We’ve all got our little quirks. Some people need to have all their books stacked on the shelf in perfect alphabetical order. Others freak out if someone puts away their dishes in the wrong cupboards. But me? My biggest neurosis is that when I’m at work, I can get pretty OCD when it comes to making sure to serve our white customers first.
I know, it sounds weird, but that’s just how it has to be with me.
You see, for some reason, waiting on patrons in a specific order based on their race is something I’ve always been kind of finicky about. It’s almost subconscious at this point. I do this weird thing, without even thinking, where I look around that restaurant and I’ll automatically separate people in my mind based on race so that every Caucasian in the room is given first priority. Seriously, it’s like my brain won’t let me so much as acknowledge the existence of the other customers until I’ve made sure every last white person in there has been fully looked after. I just can’t help it! Silly, right?
For example, let’s say I'm making my rounds and a group of white people come in and take a booth by the window—10 times out of 10, because of my OCD, I’ll walk right past several tables of minorities who have been waiting to place their orders so that I can welcome our new white customers and make sure they have everything they need. Not only that, but because of this eccentric tendency of mine, I have to make absolutely sure they have their drinks and appetizers before I’ll so much as think to give anyone else a menu.
I know, I know, it’s ridiculous. Believe me, I’m aware!
What’s even wilder is that it’s not just a simple matter of serving the whites first and everyone else second. No, I get really specific about which race gets my undivided attention immediately and which has to wait for up to half an hour before I’ll bring them a glass of water. It’s no different than people who always have to line up their shoes in neat little rows, except with me I have to serve whites, then Asians, then Hispanics. Don’t ask me why, but I’ve just got to have all my ducks in a row like that or it just drives me batty!
Blacks come last.
Sometimes my OCD even kicks in when I’m working up front as the host. When people come in, I inevitably have to follow my own super anal little system of who gets seated where: whites with whites, Mexicans with Mexicans, Chinese with Chinese, and so on. When I look at the room, it just has to be neatly segmented by color, the way it’s supposed to be.
Granted, not everyone understands this zany little quirk of mine. In fact, a lot of times I’ll get a funny look from a minority when he notices that I’m going out of my way not to take his order until I’ve helped out exactly five white customers to balance things out. And my coworkers must think I’m out of my mind; I can’t tell you how many times they’ve asked me why I’m hiding in the kitchen waiting for white people to come into the restaurant rather than dealing with a Puerto Rican man who’s still waiting for his check.
Look, I know that none of this is normal. But hey, some people are weird about stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, and I’m weird about obsessively racing to fetch a white customer a bottle of Tabasco sauce while an Iranian woman on the other end of the restaurant is still waiting for me to bring a high chair for her infant daughter. What can I say? I’m just a kook like that!
I also have this thing where after I bus any minorities’ plates, I have to wash my hands a dozen times in scalding water.