This story goes out to all the servers out there. The ones who've had to put up with all the lousy tips, late hours, and rude customers. As the world has succumbed to Karens and less than optimum dining experiences, it takes a person of certain mettle and gumption to be a good server these days. One who is not only patient and kind but can also hold their own and roll with the punches. Being a waiter or waitress is tough work, and in this economy, it certainly doesn't pay enough, but alas when there is a job to be done there will certainly be those to fill the role.
In an age rampant with rabid Karens, it's good to know that there are some out there who are brave and daring enough to stand up for what is good and right in the world of casual dining. That savior is flamboyantly gay server and comedian, Thomas. A lifelong waiter and sass master, he is about to cross paths with a breed of Karen more dangerous than the latest Corona strain; the Vegan Karen.
"I have an acting background," Thomas says, "You have to be an actor to last in the service industry. Treating each table like an audience helps make my shifts go by more quickly."
Well, Thomas is about to use every skill in his toolbox as he heads to the big show seated at table 6. Her name is Donna, and she is mean, hungry, and incredibly fastidious about her dietary vegan options.
This story starts after a month-long furlough per the COVID craziness. Thomas has finally been able to return to work after some new mandates. Ready to work and masked up, Thomas is ready to get back to it at his breakfast chain restaurant job. With the new rules, there is less staff than ever, but the hungry patrons are no less. Everything from the help to the menu is limited, but management is trying its best to keep things sailing smoothly, which includes periodically checking on employees for sickness. But the only thing that Thomas seems to be sick of is peoples' stuck up attitudes amidst a worldwide crisis.
Or as Thomas says, "The quarantine has really brought out peoples' ugly sides."
Just like any good story, this tale has its cast of characters, from villains, allies, to supporting roles. There are as follows:
Thomas: Sassy gay comedian masquerading as a server
Donna: The rude guest in desperate need of a makeover
Keely: Donna's sweet granddaughter
Henry: Donna's long-suffering husband.
Anne: Donna's daughter, LGBT+ ally.
As Thomas sets the table for the incoming family, little does he know that he's also setting the stage for a great drama and comedy. He may be wearing an apron, but Thomas is about to give the greatest acting performance of his serving career.
It was midway through Thomas's shift when he got a table that was originally meant for his coworker. Such a little change would alter the course of Thomas's day forever. The sassy waiter had unwittingly summoned a great evil to his section of the restaurant. Hurricane Donna was making landfall.
As Thomas walked to the far table he could tell he was in for a rude awakening already. Donna hadn't even been served yet but she was already making a stink. The reason? She was seated by a window. Okay, weirdo. And of course, Donna had all the trimmings and ambience of a Karen. We all know the done-up look. The sneering face, that mom-like hairdo, and bad sunglasses. But I'll simply allow Thomas's spot-on description do the work:
"She definitely had the Karen hairdo and her entire wardrobe was a total fashion don't i.e. leopard print yoga pants and wedge heels that looked like they were made out of a macrame material. Her face looked like an oil painting exposed to too much heat or a drag queen after a hard night of partying. People typically aren't mean and ugly. A winner of the genetic lottery, Martha was both."
Now the worst thing about customer service is being forced by management to honor the age-old cliche "The customer is always right." But when your customer is a tyrant I think that credo should be thrown out the window.
By the looks of Donna's family, the bunch was thoroughly worn out. Thomas could read it on their faces. The hustle of the holiday season, coupled with the tumultuous year, and finally having to be in proximity to this woman had taken its toll on the poor family of Henry, Anne, and Keely.
"Seriously," Thomas says, "They all looked like they had died inside long ago."
So, just as any good server should, Thomas takes a deep breath, makes a chipper smile, introduces himself to the family, and takes their drink orders.
Henry, Anne, and Keely all make their orders without a hitch, which only left Donna...Oh, Donna. Sweet, old, incorrigible Donna.
"What flavors of tea do you have?" she asks.
Thomas promptly rattless off all dozen flavors and their prices.
“None of those sound good and the prices are ridiculous. I'll just have water with extra, extra lemon,” she growls.
Thomas can spot a sourpuss from a mile away and tries his best to lighten the mood a smidgen.
“Now why would anyone as sweet as you want to get bitter?” he asks jokingly.
“Because I like lemon. Is that a problem?” Donna snaps.
A cold uncomfortable silence falls upon the table only to be broken by a few snickers from Henry and Anne.
“He's calling you sweet, Mom,” Anne says.
Donna rolls her eyes.
“Do you think it's appropriate to be flirting with your customers?” she snaps.
The entire family shakes their heads at the sight of Donna's obliviousness. This lady wouldn't get sarcasm if it smacked her over the head.
Thomas rolled his eyes so hard he almost saw the inside of his skull. He then smiles sarcastically and says, "As if. It's called a joke, Ma'am. I'll be back with your drinks."
Oh, the sass was only beginning.
Since taking their drink orders, Thomas had seated another two tables. Given it was a weekend and the meal rush was just beginning. But for Donna, the idea of patiently waiting is a far off concept. After telling Donna's table that he would be back momentarily, Thomas returned with their tray of beverages. But given it was a pretty full tray, Thomas didn't have enough room to fit Donna's bowl of extra lemons. Before he could even explain, Donna snapped again.
“I told you I wanted extra lemon,” she retorted.
Thomas could feel his anxiety spiking. No matter how hard he tried there was no pleasing this witch of a woman.
