Thursday, November 8, 2007

THE GREAT FUNDIE INFESTATION OF OUGHT-SEVEN

A bit of background before we begin...

I’m a waiter. I’m a monkey that carries plates and recommends the blackened fish for a living.

Now, it’s not a tough job but it can get annoying. For instance, some people are assholes and just don’t tip for shit, regardless of service or food quality. It’s always blown my mind; if you go to a restaurant that doesn’t have a dollar menu, you’re gonna have to tip the waiter or waitress. As long as the server isn’t an outright prick, they deserve the 15% (or more, if you're awesome). Plan the fuck ahead, people, because science has proven that people who don’t tip also kick puppies.

You’d also be amazed at how many people completely forget what they order. I’ve got a short-term memory like Guy Pearce in "Memento" but, Jesus, I can remember what I ordered only fifteen minutes ago. And don’t even get me started on finicky shits who think they have some sort of laser vision that can determine the temperature of a steak or burger from ten paces.

OK, let’s forget the basic gripes. On to the main event...

I’ve worked at my current restaurant for several months now. For the last few weeks, I’ve noticed an influx of customers who think that tipping well means introducing the wait staff to god.

At first, it was a couple of cards left in various locations, on a table, in the bathroom, etc. The front of the card read "Charge It," in the style of the Visa logo, and the back talked about "Charging your soul to God" or some such insipid shit. Then there were the standard salvation instructions and a few bible verses. Like all versions of witnessing, it’s only clever if you’re a moron with no imagination, but at least it’s not a horrible pun (e.g. "Seven days without prayer makes one weak" or "The light shines from the son").

Then, there was the old guy and his wife, whom I had the anti-luck of waiting on.

They seemed like a nice enough couple at first, just ordering waters and sandwiches, so, at the onset, it was an easy enough table. Everything was kosher at first; the usual introduction patter, a little small talk, I bring them their drinks, they order the sandwiches, I bring them their sandwiches, they start eating...

Then I went back to the table to check on them and asked, "Everything OK?"

The old guy looks up at me and says, "Fine. Tell me son, do you know the Lord?"

And I just stare at him. Normally, off the clock, I’d say something pithy along the lines of, after thinking about the question for a second and adopting the appropriate air of innocence and ignorance, "Lord Horatio Nelson? I seen his statue in England, but he’s been dead for nigh-on 200 years, so I can’t say I know him. But I know of him, though, so, technically, the answer’s ‘yes.’" Of course, on the clock, it’s a different situation entirely.

So, I stare at him a little more and, finally, manage a slightly confused, "Uh, yeah. Yeah. I’d like to think so."

And the old guy proceeds to give me a bit of ye olde Gospel, though, thankfully, it was more of the "Touchy-Feely Hippie Jesus" than the "Jesus Coming Out the Sky With a Big Fucking Sword and Slaying Your Filthy, Sinful Ass" variety; if it’d been the latter instead of the former, I would’ve had a much, much harder time not telling the geezer to shove his Rapture up his stink-hole.

After pontificating for a bit, he ended with, "I just want to make sure I see you in Heaven," or something of the like. I politely thanked him, excused myself, and walked back to the kitchen. Every single time I went back to the table before they finally paid and left, the old guy tried to talk about nothing but Jesus.

Now, off the clock, I don’t mind a good random discussion about religion with a total stranger, unless the person is obviously deranged or carrying a weapon of some sort. Hell, that’s the sole reason why I seek out these conversations online, because I don’t have enough random people trying to have earnest discussions about religion in my life.

Witnessing is different because there’s no discussion involved. It’s just someone telling you something and giving absolutely fuck-all about your opinion on the matter; or if they do give a fuck-all about your opinion, it's only because they automatically think that you're wrong. I’ve always seen it as arrogant and a little twisted, how the person giving "witness" is pretty much telling you that your life is worthless unless you’re living it exactly like their particular church tells you to.

But to witness to someone at work, on the clock, doing a job? That’s just fucking tasteless.

Again, I’m a plate-slinging monkey, and, true, a large part of the job does entail patter. But I don’t talk politics or religion with the customers. Ever. If they’re from somewhere I’m familiar with (and this being Myrtle Beach, everyone’s from somewhere else), we’ll talk about that, sports, music, the Myrtle Beach area, and whatever else complete strangers talk about. Most times, people want to know about me, since a majority of the vacationers are from the North or Midwest and are intrigued by my almost total lack of a Southern accent (which I lost years ago, oddly enough, without ever leaving the South).

But I don’t go up to an old couple while they’re eating sandwiches and start telling them about why the Bible is complete bullshit. I don’t walk into a place of business and engage employee or patron in a captive dissertation about the absurd and transparently man-made nature of "God." And neither should anyone else.

So, the old guy is lucky he tried to evangelize me on the clock. If he’d met me at the gas station or as a customer in another restaurant, he would’ve had a witnessing challenge to pray on when he got home.

Then, to top off the Great Fundie Infestation of Ought-Seven, one week after the old guy’s unsuccessful witnessing attempt, a chick I work with came back into the kitchen with a little red booklet called something to the effect of "Have You Been Brainwashed?" that a customer had included with the tip.

