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The Insane Waiter



Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany



Updated: 2017-10-30T06:42:00.033-05:00

 



Hi friends!

2010-04-19T00:57:13.511-05:00

Hi everyone, figured I'd give a bit of an update since my last post. It came to my attention via bitterwaitress.com that I was mentioned on a Slashfood.com article about late diners, here is the link...http://www.slashfood.com/2010/04/06/closing-time/2#commentsSo its been since late last summer since I’ve had an updated posting, the sushi joint that I was briefly at continues to exist, somehow. They haven’t been able to keep a server for more than a couple of weeks and they continue to steal from the staff. Yet people love going there. I guess its kind of like buying Nike products, even though an eight year old Guatemalan girl makes them for thirty-five cents a day, as long as its trendy people will go there no matter what the social cost. Not that I was a sweatshop employee or even comparable, but I’ve noticed that with restaurants, some of the worst employers get the best reviews.C'est la vie…The Italian joint that I was at continues to do well, I have friends that work there and I’m glad to see they made it through the hard economic times in pretty good order.Am I sorry I left?No.Sometimes you gotta know when to cash in your chips and leave on your own terms. I’ve seen to many good friends get burned out by a joint and go on someone else’s terms with their head down.But sometimes I hear the call, everyone and then I miss “the biz” as we call it. But as Murtaugh said, I’m getting to old for this shit.Eventually things all end or change. I can feel myself changing a bit, when I go out to eat I actually find myself enjoying my dinner rather than nitpicking on what the waiter is doing or how my drink was made or watching the manager bumble around, its kind of nice.Sometimes the dreams still come though, the restaurant is full and I’m the only waiter in sight and every food item is wrong or burned.Then I wake up and its over. Sometimes it was like working three shifts, a double then dreams all night followed by another double. They say that dreams are you working out unresolved issues, but really, what is so unresolved about serving a veal piccatta?Schools is going well, I’m about to start my last semester and looking for an internship that hopefully will lead to a “big boy” job. I actually have the grades to go further and am exploring taking the LSAT or GMAT this fall. Who knows, at 29 its kind of hard to think about another three years of school, I feel like I started the race about five years too late as it is.Well here is a brief “server story”I was in at the old joint about a month ago, only recognized a few people, lunch is where all the “noobs” get scheduled and the biz is notorious for high turnover as it is.A couple of my former coworkers were in having lunch so I stopped at their table to say hi.“Hey Joe, how’s school going?” asked Jen.“Oh good, wrapping up the semester and doing some traveling this summer.” I said.“How is Miyabi?” she asked.“Oh it was bullshit, wasn’t there too long, got in a fight with the chef about paying for mess ups.” I responded.“So where you working these days?” she asked.“Just going school, got a solid grant that is paying for some of my expenses, I’m getting by if not getting rich.” I said.“But you need to work! Are you looking for a job?” She asked.“Oh maybe I’ll work up the street at 801 Grand.” I said, home of a Fortune 500 company. (not that I’m delusional to think I’ll be CEO, never know in this life though)“Oh, well I heard they make good money there, are they hiring for night shifts?” she asked. (the building is also home of a premiere steakhouse)“No, I won’t be working at the restaurant there, probably Principal.” I said.“Oh,” she said with a frumpy appearance, ”that sound BORING.” “Well, its why I went back to college,” I said.“Oh, well good luck, I guess,” she said.I was instantly reminded of the last post I made last summer. I will never demean anyone making an honest buck, from digging ditches to hustling tables to the CEO of Principal. But there was that to[...]



Lies we tell ourself

2009-08-24T17:20:55.044-05:00

We all lie to ourselves, its all part of a natural tendency to protect our own self-esteems and our ever precious ego.

Waiters are no exception.

It is nearly unbelievable the things fellow servers say to each other, especially when one of us is about to leave the flock.

Servers I have know who graduated college or decided to move on to "real jobs" are often derided and mocked for doing so.

"There's no flexibility."

"Really, what are you going to do with that degree, we make as much money as they do."

"Have fun in your cubicle, you're going to hate it."

These are often the words of the poor, deluded lost souls of the restaurant industry.

I have often tried to open the eyes of the blind, I have no issue with those in the "biz", however I walk with my eyes open and have no illusions on what this business is.

For better or worse.

For instance, the argument that we make as much as the "cubicle sheep."

That may be true, for now, but those cubicle sheep have things such as raises, bonuses and promotions and will quickly pass you by.

In our business you will make the same at 25 that you will at 55.

Tortoise and the hare.

As far as promotions go, in most restaurants waitstaff makes as much or more as their management. Which is why the best and brightest don't take that career path for the most part.

Flexibility? It may be harder to get a day of at a split second's notice, but in better employment you have such things as paid days off. Not to mention vacation pay.

At my last job I did have vacation and after working there nearly five years it was still only one week.

Minimum wage.

Which is shit, you might as well not even offer it.

Having cash money in your pocket is a big one.

The problem is most servers don't save enough to cover their taxes, let alone try to save or invest.

401k's in this biz?

As a general rule, forget it.

The big one though is health care. Many restaurant's either offer none, or marginal benefits at best. A friend of mine recently left his management position because it barely covered him, let alone his wife and kid.

The industry sees little sick pay, which I have discussed on here before.

Either you come in sick, cover your shift (good luck at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning) or you're fired.

My old company did offer sick pay.

However it was minimum wage and the only notification of it was buried in the back of the employee handbook.

I did an informal survey and only one person on the waitstaff was even aware of it. The assistant managers even had no idea that it was offered and I don't recall a single person taking advantage of this while they were ill.

They just came in and infected the rest of us and most lik(image) ely dozens of customers.

All the while the poor smuck at the insurance agency, bank or accounting firm was nestled safely at home, without fear of loss of income or their job.

The biz is backwards, and we deride and mock those wanting out.



Craigslist

2009-08-08T14:49:56.008-05:00

Now I'm not currently looking for employment due to my class schedule which I just expanded, but this caught my eye on Craigslist.

