I’m a Waiter – Not a Psychic Dietician

“You’ve got an outside table!” the hostess yells at me over the din.

I’m swamped. It’s Saturday night and my section’s hopping.

“Can someone else take it?” I beg

“It’s your turn,” the hostess barks while juggling two phones.

I sigh and head outside. Al Fresco diners, as I might’ve said before, are a pain in the ass.

This table proves to be no exception.

The middle aged couple starts out friendly. I smile. They smile. I rattle off the specials and they listen patiently. The man decisively orders the snapper.

I look at the man’s wife. Her lips are pursed. Consternation creases her brow.

“Can I help you make a selection?” I ask.

“Do you have anything light?”

Uh oh. Here we go.


“I’m on a diet.”

“Which diet are you on?” I inquire. It’s a valid question.

“I don’t know. I just want to lose weight.”

Having known lots of women I can make a fair guess at what’s happening. This lady got on the scale today and didn’t like what she saw. She made one of those forgotten tomorrow resolutions to trim the fat and her anxiety’s now bubbling to the surface.

“Might I recommend the tuna with the tomato mango salsa?” I say, “It’s light on the carbs.”

“I don’t like tuna.”

“Then might I suggest the chicken sautéed in white wine and artichoke hearts?”

“I don’t feel like chicken.”

The husband shifts uncomfortably in his chair. He looks at me. “What the hell am I supposed to do?” I telepath him.

“Perhaps the steak?”

“I don’t eat meat.”

An off color comment comes to mind. Running out of options I suggest some pasta dishes.

“Well the Spaghetti Gamberi looks nice,” she says.

Ah, a personal favorite of mine – plump juicy shrimp with spaghetti in a spicy pepper oil and garlic sauce. Delicious.

“An excellent dish madam,” I reply.

“Ok, I’ll take that with no spaghetti.”

“Pardon?” I say surprised.

“Give me the dish with all the seasonings but without the pasta.”

I look through the window into the bistro. My other table’s drinks are getting low. I know I have to deliver entrees. I need to detach myself from this table NOW.

“Very well madam,” I say. I run inside, enter the order, and attend to my other, less troublesome, tables.

“The chef wants to talk to you,” another waiter says as she walks past me. I head into the kitchen.

“Spaghetti Gamberi without the spaghetti?” Armando says waving the ticket in disbelief.

“That’s what she wants.”


“Who knows? Just give it to her.” I say exasperatedly.

Armando shrugs and throws the shrimp in the pan.

A short while later I deliver the entrees. The man’s eyes widen with anticipation when he sees his snapper, lovingly prepared, with leeks, fresh tomato, and cannelloni beans.

I set the lady’s entrée down. Armando did a nice job with the presentation. He carefully arranged the shrimp in a bowl – artfully placing a sprig of basil on top.

“I can’t eat this,” the woman says instantly.

The husband groans.

“Is something the matter?” I ask warily.

“Look at this! The shrimp is swimming in oil! How am I going to lose weight eating this?’


“This is not what I ordered,” she says petulantly.

Somewhere in our employee handbook it says, “The customer is always right.”

Now is not one of those times.

“Madam you asked for the spaghetti shrimp without the spaghetti,” I say.

“I didn’t want this – this oil!”

“Madam, you said you wanted the dish with all the seasonings and none of the pasta.”

“Well, it isn’t what I wanted,” she pouts.

“Marjorie I think you ordered it that way,” the woman’s husband says carefully.

The wife throws her husband a withering stare.

“I’m on a diet!” she says with a hint of menace.

What can I get you instead madam?” I ask plaintively.

“Just get me a plate of steamed broccoli.”

“Yes madam.”

I return the woman’s shrimp to the kitchen. Fluvio walks in after me.

“What the hell is that?” he says pointing to the dish.

“Spaghetti shrimp with out the spaghetti,” I say shrugging.

“What’s the matter with it?”


“Then why?……”

“Lady on a diet,” I say simply.

Fluvio throws up his hands and leaves the kitchen. I feel for him. The Bistro is not a hospital kitchen. We try out best to accommodate people’s dietary requests but people like this lady are just off the wall. I can’t tell you how much profit Fluvio’s lost to finicky eaters over the years. But it’s probably enough to buy a small boat.

“Hey everybody!” I announce holding up the shrimp, “Got some free shrimp here. Help yourselves.”

The wait staff descends upon it like a pack of ravenous wolves. I’m lucky I don’t lose a finger.

The pickup bell rings. I deliver the lady her broccoli. She stares at it glumly.

“I can’t believe you don’t have anything for dieters,” she says reproachfully.

We do. But it’s too late to argue now.

“I took the shrimp off your bill sir,” I say turning to the husband.

“Thank you,” he says wearing an “I’m sorry for this shit” expression.

The woman picks at her vegetables. The man happily eats his fish. I go back inside.

I feel for the woman. I really do. I’ve got a few pounds to lose too. But that’s my responsibility – not a restaurant’s.

Restaurants specialize in combing salt, fat, and sugar into an astounding myriad of combinations. Why do you think the food tastes so good when you eat out? Oh sure, we have healthy stuff but they’re not big sellers. People come for the artery clogging stuff. The Bistro has probably provided enough patients to pay off some cardiologist kid’s college tuition.

If you’re on a diet, examine the restaurant’s menu before you go in. See if there’s something you can eat. Don’t assume the waiter is a psychic dietician. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

And please – check your neuroses about food at the door.

