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Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Hate Your Birthday (Guest Blogger!)

I am on "vacation" in Texas sweating my ass off and trying to find the best and cheapest happy hour in Austin. Thank you to everyone who sent in a guest blog post submission. Here is a guest post from Mandy who blogs at The Rogue Wino. I hope you will go check her out. I also hope you will show Mandy some love by leaving lots of comments and sharing this post.


I hate your fucking birthday.

Let me say that again: I hate your fucking birthday.

Oh what, is that repetitive? Kind of like, say, having to sing "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you..." 50 times a month?

I hate your fucking birthday.

How my stomach turns when I hear that one word, whispered to me by the head of the table, and that I must feign surprise and delight at being told such a secret. "Your friend was born on this day! How exciting!!" my eyes need to convey, or else I will be judged as a wooden, robotic server.

You will have cards and gifts spread out on the table, always opened at inconvenient times, like when I am trying to get your order to the kitchen before a 30-top goes through, or when I need your dessert order before the host who is waiting for your table murders me.  I am expected to be clown-server, to joke with you and make your night memorable, especially when your friends or family are lame and quiet. You won't order as much as other patrons in the restaurant, because this is your "step-up," your special event restaurant, and one you can't quite afford.

You expect free dessert, most of the time. How do I know? After making such a big production of telling the host/Open Table/myself of the special event, your table doesn't order dessert at the end of the night. Oh, I could just bring the check, but you will leave 15% or less, and/or go on Yelp to proclaim: "Our server didn't care!" Because giving free things away is how we care for you in a restaurant Not making sure your food arrives hot and on time, and that your wine is well-paired and properly served, or that we cheerfully smile at your often idiotic requestsNo, only through free dessert.

If I don't sing to your table, I am heartless, and certainly deserving of a bad tip. (Though your weren't planning on tipping that much anyways, were you?) I am not a singer and drunken karaoke certainly does not count as experience. If I do sing, I risk spiking your eardrums with my toneless voice and annoying other patrons, particularly once your friends halfheartedly join in my caterwauling. I also may one day flip out mid-song, throwing my apron to burn on your birthday candle.

On very special evenings, I might have several birthdays in my station at once! I have had five at the same time, in a 7-table station. Five free desserts and five birthday songs Even you, on this occasion, looked slightly annoyed that there were so many others with whom you had to share your specialness.

Ten or more birthdays a week, times 52 weeks a year, times the 10 years I have been a server is more than 5000 birthdays. 5000 horrible renditions of the worst song in the world. 5000 moments of "Arggg!"

So fuck you, I hate your birthday.



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42 comments:

Cat M said...

SO true. As a fellow diner I hate listening to you having to sing it. Come on people I realize you are pretending you love embarrassing your friends-and who doesn't?. But really you are just to damn cheap to buy the friend (that you took out on his or her birthday) dessert.

~*~MizTink~*~ said...

I definitely have to agree too!!! I've always felt that the song was really only for little kids (for some reason they just love it LOL) and that adults should find something else to do for themselves/each other (or just stay home and sing to their friends instead!!).

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Anonymous said...

Perla's has an awesome happy hour in Austin

Laura said...

Ugh, the birthday singing is so humiliating. My coworkers and I usually stand there looking really miserable and running away quickly as soon as we're done. We don't care.

Krissy said...

When I worked at Texas Roadhouse we had to pull out the Birthday sattle, ring the cow bell as abnoxiously as possible and shout to the entire restaurant:

"ATTENTION TEXAS ROADHOUSE!!! WE'RE CELEBRATING A VERY SPECIAL BIRTHDAY TODAY!!! LET'S GIVE ((insert name here)) A BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE!!! ON THE COUNT OF THREE WE'RE GONNA NEED YOU TO GIVE A BIG TEXAS SIZED "YEE-HAW". THAT'S 1-2-3 ((collectively)) YEE-HAW!!!"

When I had to do it, I gave my all and appeared to give a damn. But I couldn't began to tell you how many people I talked out of doing this. I'd always jokingly say "Are you sure you want the Birthday embarrassment? I'll have to gather the staff and announce to the entire restaurant that it's your birthday." A lot of the times the birthday person would then refuse the birthday announcement while the friends and family would be rooting for it. If the birthday person didn't want it I wouldn't do it.

