Tonight was round two with the damn homecoming kids. Luckily for me, I had a section that doesn't accommodate large tables! I was especially grateful for that when a table of twelve high schoolers showed up. The first few were there a good half an hour before the rest .... to decorate the table. They'd brought place cards, balloons, garland, place settings, and little plastic "wine glasses" for the pitches of Shirley Temples they demanded. After monopolizing three tables for almost two hours, they left a $10 tip.
Of course, I didn't have to deal with them directly--I just had to dodge them on the way to my own section. I was doing great for the first 9/10 of the rush. Average tips, probably because people were pissed they had to wait; but I wasn't screwing up, everything was going well. Then, at the very end of the dinner rush ..... catastrophe.
It started with a table that ordered three desserts. One I make; two are made by the cooks. I got the one I was responsible for ready, and set it in the window to await the other two. Then I went about my business for a few minutes until I saw they still hadn't gotten their desserts. The expo knew they were ready, because she'd stuck the ticket over that window (separate from the main expo area). I assume she called for a runner .... and then forgot all about them. Now, if they were just grab-and-go desserts, that'd be one thing.
But one is served on a hot skillet, so I had to ask the cooks for it. I then ran a report and saw the desserts were already on 11 minutes. I called for a skillet again. No response, no skillet. For five minutes that went on; meanwhile I had been sat again at table 17, so I ran to my section; they were totally ready to order. I got the order and went back to the kitchen. As I was getting on the computer, I saw I finally had a skillet. No wooden thing under it, no dessert on it, no ice cream on said dessert, no hot sauce for the dessert ... but a skillet. So I got the wooden holder, I screamed for ice cream, and I finally got their desserts to them .... eighteen goddamn minutes after they'd ordered them! I tracked down GM and asked her to talk to the table; she did, and took their desserts of their ticket.
I finally got their ticket cashed out and they went on their way; I got 20% despite the issues. But that was a good chunk of time spent running back and forth, trying to get the attention of the cooks, trying to placate the guys and keep them informed, trying to find either manager and get them to stand still long enough to explain the situation ... all without neglecting my other four tables.
I continued shuttling around, getting refills and such; and at some point I pulled up the screen for table 17, I don't remember why ... and was immediately horrified. I hadn't rung in their food, and they'd been sitting for 20 minutes. I'd gotten their drinks rung in before seeing I finally had a skillet for my belated dessert, and then had forgotten to come back to do the rest. Sonofabitch. I rang it all in on the fly, told the GM what I'd done, and rushed out to apologize to them and get them an appetizer in the interim--because of course, one of their meals was a damn med well steak!
The customers weren't happy, but they weren't pissed; especially after the restaurant bought all their dinners. They even left me $5, which I didn't expect or deserve. They seemed nice enough, so I admit I did have a bit of hope for a tip, so I sneakily let them know what their bill would have been. When they were finished eating, I told them, "Well, the bad news is you had to wait; the good news is that me being an airhead saved you $60! We took care of everything, there's no ticket, so you're good to go!"
Luckily, that was at the end of the dinner rush, because it totally threw me off. I was so embarrassed, and so mad at myself. The adrenaline rush from running around for the past two hours was running out, too, and I was slightly shaky and couldn't focus because I was so irritated with myself. I was irritated at the cooks too--I know the ultimate responsibility was mine, but the point where I got thrown off was the dessert fiasco.
The timing was also lucky because that's apparently when half the staff lost their grip -- another server forgot to ring in food for 30 minutes, the cooks screwed something up, the expo screwed something up, and basically we were circling the drain. GM was getting annoyed, saying "we don't know how to be busy anymore!" Of course, she excused it on the cooks' behalf, saying "they can only maintain that level for so long!" Naturally that doesn't apply to anyone else, though, right? Three $1000+ sales hours in a row is only rough on the cooks.
Overall, the night just sucked, though; the dessert people were the only decent tippers I had--and with the glaring exception of the forgotten food, everyone got good service. I had several small groups of teenagers, and then some other people who said everything was fine but still felt the need to short me. Ah well.
One more week of homecoming to go ...