Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Above and beyond.

We've all been there: we have a table that, for whatever reason, we go beyond the usual for. And when one of these tables turns around and shorts us, they might as well have pissed on our shoes. It's absolutely galling, and after enough disappointments, eventually the long-time server can become jaded and .... you know what, fuck this third person crap. After so many customers being absolutely thankless fucksticks when I gave them more than my best effort, I totally went and got cynical. And yes, eventually I stopped doing extra things for my customers. I think it was about the 20th time that I scoured the kitchen looking for ingredient lists and attempting to create substitute seasonings for someone with an allergy (or "allergy", who knows), and got shafted for my efforts, that I quit caring quite so much.

That's not to say I wouldn't answer requests -- if someone needed directions, wanted to know just what was in a sauce, had a million modifications, I would do it. But I wouldn't offer. Does that make me a bad server? Some would say yes. Does it affect my tips? That's harder to say. I don't think it has; the shittiness of tips has increased and the economy's health has decreased. Anyway, this mental shift happened a long time ago, and if my tips had been this bad the entire time I'd have participated in some retributive arson a long time ago.

Sometimes people really surprise you, like my new favorite customer who gave me $18. And sometimes they at least fail to disappoint you, like a couple I waited on earlier that same night.

The first thing I overheard was that they'd just come from a Weight Watchers meeting, so I was anticipating bullshit. At first this seemed confirmed when the woman asked for "iced tea with LOTS of lemons!" (I took her at her word and brought her a whole sliced lemon, which she loved.) But their order was simple and basic enough, a chicken dish for him and a small steak for her. Out of habit I asked if she wanted sautéed mushrooms or onions on her steak, and her face lit up ... then fell.
"What are they sautéed in?"
"Garlic butter," I said, then realized that wasn't going to work so well with her diet.
"Oh, okay. Then no, I guess not."
"You know, let me find out if we have something else we can do them in."
"Oh, that's wonderful! Thank you! That's great!" She was so pleased it made me smile. Luckily for me, Lapdog was our expo that night, and one thing he's very all about is making things however the customer wants them. So at least I didn't have to argue with Rehab or a non-English speaking cook to get vegetables sautéed in foul PAM spray -- which is why normally I may not have bothered.

Both my customers had ordered salads without bacon, cheese, or croutons. I thought their salads looked a little naked, so I got the cooks to put extra vegetables on it (since I know through my cousin that vegetables are "free" on the weirdass WW points plan) - if I hadn't been paying attention I wouldn't have overheard they were on WW. Again, my customers were just thrilled. They gushed about how good the salads looked, they didn't think they had so much on them, last time they didn't, so I told them that was my doing.

"Ohh, that's so sweet!" The lady enthused. Insert diatribe about points-free vegetables and more gushing. Now that I'm thinking about it, I get the impression her husband was along for the WW ride for support rather than because he was really in to it; or maybe she just does most of the talking.

When their food came, she thanked me for the mushrooms and onions some more, and asked if we had printed nutritional information because she'd like to convert everything into WW points. I said we don't, but it's online. But after I walked away from the table, I went to our computer, pulled it up, and wrote out all the info on their two meals.

Then when she mentioned they come in every Monday after their meeting, I got them both repeat customer punch cards. I made sure Pot Smoking Manager stopped by their table; I said a few conversational things about the difficulty of dieting, although I really hate those kinds of talks. Normally I would've asked PSM to take the cards, but not got them myself. I may or may not have asked him to do a table visit; and I definitely wouldn't have engaged in diet talk.

When I delivered their ticket, I was debating if I wanted to tell them I worked every Monday and to ask for me. What if they were shitty tippers? But they said they might, and when I saw the 20% tip I was relieved. Maybe I'll wait on them again, maybe I won't; but I'll remember them because they didn't treat me like shit when I treated them well.


SkippyMom said...

I had a sinking feeling the entire time I was reading this because I was sure these super nice people were tipping you verbally.

Whew. Thank goodness they came through. Remember them next time and I bet the tip increases a bit.

You are a damn good waitress Cranky, but I do understand the "Meh" attitude. I feel that way sometimes. No matter what I do it is always the same 'ol sh*t.

Nicely done girlie!

The Restaurant Manager said...

I'm so glad they didn't screw you over!! Sounds like you did an awesome job taking care of them!!

Really great post!

purplegirl said...

I thought I was gonna get the verbal tip too! It was nice to be surprised. :)