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....

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!


At 11:23 PM , Blogger twistedsoda said...

Welcome to my world. I work in a place just like this! I bear a cross of Penne, linguine and capellini!

At 12:34 AM , Blogger j2 said...

i just want to shove free bread loaves up people's asses.

greed, gluttony and sloth. precisely!


At 1:09 AM , Blogger yatesy said...

you see its sort of a scam that the olive garden runs. you fill up on salad, breadsticks and soup and by the time your pasta arrives you can barely finish it, nevertheless order more. so theya re offering it but i bet not many people take them up on it.

At 8:32 AM , Blogger me said...

i go to one restaurant and i can't help but ask for more bread, it's my favorite bread... little, warm, onion loaves that i've been known on occasion, to take home.

i'll pay, i don't care! but i can't get me enough of that bread...

neway... to each his own... that's all that matters:)

At 9:43 AM , Blogger akirakid said...

I have never understood the concept of bread with dinner. I think it comes from comfort rather than practicality. During the depression and in less prolific countries where you had to feed a large family, bread became a meal extender and filler. You could have a relatively small meal and fill up on bread and not feel hungry. This allowed groups with not a lot of money to make what they could afford go a long way. Well our grandparents went through that and continued the tradition with our parents and they in turn passed it on to us. But, in reality, what purpose does it serve other than to fill you up? If you skip the bread and rolls, you will actually finish your meal and be full. This holds especially true now with the whole "low carb diet" craze. Bread with a meal just doesn't make sense. And if you give me that "mop your sauce" Itallian argument, that is just another meal extender to make sure nothing goes to waste. It is taught and a matter of tradition, not neccessary.

At 11:10 AM , Blogger Jammerz said...

My brother used to work at Olive Garden. He was expected to push wine like it was free gold. He only had 3 tables at a time, and never got decent tips.

Then he got fired for not smiling enough.

Their food sucks anyways. I don't get the big deal with the salad it tastes like it's covered in Kraft Italian.

At 11:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're blaming the wrong people dude.

The customers don't create free items, they just eat them.

You should be bitching about the management that creates the deal.

At 12:16 PM , Anonymous mike said...

Have to agree...the customers aren't to blame; they've identified a good value, and are taking advantage of it. It's not the diner's job to make sure that their requests come at times that are convenient for their servers; it's the server's job to look ahead and try to anticipate the requests that will come.

At 1:37 PM , Anonymous oliveyoutoo said...

Thanks akirakid! All this time I thought I liked bread because it tastes good and fills me I realize what a fool I've been. Down with bread!

At 1:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a scam...
for one thing I really don't beleive that anyone could eat $5.95 worth of bread salad and soup that stuff is cheap for Olive Garden and how much can one person eat? Pasta is cheap as well...It is disgusting for Gluttons to pig out on all that free cheap crap.

At 2:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd be suprised at the amount people will eat when its refillable. That's why I don't work at a place like that. Customers can enjoy their "good value" as much as they want, I'm just not going to serve them that, I'm here to serve food, not help people on their way to their third coranary.

At 3:57 PM , Blogger poop said...

The first and only real corporate restaurant I worked for, when I was to young and inexperienced to know any better, was Bennegans. A real s**thole in every respect. There was this church group from a nearby penicostal church that came in allot. Lots of stores about those folks and anyone who's been around the biz probably knows a few of them.
Anyway, looking back on it, they must have had one of those Exodus programs going on. (Exodus is this horrible right wing X-gay throu Jesus program) Lots of big moosey girls in muumuus with mousy little guys with much better fashion sense. Anyway. I get a table of them. Three couples. They order a virgin straw berry drink, six waters, one order of cheese sticks and the rest are there for fellowship. Oh, and one guy asks for a plate of pickles. Sure. So I ask the manager, what do I charge for a plate of pickles? Buck fifty? Sure, sounds fair.
So I drop the check and when I go back the guy is crying. Crying, he's my age for christsake. He didn't know there was a charge for pickles, he thought they were free.
All he wanted was fellowship and some pickles. All I wanted was to turn a six top. When worlds collide.
Anyway I took the buck fifty off the tab. Even now I cringe with embarrassment for him. I hope he's found him a nice cuban muscleman boyfriend and a nice job selling real-estate and ditched the guilt and shame. I just want everyone to be happy.