"As a member of the Bonefish team, you would be expected to make guest feel as if they were a guest in your home. The internal guests, your team mates would feel as if we were working in a cohesive environment to better serve our guests. If you feel you are a team player and have a passion for creating a lasting great impression for our guest then apply in person at..."

I don't think I should apply, I have many passions in life, but "creating a lasting great impression for our guest" is not one of them.

I also like how the corporate lings calls staff members "internal guests", they are not guests they are employees. What a crock, that line cracked me up though!



Closing Time

2009-08-07T15:26:46.883-05:00

Probably the worst policy (ok, maybe that's a stretch) that I have seen at a restaurant I believe I have mentioned in passing before.

We stay open fifteen minutes after the posted closing time.

I don't mean we keep the kitchen open for diners that arrived close to the closing time, I mean we keep seating.

Even if there had been no new tables for hours and the restaurant is empty.

Anyone who has seen the movie "Waiting" would recognize the scene when the entire kitchen is counting down the seconds until close and that one last table arrives fucking everything up.

Its pretty much that, except the second we close the clock gets moved back another fifteen minutes.

Now there have been managers who don't roll with this rule, and frankly neither do I.

It is one of the many contradictions that this business in general adheres to.

Well, a couple weeks ago it had just turned ten o'clock and I was up at the host station when I saw a table come hustling in.

"We're not seating this table, I've been doing nothing for the last hour and I'm not going to hang out for another hour for this." I said to the hostess.

"Ok, but you handle them." She replied.

"Hi, two for the patio." Our new guest proclaimed.

Coincidently the patio was the only place we did business that night, at it was still full of campers sipping on mojitos or whatever fad drink is in this year.

"I'm sorry, the patio is full and by the time you get out there we won't be serving. Maybe you can get a pizza or something in the bar, usually they stay open later." I replied.

"Well we knew we were running late, we'll catch you next time." He said.

Problem solved.

For now, a few minutes past close the hostess was waving me down.

I arrived at the station just in time to see a clearly well-to-do couple enter the door. They were making a big show of looking at their watch.

"We just made it!" The lady exclaimed.

Ummm, no you didn't.

"I'm sorry, but we close at ten." I said.

Not used to being told no she began to argue that her clock said, "it is only five till."

"I'm sorry, but I have five after and we are closing down for the night." I replied.

"So you're not going to serve us?" Her husband exclaimed.

This was quite different from the group that had come in right after close.

I pulled the asshole card.

"I'm sorry, but we have people that need to get home to their families, that's why we have posted hours."

"But its only five after." He said.

"Yes, but how long were you planning to stay? I'm sorry, but we're done for the night.

With that I received a dirty look and out the door they were.



Last Day

2009-08-05T21:22:46.871-05:00

I had recently taken on a part time position at a local ethnic restaurant, he is the accounting of my last day.The only background is that a friend of mine works there and makes incredibly good money.The chef (he will be known as “Chef” since he’s of the ilk that demands to be called the title) is well known and with all fairness to him, put out a good product.First off, any chef that I have known that demands to be called that is a straight asshole, and this guy didn’t prove to be the exception.He is very difficult to work with and demands high respect, well I demand that also.He, however is not able to return any respect for his employees.The last week working there had Chef constantly knit picking on issues that had nothing to do with service and everything to do with his ego and his need to control.In other words he made the corporate type managers that I have run into look like angels.I mean I have run into general incompetence, ineptness, stupidity and criminal malfeasance in my time, but never the direct rudeness of this individual.So here is my last day on the job…We had finished opening and with one table in the restaurant I was doing further side work with Mary, the manager.We were setting up the to-go server station when fire trucks and an ambulance drove by blaring their sirens.“Maybe your house is on fire,” she said, smiling.“Don’t joke about that, some kids playing with matches lit one of my apartment buildings on fire where I live.” I said.Just then Chef rounds the corner.“This not necessary, I no pay you for this!” He said in broken English.“I'm sorry, I don’t understand you.” I said.“All this talking, we have complaints.” Chef replied.“From who? There’s no one here.” I said.“Don’t talk back, just say yes.” He said.With that he was back in the kitchen.Five minutes later…I hadn’t worked lunch yet so I was pouring over the menu to catch the differences between that and dinner, right then Chef rounded the corner.Gesturing wildly he said, “I don’t pay you for this” and then sputtered off in intelligible English.“I don’t understand you, I’m sorry,” I said as I struggled with what he had said.“I don’t pay you to stand around, this is my time, not yours.” He replied.I explained that I was studying the menu and he asked why I didn’t have one at home.“I don’t know why you don’t learn,” Chef said as he thrust a take out menu in my hand.“I have one of these at home, I’m just trying to learn.” I replied.“Just say yes,” He said.Yes to what??About an hour after that I was approached by Chef while I was questioning a coworker about a piece of etiquette“This is the second time you’re talking back here, this is not necessary.This is the second time I’ve told you about this, the next time….” (Chef makes cutting neck gesture)Are you fucking kidding me? I guess I’m not allowed to speak, so much for getting to know my coworkers.Later on….“Joe, come here!” Chef shouted over the bar.Chef then pointed to a plate of sushi, “You eat?”It was almost a command.Having lunch plans later with a friend I declined.“No, you pay for it, you can try,” Chef said.“No, I don’t pay for it, I’m not hungry right now,” I replied.“You have to pay for mistakes, this is a mistake, you pay for all mistakes!” He said.“No, I don’t pay for mistakes, I didn’t make this mistake they have their food,” I said.“You rang it in, you have to pay for it.” He replied.“This is my restaurant, you pay for mistakes when you make them.“You can‘t make me do that, I don’t have to pay for anything and I won’t!” I snarled.Just then the manager arrived and Chef pointed at the dish, “make sure he pays for that.”Mary kind of shook her head at me.I reiterated, “I did not ring this in, Mary just told me it was extra and a mistake.”“You just say YES when I talk, I don’t need to hear all this,” with that Chef [...]



