29 September 2010

What Barbie Taught Me About Refills

My little sister and I are Red Robin addicts.  There, I said it.  Isn't that step one?  Anyway, our dependence began young.  I wasn't able to drive yet and my parents' business was conveniently close to a Red Robin and nothing else in the way of food (unless you count Bob's Pizza, but I'm not sure you could even count that as food let alone pizza).  Out of simple necessity we would walk over to Red Robin to spend the money Mom gave us on burgers and bottomless Freckled Lemonades.  And that's how they got us addicted.  Apparently they add crack or meth - I hear that's highly addictive - to their shit because once you start you just can't stop.  Ok, so it's probably just the grease and sugar that got to us, but whatever.

But this story isn't about my love for Red Robin burgers and the fact that they give you all the steak fries you can shove in your face.  This story is about how Red Robin taught me to give refills.  Yes, you heard me right.  Refills.

Back in the day at our Red Robin they only hired really, really good-looking people.  That's not even a joke.  Everyone was super hot.  So super hot that even at the age of twelve I knew what was going on.  There used to be one girl in particular that I thought was Barbie pretty, long blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect everything else.  Of course I knew this because I still played with Barbies.  Anyway, I always wanted this girl to be our waitress simply because she was the prettiest.  I was apparently vain as a child.

One fateful day, they sat us in a booth directly under the carousel horse.  This was a good sign as we coveted sitting as near to the carousel horse as possible.  My sister was looking up at the horse contemplating why she couldn't ride it, when I noticed Barbie walking up.  Score.  Mark that goal off my twelve-year-old to-do list.

So there we are in awe of this walking doll when we start to realize she's really not very good at her job.  Now you before you jump down preteen Sauce's little throat realize that afore mentioned business my parents owned happened to be a bakery/cafe.  We knew food service.  And we knew Barbie sucked.  It was mildly disheartening.

Barbie did countless annoying things that now all blend together, but one in particular still stands out even today and has markedly influenced the way I wait tables.  Barbie was an over-refiller.  What I mean by this is that she would CONSTANTLY bring drinks out to us with no prompting.  At first it seemed pretty cool; my bottomless Freckled Lemonade was more bottomless than ever.  But then it got to the point where she was bringing them before our last glasses were even close to half empty.  Suddenly, we found ourselves surrounded by so many half empty glasses that the food runner had a hard time finding room for our burgers.  Seriously.  That's how many freaking lemonades this lady had brought us.

I remember sitting there getting increasingly annoyed.  I didn't want any more lemonade, but it just kept coming.  Of course being twelve and extremely introverted I was way to shy to even begin to ask her to stop.  So we just let it slide.  But at the end of the meal we actually filled out the dreaded comment card.  Yes, an eight and a twelve year old left a negative comment once at Red Robin.  I recall writing something to the effect of "we got too much lemonade and we didn't want anymore."  I also think I said to "be nice and ask next time."  Something like that.  What I wouldn't give to see that thing now.  I can only imagine our "smile meter" marks weren't very high.

And that is how Barbie at Red Robin taught me how to refill drinks.  I almost always ask if my guests want a refill because guess what?  Sometimes they don't effing want one.  It really is possible, even in "I want it now" America, that they may only want one refill.  Or that they possibly only need one, solitary Coca-Cola.  Scary thought, I know.  Either way, I'm going to ask or point or awkwardly gesture or otherwise let you know that I made plans to fill up your glass.  That way I can avoid drink overload.  Trust me, it can be just as annoying as not having enough.  Barbie proved it.

So thanks, Barbie at Red Robin.  Way to train me.

UPDATE:  My mom reminded me that we even went so far as to hide our drinks behind the table tents after awhile so she couldn't see how full they were.  Yeah, it was that bad.


  1. THANK YOU! My managers are always touting the "silent refills" and I'm one of those people who wants one, maybe two, glasses of drink...and then I'm done! I don't want anymore!

    So when my manager bitches because he overhears me ASK a table if they want a refill (heaven forbid), I have to explain for the 50th time that some people don't WANT unlimited beverages. I'm cutting his food costs by not giving out excess beverages!

    Nope, he still wants silent refills. Idiot.

  2. Yes! Ask if we want refills. Even just a gesture with the pitcher--"You want?" is sufficient. I once had a server refill my coffee incessantely, after just a sip--she did it because I was sitting with an attorney friend and she was hitting him up for free advice--but I had pure caffeine running through my veins afterwards. Whew!

  3. It also saves the waiter/waitress from feeling awkward in case the customer says no. I feel bad when she just stares at me because I said "no thanks" but it was too late and now I have a drink I'm too full to finish but will anyway so it's not wasted.

  4. I Married this barbie working at Red Robin, just to bring my beer, during footbal games.
    But unfortunatly, she get bore , and left me :)

  5. Why'd you leave a smiley face if she left you?



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