Bone of Contention

October 4, 2012 in Everybody Else, Life


Source: Megan Bayley via Flickr

Caveat before I begin: While I personally have never had an issue with any specific servers throughout the years… I have always felt that weird uncertainty/uncomfortable feeling when it comes to servers, that I know most of you do. I know it’s a topic that we all consider, that potentially brings a lot of anxiety to many. For that reason, I want to bring it up and into the light. Please note these are my own experiences/thoughts. Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.

Okay… I can admit it. I can be a jealous person.

No sense in trying to deny it… I have my moments.

From early on… when my then chef boyfriend started working at a fine dining restaurant in DC… I knew I was going to have to work hard to handle my feelings, with all the pretty servers that move stealth fully throughout the dining room. Who kid and play with my then boyfriend… inside jokes and things I was not privy to.

Honestly yes, It bugged me.

While it was not something I was staying awake nights thinking about… whether my boyfriend was getting it ON in the walk in with the newest, prettiest server after dinner service… it did bug me when I found myself amongst it when I went in to visit and eat.

I can’t describe it… a heaviness in the air when I came in. This weird sense that somehow, I was the “other woman” to all these women in the restaurant. All eyes on me. Like when your parents caught you making out with your high school boyfriend. Off guard. And then if I was sitting with my then chef boyfriend at a table, and one of the women servers came over to chat with us… they were almost sickeningly sweet nice to me. I would usually walk away asking him if she’s always THAT nice.

And of course my husband NEVER saw or felt what I was feeling and always denied that there was a camaraderie that I was not a part of.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Uh, yes you do.

Whether he could articulate it or not.. he could feel it. I could FEEL it. I was NOT a part of the group.


I know my husband has ALWAYS been a ladies man and honestly… Its something I love about him. He’s the type of guy that when your around him, you somehow just feel like you’re in good hands. You know you’re going to be taken care of. I mean… it’s one of the main reasons why I fell in love with him. I know he has a way with the ladies, so I KNEW that the women there (and yes, some men too) would be smitten.

Those early years, when I was CLEARLY unsure that I had what it took to be connected, those moments of feeling jealous would inevitably be the cause of an argument. Just attempting to feel grounded in my own feelings for him and our relationship, I commonly used their “too close for comfort” presence as an excuse to why I might not be sure we were right for each other.

It took leaving, being with a 9-5’r for 3 years and then rejoining with greater resolve that I finally became more confident that if he was willing to go through ALL THIS to be with me, that I didn’t have anything to worry about and in the end what he wanted was ME. Doesn’t change the fact that still to this day… I still have my moments. Still find myself asking “Who is she? Is she new?” wanting to know what he knows and then gauging his response, how familiar or stranger-like he was with the description.

These moments don’t’ last long as I remind myself that we’ve been through ALOT to get here, and at this point we’ve come too far to turn back now.


you didn’t come here to hear my own personal story about how I feel. I know you want to talk about the thing that bugs you the MOST.

That YES… there ARE servers that are OUT to be with the chef. In advertising, it’s like the ungettable get.

The scoop.

No matter that these restaurant men and women are in relationships, married or have a family of their own. There are, unfortunately, those that work with him/her that attempt to get a leg up by initiating or collaborating in extra curricular activities in and out of the restaurant.

AND.. whether we like it or not (Answer: NOT) there are chefs out there, restaurant men and women who we are in relationship with, that give in to this temptation.

I am the FIRST to admit that I am not in the industry. That said, I DO understand the camaraderie and resilience that it takes to get through a tough dinner service. I DO understand how having a bunch of people around you, that you TRUST to show your weaker side to (We’ve heard how being ‘weeded’ is an experiment in how much pressure one can handle) can create a bond that is unbreakable. I do know that through the blood, sweat and tears, having someone to “work hard, play hard” with is a vital part of any successful team.

That’s what it is, ya know… a team.

And if you have ever been part of a team (I was on the rowing team in college and proud of it) you might understand that when you’re in close proximity with people, day in and day out… those people on your team can easily be confused for romantic partners. It’s easy to connect with someone who understands exactly what you are going through… who has also experienced what it takes and MISINTERPRET that for romantic connection. (It was always a case of who is dating who on my team)

If you really look at why this happens so often, I think you would see:

  • Someone who sees your restaurant man/woman on a daily basis.
  • While he/she is in the throes of doing their superman/superwoman work.
  • Someone who walks in their very shoes (okay not literally), and who also goes home with the same achy feet that they do.
  • Someone who speaks the same language.
  • Has the same schedule.
  • Who has to expose themselves to the heat and the pressure of getting it done right and quickly.

