July 31

Don’t Touch That Dial


Thermostat, music volume and the dimmer switches: these are the three battles one fights when working a restaurant floor.

It seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do – just turn up the AC, adjust the music level and dim the lights until all the customers are better looking. Yet, under no circumstances should you do any of those three things. On any restaurant floor, these three settings are negotiated with the detailed precision of a cease-fire. The moment you reach out and touch any of those buttons, dials or sliders, you stop being a civilian and become a combatant.

It’ll seem innocent at first. It’s a little hot for running table to table, trying to keep up with the water glasses. You’ll cruise past the thermostat and see it’s set to cool at 78 degrees. Tick tick and it’s down to a reasonable 75. You hear a hint of cooled air pour from the register and you’re on your way.

Then you notice it’s just a little quiet in the dining room. You can hear the AC kick on after all. Add to that Childish Gambino is on the playlist so you kick up the volume just a couple of notches. “This is America. Don’t catch you slippin up….” The bass is just right.

Since it’s right there, you adjust the lighting a touch. Just dim it until the guests are almost attractive is kind of the rule. Keep the light flattering – not too dark and not too bright, and everyone’s happy.

It’s a hot summer night, the stereo is on, the room is lit just right…

And then the AC kicks off, the music gets too loud and the lights go too dark. Carl the Host is standing next to the light switches, looking up over the room and getting the mood all wrong. You wouldn’t be surprised if he forwarded to Post Malone at this point. The three-front battle for dining room supremacy is on.

All night long you quietly battle. The lights go up, the lights go down. Nice For What gets played too loud. It goes from too hot to too cold in a matter of minutes. Every time you tick the thermostat down a couple degrees into a reasonable range, Carl ticks it back up. Worse, neither of you communicate about the temperature, music or lights during the entire shift.

What you’ve entered is an unwinnable war. Neither of you will ever back down, and worse, none of it really matters. The guests don’t notice a 3 degree delta in room temperature, or that the light is ever so slightly elevated as they sip their wine and wonder why everyone keeps playing Drake over and over.

The moral of this little fairytale? Just let it be. Carl is only turning things up because you turned them down. Some battles aren’t worth the effort… unless of course Carl really does play Post Malone…


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