The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Monday, October 31, 2005

Well Allow Me To Retort!

Well hello friends...

As you can see I like to stir the pot, both here and on message boards I hear about tipping. I had a post on it a few months ago but decided to try to see other's perspectives from both a staff and customer point of view.

So no it's not a cop out post...

These are my thoughts on the state of service in relation to tipping. About 2/3rds of those that commented prefer the system as it is.

I prefer it as well, though it has its down falls and I think at times I deserve more than I get, tipping is subjective.

I think I may have stated before and I know many that commented with me agree that under a service charge or check increase the server actually makes less.

Several people made a case for servers getting paid a living wage and while that intention is noble, well we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

An example would be Per Se in NYC. I've read about their system on both Bitterwaitress and Waiter Rant (Check them out if you haven't on my links).

Several private clubs in my area use the same system as well.

That would be a solid 18-20% Service charge on the bill, no option to not tip, and not much of an encouragement to tip.

Per Se did it because the owner/operator, Thomas Keller was a Chef by trade and didn't like the disparity between back of the house and front of the house wages. He went to a straight fee to divide the tip between the front and back of the house.

Now I did a little research and the type of restaurant is heads and tails above what most of my readers work at. Each dinner costs $210 per person, that is a significant price, thus nearly a $45 tip per person.

If half of that goes to pay for other salaries that does leave the wait staff with with a hefty amount in there pocket, Thomas Keller says he is doing it for his staff and to change the view on tipping in this country.

It's bullshit I say. He just wants to pay his kitchen out of the server's pocket rather than his own. Hell, you wait on just 10 people a night 5 nights a week that is a bit of change you'll get, but remember that living in NYC isn't cheap either.

I have had several friends of mine work in private clubs with a similar system. Here's how it goes. They get paid 18%, but it all goes through payroll and that's where the server gets screwed. Very little stands in the way of an owner lining his pockets with that service charge. In all cases that I have heard of they do just that.

Since everything is on tab they are paid for with credit cards, the owner makes the staff pay the credit card service fee out of their own pocket, so you're down to 15% right off the bat.

Then they pay the support staff, bussers, hosts, food runners...

Out of your tips as well.

Then you're down to 10%.

Then you get your paycheck, maybe it's $10-12 an hour, and there's no accounting for what the owner keeps for profit on top of that. Since its a service charge collect by the owner technically he is only obligated to pay minimum wage, so it technically isn't stealing or bilking the staff due to technicalities.

That is the main reason I'm against a service charge, you pay the same amount with the staff receiving as little of it as possible, and it quickly would go that way in other restaurants.

What of the good owners and managers you say, surely a businessman wouldn't screw over his own employees would he?

For money??

Turn on your TV, it happens everyday with pensions, 401k's, stock options, hell how many of you have lost your job or know someone who has because it was outsourced overseas?

All for money, you really think taking a kid's tip is anywhere in the same league as the money that is gained by things like that? Well it adds up, and any CEO of a chain restaurant would take that $5 you left on the table from that college kid or single mom if it meant his stock would go up 1/8th of a point.

I'd rather get screwed by the occasional asshole customer that with every table that walks in the door by an asshole owner that wants to pay the staff out of my pockets, which by the way are considerable more shallow than his.

So that's my position on why I want to work under the tipping system. Many of you made interesting comments and on teh next post I'd like to respond to several of them, I'll have it up in the next day or so...

Plus this is a bonus, many comments were made on how much you should tip and on what kind of service, as a waiter I have my opinions as well an will relay those!

Secret Server

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Poll Time!

Ok, due to recent comment posts about tips versus employers paying us more than $3.00/hour I decided to do this little poll

Take a minute and please respond if you have the time...

I will address my feelings in the next post on this issue.

If restaurants paid us a larger wage it would be passed on to the customer, some places already do this in the form of a service charge, usually 18-20% of the bill. Or they simply raise the price of your bill and pass on that increase for payroll expenses.

The question is this for both my fellow servers and for customers...

Would you rather keep the tipping system?


Would you rather go with raised prices or service charges?

I'd love to hear which you prefer and if possible why!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Poor Bastards...

I just witnessed two horrifying events, while watching The Cobert Report on Comedy Central I saw a terrible, terrible thing...

Olive Garden commercials.

The first of which had some young office drone ladies hungaring for soup...

Then salad..

And finally breadsticks...

All you can eat for $5.95.

I pity those poor fools that work there.

