I’m a server at a very busy restaurant where there is limited space for servers to walk. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the parents who come in to eat with their children would keep their kids from running free around the restaurant, but some do not. It seems to be a growing issue. How should this be handled?
See, but that’s a one-word answer. And one-word answers to do not, a column, make. So I guess we have to delve deeper into this and overcomplicate it.
Oh, by the way, man or ma’am… you didn’t sign your question with a name of any sort so I don’t even know who to address here. Why would you approach someone with a question and not even introduce yourself? Are you not assertive? Did your parents forget to name you? Are you just rude? Coincidentally enough, all of the above could also serve as reasons parents don’t correct their hyperactive demonspawn while dining in your restaurant. I’ll dissect those possibiltiies and help you explore how to handle each scenario in a moment.
But first I’ve gotta call you something. Let’s see… since I have no idea who you are and will never know, I’m going to call you Poe-folks in honor of Edgar Allen Poe, who never knew his folks. His dad abandoned the family when Edgar was still an infant, and his mother died from tuberculosis when he was two. I bet that little fucker ran wild in the aisles too.
Ok Poe-folks, first we’re going to assume that the parents of these frenzied dirt-urchins simply aren’t assertive enough to correct their child. They don’t correct them at home, so it doesn’t occur to them to correct them in public. This is what happens when two betas mate and then find themselves “raising” an alpha child that they created through a subconscious desire to be dominated. This child is simply marking its territory through its naturally distinct method: mass destruction of the localized environment. The only way to handle this situation is to challenge the alpha.
There are many ways to do so, but one of my favorites is to emulate the hippo, who spins around while lifting up its tail and defecating forcefully to cover the widest radius possible. Now usually this is sufficient in getting the child to desist, but at times you may have to actually engage in battle. When this is the case, make sure that you get a fellow-server to watch your tables so your customers are being taken care of during combat.
Alright Poe-folks, are you still with me? Cool. Let’s explore what to do if the parents simply forgot to name their child. It’s happened to the best of us, I’m sure. You spend all day remembering to feed the dog, do the grocery shopping, pick up the dry-cleaning, hide the double-fisted dildo deep in the back of the closet, mention fabricated gluten-sensitivities as severe allergies to the server… all to find that when your precious little atom-bomb pops off their chair and bolts away, you can’t call them back because you forgot to name them.
This will be obvious when you see the parent raise their finger in some half-assed gesture to ineffectively gain the attention of the wildebeest, but without any verbal follow-through. The best way to assist here is to firmly grab the child’s collar as he rushes by, averting attention from its gurgled choking sounds by expertly balancing the 12 wobbling water cups on your serving tray with your other hand, while snatching him or her up, shaking them, and calling out loudly across the restaurant, “Hey, this yours?”, which will undoubtedly result in raucous applause from the restaurant and a certain 30% tip from the grateful parents.
And finally, Poe-folks, we have to contend with the fact that some parents are simply rude. They don’t care that they and their mini butt-mutant are a problem, because they’re your problem, which is no problem for them.
In fact these types of people dine out specifically because it provides them the opportunity to be a problem. They are everything that’s wrong with the world, and they love it because they feel so lucky to live in a day and age where being someone else’s problem is tolerated, and societal niceties ensure that natural selection doesn’t weed them out. They reproduce at an exponential rate, often right there at the table while you’re trying to take their order. Your manager will invariably reward them with a meal discount when little Johnny inevitably trips and falls, encouraging return visits along with reinforced bad behavior. It’s the mysterious way of the restaurant manager. Don’t try to understand it. There is only one course of action for you to take, Poe-folks: Napalm. Apply liberally.
Or… You could do what I did once. True story: I tripped over a child that was running in my path, knocking him forcibly to the floor. Taking advantage of the moment in which the child was still too stunned to react in tears and banshee screams, I immediately stood him up, dusted pretend-dirt off his head, and told him, “You’re all right”, looked over at the mother and reiterated, “He’s all right”, then hurriedly continued on my way to do the job I was there to do; leaving the tender of certain tears and screams as the job the parent was there to do.
I told the situation what to be, and I got on with life, because I’m not gonna make my job harder for dumbfucks having dumbfucks. I’d suggest you do the same, Poe-folks. Because when you take command of a situation where others are not, then you neutralize the consequence of their inaction. And hey, if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll even make you famous on Yelp, and return to the restaurant “nevermore”…
…or they’ll complain and get a meal-discount. I mean, whatever, Poe-folks. It’s a goddamn restaurant. If you don’t want to deal with kids, go do what Edgar Allen’s mom did.
Sir Jables' vast wealth of knowledge can be tapped at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be contacted by Morse code eye-blinking, intentionality in astral projection, or through his Ouija username: hailsatan.