Thursday, July 19, 2012

Istanbul: The Waiters

Istanbul waiter

Back in the day, when I got a job as a waitress, my maternal grandfather was unhappy. He viewed waiting tables as the second-oldest profession in the world. Wait, that's prostitutes. No, prostitutes were first, then waitresses. I forget, but you get the idea. He held waitressing in very low regard.

As he would the waiters of Istanbul.

The Istanbul waiter in a high-tourist area prostitutes his dignity and honor to shill for mediocrity. With his white shirt and black trousers, often a cigarette in one hand, a menu in the other, he strives to hook the tourists swimming by. He relies on the politeness of the tourists, who don't want to appear rude by refusing to answer innocuous questions, "where are you from"? "how are you today"? "will you answer one question"?

If he can get a tourist to pause, he's got his hook in the mouth. If he can get the tourist to look at the menu, he can start to set the hook. If he can usher the tourist to a table, bingo! Fish landed!

In turns, I despise and empathize with the waiters' behavior. They probably undergo 10 rejections for every one acceptance. They work long hours, too, from restaurant opening til late at night.

I wouldn't dislike them so much if, once they landed their fish, they didn't metaphorically drop us into a bucket of murky water and leave us there to languish while they went after new fish.

I don't know how a waiter gets paid here. Wages plus tips? Tips only? Commission on customers brought in?  

But here's a story:  My Daughter Married Our Turkish Waiter

Note: For the record, I believe waiting tables is an honorable profession.


AE Challinor said...

I read the linked article and all I can say is OMGWTFBBQ.

:O :O

Mzuri said...

I know, I know!