Sunday, May 10, 2009

Have an opinion, please

You know why I love Miss California, Carrie Prejean? Not because she's a walking hypocrisy - playing the family values card while naked photos of her pop up all over the internet. But that is all fantastic.

No, I love Miss Prejean because she has an opinion. And as unpopular as her opinion may have been (probably not very among Miss USA audiences), she stood by it.

A couple nights ago, I went out for dinner and asked my server whether he preferred the berry cobbler or the bread pudding. Without skipping a beat, he answered "berry cobbler." I ordered it and I realized at that moment just how much I loathe a server who won't indulge me in this simple exercise.

Invariably, when I go out to eat, I engage in this little ritual while ordering, regardless of how dissimilar the two menu items I'm deliberating on may be. The discourse has become some kind of subconscious habit for me and while it drives my less confrontational co-diners to cringe, I really don't really care. I figure nobody at my table knows the kitchen better than our server and I want to hear what they have to say.

Too often, the response is "it depends on what you're in the mood for." I'm not a fucking moron. I understand that the bacon-wrapped pork loin is very different than the tofu sprout salad and that someone who may be in the mood for one, probably isn't in the mood for the other. But if I'm asking which you prefer, than I care to know your opinion. Take that as a compliment. You, my server, strike me as someone who I can trust, and, unless you have non-functioning taste buds, I'm pretty sure you have an opinion to give.

You either like cilantro or you don't. You either prefer chocolate over vanilla, or you're a frigid, angry person. And if you
spend a decent part of your life working in a kitchen, you most certainly have some idea of what you'd order from it.*

Today's workplace is full of answers like "
it depends on what you're in the mood for." That's the safe answer. That's the answer that gets you invited to lots of meetings and slapped on the back. That's the answer that keeps you firmly rooted in middle management with no where to go but down. That's not the answer that gained a Miss USA contestant 15 minutes of national hoopla.

Mind you, I don't ask everyone what they think. And frankly, I have no interest in what Miss Prejean has to say about same sex marriage. But, if I do ask for your opinion, whether you're serving me dinner or selling me insurance, make sure you have one. I might just buy it.

*If the server is a vegetarian, or has some other dietary restrictions, their response comes with inherent limitations. I can live with that and even account for it in making my decision. But to not have an opinion at all is complete and utter bullshit.


Ian Sohn said...

Nice post, Geoff. I just threw a link up on Twitter and Facebook.

Jim Rome said...

As a great philosopher once said: "Have a take and don't suck."

The Blue Leopard said...

Amen! I review restaurants as part of my job, and there's nothing worse or less helpful than being told that "everything's good." This is especially frustrating when I'm trying to identify the best dishes to try.

I'm glad someone else out there appreciates a decisive server.