The Illiterati -
I honestly don't know if these people can't read or simply cannot be bothered to read the menu. Either way, it pisses me the hell off. I mean, unless you can't actually see the menu because the restaurant is too dim (a possibility, in fact a problem my guests have had on a regular basis), or you are old(er) and forgot your reading glasses. Or perhaps you didn't have enough time to read the menu because I was so fast getting your drinks and rolls to the table (breathes on knuckles, wipes them on chest), because I'm just that good. In that case, your response to the question I always ask, "Are ya'll ready to order?" should be something along the lines of, "No, not yet. You were so incredibly fast getting us our drinks and rolls that we didn't have a chance to look at the menu. Please go do one of the myriad other things you have to do; we know you'll be back shortly because we can tell already that you are an awesome waitress with a pleasant personality." Or, another likely and appropriate response, "No, not yet. We were so busy gossiping about our co-worker's fat ass and also that strange man with the caesar dressing in his beard sitting across from us that we haven't looked at the menu yet. Can you come back when you hear us stop giggling?"
But ohhhhhh no. 'Course not. The illiterati say that they are ready to order, but those are lies (lies!) because after I take out my pen, open my little server book and get ready to write down what they want, it always goes one of three ways:
The completely illiterati -
These fuckers don't even know what the hell is going on. They don't know where they are or what they are doing. The menu may or may not even be open. These are the ones that I suspect are in fact illiterate, which is kind of sad because, as a former teacher in the public schools, I can *totally* see how that could happen. As a result, these guests are completely reliant on me to recall and help them order whatever food we might have available to them, which is a very uncomfortable position for me to be in as I don't. know. them. and I resent it very much. What, do they want me to recite the whole menu or just pick out a few of the highlights and let them choose from there? Asking what I recommend is one thing, and it embarrasses me because I have to say something juvenile (and true) like "I always get the chicken tenders" or else something obvious and facetious like "The filet mignon is excellent." But laying your entire dining experience at my feet is just too much responsibility. READ the damn menu and make up your own. damn. mind!
The semi-illiterati -
These people are half-way there, but no less annoying. They say that they want "a steak" or "a burger," which I can only assume in good faith that they've read or seen on the menu, but beyond that, they have no idea. They don't know, for example, that we serve steaks in different sizes. Or they are completely aghast when I ask them what they'll have for their side(s). They get the wide-eyeballs and look across the table at the person, whomever is there with them, and ask to verify, "a side?" as if I've just told them that their 7 oz. sirloin comes with a glass slipper. Yes, dumbilina, a side. A side! Can you imagine? And then, I swear, I could mimic their next statement as if it were a line from a movie I had watched a thousand times,
"What are your sides???"
Now, sometimes, bless them, they do this while they are fumbling through the menu - obviously, they missed the list. Others, though, ask this question while they continue to stare at me, blinking expectantly. Sometimes I point out the sides to them so they can read them for themselves because I am simply too tired and/or aggravated and have another table who is actually ready to order and is shooting poisoned arrows into my back with their eyeballs. Other times, I do my best to list off as many sides as I can remember at that moment. Mostly, we have varieties on the potato.
The semi-'tudi-lliterati -
Ignorance I can tolerate, but ignorance with attitude I cannot. I keep saying to myself that the next time someone comes in and does this, just orders "the cheeseburger," and dismissively shoves the menu back toward me without telling me what they want for the side - because I've interrupted their conversation or their day or their lives to bother them with taking their order - I'm just going to give them a side of sauteed mushrooms, or steamed broccoli or something yucky like that, whichever I think they most resemble. Usually the broccoli. Rude people tend to look like broccoli.
The lost-erati -
I'm not sure these people even fit in this set, but otherwise they would go under the set "Nuts," which you will notice I have not yet created because it is just too damn inclusive for the people that walk through the doors of my particular little steakhouse in my particular little part of North Carolina. In any case, they belong here because they have most clearly NOT read the menu. ("I want the vegetable platter.") Or the sign on the door. ("I'll have the chic-fil-a.")