I've been there before, at a different restaurant, with bitchy middle aged low level office ladies demanding more soup, then when you drop it off they order more salad, just as they stuff the last piece of bread in their mouth.

Greed, gluttony and sloth all rolled into one.

I hated it and I tell you those poor bastards working for the souless Darden corporation must have their release.

Then it happened, then next commercial.

Smiling servers taking order after order of all you can eat pasta...

Dear God.

How can they cope?

No running back for another order of half spaghetti, half penne with a mixture of alfredo and garlic marinara, all while in the weeds.

Not for me at any rate, I refuse to work at such a place

Free items have always been the bane of servers, refills, bread, chips, crackers, peanuts and whatever else gluttonous patrons shove down their throats in lieu of ordering an appetizer, salad, or whatever else that will actually cost money.

Luckily my days of having to capitulate to a customer demanding,"Where's my chips!?" is over.
I just don't understand why the purpose of some diners seems to be how much they can eat of the free shit, there is a menu.

We aren't there as a free buffet, freakin order something already.

I have much better things to do than run around with baskets of bread, such as taking orders and delivering food to my paying customers.

Bread, chips etc. are a snack, something to hold you until apps or salads arrive, not meals.

I've seen tables use these items as full meals, much to the disgust of me...

I can't even comprehend the all you can eat pasta, I guess the type of people that are gluttonous enough to eat like that are so numerous that Olive Garden can build a business around cheap people with huge appetites.

I'm so happy I don't have to put up with that type of shit anymore, and I hope those poor kids with their shitty three table sections and cart of crappy house wine move on to better shores...

For the corporate restaurants will never press those cruel thorns of oppression over my brow, or crucify me on a cross of Penne!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Beverage Profiling

All props go to PokerVixxen on Bitterwaitress for this.

So brilliant and true I wish I would have thought of it first.

This is a game we play for fun, we predict what someone will order upon seating, we call it "beverage profiling".

People with weight issues- ice tea or diet

Overdressed teenage girls sporting the latest Ambercrombie fashions- water with lemon and a straw.

Middle aged married couple "costco shoppers"- House wine by the glass.

Really old people-extra hot coffee and it better be fresh!The sober alcoholic-extra hot coffee and it better be fresh, be prepared to brew an extra pot!

Girls Night Out(translation, midlife crisis real estate agents)-cosmopolitans or lemon drops keep em' comin'.

Hick from the sticks- Coors light and white zinfandale.

The friendly gay couple- Nice wine or top shelve martinis.

Just turned 21- jager bombs and specialty drinks.

The Gansta- Hennesey or Courvosier.

The party of six, mom, dad, and kids- shirley temples, one draft beer, one house wine.

"Are you still serving?" people, 5 minutes to close"- anything that has been cleaned, blender drinks, espressos.

business man-nice wine, scotch or whiskey, diet cola if it's lunch.

Country Club Couple- specifications for everything, vodka martini no vermouth, rocks on the side, lemon and lime twist with a tonic water chaser, in a highball.

Old ladies-sweet white wine or hot water.

High maitenance(you can just tell, by the way they sweep the seat before they sit, notify you of the salt grains that are invisible to the untrained eye, complain about it being "too cold", have to have a window seat)- hot tea with milk or hot chocolate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My Faith In Humanity

My faith in humanity is put to a test on a daily basis, from looting in New Orleans, wars in the poorest of nations, to the crazy bitch that yelled at me for forgetting her side of ranch, even though she didn't order one.

Yes, there are more important things than tips or rude customers, but ever now and then someone shows me that the world can be full of kindness...

It was a normal night, and one that sticks out in my mind.

My old restaurant was falling apart before my eyes, everyday I wanted it to be my last there, then it happened, one of the kindest things a customer has ever done for me.

My GM came up to me and said he needed to see me, he was a great guy and I we had a good rapport so nothing to worry about.

We go into the office and he hands me a hand written letter, addressed to me.

As I went over the words I remembered the night, it was a week before.

I had an African American family of six come in right before close, on a Sunday night.

Right or wrong, and please I'm not going to debate this issue on this column, for this is a happy one, there is a stigma against both blacks and church goers in the Restaurant industry.

Needless to say I try to wait on my tables all the same, even those I suspect might go one way or the other.

Well this family was the grandmother, a husband and wife, and their children.

Everyone was well behaved, especially the children, which is very nice in this day and age.

Except the Grandmother...

She was a little crazy, she ordered her steak well done with onions, it was a Porterhouse, an automatic twenty minute cook time at the least.

