The XX Factor

Does Buying a $14 Pasta Dish Make You King of the Universe?

As someone who waited tables throughout college, I was pretty annoyed with Bruce Buschel’s two-part list of 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do , which has been slowly creeping its way up the New York Times ’ top e-mailed items. The most obvious qualm: I’m fairly positive that no minimum wage job should ever require a list of 100 Don’ts. Of course a waiter should be courteous and timely, but more than half the tips Buschel proffers seem unnecessarily priggish, as if the act of taking someone’s order should be infused with the formality of aristocratic-era servitude. Take No. 43, for example: Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant. Or No. 7: Do not announce your name . The insinuation being: Do not deign to think you matter, lowly servant. Apparently a $14 bowl of pasta buys you the right to act like a Rockefeller?

Moreover, there are maybe 20 worthwhile rules on the two-part 100 rule list . The others are either flat-out insulting (see above) or so absurdly obvious they’re insulting, like No. 33. Do not bang into chair or tables when passing by . God, how those silly waiters love crashing into things just for fun! Someone should warn them that’s not very nice.

How about a list of Don’ts for restaurant patrons? The first rule being something like: Paying for a meal does not automatically make you master of the universe.