Farrell and I met when I was attending a conference in Orlando last year. Within 10 minutes of meeting him I was in absolute awe of his refreshing attitude.
I’ll never forget his magical first words, “Hi, I’m Farrell, I’ll be your server tonight.” A couple of my friends and I had just settled in to enjoy dinner at a highly recommended local restaurant, and by mere intuition I knew that Farrell and I were simpatico. He took an unusually keen interest in our drink and appetizer order. I for example, ordered a Diet Coke. Farrell squinted at me. I told him Diet Pepsi was fine too, but Farrell wasn’t happy with that either. “You do know that we brew our own tea, right?” I told him I may not have known that but now I did, and was still looking forward to my soda. My friends ordered their drinks, and judging by Farrell’s eye roll and heavy sighs, a gin and tonic and a glass of red wine were hardly what he considered the right choices.
I told Farrell I’d like a salad as well, and at that point he put his pad down on the table, his hands on his hips, and asked if I was kidding. He proceeded to tell me that I was at one of Orlando’s finest seafood restaurants and the only thing anyone with half a brain would order as an appetizer was a stone crab claw. I got what he was saying, but the crab claw was $58 (for one claw) and the salad was like $8.95. We asked if he could give us a moment (oh, he loved that) and the three of us decided the crab must be amazing and maybe we could all just split a claw. I mean, who were we to question Farrell’s wisdom?
So the crab claw arrives, just a claw thrown on a plate with no apparent way to open it, and all of us from blue crab country. We stared at it for a minute trying to figure out a plan of attack, and Farrell became visibly agitated. He came over and snatched the plate back up without saying a word. We weren’t sure if we had lost our stone crab privileges or what, but a minute later he set a big plate of delicious crab meat in front of us with a flourish. He’d dissected it for us, but cautioned this was a one-time deal because obviously he doesn’t just go around cutting up people’s food for them. We fell over each other with gratitude. For what it’s worth, the stone crab was really tasty and I completely forgot the whole central nervous system, they feel pain thing.
Farrell then deigned to take our entrée order, and we proceeded with caution. I found that I was suddenly ending every sentence in a question mark, and I said I’ll have the scallops? It was another hands on the hips moment as he spoke to me very slowly, using small words, and told me that what I really wanted was the halibut. Suddenly I hear my own voice pleading with Farrell to let me have the scallops. He sneered at me in contempt but eventually wrote down scallops. In an interesting twist, both my friends decided they would have the halibut, and he got extra smug.
So Farrell comes out and lovingly, gently puts down the two plates of halibut, and then just plops the scallops down in disgust, muttering that some people just don’t know when to listen. I can’t really explain why, but I was loving Farrell’s technique. It was just so bold and out there. You always know where Farrell stands on an issue. As we were finishing up our entrées, one of the owners of the restaurant came by and introduced himself. We told him were enjoying a great meal, and he cautiously asked who our server was for the evening. I said that we could not be happier with our server Farrell and we loved his devil-may-care attitude. He said that Farrell had worked there a long time, and people either found him fascinating or immediately asked for another server, but somehow it all worked out.
About that time I was wondering if Farrell would approve of me ordering coffee, and the super indulgent chocolate dessert. Well, he was OK with the coffee, but absolutely put his foot down on the dessert. I got another lecture that the place was world renowned for its key lime pie, and did I realize I was in Florida? I stared him straight in the eye and said I wanted the damn chocolate dessert. In a final spectacular move, Farrell folded his arms and said that if we weren’t ordering the key lime pie he wasn’t serving dessert. He told us there was a fudge and ice cream shop around the corner and if we wanted something other than key lime pie we should go there. But this was a serious dessert, so I stared him down and said I would go back to the kitchen and order it myself if necessary, but I was indeed going to get the dessert of my choice.
We had a brief staring match and then he stormed off to the kitchen to place the order. I think it was at that moment that he gained a little respect for me and realized he wasn’t dealing with some wimp. What I certainly did not do was thank Farrell profusely for allowing me to have a chocolate dessert and apologize about the Key Lime Pie Incident. Or maybe I did, who can remember these things?
Next time you make your way down to Orlando, be sure to check in with my buddy Farrell. Order an iced tea, stone crab, halibut and key lime pie, and he won’t give you a moment’s trouble.