Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dear customers, fuck RIGHT OFF.

Today was one of those days when you just want to turn to the waitress god and say "WTF, man?" It wasn't terrible; it just wasn't good. It was punctuated by all sorts of fun little things that just made it an unprofitable pain in the ass--and a couple of moments that made me want to go fucking postal on the place. It was one of those days where I felt like I was being punished for coming to work.

The day started out ordinarily enough, which is to say I was five minutes late. And nobody cared. I got a table of two after about fifteen minutes, and idly wandered around for a while, thinking the snow meant we'd have a shitty day. And then our charming host boy sat me a five and a four at the same time. I don't actually mind that; I can treat it like one big table, drop drinks at one time, get orders at one time, etc.

So I get their drink orders; the five-top seems nice enough, the four-top seems a little odd but polite enough. I go back to the kitchen and come out with a tray off eleven drinks--I love the "I'll have coffee AND water!" people--and see I've got another table of four! Awesome. So I go to them first, while I'm clearly burdened down, and winsomely tell them I'll be right there. Then I take four waters (with lemon!11!!) to the four top, and then drinks to the five top. A third person, let's call her Grandma, promptly decides she needs to have coffee too. Okay.

I get their food order; I go back to the first four top. The two younger boys share a pasta bowl; the father orders fajitas; and the mother isn't eating because she's "on a diet". WTF? And then they order hot water for her. Okay. Then I go to get a drink order on the new four top, and they're all ready to order.

So I head back to the kitchen with a drink order for the new table, and a second drink order on both my other tables, plus three orders full of modifications. I get all their food put in, I get their drinks, and as I pick up the tray another server tells me I'm missing a coffee on 22. They stopped her as she walked by to demand their second coffee. Alright, whatever; it'd been about five minutes all told, between the order taking, the order entry, and the drink making.

I drop off the coffee and continue to the next task, and overheard Grandma say "Oh, I guess she was on the way!" Grandma's daughter asserts "No, the other woman told her!" So I made a point of coming back and sweetly apologizing, saying I was just putting their food in to the kitchen first.

My other three tables were fine; they got their food, they ate, they tipped me average amounts, they left. The five top with Grandma at it told me everything was fine; then they stopped the manager to complain that one of the girl's chicken fried chicken was "too fatty" and could she get chicken strips instead. Then she didn't eat those either. Then Grandpa had to have another bowl of soup. And then they sat for a long time.

This was all tolerable; the coffee thing was mildly annoying, mostly because I despise people assuming I'm slacking off. The next issue came when my five top left; because my dear favorite host pulled two tables together (half my section) for a group of six adults and a kid (and another four in one of my booths at the exact same time). At first, I thought--sweet! Only one kid! And then within the first couple of words they spoke, I got a bad feeling. Nothing specific; just a less than optimistic feeling. But it was a correct feeling--they shared a bunch of appetizers and my tip was less than 15%. Again, this is all fairly benign, and I realize that.

What really set me off didn't come until we'd cut to three people, and the place was basically empty. I had a table of campers, and another with an unremarkable couple. I was heading into the kitchen when I saw the host seating a couple of dudes in another server's section; I didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later, I saw them sitting at one of my tables, looking around, pissed off. Fabulous. I rush over, apologize, take their order immediately. I could tell they weren't happy, but I figured it'd be alright. They were waiting five minutes at the absolute outside.

Well, one of them ordered a Pepsi, and of course, the Pepsi went out. I knew if I went back and wrestled with the syrup box and the spigot and everything, I'd come out and they'd be gone. So I poured that guy a water instead, and as I was walking to their table I heard him bitch about I wasn't bringing him a Pepsi. I told him the fountain was out, and I'd go fix it right away, but I'd brought him a glass of water in the mean time. No response, so I started back to the kitchen. I wasn't three steps away when I heard one of them slam the table and swear ... and two steps later the bartender asked me why they were leaving.

I couldn't believe it. They'd already ordered; their food was in to the kitchen; they had beverages. And they bolted because it would be two more minutes on a fucking Pepsi.

This started a pleasant chain reaction. While I was explaining to the manager, and telling the cooks not to make their food, the bartender (who was due to leave in fifteen minutes) got a table, and asked me to take it. I thought, no problem: I'd take their drink order and go check on my unremarkable couple. So I go and smile and greet them. "Can I get you a pepsi or a tea to drink?"

Silence. Then, from the older woman: "Are your appetizers on sale now?"

Oh, fuck.

As I'm answering her, I see my other table flagging down another server. I can see them; they can see me. I continue trying to extricate a drink order from these people, who, by the way, are obviously trailer trash--they have mullets. Long mullets. Now, I lived in trailers several times growing up; I know economic status isn't always something someone can break out of and not everybody has the benefit of a good education. But adopting the Official Hairstyle of Trash? That is a choice right there.

Anyway ... the older woman's daughter and her two kids aren't answering regarding drinks. The older woman heaves a sigh. "I HATE coming here. They always put cilantro in everything. I hate this place." And then "how much for a warm tea?" "About $2," I tell her. "HUH! Is that unlimited or something?" "Yes." And then she says. "Oh," as if disgusted. "you have lemonade here, don't you." Seriously, she said it like it was a moral failing! And then she stares at her menu. I asked if she needed more time. "What udder kinda pops do yuh haf?" So I list them. She stares at me blankly. "This is going to be on two checks."

