02 October 2010

Ketchup Dilemmas

I don't have many major decisions to make at Hooters.  Really, serving in general is rather like that; it a job of repetition involving little deviation from a set standard of practice.  Simply put, I do the same thing over and over again and once you get it down it becomes so second nature that thinking really isn't the involved after awhile.  I shouldn't say that thinking isn't involved, but serving - and the thinking that goes along with it - seems to become more habit than actual thought after awhile.

All that said, the biggest decision I make everyday involves ketchup - or catsup if you so prefer.  Yes, a condiment.  This post is not a joke.  Every morning, when setting up the restaurant, one of the things I'll do is check every single bottle of ketchup in the restaurant.  You see at a certain point ketchup obviously needs to be replaced.  Not a big deal.  But sometimes a ketchup bottle is at that point where it could be replaced or could not be replaced.  There I am attempting to weigh this ketchup bottle in my hand while weighing the options of replacement in my mind.  There is clearly ketchup in the bottle still.  But it is it enough ketchup?  What if some ketchup loving freak sits down and doesn't have enough ketchup?  What if the next person only uses a little and this bottle has enough?  Is this enough ketchup to wait?  Is this too much ketchup to waste?

So on and on my thoughts go until finally I have either set the ketchup back down in the caddy or tossed it into the trash and brought a fresh bottle to the table.  You see, there is nothing more annoying than sitting down for a nice meal of fried goodness with a side of extra fried goodness and finding the ketchup to be gone, or low, or farting it's way to a slow death.  This is one of those simple things that can ruin a meal, piss off a customer and bring that sweet twenty percent tip crashing right on down to fifteen.  Yes, a ketchup bottle really can do all that.

I suppose at this point you're wondering why I don't "marry" the ketchups.  This is restaurant speak for adding the remnants of one thing to the remnants of another.  We do this with our hot sauces for example.  But we have the sort of devil ketchup bottles that the lids refuse to part with.  I mean the lids clearly come off, but I don't have the time nor the energy to wrestle with several dozen ketchup bottles every morning.  Feel free to call me lazy; I prefer efficient.

So here I am weighing that bottle still and wondering what I should do with it.  Four times out of five I just decide to throw the bottle away and start over.  I get paid jack after all.  And have to pay for my meals.  And have to pay for all my uniforms.  Now watch me waste a few ounces of ketchup.  Guess its my way of sticking to the man.  I sure showed you!

And it all started with a ketchup bottle.


  1. Ha - I just saw a ridiculous documentary on PBS about how Ketchup is the king of condiments, then I run across your post. I am surprised your place of work actually lets you throw out the bottles. I feel like most of the food establishments on the Right Coast tend to refill, even though the bottle is clearly labeled prohibiting such an act.

    But yes, I must agree that when I am consuming a deep fried plate of unnatural goodness...an empty bottle of ketchup could have an affect on tip.

  2. I'm sure if we had the actual bottles or even just plastic ones with easy off lids we would probably just refill them. But like I said our lids are nearly impossible to remove from the the plastic bottles so I'm not even faced with the option - thank goodness.

    Almost worse than an empty bottle is a dirty one which I think happens more with refilled bottles.

  3. I think my philosophy would be, "When in doubt, throw it out."

  4. I used to work at a place where we married butter, honey, and ketchup. It was the grossest, stickiest nightmare I've ever had.

    At Chili's we don't marry anything, so I have the same problem of trying to decide how much ketchup is too much to throw out! Our bottles are very light when there's absolutely none left, but those gray area bottles drive me crazy. I either throw them out or swap them with another server's ketchup so they can decide. ;)



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