Your Opinion

2009-06-09T18:26:37.262-05:00

There has been some controversy over credit card slips recently at the restaurant.

At times the customer, oops, sorry...

"The Guest"either adds wrong or adds an extra amount on top of a table that has added a service charge.

I have always added what I thought the customer meant to leave, here's an example.

Bill Amount - $100.00

Tip - $20.00

Total - $130.00

I would enter in $120.00

Conversely, if the total would say $110.00 I would still enter in the $20 tip and not take the loss since that was the intention.

This is simplified, usually it is some odd number and it is simply a mistake on the part of the customer.

I never would want to put in the lower amount as it would hurt me, however I also would not enter a much higher tip that I felt the customer did not mean to leave.

As well I have no problem with added gratuity as long as it is noted on the bill as well as the menu.

What is your opinion on this dear reader?



It is what it is

2009-06-08T17:59:17.822-05:00

The kitchen was dark, lanterns were being blown out and the front door locked when the phone rang.

"Thank you for calling _______ how can I help you?" I asked.

"Hey we were calling because our show ran late and we'll be down in a couple of minutes," the caller declared.

"I'm sorry sir, but we're closing down for the night." I replied.

"Well we have a reservation, can't you hold our table for us?" He asked.

I glanced at the computer screen, no reservations existed after 9:00 that night, it was past eleven.

"What was the name of the reservation?" I asked.

"Umm, well, it might have been under Sandeen?"

It sounded more like a question than a statement, I was being lied to.

"I'm sorry, I don't have any reservations, and I'm afraid that at any rate we're closed." I said.

"Well we'll only be ten more minutes," he pleaded.

"I'm sorry sir, I don't have your reservation and we do have to close down for the night," I answered.

"Perhaps you could join us on a different day?" I offered.

"I just don't understand, its only another ten minutes!" He said in an irate tone.

The last of the kitchen guys were about to split, if we stayed open it wouldn't be only ten minutes for them, or for me for that matter.

It would be an hour or more.

"But we have a reservation!" He spat out.

"No, you don't, we don't take reservations for the time that we close," I said.

He started stuttering something else when I interrupted...

"It is what it is, goodnight sir."

Boy I hate it when people tell me that, I hope he does too.



another poor soul

2009-06-03T13:13:26.103-05:00

Ugh, I just read another article about a poor poor stock broker that lost his job making $200k and is now slumming it as a host at a restaurant making $25k.  Their poor children had to stop taking ballet and tumbling classes.  

While I feel sorry for him losing his job, I'm sick of the restaurant world being the catch all or the bottom of the barrel for people losing their swanky, high paying, glamorous jobs.  

"Oh the horror of it having to work in a restaurant!"

Maybe if they didn't have to have a condo that costs them 6 grand a month or three cars or tumbling classes for the kids they wouldn't have depleted their savings so fast or they could actually survive on a restaurant salary.  I had tumbling classes as a child...in the front yard of our house with our family dog as the instructor.

I don't know.  Will it ever change?  Will restaurant employees ever get respect for a hard days work?

The worst part, I guess, is these douches are sucking up all the jobs from the those that actually have experience and it is their only field.  I do know I'm holding on to my job for a while.  Maybe I'll start a bartending school for all the broke stockers.

-Chowda-



Worst Table, In the World

2009-06-01T19:25:57.839-05:00

Sure, maybe not the entire world, but since I've been on break from school I returned to the lunch shift.Big mistake.I actually have really been enjoying going to work this past semester as I cut down on my work load as I transferred colleges and upped my credit hours.However if anything, this summer will be motivation to return to my studies.So off we go to the worst table in the world!Walking into work the first thing I do is check and see what section I have, this day I happened to be closing and there was an eleven top scheduled for 11:30.Usually this is great news as I can flip the table in an hour and get another seating in before the rush is over, not a bad start to the day.The first few people arrived promptly on time, the first warning sign was they refused to order drinks until the rest of the group arrived.I really don't see what the big deal with that is, its lunch, you're not ordering Bordeaux, its iced tea and Diet Coke.All it means is the increased chance I will spill on you when I have my tiny tray with eleven drinks on it.So fine, of course the rest of the group is thirty minutes late. So much for flipping the table.Taking their dinner order was normal, the usual sandwiches and sides of soup and such. Where it took a turn was the guy at position six wanted his soup out first, not as a side.No big deal right?WrongThere was a line at the computer station so I grabbed his soup first before ringing in the order.Upon dropping the soup off at the table two other people spoke up and asked for their soup first as well.I took care of that round and then they asked, "aren't you going to bring us some bread?" In that accusatory tone that suggested that I forgot the bread.We don't have bread service at lunch, but to provide the best service experience possible I brought them their bread.However several people on the far side of the table were now complaining that I haven't brought them their soup.The soup comes as a side, as in sandwich and soup.It comes together, I didn't forget, just like I didn't forget the bread.Then guy at seat six asks when their food will be up, since they're in a hurry.I haven't even had a chance to ring it in yet because I was busy getting things that don't come with lunch and don't come with the meal.In the meantime the entire group had managed to chug down every one of their beverages.And I had three new tables.I kicked it into high gear and rand in their orders as well as greeted the new tables.I was once again bombarded with questions like, "what is taking so long? Well show up on time for your reservation and problems like this won't exist. Your responsibility, not mine.Food goes out and guy at seat six, who is now self proclaimed leader, chimes in that they need their bill and are in a hurry.Separate checks, of course.I start dropping off their checks and "Fearless leader" asks if their discount is on the bill.In order to stimulate business, we are offering 10 or 15% discounts to neighboring offices, the discounts are a huge hassle and vary business to business and pretty much I don't see them bringing in any business we weren't getting before.Plus I don't get a discount on their services because I'm right next door, no 10% off insurance for me.Well this meant that I have to pick up all their checks and reformulate them on the computer and move around the gratuity (like I'm going to take a chance on a tip with these clowns)Five minutes later I have the separate checks back on the tables and seat six gives his right back to me with the demand that I run his first. Then a guy at seat three makes the same demand.Here's a hint, if you have a large party and give the waiter split checks out of order and in several waves, it'll just take longer.As I'm picking up these bills about nine people on the table make sure to let me know that they want their food boxed up to go.[...]



