SORRY MOM & DAD: ‘Oprah’ dinner disaster

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First Posted: 4/8/2013

I have answered many phone calls with encouragements to skip school coming from the other end of the line. In hindsight, the craziest call I ever received to skip school came from my manager at the Red Lobster I worked at in college, asking if I wanted to be on “Oprah” with her.

Apparently, a hardworking stay-at-home mom from West Virginia was being awarded with a day of luxury by the queen of daytime. The woman and her girlfriends were given a convertible car rental for the day to do whatever the mom desired. One of the things on her list? Eat lunch at Red Lobster. I can’t even make this sh-t up!

Since the Pittsburgh-based Red Lobster I worked at was the closest to her, she was going to be coming in, with her experience documented on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

I accepted the offer to be the server featured on the show. Now, it’s not because I wanted to be on “Oprah” in a Red Lobster uniform, it was because I wasn’t feeling my Tuesday class schedule that semester.

I was surprised to be greeted by the corporate owner of the chain restaurant when I showed up the day of the taping, who flew in from Florida to help “teach” me how to serve someone on “Oprah.”

After an hour of rehearsing how to properly greet and serve the woman coming in with my manager, district manager, and the owner of the company as mock guests, (and trying to make jokes when I was asked questions about the menu that I didn’t know the answers to), I went in the back cooler to cool off since the pressure was giving me armpit stains.

“Why are you crying?” I asked the hostess, who I found sobbing in the back cooler. She told me the district manager said to her: “Would it kill you to put a little more makeup on to cover your acne scars? This is going to be on ‘Oprah’ for Christ’s sake”.

What should have been a fun experience for our restaurant turned into a freak show.

Right after the mom arrived with Oprah’s camera crew for her day of luxury and endless shrimp, a waitress came in and made a scene.

“Am I too fat to be on ‘Oprah’?” she shouted to our manager.

“You told me you didn’t need me today, and everyone on the schedule today is in college and skinny as f—k! Am I too ugly for ‘Oprah’? I’m suing you!” she blasted before storming out.

“I thought I film for Oprah, not Jerry Springer!” joked the camera guy.

Two weeks later, the segment aired, and the mom was only shown sitting at the table for five seconds, even though feelings were hurt, tensions were high, and grades were dropped. I guess that’s the real Oprah Effect.