It’s Saturday night, clocked in at 5 and the preparation for the night ahead begins. So what keeps me smiling during the grave yard shift? Our bright and shiny new couples!
After being in the game for as long as I have, we servers tend to have picked up a few tell-tale signs on how well your first date is going. So I’m speaking on behalf of most hospitality employees because quite frankly we all do it, while we’re being extra polite serving you your dinner, I’m making a bet with my work BFF on you two splitting the bill. (I’m sorry but we need a little fun too).
So, most people aren’t screaming to their servers that they are on a first date, but a lot of the time we know, typically because the boy arrives in his best shirt and has sprayed too much of that birthday aftershave. I’ll greet you both and take a drink order; he’s going safe and ordering a bottle of Coors. I’ll give him a glass, but hell not use it. She’ll indulge in one of those ‘trendy gins’ with a slimline tonic and a “bit of cucumber” because that just screams girlfriend material.
I’ll fetch those drinks and hit you with “So, folks are you ready to order or do you need another minute?” If I’m sent away I have a feeling the night is going to go very well, as you simply haven’t had a chance to look at the menu. I can hear the echoes of small talk on how traffic made you late escalating into a full-blown conversation. I also see you both gazing into one another’s eyes across the candle-lit table that I’m almost naming the kids as I go on to check my other tables.
So back I go, and this is when I am 100% certain that you guys swiped right a week ago and tonight is the first night you are meeting. I believe it to be common knowledge that there are some things one just simply cannot order on a first date. Anything garlic, just because. Ribs, Wings anything that requires a “wee finger bowl” is strictly prohibited. I don’t enjoy seeing you with sauce all over your face so I’m sure your date isn’t the biggest fan either and girls if you order the main size chicken ceaser salad, well, I know you’re defiantly wanting to see this gentleman again.
Having worked in the hospitality industry for quite a while I’m going to admit it myself that I am nothing short of a delight. I enjoy conversing with the customers so how your date speaks to me is how I know you have found a keeper. As prophecy states “if they’re nice to you but rude to the waiter, they’re not a nice person.” So let me see you help stack those plates using those manners your mother taught you.
Body language is key on a date, so I’m looking out to see if she’s holding her glass of rose too close to his pint that their hands slightly touch, are they placing footsy under the table? (I swear people actually do this) Or are they quite awkward, with little conversation and interested in the other tables.
WARNING if I even see a phone on the table or if he dares asks for the Wi-Fi password, I’ll find it extremely difficult to ask if you would like to see the desert menu because I feel the date was over before it even began.
After watching the way you sit, judging your food order and waiting on your every need I ask the dreaded question, “Is there anything else I could get you folks or are we ready for the bill?” Off I go to count how many G+Ts you had, and then I think about whether she will lift her purse and if she does, he better act insulted and shun her down or if they’re going to go dutch. Yes, yes we are all millennial’s here but every girl really wants to be wined and dined on their first date and I see her heart-break a bit when he asks her for the £24.50 she owes, and to be fair, mine does too.
Having shared with you the little secrets of the game, please don’t be self-conscious on your next rendezvous that your waitress is judging your every move, as this is the only thing that makes my job a little easier when I’m working weekends. It’s also probably the closest I’ve got to a proper date all year.
Jessica Phillips is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.