If you know me you know that I worked at Steak ‘n Shake for 3 and a half years in Carbondale as a server. In that amount of time, one gets to know their coworkers like family, the store layout like the back of your hand, and gets to accumulate lots and lots of stories. Here are a few.
No, the more infamous one
I waited on table 4-2 at lunch where two ladies sat, who both appeared to be in their 50’s. They ordered their Diet Cokes very enthusiastically, so when I returned I shared with them that my mother was also a Diet Coke fan, but my father had just told me days before that she was giving it up. “Oh, how could someone do that?” one of them asked in a light tone. Now . . . what I meant to say in response was, “I know, it’s like Whitney Houston giving up cocaine!” Mildly funny, yes? Well, what I actually said was, “I know, it’s like Oprah Winfrey giving up cocaine!” I didn’t catch what I said until after about 10 minutes, at which time I brought them their food and corrected myself. They were polite but not all too amused. (Author’s note – my mother’s consumption of Diet Coke was, in reality, nowhere near any level or on any level that could realistically be compared to a cocaine addiction, or to any addiction for that matter. She did not obsess or over indulge.)
Excuse me! I did not order these!
Our fountain area was often a mess. Please do not start screaming about it being unsanitary, because it was very sanitary (most of the time), but the toppings, such as chocolate chips and nuts and oreo crumbles, would sometimes fall into the metal cups, and when we were really busy our fountain guy wouldn’t rinse out those cups for each new use, he’d just use it again. And why shouldn’t he? He just made a vanilla shake 2 minutes ago; it’s still good! But when that happens, you run the risk of a chip or two falling into those cups and making into a shake that wouldn’t otherwise have one. I always see that as on the same level as getting an onion ring when you order your fries at Burger King: bonus! Well, a lady sitting with her young daughter at 3-3 ordered a shake at the end of her meal one day, as many people do. I believe it was a vanilla shake. When she was about half way done with it, I went to drop off the check, and she stopped me, “Excuse me, but I found a chocolate chip in my shake.” “Great!” I’m thinking, but she proceeded, “What if I was allergic to chocolate? Thank goodness I am not! I could have been seriously harmed by this.” Well what can I say, “Sorry?” I didn’t offer to make her a new one because 1) we were busy, 2) she was mean and stupid, and 3) sometimes I felt spiteful and would subtly let it out on my guests. I left and later on she flagged me back to her table, “I found two more chocolate chips in my shake! I did not order any chocolate chips for my shake! That is why I ordered a plain vanilla!” Wow. “Um, sorry still?” Well, she was livid, didn’t tip me, and complained to my manager, who I believe said something like, “Okay, ma’am, I really don’t see what the big deal is.” Yeah! Go Shane!
There was this large group of sporty, high school-aged girls who came in and sat at 6-4 with their coach and a couple chaperons, and one young boy, the same age as the girls. All the girls had long hair in ponytails, the boy had short hair and was wearing a ball cap. I took drink orders, going clockwise starting from my left, and when I got to the young man I asked, “and what would you like my good sir?” The coach quickly jumped in, “she’s a girl.” So I coolly said, “Oh, I’m sorry, what can I get you to drink?” I took the order, went back and got the drinks, delivered them, took their food orders, entered them into the computer, and then went into the back to ball up in embarrassment.
Okay, dude, seriously, I don’t feel bad about that because how the heck am I supposed to know?
There was this heavy guy, about my age, maybe a little younger, and a young boy who looked to be about 11 or 12 wearing a hockey jersey, a ball cap, glasses, and had his hair cut short. I assumed it was his little brother, and I thought it was really cool because I have a brother that’s 5 years older than me, and when I was that age I’d buddy around with him everywhere. Seeing them sit at table 6-1 brought fond memories and warm feelings. I went to the table to take the order and asked, “What can I get you, young sir?” And the kid gave me the dirtiest look, and the big guy said, “That’s my girlfriend dude.” I apologized calmly, took their order and went back to the back to yell in the cooler before bringing their drinks. They didn’t leave me a good tip.