I bring the filet mignon to table 24. Medium rare, covered with a melted gorgonzola, fried leeks and a simple demiglaze, it’s a work of art perched atop a swirling bed of garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe. If God were an entrée this would be it.

I deposit the plate in front of the customer with a flourish.

“Buon appetito sir.”

“Mmmm, look at that!” his date coos.

The man stares at his plate with what looks to be disgust.

“What’s the matter?” his date asks.

“I don’t like it.”

“Sir,” I ask, “What’s the problem?”

“I don’t like my food all together,” he replies.

Oh, you’re one of those people.

“How would you like it arranged sir?” I ask warily.

The man starts to look agitated. OCD’s a bitch.

“I like my potatoes on one side, vegetables on the other, the meat in the middle and the sauce on the side,” OCD says, pointing where each individual item should go.

I just stare at him.

“I don’t like my food all mashed up,” he says.

And I’ll bet you want your date to spoon feed you saying “Open up for the choo choo train,” I think to myself.

The man stares back at me.

“Well sir,” I say, maintaining my professional reserve, “I’ll take it into the kitchen and arrange it the way you like.”

“No, that won’t be necessary,” OCD says.

“Don’t be ridiculous dear,” his date says. “Let the man fix it.”


“Honey this is a service industry. They’ll make it the way you like it.”


“Sir,” I say, “It’s not a problem.”

“I’m fine” OCD replies petulantly.

“Honey, you’re being stupid,” his date says.

“I’m not being stupid.”

“Yes you are.”

“Don’t call me stupid.”

OCD’s date grabs the plate and hands it to me. “Please take this. He won’t eat it if it’s not just right.”

OCD pulls the plate out of my hand.

“You’re embarrassing me,” he says.

“And you’re embarrassing me!” his date yelps.

Just great. Now I’ve got a fight on my hands.

“Sir,” I say tiredly, “In my experience the wiser course of action is to let the lady win.”

“You tell him!” his date cries.

OCD looks at me. Then he looks at his date. If looks could kill he’d be dead already.

“Ok,” he says, handing me the plate. “You win.”

I march to the kitchen and hand the plate to Armando.

“What’s the matter?” he says.

I explain how OCD wants his food arranged.

“What an asshole,” Armando snorts.

“What can I say?” I reply, “He doesn’t like his food all mashed together.”

“In 24 hours it’s gonna come out all mashed together anyway.”

“Very true.”

“Tell him I said that,” Armando says.

“I believe that answer would institutionalize him.”


“Forget it,” I say, “Just give me the goddamned plate.”

I return the therapeutically rearranged food to table 24. Too bad we don’t offer side orders of Zoloft.

“There you are sir.” I say, placing the dish in front of him.

“See honey,” OCD’s date purrs soothingly, “All better.”

“Thank you Waiter,” OCD says sheepishly.

“Glad to be of service” I reply.

Table 24 eats their dinner and take a pass on dessert. Thank God. I’ll bet OCD’s ice cream has to color coordinate with his shoes.

I bring the check. OCD pays in cash. As they’re leaving he comes up to me.

“I’m sorry I was so difficult,” he says.

“Not at all sir,” I reply gallantly.

“You mean I wasn’t difficult?”

“Trust me sir – I’ve seen worse.”

OCD smiles. “One thing though,” he says.

“What’s that sir?”

“Stop calling me sir. My name is Frank.”

“Nice to meet you Frank,” I say, extending my hand.

“Nice to meet you,” he says, taking it.

“Come back again soon.”

“I will.”

After the couple leaves I go to the table and pick up the checkbook. On a hundred dollar bill OCD left me forty bucks. Righteous. I tuck the money into my pocket.

Hey, I can put up with obsessive compulsives.

As long as they pay me.

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