While I’m NOT condoning this team/at work romantic connections, I have to be honest with myself that I can see how it could happen.

And easily at that.

Because I know that YOU (yes, you) are the CORNERSTONE of your restaurant relationship (Even if you don’t realize it/accept it) I know the power is within YOU to deal and face this if you notice your other half getting a BIT too cosy with their fellow co-workers. I want this post to be about what YOU can do. NOT what they can do. (or aren’t doing).

I know that you are already doing all that you think you can to manage being the HUB at home and with the family. *It’s why I know you are STRONG and why it’s YOU who are more powerful than you know yourself to be.* The following three suggestions are just things to consider. At the end of the day… we are only in control of our OWN thoughts and actions, what we do or do not do is totally in our control.

1. Be interested… but not TOO interested.

I know.. you’re already interested. I know that because I know you’re their number one fan. I know you want them to come home and sit on the couch and for them to tell you ALL about their day. I know you’d sit there and be really interested. Excited to hear the stories of what happened to them since you saw them last, down to the very last detail.

I know this because I am you. It’s what I do.

What I find is that when I’m TOO interested…it almost pushes him away. It shuts him up. I know that what he does is more exciting than what I do for my 9-5 (for now), so it makes sense I want all the juicy details. I ask basic, simple questions, without too much probing, that’s when I get MORE from him. The more I don’t pressure him to share with me all the details.. the more he’s interested in why I’m not pressuring him and in turn… that makes him more interested in what I’M up to. That then leads to him sharing more about what’s going on with him. BAM. Is this a cinch to do? No. But like learning how to dance the tango.. it takes a bit of practice.

2. Show yourself.

I’m not saying stop in every day or every week for that matter, but how are these men and women who work with your other half, who are probably very nice people if you got to know them, going to know who their chef is in relationship with, if you don’t show them. I know.. HOW we go about doing this can be sketchy if it comes across as overpowering or giving anyone the evil eye, but my recommendation is to stop in from time to time. When YOU have a free moment, bring a girlfriend or a family member,  So the focus is OFF of checking out his or her co-workers and more about enjoying the company you have with you. Let them get to know you in a casual, noninvasive way. Done a few times, without being too pushy or in their face and you might actually create some wonderful alliances with the ones your beloved works with, day in and day out.  (I know I have – Hi Tonya and Joel! xo!)

3. Stop and listen.

You might be the kind of person who is always curious, bordering on suspicious about those who work closely with your other half, maybe you have had enough experience (either with yourself or those around you) to know when something is looking a bit fishy. Your defenses might be on high alert, creating instant knee jerk reactions and you find yourself kicking yourself for jumping too quickly. Maybe you do have enough past experience to know when something isn’t right, no matter. Try taking a moment to STOP, give yourself the time for our body to catch up with your mind. It might be interesting what your mind is REALLY trying to say. Maybe your anxiety is from something that happened in the past, NOT what is happening in this present moment.

4.  Honor your GUT.

First and foremost, you know when your invisible antennae goes off and something doesn’t feel right to you? Trust that feeling. If something feels off… then its usually a sign that you have some action to take. (and not necessarily involving making a public scene) It might not AT ALL be what you think it is (maybe it does), but maybe it’s a sign to take a closer look at something within yourself or in your relationship.  Whatever it is… trust those natural instincts of yours. They’re there for a reason.

5. Be OKAY that you’re on the outside

Again, whether we like it or not, we’re never fully going to be a part of the inner circle at the restaurant. Instead of resisting and pushing against that… FIND A WAY to be OK with it. The reason why so many of us are not okay NOT being on the inside is out of sheer jealousy. Jealousy that these servers, bartenders, prep cooks, what have you, get to spend more time with your man or woman than you do. It’s okay to feel that way… doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or your relationship. We may not be on the inside but we can always peer in from where we are. In the end, we get a front row seat in the reserved section when it comes to what matters most.

What are YOUR feelings on this? What has your experience been? When were you right on in trusting your gut and when could you have stopped before you took action? Share your experiences below in the comments.