The table erupts with laughter as I interrogate the teenager about her friends, phone, school, and social life. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a shadowing table leech. Somewhere along my path through the restaurant, the leech attached itself to my hip. Standing off spotlight, watching, commenting, and being distracting is the shadowing table leech. The shadowing table leech slowly extracts the fun and spontaneity from my presentation.
I toss light on shadowing table leeches with a quick pun; swirl a balloon or two in their direction hoping that if I put the spotlight on them, they will vanish. Nevertheless, the spotlight reflects back off the blank stare of silence. Never put a shadowing table leech in the spotlight, they are not comedic straight men. They have seen your act and will not cooperate; they like to be spoilers and will tell you how the movie ends.
The shadowing table leech is the over enthusiastic fan that wants more entertainment, but are quick to inform you that you are repeating material or that the jokes are mean, yet they continue to follow you from table to table.
At one restaurant, I have a Busser who always has to make a comment or react. Sometimes he lurks in the shadows. With leeches, their presence is felt not only by me, but also by the customers. Over the years I have learned to deal with these personally, but find a common trait among all these shadowing table leeches – they think they know it all!
Unsupervised kids transform into shadowing table leeches. I learned very early in my career, if you include them in one table presentation, they will insist that they be part of every presentation. The child’s parent are happy that you are babysitting their kid while they eat. I watch my tips deflate as the obnoxious child bounces around, interjecting comments, and spoiling punch lines that I have carefully setup.
How to Remove a Shadowing Table Leech
- Busser or wait staff shadowing your entertainment: my suggestion is to point out things that are “important” that need attending to immediately. Things that make them feel important. I like to say “Looks like the buffet is getting empty” or “this customer needs a refill”. Bring the focus back on their job requirements.
- You can try talking to a shadowing table leech, but remember, they think that they are always right. So do not be surprised by their answer. Their response might be “my work is done”, which you know, if you ever worked in a restaurant, that nobody’s work is finished. If it is, you are cut and sent home.
- Kids – I tell them the server is carrying food through the restaurant and that they need to sit down so nobody gets hurt.
- Kids – Instruct the child to wait back at their table, you will be coming back to them in just a minute. I make a quick appearance at their table; toss out a joke or two then move on. Most of the time parents will tell the child to “leave Dale alone” or “we are getting ready to leave, so say good-bye to Dale.” Leech removed!