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....

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Top 10 Pet Peeves Redux

Well here's another quickly until I finish a couple longer posts I was working on.

I noticed a few things in the last week or so that really irked me.

Plus these things always get great comments, I love messing with the customer!

For those in the "biz"

Well you know what I'm talking about...

Top 10 Pet Peeves:

10. Blenders and the drinks that come with them.

9. The "Purse Cleaners" those who empty their change purse on the table as a tip.

8. People who think I'm a bank teller. No, I won't get you $50 worth of fives and ones, either go to the bank or try your luck with the bartender (he'll probably just give you a surly look)

7. Bar customers that seat themselves at a filthy cocktail table...
When there's a clean one right next to it! I'll just let you sut there and look stupid.

6. Those who are unaware that the host desk is IN THE FRONT and wander around looking for someone to seat them, preferably a waiter with twenty pounds of past bowls on his arm. I don't care if "there was no one up there" wait and someone will be.

5. Early diners (and I have a complete tale for this one cued shortly), those who show up fifteen to twenty minutes before opening and expect service. You won't get it. Can't understand why not? Too bad.

4. Late diners, those who come in ten minutes after close and expect us to welcome you. For those not in "the biz" it would be like your boss calling you when you're on your way to your car after work and expecting you to work another hour and a half, with no notice. Except instead of 5:00 in the afternoon its midnight, not such a good idea now is it? Now multiply that by ten and that's the number of people you are keeping there.

3. The table bussers, customers who think they need to stack all the plates and think its a help. Now that would be nice, except for the fact 90% of the time there is a plate with olive oil, pomodoro sauce or some other highly stainable liquid hidden in the mess. All ready to be dumped all over our nicely pressed WHITE shirt.

2. Customers that think that the brass bar rails are a place to stand between and rest their arms. Not noticing the fifty drinks they are hovering over and the horde of pissed off servers waiting behind you, of course. Plus a bartender will NEVER, EVER help a customer in such a position, get back to the end of the line like a good child...

1. Guest who believe that the empty table next to them is theirs to do with as they please. This includes setting coats on the chairs, using the table top as a defacto office complete with laptop, notebook and diagnostics as well as wet clothes or rain gear. Especially this issue as well, putting their dirty plates on the clean linens and messing up the table settings. This is never a place for empty glasses, bread baskets, appetizer plates what have you. How grossed out would you feel if the host brought you to your table and the boars next door decided that it was the ideal place to set the torn off tails from their shrimp entree? Don't do it!

And yes, I caught a table setting their shrimp leavings like that just yesterday, they seemed surprised that I reprimanded them and seemed unaware that it would even be a problem.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rubber and Dessert

As I was delivering the entree course for my table the other night I was interrupted...

"Excuse me, this calamari is rubbery" The patron pointed out.

Of course there were two pieces left."

I'm very sorry sir, is there anything I can do?" I asked.

It's not like I can make a new order or anything, he ate nearly the whole thing.

"Just tell the chef." He requested.

I'm sure Javier, our Guatemalan cook, will be quite broken up.

It's calamari, it IS fried rubber.

I finish delivering the entrees without a hitch.

This is the last table of the night, I know my luck, they'll be the worst and stay the latest.

Calamari boy started off on the right foot.


When I greeted the table and asked how they were doing he started describing what his bunion was doing to him.

Good God.

"Maybe you shouldn't ask how people are doing, you might get the truth," he said.

Maybe he's right, its just one of about ten generic greetings I hold in my head when I'm not giving a shit.

For the most part I use it as a way to test my table from the get go, see how they are going to be towards me, friendly or sour...

Well back to the table.

They're almost finished, I start to pre bus the table of their entree platter when I put a feeler out for deserts.

"We have this delicious panna cotta that you folks might want to try," I stated.

"Well lets see the menu," one of the ladies responded.

"Sure thing."

I moved toward the front for menus and made a mental note to tell them we sold out of gelato and that the espresso machine was down.

"Here we go folks, you might want to note that cappuchinos and gelato are unavailable tonight." I said.

Senor Calamari throws his hands in the air.

"Why aren't they available?" He snorted.

Because we ran out of gelato and our owners are too cheap to buy us a decent espresso machine that actually works.

But instead I answered, "Well our espresso machine is down and we had a run on gelato earlier."

