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, December 06, 2005

Profiling

I am the profiler...

I can read people like a book, from the minute they sit down, I don't even have to talk to them.

It is both a blessing and a curse.

It is a gift that helps me, and sometimes hurts me.

For better or worse, negative or positive I am right about 90% of the time.

Example:

About a month ago we had a whole new crop of new servers, as a "service" to them I guess they brought in a server that had left a few weeks before even I arrived.

Apparently he was some kind of rockstar waiter, corporate suck up type...

Rob

He was there to "help us" with our tables.

Now I'm all for new ideas if they're good, but he rehashed a bunch of shit that servers at our level of restaurant knew the first two weeks at their first server job at Applebee's.

But he did have one good point, know your guest, know their needs and know what they want before they want it.

Its nothing new to me, but he was right.

Which brings me to the profiler, I know its bad to stereotype and all that bs, but I do it, and while there are exceptions like I said I have about a 90% success rate.

I'm not talking about racial profiling or anything like that, I'm an asshole but I hate everyone, not any particular group.

(Yaya, I hate everyone get out of the service industry, get a new job, I sully our industry shit...)

I suppose I should use Wait Manager lingo as in "anticipate their needs."

But really its profiling, hell our managers in their own way condone this, just name it in a less offensive way.

Anyways after the meeting we're sitting up at the bar like vultures awaiting our scavaging of pocket change from people better off than us, and I see my first table sat.

I nudge the two rookie servers standing next of me...

"Remember what Rob was saying about anticipating peoples needs, check this out."

They both look at me curiously.

"Ok, check it out, its a family of four, two parents, mid forties, and their teenage sons." I say with the wisdom of an ancient Sage waiter.

"I bet I can predict their order before I even talk to them, hell I'll bet you your shift meal!"

Rookie #1 to me,"You're on!"

"alright, teenagers are easy, two Cokes, but they'll ask for Mountain Dew."

The rookies nod in agreement.

"Parents, glass of house chard for the lady, beer for the man, he's a lil tubby, Bud light, maybe Ultra."

"Are you sure about the bar drinks?" My rookie friends quandary,"they're a family."

I rub my prematurely graying temples,"Yup, but the parents will have one each and ask for water after they're done."

"On to food, I'll suggest calamari or bruscetta, but they'll want onion rings or maybe ask for cheese sticks, which we don't have."

Kids and their fried cheese, no wonder we're all fat...

Anyways, entrees,"Salad for the lady, probably chicken ceaser, pasta for the dad, he'll want spaghetti, but since we don't have it he'll go for something with red sauce and sausage.

"Rookie #2 to me,"no steak for the dad?"

I smile,"its a family, maybe if the kids weren't there, but families generally eat cheap, I'll stick with the pasta with red sauce, its cheap, basic, and honestly not bad..."

For the kids?

My prediction, pepperoni pizza...

Any desert?" rookie #1 wonders.

"No, families tend to split and not camp out, no, they won't even want coffee."

Probably because families don't like each other anymore, its sad, but is getting truer with each year, the family bond is weaker than it has ever been in this country.

I spot the server assistant dropping off their bread and water, its time to make my move.

It goes exactly to plan.

"Hey folks anything to drink? Glass of wine?" I say looking at the lady specifically.

Chardonnay.

I rattle of her options, her answer."Whatever's cheapest."

House it is.

Bud light for the gentleman.

My gaze passes to the teens,"guys how bout for you?"

"Mountain Dew?"

"Sorry guys, we have coke products..."

Two Cokes, I'm damn good.

I come back and drop of their drinks,"ok guys, would we like an appetizer to start off with?"

"Ya, don't you have cheese sticks or something?"

Gotcha.

"No sorry, we do have great onion rings," I say.

"Sounds good to me,"Says dad.

"Do we need a few minutes to decide on dinner?" I ask.

They're ready to order is the consensus.

"Well guys what'll you have," I say as I look to the kids for their answer.

Pepperoni Pizza it is.

"And then for you folks?"

This is where the switch is.

Chicken Caesar for the dad, pasta for the mom.

Well within my 90%

Their food comes out precisely when I want it, perfect timing.

They're finishing up and basically putting on their coats the second their meals are finished.

Family in a hurry.

Come to think of it I can't think of one word exchanged between parents and the kids.

Worlds a changing.

I return with their check folder,"folks you sure you don't want any desserts or..."

The dad reaches for the folder, guess they don't care for coffee either.