At 9:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nephew Dude:

One of our gay cousins calls the Olive Garden loaves of bread "DATES!".


Uncle R.

At 9:42 PM , Anonymous ricci said...

As a runner, I take advantage of the all-you-can-eat-pasta deal and load up on the carbs. But also as an ex-waitress, I feel ripped off for all the extra running around and not getting the extra tip.

At 2:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Olive Garden is not Evil. The Deals they offer are not Evil. The Wait staff is not Evil. What is Evil is the Mind Set of A Few Crummy People who should get out of the Customer Service business and get some freash air. Complain if you like but don't b**ch & groan or You'll never get any tips.

P.S. I've been in Customer Service for over 20 year on both sides of Managment.

At 10:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, the whole "compulsory tipping" culture is the real problem here. If Olive Garden, for example, were to pay its waiters a decent wage, and Olive Garden customers weren't expected to tip, as service was provided as an integral part of the meal cost, you wouldn't get this problem.

Waiters would get paid whether the cutomer ate his weight in free bread, or actually paid for food. Olive Garden can make a commercial decision about what freebies to offer when without seeming to rip off its waiters.

Every waiter I have spoken to hates the idea of eliminating tips, though. They must expect to do better out of the opaque guilt-driven confusion that surrounds tips than if a full hourly or weekly wage were written on a piece of paper. So maybe we've come full circle, and it's actually the fault of waiters for wanting to work for tips.

At 11:41 AM , Blogger Denise said...

OMG.. (looking down ashamed) My 2 relatives and I just did that Olive Garden thing this weekend. Soup, Salad and Breadsticks, but we did order 2 appetizers. In my defense though, I always tip at least 10 bucks.

Signed utterly embarassed!

At 3:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually agree with your blogs, but here I think you're putting too much blame on customers and not enough on the management. As someone that's having money trouble from excessive medical bills, it's nice to get out occassionally and not have to pay $60 or more for a meal.

In my own defense, even if we sit and snack on chips or bread while enjoying conversation...though the bill isn't huge, if the server is friendly and does their job, they'll still get a tip that reflects that. But if the server is looking at us in total disgust and treating us like gluttons, they probably won't get much of one.

I tip based on the server not a percent of the check. I have no problem leaving a $10 tip even if my share of a bill is only $5.50...IF the server treats me respectfully.

At 3:39 PM , Blogger Secret said...

I actually blame both, notice I said I don't work in a plac that offers such "Freebies" as all you can eat pasta, salad, chips etc...

We do have bread, which I am happy to serve as its great. I just don't like it when some people use it as a substitute for their meal or appetizer.

Notice I say some, the vast majority enjoy it as a snack or compliment to their meal, not as something they can get for free and thus not order off the menu.

I just feel sorry for the servers at Olive Garden, that's all...

I work my ass off enough rather than make many extra unessary trips for another bowl of salad or whatever, therefore I won't work at a place with such promotions...

Insane Server

At 4:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work at an Olive Garden, and it was truly THE worst job I've EVER had, and I've been waiting tables for seven years now. The people were disrespectful, and just absolutely awful to deal with. It didn't matter how good the service was, or how much they eat, I very RARELY was tipped above 10%.

At 1:43 PM , Blogger Boone-Tang said...

I applied to be a cook at Olive Garden way back when I needed money that bad...I had TWO interviews, different people each time. Was told at the second one that the first guy had lost my application and so I'd have to fill a new one out "if I got the job. You seem to know your stuff, but we haven't offered the job yet". The whole interview, just holding the job over my head WITHOUT telling me what I'd make if I started, and the whole having to keep coming back without knowing if I was going to be working (I was out of work at the time with only enough money for the rest of the month). They didn't even give me a tour of the premises, I just saw the main dining room. The place was on the other end of town, too. Finally they say they'll call me within 5 days. I tell them I'm going to be at my parents (400 miles away) for the next week (planned way in advance, days were written on my app (whoops, they lost that) that I needed those days off). Told them I had an answering machine. That's the last I've heard from them. Went into my current job, asked for an app, filled it out at a booth, was scheduled an interview for the next day when the manager would be working, got a tour on my interview, was told to call back the next day. call back and HEY, YOU CAN START MONDAY! whoot. Sorry, long, but It was just my Olive Garden Run-Around

At 11:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the soup & salad lunch at the Olive Garden but I also tip as if I'd ordered more. I figure the server had the same amount of work for me, so I leave at least a couple of bucks on a $7 or so check, sometimes more depending on the refills I asked for. Often, the OG server brings back extra change rounding down my bill. She or he gets that extra change right back.

