I was in no mood for peoples' bullshit yesterday. When I woke up my first thought was "fuck this day" -- I was just pissed off from the word go, for no particular reason. Naturally, my customers did nothing to help this. To be fair, most of them were garden variety jerks. By that I mean the kind of people who answer "how are you?" with "Water. Just water." and when you offer them soup or salad ask "is it free?" I don't even remember most of my tables last night, because they fell in to that category. Four particular ones stick out though.
One of them was my first table of the night. It was a couple in their forties, along with their daughter and her husband. They weren't rude; they answered my questions; they acknowledged my presence at the table .... except the mother. When I asked if they were ready to order, she immediately stated, "chicken salad with dressing on the side. So I was talking to your aunt the other day, and ...." Nevermind that I needed to get the rest of her table's order too, clearly it was more important to start her conversation right the fuck now. Oh, and did I mention that she didn't even bother to look at me while saying this? Yeah, she was the kind of bitch. The entire meal was like that. When she wanted more water (with lemon, of course!), she held her glass up in the air without looking at me, while talking non-stop. Her husband and the kids were very polite and friendly; I think if any of them had paid, I might have gotten a decent tip. But, of course, as soon as I approached with their check she thrust a credit card at me. I don't think she looked at me once; and "chicken salad with dressing on the side" were the only words she spoke directly to me. I'm sure the fact that she was hardly aware I existed explains the $4 tip on a $50 ticket.
Then I had a table of semi-regulars. The wife is always sort of bitchy; the husband is very mellow; this time they had their two grandchildren with them. When I asked what they wanted to drink, the wife immediately started going in circles with the kids -- "what would you like to drink? would you like this? well what about this? well what are you having for dinner? would you like this? or that? what to drink? oh you want this to eat? are you sure? are you sure you don't want this?"
After easily a minute and a half of being ignored by her, I was a little more direct than usual. "Maybe I can get your drinks while you're deciding on the dinner part." She blinked owlishly at me but finally asked for water (of course). I got their waters; they finally ordered. One of the kids got something off the children's menu; the other ordered off the regular menu. The adults got our motherfucking despised "share two" discount meal. Fucking fabulous. Then they started whipping out the coupons. Most places don't let you use multiple discounts, but of course my restaurant is so afraid of losing customers that they'll let them. And they had a small gift card as well. So these fuckers ended up getting food for four people .... for 39 fucking cents. And I got a $4 tip. The guy made a big deal out of handing it to me too. Oooooh, four dollars, that's .5% of my rent! Thanks! Seriously, you fuckers? You got all your food for 39 goddamn cents, and you can't tip decently? FUCK YOU!
Still, I was really trying to not let my bad mood overwhelm me; I tried to shrug off these first two tables, and think that later tables would make up for it. They didn't, but I tried to think it.
Where I started to get really, really irate was with a table of two. We had a wait that night for a couple of hours, but things were going smoothly. For once, the kitchen wasn't fucking up left and right. People weren't camping out. Cheap-ass tips aside, it was a fine night. Then I saw HotPants get flagged down by one of my tables--never a good sign. So I scurried up with the water pitcher to refill the drinks next door, and listen in.
"That table over there has been dirty for 25 minutes!" My customer jabbed at a table in another server's section, several tables away and behind him. "Why can't somebody clean it? You have a serious problem in this restaurant!"
The table had been dirty for a while; I had taken a few items off it at a time, slowly clearing it off, because it was a new server's section and she was overwhelmed. A fifth table probably would have set her over the edge. But, um, who the fuck worries about something like that? If you're already sitting down, if you've already ordered your damn food, why would you even notice? The guy was perfectly polite to me, but HotPants told me later that he was really getting in his face about it, bitching about the lobby being too full and how ridiculous it was that we were so busy. What? HP had to walk away and come back because he was getting really pissed off' and the guy kept giving nasty looks to everyone who walked by. Except me, strangely; but I was still irritated by his busy-body attitude.
Not too long after they left, I got a table of two middle-aged folks. They were polite, seemed normal, and I anticipated no problems. The man ordered a pasta dish that I think is quite tasty; it has fettucine, garlic alfredo sauce, and then the meatballs have a mild marinara on them. The woman ordered one of our hideous new diet dishes. The menu clearly states that it is a diet item; it clearly states it has foul whole-wheat pasta, a bunch of veggies, and plain shrimp. But she didn't look displeased when I delivered their food, even though it's really a very small portion and I'd be pissed off if a restaurant brought it to me.
When I checked back on them, he said his meal was good. She said hers was "interesting". I asked if it was "good interesting or bad interesting"; she just repeated it was interesting, but she smiled. I asked if she'd order it again, and she immediately said no. I offered her a new meal, either the same or something different. Twice I asked what else she would like, and she just kept shaking her head and telling me it was okay. After confirming one more time that I couldn't get anything else for them, I went to my other tables.
A few minutes later, I saw that both their plates were half-full and pushed to the side. "Time for some boxes?" I asked with a smile. Oh, Christ on a unicycle.
"No." The woman snapped. "Everything was horrible. We couldn't even eat it. This," she flicked the edge of her plate," is entirely unacceptable for eleven dollars! And his was so disgusting he couldn't even eat it! Alfredo and marinara together, that's just ... who ... We are very disappointed in (restaurant)."
I ran for HotPants, I wasn't talking to those bitches any more! He spent seriously the next ten minutes kneeling by the table listening to them fucking rant and rave. Predictably, he bought their food and they stormed out without leaving a tip. I wanted to follow them, throwing things. RTFM! Read the fucking menu! If it says it has alfredo and marinara, and you don't like that, then don't fucking order it! If you're not on a diet, and you don't want to eat diet food, don't fucking order it! But that's just plain stupidity. What makes me think they weren't stupid, just assholes, is that they assured me everything was fine .... and then suddenly it wasn't. Hmm, could it be that they just decided they were full and wanted their food for free? Or that they just wanted to feel important by having someone be forced to listen to them? Those kinds of people make me want to go on an eye-gouging rampage.
The night ended on the same kind of note. The grizzled, camo-wearing, scowling "gentleman" at my last table was wearing .....