Well she started gripping about how long it was taking, she was chugging down her iced tea's like no other.

She was mad the salad came with dressing on it, she raised her voice to me several times, her son and family had apologetic looks on her face the whole time.

The steaks came out with her onions...

She looked at me incredulously," Sir do you call these onions grilled?"

They sure were but of course,"Ma'am I'll cook them longer"

I had them put on again and brought them out, still not good enough.

"Sir this is the worst experience I've ever had, you can't do anything right!"

Finally I had the cooks throw a handful of onions in the fryer...

This time perfect.

When clearing their plates the Grandmother had gone to the restroom, her daughter in law put her hand on my wrist, with an apologetic look she said she was sorry, everything was great and Grandma just gets that way.

I sincerely thanked her.

I dropped off the check, I remember it was about $100. (kids meals, no drinks for the adults, this was a family)

After running the credit cards and thanking them, the gentleman shook my hand and thanked me for dealing with any difficulties with such grace.

I picked up the folder...


I was admittingly pissed, stereotypical thoughts raced through my mind.

I hate to think that way, but I'm only human

Well on that next Sunday I stood in the office with a note in my hand, and a Fifty Dollar Bill...

It was from the family, he had written down the wrong amount, he was managing kids and wasn't concentrating.

Once again he thanked me for the great service and meal, he was so sorry that he made me feel like they weren't happy or I wasn't appreciated.

His mother can get crabby he said, the kids loved me and their dinner and chocolate milks, and he would love to have me as their server anytime they came in.

I was grateful for the Fifty...

But that heart-felt note that someone cared about the way I did my job and recognized how hard it could be, that meant something so much more.

My faith in humanity was revived, at least for that one Sunday night.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Preggers Pt. 2

Thanks Waiter Rant (You all happy?), you made me think of an unfortunate incident with a pregnant woman, not a happy on I'm afraid.

Christy was around twenty years old, she had worked at the restaurant for about three years off and on.

Christy started as a busgirl and hostess, worked up to expo and then server, I didn't always get along with this strong willed girl, but she had a hell of a work ethic.

She, like a lot of young kids in love, got married right out of high school.

A few months later she became pregnant, and our good willed GM offered her a spot hosting while she saved money and worked two jobs.

She soon began to show, nonetheless working ever shift and pulling her weight like a true champ.

The management switched over, all part of the plan to corperatize our chain.

The good willed GM left to start his own business rather than see what was to come, the new managment wasn't so helpfull to people like Christy.

When she walked by they whispered amongst themselves with darting eyes.

Pretty soon she came in and wasn't on the schedule, she wasn't on the next one either.

She demanded answers, she didn't need the job per se, but after three years of loyalty she wanted some back when the card were down.

She was told she didn't fit the image of our restaurant.

After all, what would on think if they saw a young pregnant girl at the door?

What kind of establishment would hire a trashy slut like that...

Never mind she was in love.

Never mind the work ethic she had.

Never mind that she was married, and it was no shotgun wedding either.

After all, we have an image to maintain...

And image is everything these days.

Isn't it?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Damn The French!!!

So usual night, some tables good, some the usual fools...

I go up to greet my latest victims, once again country folk.

Now I'm from a small town and I love people who are prejudiced, hell they amuse me.

As the saying goes, I'm not prejudiced, I hate everyone...


Well I greet my table of rubes.

(For those of you in NYC they're the same as those from acrossed the bridge)

"Folks would you like anything to start out with? Perhaps a beer?"

Usually I do the wine sale, but as a business student I know all about demographics.

I'm ready for an answer of, "Ya'll got Cooooooors?" when the unthinkable happens.

The gentleman asks a recommendation for a red wine, I'm thinking Lambrusco but I go into my Red Zin and Pinot Noir spiel.

He looks dumbfounded,"I don't care what it is, as long as it isn't French!"

Damn Frenchies.

He responds further,"I don't support their kind!"

Hell I don't like them either, frog eating surrender monkey non-tippers...

But I dislike hicks even more.

A wicked smile blinks acrossed my features.

Most of our wines are Italian, California and Australia...

But there is one French Merlot, Red Bicyclette.

"Sir do you like merlot?" I query.

"I dunno, ok, as long as it isn't French!"

"Sir, would Red Bike be ok?" I call it by its nickname.

"Uh, ya?"

The wickedness returns,"I'll be right back with your merlot."

I deliver as promised, he tastes it and looks so satisfied.

