Sunday, April 11, 2010


When you go out to eat at a restaurant, does your waiter/waitress write down your meal selection on a pad of paper or do they rely on their own memory?  In the olden days, the waiter/waitress would remember by memory what you ordered and go into the kitchen and scribble it down on a piece of paper for the cook to keep track of all of the food orders taken in the restaurant.  This practice still goes on but instead of scribbling it on paper, the waiter will go to a computer screen and enter the food orders from the respective table which then goes to the kitchen.  Some people are saying that waiter memory is on the decline for a number of reasons.  The food orders are getting more complicated as we customize the way we want our particular dish to be cooked or deletions and additions made to the side dishes; people are going out in larger groups; and, some of the newer generation of waiters are not as comfortable with memorization.

I am amazed at times with the memorization skills of waiters as I usually tweak my food order and ask for the salad dressing on the side, or ask for the meat to be cooked a certain way or ask for a substitution.  But not all waiters rely on memory which I am grateful for.   For the instances where they relied on memory and got the food order wrong, the dish then needs to go back to the kitchen for the necessary adjustment.  This can be frustrating if you are pressed for time or are dining with a group of people who feel it is impolite to eat while you wait for your food order to come.

Studies have been done on the memories of veteran waiters and it has been found that constant memory practice expands the brain's memory function.  Retaining the ability to memorize is important because as we age, we start to forget or have what I call 'that middle aged moment'.   Game companies have been developing memory games designed to keep us thinking and working on our ability to retain numbers and sequences.  I know some people who avidly work on puzzles, brain teasers and number games to keep their minds active and sharp.   It is important to challenge your mind and work on retaining numbers and sequences.

On this point of memorization, I think that chip and computer technology has affected the memorization skills of all of us.  Having a calculator to do multiplication, subtraction, addition and division has impacted our ability to do math in our head.  We also don't have to remember numbering sequences and we have become less comfortable with memorization.   Knowing that your memory is impacted as you age, what are you going to do to keep your memory sharp?

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