It is amazes me how relieved people become when I deliver birthday dessert to a table and inform them how I, nor my co-workers will be regaling them with any traditional celebratory song. There will be no “Happy Birthday”, no loud clapping, no staff members congregating in the immediate area; it is just me, giving them complimentary sugar.
Birthday cake is free in the brewhouse and I have served many, many, many be-candled creations to many, many, many patrons. I find it fascinating that the only person to proudly proclaim she was deserving of complimentary pastry was a seven year old girl. All other recipients have been identified by others in the party when the guest of honor was in the restroom. Or it was whispered it to me behind open menus. More creative guests excuse themselves from the table to track me down in the beverage station. They impart the secret birthday information with the same reverence of someone relaying the identity of deep throat.
I do not believe the cause for birthday anonymity is calorie driven. Few people sampling deep fried starters and gravy laden entrees will deny themselves sugar and fat in their most glorious form. Even lettuce grazers will welcome complimentary chocolate anything. I also do not believe the apparent birthday shyness is due to humility. Groups of toilet paper haberdashed bachelorettes stumbling through casinos on any given night is proof that Las Vegas is not about inner reflection. Clearly this town is about celebrating “me, me, and me” with food, wine, and women but not song.
Or at least not THAT song. I truly think people just hate those four lyrical lines of musical redundancy. I know I do. I was almost jobless because of it. During server training there was a nasty rumor that “Happy Birthday to You” was as much as I job requirement as was carrying a wine key and a valid health card. I made the mental note to quit my job and find employment elsewhere until the rumor proved to be a sick, sick joke.
Instead singing however, we need to grab the dessert, scoop some ice cream, search for extra spoons, hope the pink birthday candle (the only color left) won’t offend anyone, rifle through the apron pockets for the elusive lighter, and successfully maneuver a tiny open flame through a building with very large central air conditioning ducts. Not exactly a piece of cake for work that results in no increase on the check average but it is better than the alternative.
And I am certain my customers agree. I stand before them several times a week with dessert, candle and lighter and announce to the recipient of the small fire I am about to start, that I do not sing. They smile and thank me. I acknowledge the gratitude and realize we are of the same thought. They are thinking, “Thank God she is not going to sing” and I am thinking, “Thank God I am not going to sing”.
And the world becomes a little warmer and fuzzier.