I knew full well it would make us sound unprepared and such, management usually likes us to make up shit to "protect" the restaurant, I'm not as worried as they are.

Once again snorting the gentleman responded, "Well I want a Grasshopper then."

"I'm sorry, we don't have a blender in the bar," I said.

He rolled his eyes.

By the way, it is the greatest thing ever to not have a blender, we're not exactly going for the Strawberry Daqueri and Brandy Alexander crowd.

Coming from a former bartender, those drinks, and the people that order them, are generally a giant pain in the ass.

"Well can I get some ice cream?" He asked.

"I'm afraid don't carry ice cream, I'm sorry," I said.

I thought his head was going to explode.

"Here I bring friends from out of town, I told them this was the best place in town, I am not happy." He went off as his friends sat there with embarrassed looks on their faces.

"First our calamari was rubbery, then we can't even order dessert! This is ridiculous!" He exclaimed.

I tried to point out to him the multitude of other desserts we had available, but to no end...

He continued sputtering, "I want you to tell your manager I am very unhappy!"

With a wry smile I replied, "I'll get right on that."

In the back I had his calamari comped, maybe at least I'd get a descent tip.

As I returned with the table's ticket the gentleman spoke up once more.

"Now I was a waiter for sixteen years and I know how a restaurant is supposed to run..." And yada yada he continued.

"Did you try a piece of that calamari off of my plate?" He said.

"Umm, no I don't eat of the customer's plates," I replied.

"Well how do you know it was a valid complaint, I used to do that when I was a waiter." He said.

I drop the bill and walk off, luckily I see his friend reach for the tab.

All that shit and he wasn't even paying.

For being a waiter for sixteen years he sure forgot about the unspoken rule, never fuck with another waiter.

He of all people should know we handled his food.

Love, Lost

Sometimes you lose in life...

It seems sometimes like I lose often.

And usually its me who throws the game.

I'm almost used to it, I expect it, I know I'll do it.

And I almost hate myself for it.

What is it about me that wants to push people away?

Why must I look for faults in others when my own are so glaring?

And why must I realize them, my faults, my issues, only when it is too late?

I've lost something this week that was so special to me, and I never let her know why.

Maybe it was her silly laugh, her beautiful big round eyes, her arms around me when life seemed darkest...

Maybe it was they way she made me feel.

But that isn't love, the way one makes you feel, maybe someday I'll finally figure that out in time.

It's how you make them feel, what you give, not what you take, what you expect.

I didn't give enough, I didn't understand her and I was afraid.

Of permanence?

Of compromise?

Of sacrifice?

Yes, yes and yes.

A long ago girl once told a friend of mine, "Why can't he believe that some one can care about him?"

I wish I knew that answer.

I wish I believed someone did...

I wrote that a month ago, after a difficult break of a special relationship. It's hard to let go sometimes and easier to have a heart turn cold. But there she remains, like a glimmer on the waves, land just in sight, but only just.

Someday she'll fade like the others and I don't know if that should make me happy or sad.

I wish for the coldness sometimes.

I'm relieved when it doesn't come...

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Running of the Waiters


So I will be on vacation through next Thursday so I'm afraid I won't update until then.

Check out the archives and links if you so desire.

Here's a parting shot for you.

As one of my "benefits" I do get paid vacation.

Even though I average 20+ per hour claimed tips and salary guess what my vacation pay is...

$5.15 for forty hours.

After taxes that's $165.00

That's what I made on Tuesday night's shift, one shift out of eight that I work

I guess that's what I get for choosing to work the type of job as what a commenter stated in a post, "That's the problem when you work a no skills job and can be easily replaced by the retard bagger from the supermarket and your employer has no regard for his employees or the law."

Now nothing is illegal about them paying me the federal minimum way, but I sure think it doesn't show regard for their employees who obviously make more and pay taxes on more.

But that's part of this system, the owner pays as little as possible and lets the customer voluntarily pay our wages.

I'm writing a letter to the office asking for vacation pay that averages out our claimed tips with our $3.09/hour pay, should be around 18/20 per hour.

Will never happen though.

Well when I'm off fishing with a Grainbelt Premium in my hand I'll pretend that I'll have an $800.00 vacation check waiting for me when I get back.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Welcome To My Life

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother's Day

So tomorrow is Mother's Day!