V-R Day

2009-05-26T22:42:57.209-05:00

Victory Ranch Day

On this day, in the year 2009 a great victory has occurred over the tyranny of the lowest class dip, alleged dressing, ranch.

After a decade long struggle with overweight middle aged women who would make Al Bundy cry, there is no more ranch at my restaurant.

It has been replaced with creamy parmesan.

Mixed signals were soon in the air, however.

We were told that it was “up scale ranch” or “our ranch”

No, it is creamy parmesan.

Ranch is ranch, it doesn’t matter if it comes in a bottle or is an herb mix with buttermilk and mayo, and it is not creamy parm.

A sign soon went up signed by all managers and chefs, it declared the following.

“We are not 86ing Ranch”
“Creamy Parm IS our Ranch”

A bold statement to be sure, something worthy of Orwell.

I asked the chef if this was the same dressing on our Cobb salad.

He replied to the affirmative.

“If this is ranch, then why is it described as creamy parmesan?” I asked.

This doublespeak would not fool me.

I was told to either just serve it instead of ranch or give the “upscale ranch” spiel.

It is not ranch.

The reason I know this is this “ranch” dressing tastes good.

While I will still resent delivering pitchers of this dressing to the mildly retarded sycophants that consume such filth, I will know down in my heart that we do not have ranch dressing.

I had the biggest smile that day and that smile shall live on in my heart every time someone asks for a “bowl” or ranch to defile their dinner with.



Miss! Miss!

2009-02-24T12:48:03.081-06:00

I walk into work on Monday evening with a positive outlook for the shift. Monday nights are usually busy, and smooth.

The day shift is excited to see us, they are ready to go home by this point. I check the station chart for my section and see that two of my tables are occupied by parties from the lunch server. If the hot food has hit the table prior to transition, the day server can keep the table. One table has almost finished eating, the other will be a transfer. Mary, the day shift who has both tables, wants to go home.

"Come on, Sarah, please take table 46! I really want to leave and they already have their food so it's like free money."

"Mary, they are regulars that I can't stand. The old lady is mean and as much as I love you, I do not want to take them."

"Please, Sarah, I'll love you forever and ever!"

I sigh and give in. I really do dislike this table, but If the situation was reversed and I wanted to leave, I'd ask for the same. Mary has both tables transferred, and then she goes to introduce me to the other table she had in my section. They are two nice girls and we chat for a moment as I establish some repoire. The mean couple at 46 are still eating their meal. Not even 30 seconds go by before I hear:

"Miss! Miss!"

I stop, mid-sentence to the girls, and look. The lady at 46 is looking at me and waving her arms like there is a fire.

I go over to them. Half of the steak they were sharing is still on the plate. The lady gives me an annoyed loo and gestures at the plates of half finished food.

"We're finished. Get these plates off of the table. We want to order dessert."

I suck down the myriad of curse words stuck in my throat, apologize, and clear the plates and mark the table for dessert.

Later, when I drop the check, the woman has mercifully gone to the restroom so I don't have to look at her. It was rather embarrassing for me to be called out while at another table. The man pays the bill, and they leave.

The two girls at my other table tell me that when I walked away to get the dessert, the old man looked pissed. He asked the lady why she had to talk to me like that.

Mary, I love working with you, but I'm not taking those people from you ever again.



Martinis and Bullshit

2009-02-11T12:44:13.645-06:00

"Here you go ladies, a Cosmo and Ketel Dirty up," I said as I handed out drinks.

Ketel One lady plucked out her blue cheese olives and slid the drink right back to me.

"Now I'm going to ask you to take this back and this time bring me a full drink." She said.

I guess she didn't understand that if you remove solid mass from liquid the level went down, who am I kidding, the pickled old bitch just wanted another half an ounce of vodka.


"Get my friend another Cosmo, hers isn't full either." She continued.

So my quandary was this, get them their drinks and piss off the bartender, or argue with them and lose my tip. Then they would bitch to a manager who would certainly NOT back me up and probably reward them with free shit and I still wouldn't get a tip.

I chose the former option.

"Hey man, these ladies want their drinks full," I said to Adam, the bartender.

"What the fuck, can't you see I'm busy," He replied.

He was, he had a full wheel of drinks.

"Well they say they want full drinks, I'm not about to argue with them, I'm just the messenger," I said.

"Fuck that, those drinks are just fine, we don't fill them to the rim here," He replied.

So it was passive aggressive time for me. I grabbed a can of cranberry juice and topped of the Cosmo. A squirt of water went into the Ketel One martini.

Adam just gawked at me.

"Screw them, they said they wanted full drinks, they never asked for more liquor," I said.

I dropped off the drinks and naturally one of the old crones said something about us being cheap and what a full martini is.

I hoped they liked their juice boxes, they left a shit tip naturally...

-OG Insane Waiter



The eve of battle

2009-02-02T15:53:46.287-06:00

This is a very ominous night for some of our brethren.  Of course, I speak of the free grand slam breakfast at Denny's tomorrow.  

I wish you luck and pray for your survival.  Many of you will not return...know that you are loved, respected, and understood.  

Remember - if you have to go out, go out swinging.  Take some of those cheap bastards with you.

If you are going to Denny's tomorrow to get a free breakfast, be gentle and tip well.

Good luck.



A tale from back in the day...

2009-01-23T07:44:27.811-06:00

Bella again. I read the comments on my blog entry, and I'd like to answer some of the questions.

