Tag Archive: Spur

This one will no doubt surprise and shock a few South Africans, but one of the highlights of my life was being a Spur waiter for five years, back when we didn’t know how offensive the logo potentially was:

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i don’t cry a lot. not because i don’t want to, i just don’t. i have spent many prayers through the years asking God to make me cry more and for the most part He doesn’t. there was a moment on a bench outside of a Simple Way retreat last year where the tears came and my wife was around to witness it and it was short and very much linked to God and worship and just being still and knowing. the time before that i remember was the second time i watched the Passion of the Christ when i was by myself in the little Knysna cinema while promoting New Song fest – i had been around a bunch of people i knew the first time i watched it and so the tears didn’t come but for some reason there by myself, just taking in the sacrifice of Jesus… instant water action… i think that was something like ten years since my previous cry – not that i haven’t felt sad or really sad or moved or even broken inside for various reasons at other times during that time period, but it just never culminated in a lot of crying…

the ring or one like it.back to this morning and my beautiful wife Valerie [tbV] is about to board a plane by herself [well with other people] to head for Americaland for a conference in Philly before heading to Oakland, California where i will meet up with her later if all goes according to plan… likely to be gone for two to four weeks before i see her again and no that is not what made me cry. we were sitting at the Spur [no!] with her family [not that either] and suddenly she does her little magic trick where she lifts up her hands from her lap and her wedding ring is missing. oh wait, she doesn’t have a trick like that? not good. chaos reigns supreme – everyone searches the Spur and i am sent down to look at the ticket desk where there is no chance it is and bags are searched and eventually we just sit and wait for our food and are very sad. we figure the best chance is that it came off in the pool where we are staying. we managed to get Yuliswa, the house cleaner, on the phone and she look in our room and has just cleaned our on suite bathroom – nothing – so we say our goodbyes and i head to go search the car and then gun it home to see if i can search the pool before her flight leaves- we are running very fine…

ring not in car. car has 40km of petrol left it in and i have about an hour and ten minutes so time to get home, search for ten minutes and get back in time before she boards… after driving 60km/h [ish] all the way home re-interpreting a few road laws on the way i dive into the pool fully partially clothed and search the whole bottom of the pool and check the creepy filter – nothing! head up to the bedroom and pull off all the covers and look behind the bed – nothing. do a quick sweep under Val’s side of the bed and come up with her wedding ring [which is actually her engagement ring which we replaced after the big engagement ring steal/loss of three weeks after arriving at the Simple Way] in my hand…

[surreal moment of realisation that i have the ring and much happiness and joy and then suddenly snap out of it with a moment of]


haveyouseenthiswomana drive of indeterminable speed later and getting the sister to phone the airport to get the call for Veleni Andersen [i have the piece of paper to prove it] to start happening and arrive and park and run and see information guy and get pointed to security entrance and look for my wife and see as the lift door opens and there she is and will the security lady let me through [no!] and will she let her through [no!] and so she takes the ring and gives it to her [did i mention i carried it in my mouth for most of the drive – would have been super bummed if i’d swallowed it but was also scared it would get stuck on my finger and was in a bit of a hurrylike] and then she eventually lets Val come through and kiss me and…

i cried! and it was great cos she did too and we were both busy hugging so much that she couldn’t really see but it was the really big difference between a horrible two days of flight to Joburg – Washington – Philadelphia and an amazing happy tear-filled i-am-loved-by-my-crazy-speedster-husband flight to Joburg – Washington – Philadelphia. what a way to send your wife off.

almost wish i’d planned it. but no.

and so yay what a good cry. and thankful to God and Bron and info man and security lady and all the people on the roads who for the most part got out of the way and let me past really quite nicely.


so i arrive late at my waitering shift last nite and the restaurant seems to be in a bit of chaos. to make it worse i have not worked there for a long period of time and so things and not where i remember them to be. tables are already waiting for me so i grab my stuff and head to the first table, not looking all that presentable as i have literally thrown on my uniform. i grab my pen and my pad out of my apron pocket and a handful of chopped up lettuce comes out with it. the man at the table, who has clearly been waiting for a while and is not too happy about this is in the middle of speaking out his order to me and i am trying to conceal lettuce fragments while his wife in the background has just uttered, “is that lettuce?” and so as i page through my pad to find a clean page so i can start taking the order there is a clump of guacamole at the top of the page so i turn to the next one – not as bad but still gauc at the top – as i finally find a page that is half clean i start writing at a forty-five degree angle just to get words on the page and it is a complete mess and i cannot hear or understand half the words coming out of this man’s mouth and so i ask him to repeat and he is getting irate and so i just grab the sounds of the words i think he has said [i am NOT asking him to repeat them again] in the hope that when i repeat them to the manager on duty she will understand what wine he was asking for, listen to the rest of the order and start walking away… only to be stopped by another table who have just arrived and want to start giving their order – “Sure” i say and take it down and rush to the back to try and decipher anything that has just happened and as i am looking through the wine fridge for anything phonetically resembling the wine i think the man has sounded out, i realise that the name he said was the name of another casual waitress here and he was most likely mumbling her name as someone that had started taking his order before i arrived…

and then i woke up. true story. i don’t dream and remember it a lot so i figured since this one is fresh in my memory and i am still feeling a little panic’d and hoping no-one is going to arrive at the door to drag me back there to finish my shift, that i might actually share this one.

truth is i worked at the Spur [family burger type restaurant] for five years [a long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far, away… well, Rondebosch actually] and loved it. i used to say that being a waiter is the best job in the world [with the addendum of ‘when everything goes well’ and the knowledge that it seldom does] and i still believe it. because it is about serving people – making them happy – giving them [on the best days] a good meal and seeing them leave satisfied. i once got a R15 [a lot back in the day] tip from a couple on a date that i had served a plate of nachos that had a cockroach on it [the roach was a baby Spur special and was on the under plate and never touched the food and i offered to get them a new plate but they realised it and accepted it] by adding an item called “cockroach surprise” to the bill with a fictional charge of R110 – they saw the humour in it and i got tipped. i was all about great service and excellent damage control where necessary [and it was the Spur, so.]

so when things went well it was amazing. but things seldom did because of a variety of reasons and so when things got out of control, like in my dream, the term for being in a panic and having too much to do at once and not being able to do it all was ‘Spinning’ [because sometimes literally that’s what you would be doing]

and if you were caught ‘spinning’ it didn’t mean you were a bad waiter necessarily – it could just mean that suddenly four tables of 6 people arrived at once and the server had made you starter calamari instead of nachos and the bar was suddenly out of Hunters Gold and it all had just happened at once.

panic sets in… [and so you spin more, and your service gets worse and you make less money in one big spiral of downward mobility]

the solution to spinning turned out to be quite a simple one and this is a lesson that you can apply to life as well. do the next thing you have to do. it was that simple and when i was able to get my mind around that i found i became a much better waiter. you can’t do two things at once and if you panic then you get paralysed and find yourself doing no things at once [which really isn’t all that helpful] and so just do the first next thing you have to do, and after you have done that do the thing after that. and repeat.

it really was that simple. alongside that there is the principle of ask for help and so in the unlikely scenario that you had good managers, as we did for most of the time i was there, you just had to call one of them and give them a table and they would help you get back on top of things.

it doesn’t seem like too much rocket scientistry to make the statement that ‘You can’t do what you can’t do’ and so in life, when you are feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, concentrate on doing what you can do, and on continuing in a forward motion and you may be surprised how much you actually get done…

that, or hope you wake up sooner rather than later.

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