Behind the Lines

Spills both hot and cold, all in the timing

Have you ever seen something that years later still makes you cringe? I certainly have. I was maitre’d at a resort restaurant on the Island’s north shore. We had a table of ten or so come in with a little baby, not more than a year old. We put her in a high chair.

My best server Jodi had the table in her section. She greeted them, handed out menus, took drink orders, and everyone was having a great time laughing at her jokes, etc.

The table ordered a carafe of white wine. This was at a time where your wine choices in most Island restaurants was “white or red”. We had the white wine decanted into these huge litre-and-a-half jugs and chilling in the fridge. Really chilling. Almost too cold to drink. We abused our wine back then.

Jodi went behind the bar, grabbed all the drinks including the carafe, and headed over to the table. As she set the last glass down on the table she over balanced her tray and the carafe toppled on the tray. It didn’t fall off the tray but boy did the wine spill. Like the sea over a retaining wall. And all of it landed on the baby.

There was deadly silence at the table. The baby stiffened up and held her breath, turning bright red. And then exploded in the most blood curdling scream ever to leave a child’s mouth. Then went silent.

Jodi stood there, immobilized with fear. And then the table erupted with cheers, laughter, and applause.

The only person to cry that night was poor Jodi.

Here are some other tales of terror.


When 15 I was waitressing in BC and my co-worker, who was the same age as my mom, asked me how long I heated the cinnamon buns up for.

I replied, “About a minute.”

She looked at me and said, “Oh, I have been finding a minute too long so I just pop them in for 60 seconds.”

I then heard the cook fall over in the kitchen because he was laughing so hard.


The summer of 2014 I landed my first waitressing job at a semi-upscale Italian restaurant in Toronto.

About mid-way through a five-hour Friday night shift I was serving a family of four, a couple and their two boys, one of whom was about 10 years old.

I mostly served plates of pasta or pizza but the boy made the mistake of ordering soup as a first course.

It wasn’t a mistake because the soup was bad.

It was a mistake because as I leaned over to serve the young boy a scalding hot bowl of soup, instead of placing the plate on the table I poured the soup onto his lap.

I was mortified—and worried.

It would have been inappropriate for me to start wiping the soup off the boy’s lap but I couldn’t just stand there doing nothing.

I apologized profusely and scurried away after mumbling something about getting a wet cloth.

After the whole ordeal I went to my boss and told him what had happened.

I can’t remember what he said but I do remember him just slowly closing his eyes and shaking his head—he had probably been expecting something like this to happen.

In the end, the boy was fine and I’m sure the family was compensated for my clumsiness.

But after that incident I realized my assumption that I would be this fantastic, outgoing waitress charming people into giving me large tips was just an elaborate fantasy.

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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