I return to my rookie friends,"Well guys, that steaks gonna be mighty good tonight."

13 Comments:

At 4:52 PM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

Neat, new type of post. We used to do that kind of thing in the kitchen of a steak house that I used to work in. Except we'd listen to about how many lines were printed off and about how long each line was. It was pretty fun, and helped everyone master cooking the menu better, not to mention passing the time. Games at work are always stress relievers.

 
At 12:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with profiling, and the word is certainly not offensive except to about 15 loonies that somehow get on the news.

Profiling is the difference between being a good salesperson and being unemployed.

Profiling is how you find your spouse and not another short, failed relationship.

Profiling is how you decide on your favorite restaurant, car, and sports team.

PC is bad.

Your piece was good!

 
At 1:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if I was being profiled when I walked into that Oldsmobile dealership some years ago, looking a little ragged but cash in my pocket and ready to buy a car on the spot. Nobody was doing anything but my presence failed to stir them into action so I went down the street and dropped some cash on a new Chevrolet.

 
At 5:58 PM , Blogger kas said...

Funny...I have to say I might fit this little scenario minus the wine and add a kid. OMG...this makes my life appear completely pathetic. But I'm going to choose to laugh anyway!

 
At 8:49 PM , Blogger Sondra said...

Let me ask you, Insane..what would you say to two fat chicks coming in for lunch dressed in running pants and t shirts with no makeup on? I'm just curious, this is not a trick. *wink*

 
At 4:40 AM , Blogger Secret said...

For lunch? Iced Tea, Diet Coke, Salad with chicken and sandwich (turkey or chicken) with all the condiments on the side, no onion and side salad with ranch on the side no onion and no croutons.

 
At 8:44 AM , Blogger Sondra said...

I AM IMPRESSED!

But you missed two things. "all condiments on the side" is not me, I personally am not that picky and wouldn't bother to waste a server's time asking for this. Although I'm sure this is probably the norm. Second of all, I HATE HATE HATE ranch dressing so for me it would be italian and if you didn't have italian i would probably pick something else. The thing that surprised me the most about your answer was the "no onion". How in the hell did you know I hate onions? I HATE them more than ranch dressing. That's the only thing I ever bother my servers about, really...if it comes with onion, I don't want it. Unless it's cooked into a sauce or something, that's okay, but raw onions, NO. Is this just a fat chick thing? LOL Thanks for responding!

 
At 2:21 PM , Blogger me said...

while profiling can be fun it can also be annoying.
in the waiting world it's one thing where it can be a game and your profile doesn't affect the actual outcome of the meal or how the customer feels.
in the retail world profiling can be a hinderance. i've been treated like dirt before in retail establishments (and at the time i probably made and had more money than the sales people). even if it was on isolated insidence, i refuse to shop at those places again. management isn't paying enough attention to their staff and if that's policy then they really don't need my money.
service is service... unless i'm being blatantly rude and obnoxious, etc. there's no real reason to deny me good service.

stoopid fine lines. snooty sales people can gft.
but props to the waiter who can anticipate my needs... you get big bucks for that

 
At 2:25 PM , Anonymous poker said...

I'm going to now profile your tip....$8.00?

 
At 3:17 PM , Blogger RĂ¼ge said...

Right on with the families not spending quality time together. Go out to dinner in Italy and it's a 4 hour experience. (The wait staff in that country are also treated as respected professionals, and get paid very well)

Too bad things have to be rushed, and the majority of Americans don't enjoy their meal, their company, and their service anymore.

 
At 10:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Write on, Me. I worked some throwaway retail job at a Radio Shack and this smelly and ratty looking guy came in. Most people wouldn't give him time of day but he pulled out a roll of cash and bought everything in the store. Only an illiterate will judge a book by its cover.

 
At 11:34 AM , Blogger Sondra said...

Hey Insane, come check out my new blog..well, it's not actually new but I've made some changes.

www.sondrathepearl.blogspot.com

 
At 3:43 PM , Blogger Ceetar said...

I'd probably fit in our 10% wrong category, I'm all over the place most of the time.

Sometimes consistancy has other reasons. My father almost always orders something simple, a cheeseburger or some such. His philosophy is if we're paying to eat out, something that's not often in our budget, why experiment and risk spending money on something you won't enjoy. He'd rather get something he know he likes, and knows that's hard to screw up.

Maybe they didn't order dessert because they were full? I rarely find myself ordering dessert at a restaurant, by the time i get through a whole meal, i'm quite full.

 

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