The guy I ran a delivery to, who tried to weasel his way out of tipping on the basis that he had no cash: He did end up tipping me, a dollar (WOW!! A whole dollar!!), I could have sworn I had said that, but in re-reading, I found that I did not. The look on his face when I indicated that he could write in a tip on the cc slip was one of blank surprise (is that even possible? Maybe dumbfounded is better...) that I would dare to make such a suggestion. He didn't say anything after that, just wrote the tip in and signed it. Sorry for not covering that information, and thank you for pointing it out!

Now, on to my oldie but goodie.

I used to work in a fine-dining establishment. The owner, André, was the most awesome gay Frenchman I have ever known.

We had a prix-fixe meal (ie, lunch or dinner, six courses, set price), and an a la carte menu. When customers came in, they were to tell the maitre 'd whether they would be ordering a la carte or our prix-fixe meal. We were informed ahead of time (No particular reason, just a quirk of Andre's).

A party of seven (three men and four women, dressed formally, mid 30's to early 50's, I'd guess) came in, informed the maitre 'd they'd be ordering a la carte, and were sat in my section. I rang in their order accordingly. They raved about how great the food was, and how awesome and professional the service was...until I brought the check. Almost $2,000. They had ordered drinks, wines, appetizers, bottled water, soup, salad, entrees and desserts.

"Esscuse meee, missie, whyyyy is our beeeeel so high?" One of the men said. I explained to them that they had ordered a la carte, not the prix-fixe, which in actuality, wouldn't have saved them much, as they had ordered the most expensive of everything.

I honestly don't remember the exchange word for word suffice to say I was called a "Styoopid liddle gorl" and Andre, dressed in a tux with a silver ascot around his neck (I shit you not) happened to be walking by me. He paused, put his hand on my shoulder, looked at the man and said "Eez zere a prooplem?" (I'm trying to phonetically recreate the accents as best I can...) The man explained what happened and then asked if there was any possibility if they could switch to the prix-fixe and pay the extra. Andre explained that it wouldn't save them any money at all, as they had ordered the most expensive items, and there'd be upcharges for that. And then he said "Alzo, I see zat my server has not charged you ze gratuity...so your beel is not correct." Then when I was at my server station, he passed me and whispered "Geef zem ze 20% gratuity."

I smiled at him and just said "Thanks for backing me up. I really thought I was going to have to set it prix-fixe and eat the difference." (I was very new there when this happened) And Andre just said "People, zey will do zis all ze time. Welcome to ze world of serving. But I take care of my staff, zey're right 99% of ze time."

So this table, that was bitching about an almost 2000 dollar bill ended up having to pay almost $2400. Had they not bitched and just left a tip, I wouldn't have even been made aware of the gratuity that I had neglected to add as was the rules for parties of 6 or more.

Customers, learn from this: Bitching will not always get you your way and sometimes it will hurt you. If you have a valid problem, fine, we'll fix it. But if you walk into a place that you know is going to be expensive, don't try to haggle the bill. No matter what all those "Save money dining out!!!" articles say.



Et tu, Taco Bell

2009-01-20T12:35:15.762-06:00

This commercial has come up more than once on several other boards and so I'll add it here.  

There is a current taco bell commercial where a guy is getting a cup of coffee and says 'keep the change'.  The next guy in line says "what are you doing?  You know you can get blah blah blah with that change?"  Prompting the first guy to take back the change and say "you really just pushed a button."

I'm a firm believer in any press is good press, so on that thought, here's some free press for TB.  You're advertising firm sucks ass.  The commercial has nothing to do with TB other than a tag with what to do with change.  Honestly, I can't even remember what you're pitching, (which is a sign of a bad commercial) but I know I'll be heading to Del Taco from now on....so maybe it did work since I remembered who the commercial was for.....

Anywho,  

Where is our saviour?  Where is our superman with his white apron tied around his neck?  Why, in this year of our lord, 2009, are we still inundated with hollywood telling the masses that waitrons are the enemy?  That we are mindless, lazy, and not worth the change in your pocket.  That money is so sacred that it is better to snub a fellow human being than toss them a pittance for a job well done?

Why are we portrayed as people that need to be saved or pitied?  

Who will unite us as a people and lead us in boats made of monkey-dishes and ramikens to hollywood on a sea of ranch dressing to slaughter these pigs and flood the streets red with ketchup?


To end on a positive - the only time I can remember a waitress portrayed in a decent light (no, the movie 'waiting'  was not a decent portrayal of anything other than an nut sack)  is the song waitress by the band 'live'.  Check it out.

Chowda



Silly Pranks or Things To Do When It's Slow...

2009-01-19T14:04:49.769-06:00

From Sarah...

Do you guys play practical jokes on one another when it's slow?

We do!

Little things can be the quickest way to have me giggling like a school girl.

Last Saturday is a perfect example. We started out super slow and this was a shift I don't normally work so I didn't want to be there. We open at 11:30 and I had not yet received my first table by 12.

This one guy that I work with, let's call him Frank, was standing by the service bar putting little hats on lemons. Frank is annoying, he'll be the first one to tell you how to do your job even though he can barely hold down a 3 table section at night. So, I decided to mess with him.

I grabbed an anchovy from behind the line and snuck up behind him. I very carefully placed the anchovy on Frank's shoulder without him feeling it. I walked away and held my laughter in untill I was out of earshot.

Five years old, I am!

Frank didn't figure it out for at least a good 10 minutes. That thing could not have smelled very good. The service bartender told him it was me, so of course he had to get me back.

And he did.

About half an hour later, I felt something cold and wet on my leg. No, perverts, it wasn't that! The boy slipped an ice cube into my apron pocket without me feeling it. I thought it was hysterical. I wish I had those skills.

Not really the best story, I know, but we had fun and I felt like sharing. What about you guys? Do you any of you have silly pranks and jokes to share form the workplace?



Whaaaaa?

2009-01-14T11:12:50.282-06:00

Sarah again...

It's Tuesday night and I picked up an extra shift to cover some school expenses. Tonight I am in a great mood, laughing, joking, having great conversation with my co-workers and tables.

