As you can tell, I've spent time in the trenches.
Nothing prepares you for life's yin-yang theater quite like serving in a restaurant. I think everyone should do some time in this profession. You might turn out to be a really swell human being because the alternative is just so frightening -- or quietly retire to a life of celibacy in a remote monastic village because the alternative is just so frightening.
Donna's Life-Is-Food Axiom No. 5: All nice people you wait on in restaurants were once servers. All creeps and ignoramuses have never been a server.
I know this to be true due to years of completely arbitrary, unscientific research from everyone I crossed paths with, whenever I was obsessed with this concept. From the age of 19 until 25, I was often victim to the delusion that I could actually earn a living as a chef. So I spent my evenings supplementing my meager "career" income by submitting myself to the misanthropes, miscreants, misogynistic and the miserable. And that was just the Ms.
Profiling customers is not only common among servers, it's absolutely necessary. There are tried and true methods to handle some bottom-feeders, such as the classic "accidental" spilling of red wine on the woman's purse that's surreptitiously stuffed with the table silverware.
The upside is that once you waited on a few of these cretins, your aggravation becomes a wonderful catalyst for creativity -- and courage.
I swear, after the fourth time of waiting on the Don't-You-Know-Who-I-Am?" woman, I was so tired of her uppity pretense that I turned to the full dining room and appealed to the patrons in a slightly-cheerful-meets-just-17-cents-a-day-will-feed-this-child voice, "Excuse me, this dear woman doesn't seem to know who she is, she keeps asking us if we know who she is. Every time she visits! We're at a loss as to what to tell her. Can any of you help her?"
And witness one of my most inspired lines ever delivered to the obnoxious, pencil-dick jerk who, in front of 10 bourbon-bloated buddies he's stiffed his law firm to impress, barks, "Hey babe, I'd like to get in your pants."
"I'm sorry, sir, but I already have one asshole and I don't have any room for more."
Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
Gandhi never waited tables.