“Ma'am, I had a full tray of drinks for other tables. There was no room on it--”
“This is ridiculous!" Donna says, cutting Thomas off, "How hard is it to follow a simple instruction?”
At this point, even the family can't stand their own matriarch.
Anne steps into the rescue.
“Mom, stop it! You're embarrassing us. You do this every time we go out. Why do you think we don't visit like we use to?"
Anne then turns her attention to poor Thomas, "You go do what you have to do. Take your time, honey."
Thomas grinned nervously, left to handle his other tables, then returned to take the family's order. Just like before, everybody else ordered without a hitch, leaving the complicated Donna for last. Who knew a simple question could cause so much anguish. That is when Donna uttered the crowning jewel of her Karendom.
"What are your vegan options?"
There it was. The new strain of shrew. The Vegan Karen.
And just like that, the exasperated faces of Donna's family went white and solemn. Judging by their responses, Thomas could tell that this was an agonizing routine for the family. If Henry, Anne, and Keely could've, they would have just left Donna there at the table.
For a refresher, this restaurant was a diner-style breakfast nook, not exactly a hip, vegan-friendly joint.
“Ma'am, this is a diner. While we do our best to accommodate every guest who walks through our doors, we're not really known for having many options that could be considered 100% vegan friendly,” Thomas explains.
Little did Thomas realize that he just activated Donna's trap card. He had walked right into the most Karen-est of Karen responses.
Donna let it rip.
“But I'm the customer and the customer is always right. I'm vegan. You should have options for me,” she huffed.
"She was sorely testing my patience and it was a struggle to maintain my professional decorum. When she resorted to muttering audible insults about me, I'd finally had enough," Thomas retells.
Donna's family didn't know it, but their grandma had just started a war. There are two unstoppable forces in this world. Karens and sassy gay men. A showdown was about to be settled at table 6.
Donna had just fired the first shot.
By now, our hero Thomas had just about had it. After years of working in the service industry, this Karen had gotten on his last nerves. It was now his time to make a last stand for all the other servers out there. With all the sassy gay energy and acting classes at his disposal, he was about to unleash a salvo of embarrassment on this old lady.
“And you, being older than me, should have manners, or did they fade along with your looks?” he snaps.
Donna's jaw hit the floor in astonishment. She looked like she had just been shot! Anne gasped, Keely covered her mouth, Henry choked on his coffee!
"Wha-what did you just say to me?" Donna said shocked.
"Mom, leave him be," Anne interjects, "You asked for it. You've been a mega b** since you sat down."
Donna's slumped down in her chair, a little deflated, but very much deflated. Thomas stood above the old lady, his nose held high.
"I have other guests to attend to," he scoffs, "Are you going to order or not?"
Donna half-heartedly decides on a cup of vegetable soup and a house salad with a light dressing.
Bam. Mission accomplished. Thomas collects the menus and disappears. When he returns he can see that Donna had been stewing since he left and was ready for another round of sparring.
"Bring it on, old woman!" Thomas thought in his head. He had seen her powerplay a mile away and is armed with a whip-smart sense of humor. If you're going to dog on Thomas in his diner get ready to be burned.
"How do you have a job?" Donna shoots at him.
Thomas, calm, unphased, and without missing a beat, replies with "How do you have a husband?" RIGHT IN FRONT OF DONNA'S HUSBAND, HENRY.
Henry immediately lost it in laughter, while Anne and Keely chuckled as well. Poor Donna couldn't help but turn beet red after not learning her lesson from last time.
“It's called a joke," Thomas says, "You're allowed to laugh. I promise your face won't crack.”
"I know that," says Donna.
“Your makeup might, though.”
I'm not wearing any makeup,” Donna retorts.
"Oh, for the love of God. You need to,” Thomas snaps
At this point, the whole table minus Donna is in tears! Donna had lost her edge and the upper hand. Her confidence gone, her feeling of superiority shattered the moment she tried to sling vitriol in Thomas's direction. If there is one thing about our guy Thomas here, it's that He. Doesn't. Miss.
But don't worry there's still plenty more insults and shade to be thrown.
Losing her grip now, Donna can only let out a few comments.
"You sure are quick," she says.
“Yes, ma'am. I'm Jewish and Italian. As you've already noticed, I have a very big mouth. I like to have fun with my guests. Most of them appreciate my dry wit and sarcasm. Those who are hostile, or don't respond in a friendly humorous manner, get roasted,” Thomas replies.
And roasted was Donna. The defeated vegan Karen had little else to say for the rest of the dining experience. When Thomas came back for the check, Anne slid him a $10 bill and said, "I’m a world traveler. You're one of the best servers I've ever had. You're hysterical, too. You should be doing standup comedy. Also, don't worry about my mom. She's been that way her whole life and it's about time someone knocked her off her high horse.”
Thomas was stunned.
"Thank you so much," he says.
“No, thank you," Anne insists, "Your boyfriend's a lucky man. I got a glimpse of the picture of the two of you inside your order book. You're a cute couple.”
Anne gave Thomas a shoulder squeeze, a smile, then bid their sassy server goodbye. It was certainly a very memorable meal for all who were present. Donna kept her mouth shut as her family thanked the witty waiter who had put their nasty matriarch in her place. Thinking back to Thomas's mantra of every shift being a performance, he certainly kept his promise. If life is a stage just be yourself and act like the audience is always watching. You may just reap the rewards of some adoring fans.