Table Cleaning and You

This past weekend I came to fully realize that I married into a family of table cleaners. Now I’m not just talking a family of table straighten-uppers, but if you gave them a cleaning rag as part of the meal you could probably just set the table right after they left and it would be cleaner than the job you would do as a waiter/waitress/buss boy/buss girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mr. Slob when it comes to going out to eat or being at a relatives for a holiday dinner. When I’m done with my meal I will take my plate, and offer to take a plate or two when I’m at a family gathering, and if I’m at a restaurant I will try to neaten up my area, leaving things in a manner kind of nice for the wait staff to be able to clean, but, especially at a restaurant, I’m not trying to make the table ready for the next customer. My in-law family, however, is a server’s dream because as the meal is done there they are stacking plates, collecting silverware, tidying up the area, and never was it more prevalent than at the funeral luncheon I was at over the weekend.

The funeral was for my uncle-in-law. Now I know this sounds silly, but I’m still not totally sure how to incorporate explaining who people are from my wife’s side of the family, so for me he’s my uncle-in-law although I have started calling some of my aunt-in-laws my aunts. In any case, after the funeral service, there was a buffet luncheon, held in the church hall, and the food was prepared and disbursed by a wonderful staff of ladies who made sure the serving dishes stayed full of funeral hot dogs (that’s a story for another blog post), potato salad, and a fantastic table of desserts. As the luncheon was finishing up I saw them starting to come around and clean off the tables, but before they came to the table I was at, with my direct in-laws, the table-cleaning had already started. My Aunt-in-law started by gathering a few plates around her, nicely separating the silverware off of the plates, continually putting napkins/scraps/etc. on the top plate and then stacking the dessert plates on top of that, and before you know it my wife is taking my plate and making it neat for my Aunt to easily stack onto her pile, others are doing the same, and off my Aunt went, taking the separated silverware and the stack of dirty plates to wherever they were being thrown away. When all was said and done there wasn’t much more left to do at the table I was sitting at other than quickly wipe it down, fold it up, and ready the hall for the next basketball game.

I would say that this is just a habit of my Aunt’s, but I’ve seen other members of my in-laws do the same. Maybe it’s because they came from larger families with lots of plates to clear off of a table, maybe it’s because their parents were much more hard-asses making sure the youngins cleaned up the table after a meal, but for me I’m still a tad shocked at the amount of cleaning that happens at a table that others are technically being paid to clean. It’s not that I think it’s wrong, nor excessive, it just makes me wonder: Do you clean up your table at a restaurant?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!