By the end of his dinner, he seemed to love me. I piled on the "ya'll"s and the southern charm and said "absolutely" and "certainly" a lot. Never mind that I'm from NY. Normally, when a guest gives me a hard time, I just can't wait for them to go. I don't know why, but I just had to win my way into this man's heart. And before anyone rushes to assume that I did it for the tip, the party was at a set dollar amount with gratuity included. Essentially, I would not have made a penny more or less regardless of whether I asked "how high?" each time he told me to jump.
I don't know why, but I felt it was really important to get this man to like me and, at the very least, not yell at our chef again. Well, my mission succeeded. Obviously we want ALL of our guests to leave happy, but it's especially nice when it's someone you thought no one would be able to please. We'll call it a serving PR of sorts.
Just a little life lesson for today: Sometimes it is the thing you want to do the least that will bring you the most reward.
Even better than making the old man happy was how happy his wife was that we were able to (mostly) please him. I think they had been married for 52 years or something like that and she has been running interference of just as long between him and any other waitstaff he's encountered. My true reward for the night was how thrilled and happy SHE was - probably that she didn't have to apologize for him or listen him go on about how crappy he thought everything was afterwards.
And even though we had to cook his steak up - again - he was more than happy to have the rest of his meal remain in front of him while we cooked up three slices of sirloin.
I win at serving. The end.