More thrilling tales from the service industry

Anyone who says that service industry work is easy and doesn’t require a particular skill set has never worked in a dining room or kitchen. Just to navigate the many personalities you will run into through the course of a day requires quick thinking, diplomacy, and a strong stomach.

In this month’s edition you will learn about a freakshow blockhead, a stunned wine snob, and someone the opposite of a germaphobe.

Have fun!

So much bizarre stuff happened at the Dispensary over the years; I keep threatening to write a book. This story is true and I was sober, behind the bar. We always got these transient sort of characters: here for a day, a week. So, we have this tall, like 6’4” or so, guy come around for a few days. Maybe a week. One of the short-term regulars dubbed him “duty free.” So, his shtick? “I bet you a beer I can stick this pen up my nose.” Oh, he had several takers. He picked up my pen from my tray. One of those pen markers Bic made, with the cap, and he stuck it all the way up his nose so just the tip was sticking out. He pulled it out then made to hand it to me. Quite a sight. I do recall telling him, “Oh, that’s your pen now.” Sidebar: He also did the splits.

Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc


Lady–I’d like a Cabernet Sauvignon white.
Me–Do you mean a Sauvignon Blanc?
Lady–No…a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Me–Cabernet Sauvignon is red. Sauvignon Blanc is white.
Lady–No…Cabernet Sauvignon is white.
Poured a glass of each, put the bottle beside each glass, and offered her to choose the one she wanted. She chose the white (Sauvignon Blanc).
Lady–You Canadians do weird things.
Weird thing was: she was local!

I was at a classic family diner and ordered a haddock meal and requested mashed potatoes. The server took my order but came back from the kitchen rather quickly. “We don’t have any mashed potatoes,” she said, “but you can have fries, baked, or boiled.”
I looked at her, somewhat dumbfounded and then replied, “Just give me boiled then, and lots of extra butter.”
She noted the change and delivered my meal with the boiled potatoes, which I then proceeded to mash!

About 7 years ago I was serving a busy lunch hour and go to check on a table, clear some plates, etc. I get to the table and there is a friggin’ diaper sitting on top of an empty plate. I said “Umm, is that a diaper?” Lady replies “Yes, don’t worry it’s just pee. I changed him on the booth.” To which I reply: “You know that we have washrooms that have BOTH a change table AND a garbage can?!”
“It’s just pee.”
I shake my head, pick up the plates and get riddled with looks and questions as I walk in the pass through.
“Is that a…”
“Yes, yes it is.”

We are hoping you can be a part of this series by submitting firsthand experiences of imperious bosses, difficult guests, and your own and others’ gaffes. Please send stories to or private message on social media.

Thanks to everyone for their submissions! I haven’t used them all but keep ‘em coming!

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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