At 12:41 PM , Anonymous soupandsaladhustler said...

I am one of those poor bastards that you refer to..and eh its not that bad...would i work there for 14 years like some of my other co-workers? HELL NO!, but it'll do for a part-time gig.

I pretty much agree with everything you said which is what makes it so hilarious. Just like yall do the beverage profiling, we do entree absolutely ABHOR soup and salad...why folks come to eat hot-a$$ pasta fagiol when its 90 degrees outside, I will never know...and the neverending pasta bowl comes in a close second. But the thing that really gets me is the folks who dont understand that they have to pay for their salad. God forbid you walk into a rest. and have to pay for FOOD!

I've gotten to the point now where if they say they're not eating salad,and I know they're lying, I wont even bring them a bread plate. Let'em eat it off their buddy's plate. Or I'll give them a bread plate and if they dip into that bowl more than once, I charge'em. Its mean and funny, but whatever...Its not my money, nor my salad, but dont play me for dont mind the bread

At 12:45 PM , Anonymous soupandsaladhustler said...

I dont mind the bread...some days it really hits the spot. but you take the good with the bad...just like the %30 tip I got from a guy even tho his food did not come out with the rest of his family's. I would love to work in a more upscale establishment, but being that this is part-time and I'm seeking employment in my field, it will do for now.

At 9:58 AM , Anonymous Sarah said...

Okay, the " Poor Bastards.." section REALLY irked me. I would say to you that if you feel that strongly about the kind of restaurants who have freebies of some sort or another you should NEVER eat in one of them! AND if you can honestly say you never do or never will again, then I might give some credence to your personal rant about them.

At 10:58 AM , Anonymous Billy said...

In my experience, the problem with Olive Garden's unlimited s/s/b is that MOST (I would venture to guess ~75%+) of our guests don't have the capacity to realize the amount of running we have to do back and forth to appease their neverending appetites.

therefore, when the check gets dropped and it's $13 for a two top who ordered the lunch s/s/b with two waters (one with lemon but no ice, and the other with no lemon, please), and proceeded to fill up on 4 bowls of salad, 3 of which were made especially for them with extra dressing (which, I'm pretty sure has Crack in it...that's why it's so addictive...) and no tomatoes, but extra olives and pepperoncinis, on the side of course, not to mention the 4 baskets of breadsticks (again, I think the garlic salt must have Crack in it as well) and three bowls each of Minestrone (hey, you gotta watch what you eat, right?), they proceed to look at the bill and say to themselves "Wow! all that food for $13...what a deal!" and then leave however much is necessary to make the total $15.

With repackaged Andes chocolate mints already on their journey to play nice with Minnie Minestrone and Benny Breadstick in the already overstuffed stomach-playground of doom (NO! you cannot have more mints...and don't even think about asking the hostesses for more) they proceed to get up and leave, telling you "it's all there, buddy" on the way out of your section.

don't even get me started on the Pasta Bowl...I had a regular, and thankfully only one, who came in no less than 6 times over the course of a 3 week span and would order a bowl of fett-alf, followed by 3 bowls of angel hair/garlic cream with a sausage, and then would finish it off with fett-alf again! He was one of the only pasta bowl patrons who would leave a tip in accordance with the amount of calories I burned off (perhaps the amount he packed on?) while serving him, but unfortunately, he was one of the few.

you see, a good majority of the patrons who come into the OG that I work at take everything that we bring them as part of corporate policy for granted. Soup, salad, breadsticks, drink refills, you name it. It wouldn't be such a problem if they just tipped according to the amount of shit they put me through, but in the last month, I have had countless 10% tips on meals where I ran my ass off, and I think that I am a very good server, and I certainly never pass my displeasure on to the guests, no matter what.