They'd get their free birthday desert, of course, while I keep my dignity.

Beckstar said...

There are 2 places I've ever been to that have specialty off-menu desserts specifically for birthdays. One is the Four Seasons in NYC - the other I cannot remember the name, though I do remember their cake. In all other cases, I do not want a free dessert. If I'm not ordering dessert, it's because I'm already drinking it, thank you. Frankly, singing it beyond the pale of awfulness. There is hardly anything worse in a restaurant than singing.

Mary A. said...

I also hate BEING in restaurants where they make the staff sing-dance-get stupid hats-or other embarassing ephemra.

Unless I'm at Chuck-E-Cheese. Because that;s what they are for.

Six year olds.

P.S. A birthday cake at Chuck E Cheese is $12.99.

applebuddy666 said...

As an "Applebuddy" @ Applebees...we would always clap off tune and just be plain assholes while singing the birthday songs. Unless it was for a kid.....

RogueWino said...

We are a fine dining spot, so it's really amazing to me that people expect a song 8 or so times out of 10. As often as possible I try to get away with leaving a candle-topped dessert and running away, but I'll either get a) looks of disappointment that the birthday singing cavalry has not arrived b) a weak rendition from the table that trails off uncomfortably c) a direct comment as to why i have not gifted them with song. Basically, they make feel like a jerk for not wanting to humiliate myself.
I feel vindicated there are currently 60 or so facebook comments, some from non-servers, agreeing that the birthday song belongs at Chuck-e-Cheeses

Nightgaunt said...

Man, I stopped going to restaurants with certain friends anywhere near my Birthday just so I could stop threatening to stick a fork in someone to prevent them from trying to see if the waiters would sing. I can't think of anyone I know who actually enjoys having it happen to them, it's a not so secret torture inflicted on the person having the birthday by people who are supposed to be friends. It's just evil.

JimL said...

This is one reason that we tend to give the mom-and-pop-restaurants our $$$ and avoid the chains.

We prefer to have a quiet environment when we eat, so that we can have a nice conversation, and there's no ignoring this obnoxiousness.

NellieVaughn said...

Because I was once a server, and do not want to drive other servers insane, I always celebrate my birthday at a restaurant, BUT not a single person at the restaurant I choose will know it's my birthday. It's a pain for them, and embarrassing for me.

The Artist Formerly Known As Bagel Fairy said...

I think we can all agree that nobody likes birthday restaurant bullshit EXCEPT for children, the family members and friends that humiliate the birthday-haver, piece of shit adults who love to be the center of attention while feigning embarrassment. But I guess most people involved fall into one of three categories, then, so it shall continue.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree. I would never ever want that. My mom turned down the chance for a free meal because she didn't want it either lol

Nenni said...

Oh god, I hate Birthdays! I luckily work a place that bans the participation of Servers/Bartenders joining in on the singing of Happy Birthday. It's a practice that is too tacky for the upscale place I work at.

Anonymous said...

omg!! I'm not a server but when a friend took me to Fenton's Ice Cream in Oakland, CA I thought it was cute how the server's asked the whole shop to sing to someone- the first time. I was there 30 minutes tops and it was sung about 7 times!! After the second pitching in I just ate my ice cream quietly and hated them for being born.

Frank Giannantonio said...

Good post. Very funny. Couldn't agree more about the silliness of it all. It would be cool if restaurants just took care of it on the menu-
"It's your birthday?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Please do not mention it to your server, nothing special will happen."

I have no desire to have that much attention directed to me when I'm eating out. Especially if it's somewhere kinda nice, and I'm celebrating my birthday with my peeps.

Border Collie said...

I don't give a damn about the song. Just somebody buy me a nice dinner and give me a nice present and we'll call it good. And if nobody remembers, that's ok too. Actually, the facebook happy birthdays are kinda cool the first year it happens, but after that it's stale.

Practical Parsimony said...

I sort of like Happy Birthday sung in a restaurant. However, the stupid clapping, stomping and singin of "It's Your Birthday" is just plain annoying. I guess the servers want to be annoyimg so no one will allow them to sing again. Has anyone heard this entirely different birthday song?

www.DiatribesAndOvations.com said...

