I have a weird sense of déja vu about this post, as if I've written about this before. Sorry for the repetition if I have.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people just walk in and plop their asses down wherever the hell they want to in the restaurant. We do not have a sign saying "seat yourself". We do not have a stack of menus where customers can grab them. Upon entering the restaurant, customers are standing in a square lobby with tiled floor, distinctly different from the carpeted dining area. There are seats for when we're on a wait. In short, nothing about it implies that it's acceptable to park yourself wherever you feel appropriate. But of course, it happens all the time. Especially at the tables surrounding the bar -- because everybody knows that any table within ten feet of the bar must be up for grabs, right?
That happened twice last night, and man, I just love making those people feel like assholes!
The first was a couple in their early thirties, who casually walked through the lobby while the host was seating someone else. They settled down at one of our tables by the bar, and I just happened to be walking by and saw them. I scooted over and picked up two menus and two sets of silverware and rushed back to the table.
"Hi folks!" I said with a big smile. "I was just walking by and saw that the host didn't give you menus or silverware! I'm so sorry! I don't know why they didn't give you those!"
"Oh, we just sat ourselves." The lady said.
"Oh!" I gave them big, wide eyes.
"Is that not okay? Is it not open seating?"
"No, it's not." I said apologetically.
They looked at each other. "Do we need to move? Is it a problem?"
Since they seemed genuinely concerned, I quit fucking with them. "No, it's fine, nobody else is waiting. I think John can handle it, he'll be right with you. But he did just get two other tables so it might be a minute." I said, and gave them a big smile. They relaxed .... and then Rachel came over to wait on them, because it was actually her table. So they probably felt like jerks and assumed "John" couldn't handle it!
The second couple weren't nearly as nice about it. They'd snuggled their presumptuous asses into one of our six-seater booths in the middle of the dinner rush. Again, it wasn't my table, but I just had to have a word with them. Again, I said I was walking by and saw they didn't have menus, and apologized that "the host didn't give them to you."
"No, they didn't," the man grumbled, totally not taking the hint.
"I am so sorry! They're supposed to give menus and silverware to everyone when they seat them!"
"Hmpf." The woman said.
So I continued twisting the screws. "I'm really sorry. I'm going to have to have a talk with them, someone is going to be in trouble!"
At that they finally looked at each other and she said, "Well, they probably didn't give us menus because we sat ourselves."
"Ohhhhhhh." I said in fake surprise, looking over my shoulder at the completely full lobby.
"Isn't it seat yourself?" she snipped.
"No," I said slowly and with my best worried look. "I'm going to have to go ask the hosts if this table was reserved for someone." I took a step away, looked up at the lobby, and then looked back at them, biting my lip. Now, it just so happened that I knew that we had two very large parties, and that's why the lobby was full. But I certainly wasn't going to tell them that. Instead, I stepped back very close to the table and said, "You know what, nevermind. There aren't that many people waiting." I looked over my shoulder again. "It'll be okay." I said in my uncertain voice, then smiled at them and walked away.