The night goes by incredibly smooth, I'm not in the weeds once.

Towards the end of the evening I get a middle aged couple. They order drinks, and then tell me they are ready to order. No apps or salads, just two steaks. The food comes out and everything is cooked to the right temperature. I do my quality check and everything is fine.

A short while later, I notice that the gentleman has finished his meal and pushed his plate off to the side with the fork and knife at 3 o' clock. Our style of service indicates to remove dishes once they are finished, so I do. The man smiles and asks about our desserts while the lady continues to enjoy her meal. I describe the desserts and go to refill the mans iced tea.

The lady finishes her meal, I remove the plate and the man asks for a slice of key lime pie. I mark them for dessert and order the pie. I drop check with dessert.

When I go back by the table, I see the man has placed cash down on the check presenter and I go to collect it. He tells me not to bring change and I thank him. The lady gets up and excuses herself, presumably to use the restroom. I go to the POS and see that the guy has given me a total of 121 dollars on an 80 dollar check! I go thank him profusely.

My manager calls me over a few minutes later. He tells me that the woman got up to tell him that she felt like they were being rushed and she wanted to bring it to his attention. I was like, huh?! "they guy left me a 40 dollar tip on an 80 dollar check!" I say.

Manager says the woman didn't want to say anything in front of her guy. He says maybe she just wasn't used to our style of service which is entirely possible because while we are upscale, we do pre-bus the table without waiting for everyone to finish. It isn't white tablecloth or anything.

Okay. I don't really get in trouble as it wasn't a valid guest complaint so whatever.

Five minutes later they leave. Manager comes back up to me and says the guy told him how amazing the service was on the way out.

I'm still wondering what all that was about?



Over a woody?

2009-01-10T11:22:58.780-06:00

A guy walks into the bar and starts complaining about a car parked in our togo parking spots.  

We have two spots right next to the door and we have no way of telling which car is for togo and which ones are just douchebags hanging out in the bar.   

Normally, I'd agree with the guy, but we know him and he's a bigger douchebag than whoever owns the car outside.   He wants to talk to the manager and I don't feel like arguing with him since it's 7:30 on a friday night, we're on an hour wait and my bar is a tad bit busy.  I send him to the hostess desk where three managers are hanging out and the other bartender and I laugh.  

The bar gets caught up and I decide to see what he's talking about.  I walk outside and a perfectly restored woody is sitting in the togo parking spot.  

I walk back inside and the guy is still arguing with management that he wants the complex security contact to have the car towed.  I decide to join in the fight and ask "how do you know he's not actually waiting for togo?"

"Oh he's not.  I used to own beautiful cars and that's just a fuck you to everyone in here.  I used to do that."  

"Again, how do you know they're not waiting for a togo order."

"Because that car has been here as long as I have and I'm waiting for a togo order."

I look down at the beer in his hand,  "you're waiting for a togo order too?"

"Yeah!  I had to park all the way down the street."

"So you're mad because he beat you to the parking spot?"  All the while staring at his beer.

"No.  You're missing the point.  He's not waiting for a togo order.  I know it."

"How?   Maybe the kitchen screwed up his order and he had to wait another 20 minutes for a remake."

"No.  No way.  It's been too long."

"But if that spot would have been open when you got here, you would have parked there and had a beer or two while your food sat in the window waiting for you to pay?"

"Forget it man.  You're missing the point."

And with that he left his half finished beer on the counter and headed to togo.  I'm sure the 16 year old togo girl got an earful.   

The Woody was beautiful.  I'm glad I got to step outside and see it.  



so many regulars, so little patience

2009-01-08T11:24:08.760-06:00

Another guest blogger.  You can call me Chowda.  Thank you to Insane for the opportunity.  Quick background  and History- I'm a bartender and the bar manager at....a bar.  It's taken me many years and even more barrels of alcohol to become 'okay' with staying in the restaurant business for over 20 years.  I am a lifer.  Actually, I've always been okay with it, it's just hard to explain it to outsiders with other jobs.  There is a woman that comes into my bar her name is Margo, but we'll call her Twinkles for legal reasons.  About a year ago, she started coming in because she opened a business across the street.  Seemed nice, but my craz-o-meter would scream when she was around.   The girl could put down the liquor.  I'm a drunk most of the time and she made me say 'damn'.    A few weeks later, she comes in and sits at a table with some other regulars.  She finishes her first glass of red wine and falls out of her chair flat on her face.  Seriously, faceplant.  She didn't even try to catch herself.  I cut her off and tell the cocktail waitress to get her food and get her out.  She refuses the food and the regulars help her outside.  She flips out and starts screaming outside, then heads back to her store and trashes the inside of it until the cops arrive and take her away in cuffs.  Freak.Her Dad calls and threatens to sue for putting something in her drink.  She's in her early 30s.She gets the honor of 86.  Usually, in my little hellhole we only 86 people for a while, because all the freaks come in on my days off, knowing that no one else in the place has a backbone.  So Margo, (oops I mean Twinkles) starts coming in again a few months ago, Always hiding in the corner behind regulars if I'm bartending.  Whatever.  She's entertaining as hell to me and I'm not liable if she kills someone.  How so you ask?  Well, let's just say she enjoys a little nip at work and keeps bottles stashed all over her store.  Friday she sits at the bar.  I was getting a case of beer and she didn't know i was in house.  The look on her face was priceless when I came around the corner.  Cat and Canary all over again.I go down to say 'hi'.  Again she freaks out with "Oh really?  You're going to talk to me after what you did?"I was kinda lost here.  I hadn't talked to her in over a year and really had nothing to do with kicking her out, but I'm often a scapegoat when it comes to kicking people out or cutting them off.  "Margo, I had nothing to do with you being kicked out.""I WAS NOT KICKED OUT I LEFT ON MY OWN!"I just laughed, "You couldn't even walk on your own.""Oh really do you want me to call a manager over her?  I'll have you fired. I am a business owner and you are just a bartender."So many things I could have said about her daddy is the business owner (with no business sense)  and she is barely a clerk, but instead I counter with, "Actually, I'm the bar manager of all of this."  I said as I splayed my arm out towards the bar and up to heaven.  "And I will get you another manager."The only reason I got another manager is so they could enjoy this too.  We all know she's nuts and I'm a giver.  I like to share.Before the second manager comes out, Twinkles daddy is at the bar yelling at me and #2.  Did I mention that #2 is the owners daughter.  Good times.  She can be a real badger if you corner her.  Daddy goes off on me and how I was rude and blah blah blah.  If he doesn't apologize they will leave and never come back.  blah blah blah.  Owner's daughter says (I could kiss her for this)  "Sorry, he's the bar mana[...]