In addition to thanking my own Mother for all she's done for me I would like to thank the following...

The table of eight that refused to pay the gratuity three years ago, after all why would one want to tip on "their special day."

I'd also like to thank my chickenshit manager for letting them stiff me on their $140.00 bill.

Thank you to my former corporate restaurant that I worked at five years ago for overstaffing the restaurant and giving me a three table bar/smoking section that I made a full $45 on for the day.

I'd also like to thank the rube/white trash crowd for allowing their children torture the staff.

This includes the following:

Throwing of cheerio's, goldfish, saltine crumbs and anything else that destroys my section.

Dumping the contents of the parmesan caddy on the table.




Tripping us.

And playing hide and seek under the other partons' tables.

Thank you to the 324 people that have yelled at me in the week leading up to "their special day" for not having space for their reservation.

Thank you for making ninety seven trips to the breakfast buffet and not tipping, even though I have to set up the buffet, help restock it, fill your drinks, order your omelets, tally your bill and of course, clear the landfill of plates that inhabit your table.

After all, you did get your food yourself, why tip me when you did all that hard work such as putting 14 oz. of gravy on your potatoes so thanks for stiffing me on your bill. I know that waddle through the line was the equivalent of a trip through Mogadishu, but get over it.

I'd also like to thank the groups that complain to the management about how horrible everything was, just so they can get a free dinner voucher or gift certificate to give as a present to their mother.

As well I greatly appreciate every table that camps out as we have scheduled seatings and a limited amount of time to get all of our reservations in.

Thank you also, all you walk-in tables that demand seating immediately, you will never get it as long as I walk the Earth.

God know I also love the fact that you think you deserve free kids buffets/meals, free meals for your mother and free desert as well.

After all it is "our special day", why would a business actually expect payment for goods and services...

And last of all I would like to thank God, who for some enlightened reason allows me to not work this Mother's Day.

The first time in six years.

Remember that your server also is a Mother, Daughter or Son and they can't be with their Mother, so be easy on them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Along with working in the restaurant industry comes by far the most enjoyable byproduct of work...


We are a band of brothers, as Shakespeare might say.

We may not have a great war (unless you count the battle against unruly and obnoxious customers)

No great depression either, as each shift ends with jubilation and revelry.

But enough with paraphrased quotes.

What I do love about my job is the shift beer, the trips to the after hours clubs, maybe even an after party at some poor soul's home.

In every restaurant I have worked at there is the core group, the servers that watch each other's backs.

It is almost comparable to the brotherhood one would find in the military.

You have your veterans, your loudmouths (guess who this pertains to), funny guy, drama queens and rookies.

It's hard for a rookie to get in, you have to prove yourself.

It's kind of like 'Nam, you don't want to get to know a newbie as they very well might not be there tomorrow.

As much as some people like to rattle of on how anyone can wait tables I'd say at least 30% that try wash out.

And I'm not talking about idiots, I'm talking about law students, pre-med, graduate students and even grads looking for an extra buck.

It takes moxie!

But I digress.

You can usually see us out at a local dive, or even a trendy spot.

We're easy to spot, we're the only sober people at 10:30 at your bar and its a pretty diverse group.

Of course the sober part we're looking to remedy.

Usual drink is high end, Scotch, Martini's, or Microbrews.

Followed by lots and lots of shots, preferably Jagermeister.

Somehow we have to erase the memory of the asshole at table 21 or the clown who showed up with fifteen people on a Saturday night with no reservation.

But like any battle, members come and go.

Veterans take off at the drop of a hat, fired, quit, whatever the reason.

If you see them out its never quite the same.

They aren't in your business anymore, or have joined another group.

There seem to be parallel groups as well.

Kind of like a bizarro dimension.

We see the same people out all the time, no matter where we go.

We whisper to ourselves that they're from this restaurant or that.

Sometimes we see old members, but at best you get a knowing nod.

Membership has its privileges.

Waiters who would scoff at helping others soon seem to be doing what they can to help you out.

And the favor is returned.

We back each other up even when wrong.

In a workplace culture when the customer is always right and we always say yes this is all we have.

We cover each other's shifts and shortcomings.

A waiter is always above management to another waiter, the lockeroom leaders are the ones who lead from the front, not make policy from the back.

Rounds of drinks are often bought, no squabbling over separate checks when we are out.