I don't mind that people fill up on soup, or salad, or breadsticks, or bowl after bowl of pasta, or even that they suck down glass after glass of specially made raspberry iced tea. More power to 'em in fact. When I start up my own heart attack recovery counseling business, I'll already have a humongous customer base from which to draw. However, the caveat here is that a vast majority of these people don't even take a second to realize the work that goes into pleasing them and fetching the refills and stuff they are asking for. Whenever I go to a restaurant that has some sort of annoying promo deal, I always make sure to tip a lot...often 25% or more, because I know what a pain in the ass it is to work under those conditions. It just kills me when people are not clairvoyant enough to tip more than the change and lint in their pockets for the amount of work that gets done on their behalf.

If you're that cheap, you can always go to Mickey D' don't even have to tip there!

At 8:15 AM , Anonymous Kelly said...

World Records for Refills:
(numbers include the first order)

Drink: 6
Bread: 5
Salad: 5
Soup: 8
Pasta Bowl: 13

Refills don't piss me off. It's people who are rude and EXPECT things that piss me off.
If you empty your diet coke before I can even get back with your breadsticks, I am very likely to bring you another one. But if I have other things to tend to at the moment, it's not going to be a very high priority.
Don't tap your glass on the table. Don't hold it up for me and shake it. Don't point. And DON'T (for God's sake) make obnoxiously loud sucking sounds on your ice. I know you're out of sweet tea. Don't get your panties in a bunch.
Here's a tip: if you actually drink that much that your server will be running around all night, ASK FOR TWO DRINKS! I have no problem starting you off with two glasses if it means less work at my expense.
And finally, APPRECIATE YOUR SERVERS! In VA, servers pay starts at $2.13 an hour, and raises are rare. Most paychecks say VOID all over them, and the ones that don't are for less than 10 dollars.
18% is the minimum you should be leaving your server, unless they flat out sucked. Even then, NEVER less than 10%. If you are a pain in the ass, you need to make up for that in your tipping. I have no problem bringing you anything and everything you ask for, as long as I get paid for it in the end.
Remember the Golden Rule: DON'T FUCK WITH THE PEOPLE THAT HANDLE YOUR FOOD. Because we (especially myself) are vindictive. Watch the movie "Waiting" if you don't understand.

At 10:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked in another Darden restaurant. There' 5 in total, other than OG, there's Red Lobster, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones, and I beleive Darden wants to buy Captain D's. I worked as a server and bartender at Smokey Bones. It was like clockwork once early n the week and once Friday or Saturday night, that we had someone complain that we didn't offer free bread like Red Lobster or Olive Garden. How do you say, Get over it", without pissing them off. I got really good at blaming our Regional Director, whom I loathed with a pasion. -James

At 11:34 PM , Anonymous OGWorker said...

Working at the Olive Garden is a real gem... It's been a year so far, and I can tell you, nobody's happy to see these Soup/Salad order. Chances are, if you're the type of customer who comes in with two or three of your friends and you all order the S/S/B with nothing else but maybe a ice tea or two between you, you're going to get bad service. You may be God's gift to tipping, but chances are a server is going to make better money focusing on the table who's bill comes out to $30, and who they can hope to get in and out of the restaurant in a timely manner, as opposed to the family of 3 who's eating soup with unlimited refills with a bill total of $17.
It's not that we don't like the customers (well, I don't, but that's besides the point), but there's more money to be made in focusing on the people who're putting more money towards their meal and hopefully have more money to spare, than focusing on the people who're looking for the value deal.

At 2:26 AM , Blogger Waiting8DaysAWeek said...


I had the misfortune of working there for 2 years when I was was my first restaurant experience & I can't even begin to tell you how shitty it actually was. The only thing that kept me sane was the crazy little old Italian hostess that pretty much ran the place. Maybe she felt sorry for me, but for whatever reason she took me under her wing & I got the best shifts that hell-hole had to offer & whatever sections I wanted (though at 3 tables a section it didn't much matter). But I digress. :o) Just thinking about the OG makes my blood boil.

I'm a new reader but I love your blog. I can totally relate.

At 8:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, OG sounds like a horrible place to work and I can see why.

Darden, are you listening?


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