Finally, she tells me she guesses she'll just have a water, with lemon, with a straw, with no ice. The other woman still won't tell me what she wants to drink--she says she'll wait until they "figure out" what they're going to do. At this point, I've seen another server and a manager at my other table, who I'm looking at hopelessly all the while. I've also been sat with another four top over there. I find the manager, find out my other table's fries were cold or something, so he took care of it. I offered them dessert, I cleared their plates, I gave them their ticket. They gave me a single dollar ($25 ticket). FUCK RIGHT OFF.

My new table is nice enough; I get them taken care of, and the Mullet Mothers have finally decided what their having. Older Mullet Mother orders an appetizer. Now, the thing with the appetizers is this: one discounted appetizer per beverage ordered. So I tell them that, exactly that, and say we'd have to do it full price if ordered without a beverage. Older Mullet Mother snaps "I know! I guess I'll try a root beer." Younger Mullet Mother orders one kid's meal and three appetizers--that's one more app than they had beverages. I just covered this, remember.

They continued to be a giant pain in my ass for the next hour; staring at me like they wanted something and then denying it, then flagging me down thirty second later; eating ridiculously slowly; spilling ranch all over the time. I admit, at one point, when I had three tables on the other side of the restaurant, I did forget a Pepsi refill for about five minutes. OH DEAR GOD. But they didn't actually seem pissed, other then Older Mullet Mother originally hollering at my to tell me I'd forgotten the soda.

So, eventually, they ask for their (separate) tickets. I drop them off and go take care of my new round of tables. And then, when I go back to collect them, Younger Mullet Mother points with her long, fat, square fake nail and says "These onion rings are supposed to be cheaper!" I smiled, though I knew it was fake, and said, "As I was saying before, it's one discounted appetizer per beverage ordered."

"Well! That's not what you said!"
I looked at her, not sure what to say without it sounding snotty.
"You said you just had to order a beverage! You didn't say that I'd have to order another drink!"

Well, I know goddamn well that I did. And I wanted to say that. Instead, I snapped, "Do you want me to get the manager?"

"No, you don't have to get the manager but THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAID. And IT WASN'T THAT WAY LAST TIME!" (Unless they were last there eight years ago, it was.)

"Let me get Jack." I just walked away. I was pissed. We gave them the discount they didn't deserve, and, to my utter fucking surprise, they granted me a fucking dollar tip. I didn't expect anything, considering they were cheap asshats and I did lose my temper a little bit. If we're lucky, my tiny attitude will convince them not to come back.

And then it was time for the evening shifts. I got back in to a better mood; and my tables tonight were all fine. Not spectacular, and I still had lots of annoying modifications, but nobody was being a total douche, which was a pleasant surprise. My tips were all 10%, though, which, you know, YAY.

The last slap in the fact came when the manager did first cuts. Our restaurant has a ring of outer tables, and a ring in inner tables around the bar. I'd had the tables around the bar, and had a total of five tables during the "rush". The manager moved me to a section that required walking up and around the entire place to get to in relation to the rest of my tables .... right after I got a six top with four children, and right before the new section got double sat. And one of my other tables asked me for three things, and I asked a group of chatting coworkers for help and was told "SURE! blahblahblahtotallyignoringme".

And then ... my previous section, around the bar, that had been empty all night? Totally filled up. Bloody fucking hell.

The day was just a damn struggle from the start. Having written it all out, I guess it sounds trivial, but I'm sure the other servers out there understand the background of all of it, the other tables and their demands and irritable managers and stuff, that make it hard to cope with this extra shit.

My take at the end of the day was about 11%. FUCK RIGHT OFF.


Steven Nicolle said...

After a day like that it is a wonder you are not suicidal and did not ram a tree on your way home.Great description of your shift. I was laughing not at you of course but the post itself.

purplegirl said...

Yeah, right, you were laughing at me. It's alright. I'm used to it. (dramatic sigh)


seattle said...

Luckily you have a job where you get a clean slate every time you get a new table.
I, as most servers, believe in karma service. You might as well enjoy the bad tables because you need them to see the good.

purplegirl said...

Very philosophical. Fuck right off.

No! I'm totally kidding! :) I know it all evens out in the end, it's just frustrating to have a whole day like that.

Masquerade said...

I totally understand! But then you sort of wonder...Is the Almighty Karma of the Restaurant Industry collecting on an old debt or owing me for the future? Crap, what did I do wrong tomorrow? :P

I dodged two HUGE bullets tonight on my part. The guy with the station just before me got a group of like 5 kids and 2 adults (I DESPISE serving kids with every sinew in my body) and the station just AFTER me got a party of something like 18 blonde, skinny, giggly teenage female field hockey players and their respective parents/boyfriends/coaches. Easily 25 or more people altogether, with about 11 separate bills. I would have walked out the door if I'd been seated with them tonight, so I'm pretty glad I wasn't. And then with that guy walking out, and so much other crap...

sorry, I'm ranting in your comments :P

Um, so what was I saying...oh, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. <3

purplegirl said...

"what did I do wrong tomorrow"--love it. :) Feel free to rant, god knows I do enough of it!