Truth be told, I am too.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hell Night

No, it's not the title of a shitty horror flick.

Or the first night of some homoerotic fraternity hazing...

But my night.

I'm in the weeds, and its crazy...

I'm holding on to the night with nothing but a small thread between me and insanity. Nothing has gone right so far tonight.

I'm running my ass off and still can't get caught up.

Then I see them, my table of rubes.

I can tell they aren't used to being out, they've been obnoxious since I first laid eyes on them.

They are waving frantically at me, I go over to them...

"Yes folks, can I help you?" I query.

Instead of telling me, they answer a question with a question.

"Aren't you forgetting something?"

The gentleman asks as he motions to the setting in front of him.

I look at their table, they're still on their salad course, glancing at my book I see nothing missing, their food is cooking...

So my response to his question is,"I don't think so sir."

He gestures again at the area in front of him,"you forgot about my salad."

Indeed he had ordered a salad.

A chicken caesar dinner salad...

That he ordered as his entree.

"Sir your salad is coming with the rest of the order, it will up shortly."

He gestures again,"why? I'm hungry now!"

"Sir, you ordered an entree salad, it is served with the rest of the entrees."

That was, of course recieved with a blank stare.

I explain again.

"Sir, when I asked about a soup or side salad course, you didn't want one, you ordered your entree salad when I took the dinner order, so that you could eat your salad when the rest of your table eats."

Still staring blankly he goes on,"well they're eating their salads now, I don't understand why you forgot to bring out mine with theirs."

I'm losing patience, I glance about, my other tables need me, I'm far to busy to discuss semantics with this troglodyte.

"I assume that you want your salad now then."

"Well yes!"

He stares me down like I'm the idiot here.

"I'll have it out as soon as I can sir."

I walk off, it's not my fault the man isn't cosmopolitan enough to understand that courses are kept separate for a reason, anything else is just a buffet.

Shit, table 20 needs refills, I just got doubled at 30 and 31, my six top is waving their credit cards in the air like a bunch of six year olds, and I've got food to run out to 21, and this asshat at 22 is worried about me forgetting about his entree when it isn't due for another five minutes.

Hell, at least tonight will make a decent blog posting.

I go over to my six top, they're still waiving their credit cards in the air, they've been done with their entrees for a full thirty seconds. My manager looks over disapprovingly.

Ya, I've been sitting on my ass while they're ready to go.

"We need separate checks!"

The bane of servers everywhere.

I'm a little sick of people and their lack of patience, two of them were in the restroom, I was waiting for them to get back and see if any coffee or deserts were in order.

I suppose not.

I ask anyways,"folks are you sure you don't want any after dinner drinks or deserts?"

"No, we're in a hurry!"

As I smile I quip,"I couldn't tell..."

It gets a dirty look, good.

"I'll be right back."

I race over to my double down, grab their drink orders.

First are a couple of teens, Diet Cokes, the official drink of Anorexia.

The next table is a bit more complex, Balvini 18 on the rock.


I yell at the kitchen about Asshat's salad, run the separate credit cards, and hit the bar for my scotch.

They're out...

I run back to the table to offer a different choice, Oban it is.

Ring it in...

We're out, again.

Do they even order this shit ever.

Trip three to the table, at least he's understanding and settles on a standard Glenlivit.

My other tables aren't as reasonable.

As I race to drop my credit cards, Asshat is waving,"My salad?!?!?"

I cruise by him faster than a fat kid going after the last twinkie.

The six is giving me the stare down, apparently waiting three minutes for a credit card receipt is akin to me blowing my nose in their creme brulee, not that the consistency differs much.

I speed by them dropping the pile of credit cards on my relay to the bar.

Scotch, Diet Cokes are grabbed.

Dropping them off I see the expo waving at me, salad up!

Too bad the rest of their food comes up at exactly the same moment.

I'm about to run to get that going when my Diet Cokes try to order cheese sticks, this isn't TGIF's kids.

Salad tosser is waiving at me again, though I'm at a table.

The six has a pertinent question, which receipt to keep.

Prolly the one that says "Customer Copy"

Expo is waving...

Diet Coke is asking why we don't have cheese sticks...

And Scotch is ready to order.

All the while my other table, which I haven't been to since they got their food, is looking at me expectantly.

Fucking in the weeds, I think as I hear Frank croon "My Way" for the tenth time tonight.

I vaguely recall a table the other night telling me how great I must have it doing my job, how stress free and easy it is.

I asked them if they have ever waited tables before, the answer was a negatory.