23 thoughts on “I’m a Waiter – Not a Psychic Dietician”

  1. warcrygirl says:

    Hell, I eat out when I’m NOT on a diet. And I try to know exactly what I want before I order; I can’t stand being indecisive.

    Unless I want to try something, then I usually just listen to my waiter/server. Shrimp and pasta without the pasta? She’s insane.

  2. laa di daa says:

    I just got a job in a restaurant. Reading your blog i think i must be stupid as it’s full time over the summer.
    I look forward to having the same experiences with customers that you have had…

  3. Ryan says:

    She must have been a pain to deal with if she’s one of those people who says “I don’t eat meat” but still eats chicken. I’d have trouble not “accidentally” dropping her shrimp-in-oil on her lap.

  4. Toria says:

    um, she’s bloody nuts if she thinks one meal will make a bloody difference. Give me a break.

    We had a lovely bistro meal on the weekend. Delicious cream of fiddlehead soup, crepe of leek and goat cheese, with rabbit as the main course. Then a delicious creme caramel for dessert. So, weight for that night be damned. I’ll bloody enjoy my meal and not worry about caloires for one night. I wish other ladies who were on the chubby side would simply release their guilt and enjoy the food as it is intended to be enjoyed: Once in a while. *shakes head, muttering to herself, stupid old cow of a lady*

  5. Anonymous says:

    just thought i’d mention that i thought of you yesterday when i had a crappy restaurant experience…our waiter was a jerk, made me think of your tipping guidelines. what’s proper procedure when your waiter basically tells you how to eat your meal and tries to force appetizers on you?

  6. jca says:

    I think you made a few errors?!
    you mentioned shrimp spaghetti with out the shrimp [twice] , but wasn’t it with out the spaghetti?

    other than that… cool blog, entertaining for sure.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ha ha: I do the silly thing: order a ‘lard-o-rama’ main course, something with cream for dessert and wash it down with a diet coke!!! Futile, ain’t it? Still drilling for oil…….

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ha ha: I do the silly thing: order a ‘lard-o-rama’ main course, something with cream for dessert and wash it down with a diet coke!!! Futile, ain’t it? Still drilling for oil…….

  9. Bear says:

    I would have been overwhelmingly compelled to remark something along the lines of, “Madame, not a soul could tell that you were overweight by looking at you……. unless of course they happened to look at you from the back!”

    I tend bar, and paricularly love the dieter’s drink requests… great idea, you want to lose weight?? Go out and drink alcohol, bright-light!!

    Try a plastic bag and a cable-tie, that oughtta help you lose some weight!!

    My two-cents… individual mileage may vary….

    Fantastic Blog, Waiter…



  10. Stacey says:

    Isn’t it awful how helpless and stupid some people are?!!

    How can you be on a diet and not know what kind of diet?

    How can you expect a waiter to help you lose weight when you don’t know how to do it yourself?

    How can you order such a retarded entree and have the nerve to send it back?

    People with allergies are just as bad! They expect us to check the ingredient label on everything they order. That is stupid. How is your average waiter supposed to know that “dextrose” is derived from corn? Or that the fake butter we use contains gluten and egg ingredients?

    Why would you risk your life trying to order stuffed and saucy items instead of doing the smart thing and ordering a plain piece of meat and a baked potato or something??
    Or better- eating at home!

    WHY are people SO stupid??
    I feel for you, man. I really do.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A smart dieter would order a full portion of something good, then just eat a little bit of it and take the rest home. However, this lady appears to be far from smart.

  12. wil@theblackjournal says:

    Good christ, the people you meet being in the service industry.

  13. Maya says:

    why didn’t you simply suggest salad??? salad is the best for all kind of diets!
    anyway, i know picky cutomers are so ennoying,but what can we do, we are here to serve them and they pay us for that!!!

  14. gc says:

    “I feel for the woman. I really do. I’ve got a few pounds to lose too. But that’s my responsibility – not a restaurant’s.”

    I love this comment! Why do people think that restaurants must accommodate them at no extra charge? 🙂

    I once waited on a woman who had had a gastric bypass and brought a note from her Doctor saying that she must eat from the children’s menu! (I had a good laugh in the back afterwards) I so wanted to tell her to take responsiblity for her own life instead of expecting others to pay for her mistakes. Instead, I got my manager to handle it. 😉

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  18. Liz says:

    Excuse me?
    She doesn’t FEEL like chicken, and she doesn’t LIKE tuna? That would imply that she would otherwise be willing to eat it?
    And yet she doesn’t eat meat?

    Chickens and fish are animals, therefor, if you eat their flesh, you are eating meat.

    Fucking hypocrites.

  19. jen says:

    all things in moderation. I hate when my girlfriends exclaim, “Omigod! If I ate that I would gain five pounds! How can you eat that?!?!” and I have to refrain myself from telling them that the poptarts they eat for breakfast every morning are probably doing much more harm than the occasional brownie. Actually, that’s a lie. If i bring up something like poptarts, I’m promptly reminded that they only eat the “whole grain” kind. Yeah, that makes it healthy. At least she didn’t order an iceberg lettuce salad and then pour five servings of ranch dressing all over it.

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  22. leithold says:

    your customer is insane!

    then again, meatballs without pasta sounds good.

    hahaha the shimp probably looked pitiful without the pasta.

  23. Craig says:

    When she complained that the restuarant offered nothing for dieters, I would have reminded her how you suggested a couple of dishes that she didn’t want… leaving the responsibility for her unhappiness squarely in her lap.

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