As a kid, my father had a fascinating habit of yelling at the top of his lungs at every driver on the road. The guy who forgot to turn off his turn signal was a “SPACE CADET!!!,” the lady with the poodle in her lap was a “STUU-UUPID BROAD!!!” (three syllables), and the kid who absentmindedly cut him off while driving his mother’s minivan was a “CLOWN!”
While his choice in expletives was age-appropriate for his five year old daughter and served as entertainment in a pre-DVD-player-in-headrest world, I realized no one else could benefit from his thoughtful “coaching” aside from me. The clown, space cadet, and broad-with-poodle were all going to happily go about their days never knowing a furious man trying to take his daughter to the driving range was road raging in their rearview mirrors.
To take his teaching to the next level, my father established Restaurant Rage (trademarked in 1986). Restaurant Rage involves loudly announcing every wait staff discrepancy so that the waiter can learn from his mistake on course correct on the spot. The practice has been widely adopted since the mid-80s, and can be easily recognized in fine dining establishments across the globe by the bellows of “is this Equal ? I said SWEET AND LOW” and “does that look like medium rare?”
Ragers are aplenty, and they are harder and harder to detect at first sight – from the bar-goer who isn’t fooled by well vodka to the late dinner crowd who just missed the last Alaskan halibut to the kid who didn’t want sauce on his “pasgetti.” In fact, I was recently blindsided by my usually docile friend Eric who lost it McEnroe-style in an Olive Garden when the waiter temporarily “misplaced” his credit card. As I quietly picked the unwanted mushrooms out of my penne hoping no one would see me, Eric rose to his feet and screamed, “I don’t mean to be a (censored), but how could you be so (censored) stupid to lose a credit card in the ten (censored) feet I just saw you walk?” Awkward indeed, but my mushroom-infested pasta became free mushroom-infested pasta. Lesson learned.
While Restaurant Rage clearly offers the advantage of an unparalleled learning experience for the offender, those in the company of the rager also learn to adapt. When a hold-the-cheese omelet arrives smothered in sharp cheddar, I immediately excuse myself and hover by the bathroom to avoid the scene; when a free dessert coupon isn’t reflected on a bill, I cover my eyes; and whenever I dine with Eric – well I just don’t.
Along with throwing a football, peeling an orange in one piece, and identifying any song of the 80s in three notes, my father taught me the most valuable lesson of all – how to make sure the clowns keep the mushrooms out of my pasta. I love you Dad.