I stopped serving for this?!?

2009-01-07T00:18:08.038-06:00

My name is Bella. I'm 25 years old, have been serving for almost a decade now (off and on, but mostly on...), and I work at a sandwich shop. It isn't a chain, just a sandwich shop.

I thought that by handing in my apron and walking away from serving, I would be escaping the crazies and jerks I encountered on a very frequent basis.

Boy was I wrong.

I'm a cashier, but I do other things too. I make tips, pretty decent tips for only working the counter, so I can't complain in that respect.

But I get my share of the idiots. Like the lady who asked if our tuna was white meat or dark meat. I understand there is a difference between the standard tuna, and chunk white albacore, but for crying out loud, this is a sandwich and cheesesteak joint!! I've been asked if things are organic. Kid you not.

And people always try to haggle the price with me. I honestly never encountered this in all my years of actually wearing an apron and carrying a winekey.

I also, for the first time in my life, run deliveries...and I have to share this gem with you.

It was dark and raining, and I received an order for delivery in an apartment community, with multiple buildings and a very poorly-planned road system. I searched for this apartment for 30 minutes, tried calling the number on the delivery slip, asking at the leasing office. No dice.

Finally by some luck of God, I found the apartment, got out of my car, and sank into a puddle that came halfway up to my knees. Cursing under my breath, I knocked on the door. The guy comes and signs his credit card slip, then says "I had to use my card, 'cuz I don't got cash, so I can't tip you, sorry."

My poor wet little heart burst in a froth of anger and I said cheerily (very faked cheer, needless to say) and politely said "That's okay, you can write it in on your charge slip and add it to the total.

I know that as a server, I used to think that counter-people had a far easier task, and delivery people had it MADE, but now I'm learning that both jobs have definite pros and cons.



Order by Numbers

2009-01-06T22:29:19.110-06:00

Here is your first taste of a guest blogger at The Insane Waiter. I'm Sarah, 25. I am a slave at an upscale restaurant in Western North Carolina.

It's New Years Eve and I'm actually excited to be at work for a change. The prospect of making well more than the usual on this night of many alcoolic beverages is fabulous. Anyway, I'm fairly new in town and had nothing better to do on this holiday.

Two things you should know about me.

1. I do think that the majority of the time your first table can set the tone for the rest of your shift.

2. I do not believe in generalizations. I will never make any snap judgments of how a person will tip based on race, etc. Most of the time, those people will surprise you. I can, however, usually pinpoint the tip potential after speaking to the guests for a few minutes and seeing how they treat me.

Which brings me (finally!) to my point...

My first table this evening is a two top. I greet them with the usual ditribe, offer the first-round drinks. Once I bring their beverages out, two glasses of sparkling white, I rehearse the features and ask if they are ready to order.

"I'll have the number 27 and she will have number 18."

Whaaaaaaa?

Great. They are order by numbers people. This almost never happens, but when it does it is always on a holiday when people that don't usually go out, go, well, out. So I'm faced with a dilemma. There are several items on the menu with these same prices and I need to figure out a way to get the actual order without making this poor guy feel stupid.

I take a chance.

"Yes sir, so you'll have Rib-Eye and the lady will have the Grilled Chicken Salad?"

I can practically see a lightbulb flash over this guys head as it dawns on him that maybe those numbers were actually the prices of the entrees.

"Ah, yes. Right." He utters those few words quickly as possible and I find out the temp he wants his steak cooked at so I can get the hell away from the table.

Once in the kitchen, I input their orders into the POS and peer out into the dining room. The couple seem to be laughing and enjoying themselves and I hope that the awkwardness of a few moments ago have passed. Order by numbers people always feel like idiots when they realize their mistake.

The couple finish their meal and decline dessert. I drop the check and go about the rest of my tables. Later that evening as I'm typing in my credit card tips into ALOHA, I find the receipt from that first table. I had not looked at it before because we were slammed all night. The young man left me a 30 dollar tip on a 100 dollar check. There is also a note on the back which reads:

Thank you for not making me look like a jerk in front of my date. I owe you one.

I will never forget that guy.



What are you, five?