I smiled and nodded, my retort to them was, "I didn't think so."

The smile from that night returns to my lips, in the face of such odds I do the only thing that makes any sense through the haze of insanity.

Walk out the back door and light up a square.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Uh, They Call Me Nova...

"You're always in my fucking way, fucking move!!!"

I look up from the shrimp cocktail I'm putting together.

It's Jess, the resident bitch waitress, Tom, the resident asshole waiter is smirking behind her...

"Excuse me?" go I.

Her eyes narrow into slits,"You always think you're the only one fucking working here! Move!"

She shoves me aside, shrimp and sauce spilling everywhere...

My response?

"Uh, suck me beautiful??"

She explodes, a chorus of fuck you, asshole, son of a bitch yadayadayada.

I walk away, her tirade continues...

I stop in my tracks.

Turn around.

"Why don't you shut the fuck up you stupid bitch!!!"

I roar it acrossed the kitchen.

Tom, Dick, and Harry are starring in disbelief.

I storm out the kitchen doors, trying to figure out how I'm going to face my tables after this whole situation, I put it together and go back to work.

A few minutes pass, the assistant manger, Brett starts screaming at me the minute I enter the kitchen.

She's one of his pet servers, good thing I'm in good with the GM.

He goes off,"What the fuck did you say to her!!! You can't talk to her like that!"

Shit, half the staff is watching.

"Lets go into the office, Mr. Professional." is what comes out of my mouth, the GM is in there, he'll at least listen to what I say.

"Ok," I say calmly,"what did she say happened?"

Brett started first,"She said you've been sexually harassing her, that you've been following her around asking her to blow you off."


"She says you do it all the time, you could get fired for that you know, that's harassment."

I've never said anything like that to her before. I've never hit on her, and the only thing I ever said to her like that happened five minutes before.

Hell I hated the girl, I'd say as little as possible to her.

And I conveyed that sentiment to the managers.

My GM was understanding, Brett wasn't.

"You're full of shit, that's not what happened."

GM said, "You can't talk like that, I know you weren't trying to harass her, but it gives women ammunition against you when you do."

He was right, in this sensitive society someone with a grudge can use something like this, and be taken seriously.

It all started off as a fight over a two foot space on a counter, it was ok for her to cuss me out and all that, but for me to hit back, she tried to get me fired. Using the greatest weapon a woman has....


Hell hath no fury...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Helping Hand...

So its Saturday afternoon, not much going on, the rush is in an hour or so when a couple tables start to trickle in.

One of them is an absolutely gorgeous Asian girl and her spindly WASP boyfriend. Both are in their early 20's, maybe late teens.

He pulls up in a 60k BMW...

Wonder how this relationship came about.

Well of course I sat them in my section, after all I'm a guy and she's, well hot!

I take their drink order and return, they've become the "Same Siders"

Or for those who are idiots, that's Server Speak for those who sit on the same side.

(I know there are many civilians that read this)

The girl is wearing a low cut shirt and skirt combo, great view...

As I try to not leer like a drunken monk at an alterboy ceromony, I notice where he hand is, moving up his thigh as she I take her order.

Damn, she has that fuck me look on her face.

I may have had to pay for it, but I've seen that look a couple times myself.

I wander off, trying to shake that image from my mind, after all I have the very serious business of waiting tables at hand.

I come back over to drop off their side salads, I notice his linen napkin is conveniently over his crotch, and her hand is sliding back in forth under it.

He blushes...

She has the deadly look of a woman with a mission on her face.

Shit, now I'm getting hot under the collar.

Their food arrives with my perhaps quickened, usual punctuality.

Her face is flushed, she's breathing heavy...

The linen has switched places, he skirt is shifted up her curvey thigh, and he's wrist deep by damn!

I nearly shit myself, but my usual poise takes hold.

A few minutes later Alyssa, one of my comrades comes up to me.

"Oh my God! Did you just see that girl go into the Men's room?!?!"

I run over to my table, they're both gone.

A million dirty, nasty thoughts run through my mind, and I'm pretty sure for once they're coming true.

Me and Alyssa run into the Men's room.

Now our stalls are large and have a full door, very private.

Not private enough.

We hear a girl in the midst of ecstasy.

Damn, I look Alyssa in the eye, she's looking pretty good right now.

But shit, I can't think that way now, after all, there's a crisis at hand!

Maybe later...

A sneaky grin crosses her face however.



And with that, we're off faster than a used condom at a bachelor party.