The plate is hot, really, it is
by Al Pastor
“Careful, the plate is hot.” Straightforward enough, you’d think, a simple, helpful head’s up. So why doesn’t anyone believe the server? She’s wearing a large pot holder. It’s not decorative. Why would she lie?
Really, she would know. She’s not trying to put one over on you. Why are people so skeptical? Why don’t they buy it?
It’s as if they think she’s against them somehow. They get to eat. She’s working her ass off. Maybe – I’m guessing – they reason she’s secretly conspiring, ‘Sure, I’ve got a dozen tables to deal with and hell’s breaking loose with table 5 in the corner, but why not? Time for the ole ‘the plate is hot trick’ one more time. Never fails. What the heck. I could use a good laugh.’
Come on, that’s not it. Honest, your server is not trying to burn you. She’s working on your behalf. Believe her. She’s harried. She makes $2.15 an hour. She lives on your tips. Do you really think that she’s just looking for an opportunity to ruin your meal? Look, if she really WANTED to see you burn yourself, she wouldn’t warn you, would she? She’d just let you grab the plate, burn yourself, and then bust out with a chortle. But that doesn’t happen, does it? She brings your order. She smiles. She joshes. Your server genuinely cares.
Have we become so jaded that we can’t even believe a stressed-out woman, wearing a pot-holder and hurrying to deliver a bunch of hot plates?
Subconsciously there’s something going on. I’m not sure what but I think it’s significant. The waitress, deep down – again, I’m therorizing – has had enough. Maybe she’s tired of repeating the same caution over and over again – and being completely ignored. No one even stops to acknowledge her, let alone say thank you. Like the business about seat belts and where the exits are on a flight. No one’s listening. That kind of treatment gets old after awhile, has to. How could anyone, let alone someone working as hard as your server, NOT fill up to the point that a burned customer wouldn’t come across as comic relief?
‘Yea, tell them the plates’s hot. They won’t believe you. This is going to be good.’ If she said, “These plates are cold. I’m just wearing the pot-holder for effect,” would anyone notice? “Hot? nah, we never use hot plates. This stuff’s been sitting in the back for ages.” Would anyone bat an eye?
Look, would you rather she just waited until your entree was cold? Would she be more believable then?
It happens too many times to be coincidence. The patron ignores the warning, and immediately does what? Yea, touches the plate! I don’t know why. We just can’t help it. I’m telling you, she’s a credible source.
Oh, yea, it’s hot all right. What are you doing? Just checking? In fact, this blister now forming on your thumb confirms it. Good to know. Mighty hot plate here. She wasn’t kidding. Good to have proof, though, you know?
Yo, idiot, what did she JUST TELL YOU?
Put it this way: if she put her thumb in the refried beans, and there were flies nesting on your plate under the warming light when she picked up the grilled chicken breast after dropping it on the floor, do you think she would tell you?
“By the way, don’t think anything of it, but if you find any hairs in your dish, they’re mine. Just wanted to give you head’s up.” No. that’s not going to happen.
Just running with the conspiracy thread – could there also be some sort of funny business going on, some sort of waitress code that requires servers to align the plate in just such a way that requires it to be subtly rotated, so that you have to touch it to get at it the way you want?
For whatever some reason, the diner just HAS TO touch the plate.
Yea, I’ve thought about this. And I have come to a conclusion. This is all just a little traditional waitress humor, passed down through the generations, all the way back to those heady serving wench, ass-grabbing days – through centuries of dealing with belligerent, cheap-tipping buffoons.
But, hey, go ahead, don’t believe her. She says the plate’s hot, but what does she know? Grab it and readjust it any way you want. You’re the customer.
The rest of you, for crying out loud, when your server tells you the plate is hot, it’s not a joke. She’s not kidding. She says it because…The. Plate. Is. Hot. Okay?