2008-10-19T19:56:17.654-05:00

It was pretty much a nightmare scenario.We were packed to the gills and I was handed a twenty top to take by myself, a bit of a challenge, but one I've never shied from.The problem was it was twenty middle aged women and you know what that means...Ranch, Diet Coke, modifications from hell, separate checks and White Zin.The lady at position one had ordered the salmon with no sauce and steamed broccoli in place of asparagus, no problem right?Wrong, the deal was the next lady in line modified her entree and so on down the line. The ticket I sent the kitchen resembled the combined efforts of the last five blog posts in length. So the food came up, five trays of items that had only a passing resemblance of the actual menu description.I set position one's salmon down, no sauce, no asparagus, sub broccoli."Ummm, what is this?" She said to me, pointing at her plate."Salmon, no sauce?" I replied."No, what is this?" She asked, pointing to the side of pasta that also accompanied the dish."I'm pretty sure that's fettuccine alfredo." I replied."I didn't want that, I told you I only wanted broccoli." She snapped.I glanced at the nineteen other entrees waiting to be dropped off. The assistant manager was coming up with the last tray as well."Well miss, you don't have to eat the pasta, you asked for no asparagus." I retorted.She flipped the salmon over and poked at it with her fork."There's sauce touching my salmon, I don't want sauce!" She exclaimed."Miss, is this an allergy issue?" I asked."No, I just don't want my food touching." She said.I about screamed at her, "then who cares!"I bit my tongue, at that moment the assistant manager saved me from saying something I probably would have regretted."Hey, drop the rest of the food, I'll take care of this one," he said.I went about the task of delivering the rest of the dinner before it was cold.Afterwards I approached the manager. "Hey thanks man, are we re-plating that or what?" I asked."No, she wants a new one." He replied. Looking at the line I saw there were about fifteen tickets on the wheel, with the kitchen rolling like a freight train on cocaine."Are you fucking serious, just scrape that dab of sauce off, plate it with broccoli and lets go!" I shouted above the noise of the kitchen."She told me her broccoli felt like it was dumped in ice water and that she'd know is we gave her the same salmon." He said."What is she, five? Just flip the fucking fillet over!" I said."Just let me handle it," said the manager."All right, its all you then."Later as the dinner was winding down the manager approached me again. "Hey, we're buying her meal since it took a bit to get back out, we're also giving her a gift card."He said. "What, so she can come back in and get another free meal? We did nothing wrong and she gets two free meals out of it for throwing a fit." I said.The manager shrugged and said, "she's pretty pissed, we have to take care of it.""I just don't believe in rewarding bad behavior, when I was a kid and did this kind of thing my Mom would have taken me to the bathroom and spanked the shit out of me." I said."Well hopefully you won't wait on her when she comes back." He said."Oh I won't, she's one I'll remember." And with that I was out the door to split the checks a thousand different ways. With the gratuity added, naturally.[...]



Class Traitor

2008-10-06T14:25:59.180-05:00

It is restaurant code/karma/tradition to tip well if you are a restaurant employee.

For my compatriots and I insane 30, 40 or 50% tips are common place.

Even shit service warrants at least 15% or the big bad karma will come for you in the dark and stiff you.

That is why I am infuriated with the "class traitor" types.

Saturday night my string of bad luck stood at nine weeks in a row with large groups, more on that next post, especially if it goes to week ten.

It was an eight top of middle twentysomething girls, the situation was a birthday party.

They knew one of the managers and he bought the birthday girl her meal, this would be fine except some of her friends wanted to buy her dinner.

So they turned on me because apparently it was my responsibility to not let my manager take care of her, and naturally there was no tip left for her comped meal from the gals either.

As the checks came out which had to be ridiculously split beyond belief, one of the girls started name dropping where she had worked.

She used insider terms that impressed me like "eight top" and asked if the "grat" was added, unfortunatly for me it was not.

As I was rounding up the tabs she gave me hers, "Here hon, its all yours."

I walked back to the service station and was organizing the cash and credit cards when I open her folder, two bucks on twenty.

Ten percent.

The next folder contained the same amount and same tip.

I returned to the table with everyone's change and credit card slips, I dropped off hers as well.

"Oh I said you could keep the change?" She said as she dismissively waved me away.

"Oh are you sure?" I asked with a sarcastic hint to my concern.

Ten percent, from a server.

That will come back to bite her in the ass. One could as perhaps it was a service issue? I've said before, I know when I'm off at a table and can see expect a bad tip coming from a mile away.

This was not the case.

I went out of my way to split checks that had shared entrees, they got a free meal, they received free desert, and despite all the extra work, half of them tipped me at ten percent post discount.

The reason I didn't apply gratuity? One girl showed up late and had no ticket of her own.

As a I little bit of positive though, two girls at the end of the table who received no discount left me a very nice tip, thank you.

Later the manager who was friends with them asked me how they were, I suppose he was friends with them and I could have used some tact.

I didn't, I told him they stiffed me, that they were class traitors who knew better and that I never want to wait on them again.



Waiter Rant the show

2008-09-29T14:11:49.932-05:00

Congrats to Steve at Waiter Rant for having his book optioned as a show.

Even though the service industry is a HUGE employer nationwide, the media has kept us much in the background.

Where we generally are kept anyways. However besides Cheers or a few sub par movies like Waiting there hasn't been much to say.

At work to shoot the shit sometimes we have talked about a TV comedy taking place in the restaurant. Certainly every restaurant has its drama, its romances and naturally its characters.

I hope they get it right and let Steve have his creativity get invloved and not have some over-produced glossy mess.

Myself, I'd see it as one part Clerks and one part The Office, if I had to give expectations.

Waiting tried to be the Clerks of the restaurant world, and but for a few moments, failed largely.

Flipping around the networks it is hard to find an actually well written, funny show. Most try to follow the Friends trend or to pick up former stars and put them in an unrecognizable situation.

Sure I like Barney on How I Met Your Mother, but without him the show would be crap.

I hope Waiter Rant the show would be something unconventional, just like The Office is funny because it is something most people can relate to, so could Waiter Rant.

I mean how many people have put time in during college at a bar or restaurant, how many have as a second job? Tens upon tens of millions.

We all can relate to an egotistical chef, clueless manager, manager with the heart of gold, shady waiter, wisecracking bartender.

Every restaurant has their own characters, so did Waiter Rant the book and I'd like to see a good translation to the screen.

Once again congrats Steve!



Line of the week

2008-09-14T02:22:20.555-05:00

After a hard shift waitstaff everywhere gather for a solemn moment.

No, not the debauchery of blow, whiskey and "the grass"

That comes later.

The after shift meal.

That is unless a table comes in late in the shift, the moment after I ring my food in (happens 100% of the time)

Well, we were gathered for our hard earned meal when a couple from the patio walked past.

"Oh! I see they let the help eat!?" Exclaimed the lady of the couple.

Yes, they "let" us eat, we just don't go recharge in the closet after we fetch you your third martini.