If we all go out the tipping we do is obscene.

We believe in Karma.

Some people aren't allowed membership.

Those who don't pull their weight or are unnecessarily obnoxious are left behind.

If someone in the group has a problem with someone it quickly spreads to the other members.

Whispers of "don't invite so and so to the party" and other exclusionary tactics are reserved for those at the opposite end of the hierarchy.

At times we have even been known to travel in packs when leaving another restaurant for the "hot new place."

For a time the staff at our place primarily consisted of the former staff's of three different restaurants.

But alas it is all temporary like so many relationships.

While good friends are met, the number of acquaintances far outnumber close friendships.

It was good to have them, but someday they'll be the ones acrossed the room giving a knowing nod.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Tale of Two Families Pt. 2

To continue the last post the next morning I come in to work and the following events completely superseded those of the nice family from the day before.

To set the scene, the time was about ten minutes before we opened.

A couple of my buddies and I were standing around shooting the usual water cooler gossip. The front door was unlocked and out of the corner of my eye I was a group come in.

It was stroller people.

This thing was massive, I'm surprised it didn't have 15" wheels on it.

"I just know that's my table," I said.

One of my friends nodded in agreement, "Yup," he said with a smile.

"Better you than me buddy," my other friend said.

I snort and headed off to get a water pitcher, I can't stand it when groups come in before opening time.

I returned to fill their waters and I noticed when they had settled in they had forgotten something.

They had left the stroller smack in the center of the aisle.

I haven't even spoken with them yet and they already had two strikes.

"Excuse me, we can't have this in the aisle," I said.

They looked surprised that it was an inconvenience.

"I'll just move it over here," I said as I pushed it in beside their table.

It was like moving a refrigerator, I swear!

I started over to fill up their water glasses when the mother interrupts me.

"Excuse me, but there's salt in the glasses, her hands just moved to fast for us and she spilt some." The lady said, pointing at their daughter.

I then notice their little princess.

She was sitting there smiling.

While dumping the contents of a pepper shaker all over the table.

More like her hand moved too fast for your parenting skills, which apparently do not exist.

"I hope you don't mind a mess," the mother added.

No I don't mind at all, I'm the one that has to clean it up.

Not you.

I take their glasses off the table and fill up some clean ones in the back with their beverages.

I was sure to include a plastic cup and lid for the little darling's MOUNTAIN DEW!!!

More sugar is just what is needed, along with a side dish of caffeine.

Back at the table I see our friend throwing those little goldfish snacks pretty much everywhere but her mouth.

Her father just shrugs.

So do I, I haven't even taken an order yet and this is a lost cause.

If I get busy this is surely going to be my sacrifice table.

I take their order, for her highness a sided of penne with butter.

In the meantime I get slammed, the doors open and the lunch crowd is unusually vicious. I'm flying around my section and I see the family's food is being run.

The food runner comes over and cues me in that my table needs me.

"Folks what can I do for you?" I asked.

The father, and I use the term loosely points at the table.

Seems daddy's girl had pried the lid off her drink and dumped it all over herself and the table.

She just sat there throwing ice around.

I grabbed a towel and drop it on the table.

I don't need this shit right now dammit, they can clean up after themselves.

I wonder if all this is allowed at their home.

A bit later the little girl is screaming, the rest of my customers look visibly annoyed.

I am too.

One of my buddies comes over.

"You owe me man." He said.

"What happened?" I asked.

"The kid just threw up all over her mom and the table, I helped clean it up."

I went over to see if the mess was cleared.

There was a nice collection of salt, pepper, goldfish, spilt soda and vomit still remaining, the side of the woman's shirt was just trashed.

"Is everything going to be alright?" I asked.

"Why didn't you bring us our bread?" The lady said as she squinted her eyes.

"We don't offer bread at lunch unless..."


"You gave them bread!" She points at a table of six business people.

Yup, and they'll give me a tip, I think to myself.

"Unless upon request." I finished my sentence.

"Well last time they brought it." She retorted.

No they didn't, once again I think to myself.

Neutrally I said, "I'll be right back with some for you folks."

They became the sacrifice table, I cut them loose.

There's different criteria for this distinction, but they filled several.

I try to provide equal service as much as I can, but if your kid is a shit and you don't care you'll be the first on the sacrifice dossier.