I immediately said, "Oh shit! A Chick Tract? Which one? Which one?" because a Chick Tract is, as everyone knows, the only thing more depraved and hilarious than "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Lo and Behold, it was even better than some vintage Chick...

It was concerning lectures by Duane T. Gish, he of the aptly named "Gish Gallop," and dealt, predictably, with the supposed flaws of evolution and "proofs" of a literal Biblical creation.

"Gish? Are you fucking kidding?" I asked. "That guy’s about as sharp as a NERF ball. I bet I can tell you almost every argument he uses."

When challenged, I listed the Second Law of Thermodynamics, some lazy nonsense about the anthropic principle, and one or more of the former facets of evolutionary theory long proven false (like Piltdown or Haeckel). Sure enough, Gish’s poorly drawn little comic was all that and more. When everyone wondered how I knew that before even looking at it, I explained the obvious; "Because all these creationist hacks use the same tired arguments over and over and over, no matter how many times people refute them."

And the kicker in that final bit was that an otherwise mentally functioning human being is obviously under the impression that reading Gish’s stupidity will convince anyone of anything.

7 comments:

Dikkii said...

I've worked in hospitality, Jenner. I know how it is.

While I've never had anyone "witness" to me on the job, I would have considered it inappropriate.

About as inappropriate as having a how-to-vote card thrust into my hand by some over-eager nozzlefuck while eating lunch in an outdoor cafe somewhere. No it hasn't happened to me yet, but the way this election campaign is going down here, it's only a matter of time.

IAMB said...

On the clock or off, I think I'd have said "Of course... we had coffee this morning before I came to work."

Then again, there's probably a reason I don't wait tables. Being a raging smartass with very little patience for idiots doesn't help much.

Color Me Amused said...

"Nozzlefuck"?

Bwahahahaha!!! Hahaha!!! Hah! Heh, heh...

I've never heard that word before but I do believe I love it!

Thank you so much!

Nozzlefuck...

HAHAHAHA!!!

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

IAMB,

"Then again, there's probably a reason I don't wait tables. Being a raging smartass with very little patience for idiots doesn't help much."

And that's why 90% of waiting tables is exhibiting a real-world mastery of the arts of the theatre.

Otherwise, there's no way someone could walk into work with a vicious hangover, get bitched at by the boss, spill an entire pitcher of tea on the bar, and still walk up to a table with a smile and affable demeanor. And still get that hallowed "pretty good tip."

Complete emotional repression, while frowned upon by the psychiatric community, is a required trait in the service industry.

With an asshole customer, like the guy who says his margarita doesn't have any liquor in it (that's because he puts three or more fucking shots of tequila in his 'ritas at home), it's often much easier.

With the witnessing, however, it's much, much harder to endure; I acted my way out of that situation better than Brando, Olivier, and Mifune combined...

And, by the by, I've since been instructed by my boss to tell people, in no uncertain terms, that they are not allowed to impress any political or religious opinions on customers or employees should they try to do so.

So, now, I eagerly await the next Jesus speech...

monado said...

Poor you! I never had that problem, but... How about, "I just work here?" repeated every time they mention Jesus.
Or, "Yes, thank you." Or "Yes, but he doesn't come on til 3:00"? I think you answered just fine the first time. After that, a lot of "Hmmm?" would keep most people at bay. I've waited on tables for summer jobs, but mostly behind a counter or at a cafeteria. I didn't have to chat with customers. Needless to say, being at work would inhibit me from saying, "How dare you assume that I need saving?" or tryinig to touch them for a contribution to my Church's Sunshine Fund (with me as the chief beneficiary). I guess when you're waiting on tables you can't pretend to be deaf or not know the language. My BF used to give door-to-door salesmen the first few lines of Beowulf in Old English.

One of those well-meaning folks gave my son the address of a homeless shelter while he was waiting for me outside a store. We both thought it was kind of funny.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

I was a cook for a long time and missed the front of the house B.S. like this. I'm not allowed around people. My wife keeps me from destroying randoms as I move along through life. That's why I'm an IT manager now. We're supposed to be assholes.


I wouldn't have been able to control myself. Kudos to you Rev.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Monado,

The Fundies are (thankfully) only a rare occurence; I'm just pissed that they can't seek me out when I can tell them exactly how I feel. I've only had a pair of rather nonchalant Jehovah's Witnesses knock on my door.

I actually long for Jesu-Bots to show up, if only to fuck with them.

Rev. BDC,

No kudos needed, my friend.

I've always been the kind of actor who takes the craft really, really seriously, in the respect of fooling real people in real situations.

Thus, my "real-life" acting is more important to me than my dramatic acting.

As far as the "waiting on assholes" category goes, I should've won the fucking Lifetime Oscar by now.

Unfortunately, my fake good mood is my mint. During the summer, all I have to do is pull the wad of twenties and fifties out of my pocket, and I can laugh off any dickwad customer.

During the off-season, though, I tend to treat every customer like the Queen of Fucking Sheba...

So, a tip to all actors...

If you want to improve your craft, take a waiting job in Myrtle Beach. You'll meet every kind of person imaginable (from every part of the US and beyond) and will be able to hone your craft by dealing with assholes from around the world.