I hate it, too. I always wonder if my food is getting cold while you're singing to some brat on the other side of the room.

Anonymous said...

Don't work in the business if you can't handle your JOB of a birthday. It is part of your job. I am so bored of servers like you who make the industry look bad.

Get out of the business or suck it up and quit wah wah boo hoo, my job sucks. Why you working then??

The Bitchy Waiter said...

Hey, anonymous. Eat me.

yellowcat said...

I once had a table of 10 come in and want free birthday pie. "Really?! All 10 of you are celebrating your birthday today?" "Yes" The correct question was, "Really?! All 10 of you were born on this date?" "Well...no. This is the day we are celebrating everyone's birthday." "And you think the restaurant should pay for that...why?"

RogueWino said...

Actually anonymous, nowhere in my job description does it say "sings happy birthday." It is in fact, against our official restaurant policy, but we do it anyways because people expect it.
Making servers sing happy birthday is the idiot invention of suits in a corporate board room, dreaming up ways to make their cookie-cutter restaurants seem more "personal." This act of fake caring is a pretty poor substitute for having a fun evening with good friends and family

MaeZ said...

Several years ago a friend and I were at a local Applebee's (no hating, it was one of the few non-pizza, non-fast food places in our smallish town and they made great Long Island Iced Teas). In the two-ish hours we were there we had to endure listening to servers singing to customers 5 times! 5 times! It became an inside joke with us everytime we were out together and the servers had to sing to a customer. Servers, believe me when I say that other patrons are suffering right along with you when you have to sing Happy Birthday.

Adsights said...

I'm kind of on the fence with this one. Although it DOES seem annoying to have to sing Happy Birthday all the time, I remember all those years at restaurants where my dad would tell the waiter it was my birthday and they'd sing to me. It brings back great memories of when I was young, so when I read this, it kind of tainted this memory and made me feel that maybe the waiters really didn't care, when in my mind, it was so special and exciting. And I have never heard of a restaurant that gives free dessert. That seems a bit much. Usually, I see the dessert in the bill. Either way, I really enjoyed the article. Great writing and interesting perspective :)

Anonymous said...

I detest being sung the birthday song at a restaurant or seeing someone else have the song sung to them. On a recent birthday dinner with my parents, I SPECIFICALLY asked not to have it sung to me because I always feel bad for the staff singing to me when I know they could care less. My mother insisted and told them on the side that they should sing to me. Sure enough, they came over and sang and instead of saying "Thank you!" at then end of their singing, I said, "I'm sorry you had to do that, I TOLD her I didn't want to be sung to." They all smiled knowing I knew they hated doing that. My mom just laughed it off saying, "Well, I wanted them to sing to you." Thanks mom, for birthing me and all, but let me celebrate MY birthday they way I want to, not the way you want me to. That hasn't happened since I was six.

Robyn said...

I never really minded singing it if it was a kid. Once, no one would help me for a sweet little 7 year old girl. So I did it by myself, which I consider to be on my "top embarrassing moments" list still. But it was a KID, you know, they still enjoy their birthdays without the need for alcohol...

But then if you sing it to 1 kid, 3 more tables happen to 'remember' that it is someone in their group's birthday too.

Thankfully, our restaurant invoked a policy-you can have the song OR the dessert! We'd do both for the kids still, but offer the choice for the adults. They almost always chose the dessert! :)

Pynes Norman said...

I've started carding people who claim "birthday"... Especially on a super-busy weekend night, or the asshats who show up at 10 mins before closing with. 10-12 of their obnoxious friends and make the kitchen hate my guts for ringing in their huge order after we should be closed. 9 times out of 10, they've "forgotten" their ID (although they damn sure had it when I carded them for that strawberry margarita). Ugh....I'm going to get myself fired soon. Haha.

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Anonymous said...

Yup, your name pretty much sums you up. I don't expect a birthday song but a dessert would be nice it's not like you fucking own the restaurant! Get over yourself and if you don't like people's birthday or actually being attentive because your going to get 15% then get out of the restaurant industry. I'd hate to get a waiter like you.

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