Whenever I go to a restaurant, café, bar or any place where I have to order something, I forget how to talk like a normal person. I get super nervous, which means I talk too quietly, stumble on my words, don’t know whether to look at the menu or into the waiter’s eyes and if I start to laugh I am unable to stop. So, here are some tips that have helped make ordering food or drinks more bearable for me and less annoying for those serving me.
Before ordering, just take a deep breath. It may seem simple but it truly does help to put things into perspective. Sometimes ordering a drink at Starbucks is my most challenging part of the day, a fact that makes me feel pretty silly and sad, which means I get even more anxious about ordering. On the other hand, I’m a competitive person, so if this is my challenge for the day, I want my request to come out perfectly. So, I suggest taking a deep breath and not thinking too much. I also give myself words of encouragement such as, “You got this”, “Believe in yourself” and “Never give up. One day you will be the person you’ve dreamed of: the perfect orderer.”
Pass It On:
Casually pass off the burden of ordering to someone else. If you’re with a group of people, just tell someone what you want to get, then pretend to be extremely interested in an object in the restaurant like a lamp, chair or cashier. You could also pretend to be invested in something outside such as a squirrel, bird, streetlight or sign across the street and become so mesmerized that you must leave the table to get up close to it. Then come back once the waiter has been to your table, this way you avoid any awkward encounter. You could also just get up and go to the bathroom, which is less imaginative but equally effective.
If you can’t pass your request to a friend or if you feel ready to take on the challenge of ordering for yourself, it’s always a good idea to practice saying what you want before the time comes. You can say your order in your head or aloud to someone next to you. You could also practice in a mirror before going out. I recommend anywhere from 1-3 hours of practice before ordering. That way when your friends see you flawlessly order that kim chi jae yook bokeum – complete with a Korean accent – and they ask you how you did it, you can say, “I practiced for hours” and you won’t be lying!
Go With the Flow:
I was at a wedding this weekend and was ordering white wine but I accidentally asked for “wet wine” instead. I then started laughing, mumbled “never mind” and walked away. I realize now that I should’ve just gone with the flow and pretended that “wet wine” was a real thing. I should’ve been outraged that they didn’t have my favorite “wet wine” drink and then I should’ve stormed off only to return a minute later and begrudgingly say, “I guess I’ll take the white wine.” So, if you mess up your wording, it’s important to not acknowledge your mistake and pretend you meant what you said, no matter how crazy you seem or how many people you might offend in the process. Feign confidence and no one will question your strange requests.
With these tips I assure you, one day you will be ordering food and drinks like a pro in no time. Your friends, family, and fellow restaurant-goers will be silent in the face of your crazy confidence, loud, strong, non-mumbling voice, and your inability to admit a mistake. Whether their silence is fear or awe doesn’t really matter; what matters is you’re getting what you asked for, with a side of awkward.