that’s what she does when she’s sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc)?

There it was in the regular’s delicious home made fried hash browns. There, amongst the hand chipped potatoes, sat a deep-fried cigarette butt.

Worse than this, the cigarette butt was actually deep fried. BARF.

Apologies were made to the regulars. The owner paid for every single meal at the table. The regulars, thankfully, did not create a large ruckus.

The server, however, did.


Speaking in the third person is getting a little old, so I’ll finish it off for you like this:

I took the plate back to the kitchen where I read the riot act to the kitchen staff. In a nutshell, they were told, quietly, but forcefully and with the wrath of god in my voice that they were not getting one red cent of a tip-out from me. If they think they can break the law and smoke in the prep areas, then they could all promptly go fuck themselves. Essentially, I wanted the person responsible fired or I was walking.

In the end, one of our kitchen hands got the boot. He had taken up smoking in the basement while he chipped the fries and apparently he also used the chip tray as his ashtray. The owner was so angry and upset with the kitchen staff she almost fired them all, but in the end she knew it was partly her fault since she let them violate the rules and smoke in the basement.

I’m pretty sure that incident was one of my most embarrassing moments as a server. It wasn’t even my fault, but I still felt like a goat’s ass serving people deep fried pre-smoked darts. The story has a happy ending though. The following Sunday the regulars came back, even the guy who got the butt meal. I was never so god damned happy to see customers in my life. I made them all free milk shakes and we all lived happily and deep-fried-smoke-free ever after!

~ by Andrea on May 12, 2010.

2 Responses to “More Tales of Food and Cigarettes”

  1. I worked as a server through college, too. I never had an incident like the deep-fried cigarette. I think the worst thing was when a customer smacked my butt…so not cool.

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