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, September 19, 2006

Spaghetti and Meatballs?

One week to go.

And every day I find it more and more difficult not to go off on some potentially irritating "guest" in my section.

Tonight I had a man demanding spaghetti and meatballs.

Problem is the only meatballs we carry come in appetizer form (and are huge) and we don't carry spaghetti as a pasta.

So I sold him on fettuchini with pomodoro sauce and asked him how many meatballs he would like, telling him they were baseball sized.

"Well I want two, I love meatballs," he said.

No problem.

I brought him his giant dish, it looked great and he was pleased, until the check came.

"What is this $18.95 Open Food Charge?" He asked with much irritation.

"That's the cost of your pasta sir." I responded.

"Why didn't you ring it in as spaghetti? This is ridiculous! I shouldn't have to pay that much for spaghetti and meatballs." He spouted.

"Well sir you ordered something that isn't on the menu, that is the price point charge that the kitchen had me ring you in as." I replied.

"Hmmmph," was all he had to say.

He stiffed me on the table's bill, because he actually had to pay more than ten bucks for his dinner.

Its not like I get anything out of charging him that much, I don't make commission, I make gratuities, which apparently are far from guaranteed.

I don't make the policies, I just enforce them, and sometimes pay the price.

Of course I had to pay out of my own pocket $2.00 for the privilege of having to take his uncultured, cheap ass table in the form of my tip-out to the bar and buss staff.

Only one more week to go.

Best thing #1 about my new job, no tip out.


At 1:52 AM , Blogger Hoodlum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:27 AM , Blogger Ranter said...

I wonder if you could 'steal' your regular, good customers and encourage them to eat at your new place! Just drop a hint that you'll be leaving, they might even give you a bigger tip...

At 9:12 AM , Blogger Lobster Boy said...

having a card demagnetizer installed at the door that you could activate on people's way out would be funny, except then the next guy running that card would have a pain in his butt dealing with it manually. I'd rather have a castration device that the paying guest must place their genitals in before leaving....

Lobster Boy

At 9:39 AM , Anonymous dr jones said...

I hope just because there's no tip out at your next place dosen't mean that your not going to take care of the people that take care of you rember you can't seat a dirty table and eveyone starts at the bottom sometimes

At 12:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy shouldn't have stiffed you, but I would have been a bit pissed too.

You should have given him an idea what it would cost. The stiff wasn't so much that it cost $18 as it was a surprise. You ought to share some of the blame there.

As for "punishing him"...for being irritated at a surprisingly high guys are fucked up.

I'm going to start eating more often at home. I tip 15-25% or more, but it seems like this waiter attitude is too prevelant to risk going to eat anywhere that I don't go regularly.

You guys need to leave food service and get a job in corrections or something.

At 4:06 PM , Anonymous Anon #7 said...

Out of curiosity, how much is the appetizer? How much is a plate of fettucine?

Was the price of the spaghetti and meatballs in line with that?

Maybe that was the kitchen punishing your customer for making a special order, even though it sounds pretty simple: Make the fettucine that you already make, slap on two meatballs and some pomodoro...

So, really, did you get screwed by the kitchen?

And where were your managers in all of this? :-) (Oh, yeah, I forgot - Your management is making everyone leave.)

Good luck at your new gig!

At 5:11 PM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

Anon, stay at home. You don't like our attitude and we don't care too much for yours.

Waiter, I'm glad that you're getting out of that place. You don't deserve that kind of treatment.

Oh, and you say that the meatballs were the size of baseballs? I would have expected to pay much more for that.

You want spaghetti and meatballs? Go somewhere where they are on the fucking menu next time!!

At 10:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think you are entitled to a 20% tip, then you are, in fact, working on a sort of commission. 20% of the sales.

At 6:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad #1:
What part of my attitude don't you like? Tipping good service 25%? Being friendly and courteous to waitstaff? Returning frequently to restaurants I like? Always ordering off the menu without substitutions? Being understanding with delays and errors?

No, it's probably that I was SO BRAZEN as to suggest that it would be courteous of the waiter to let his customer know what the dish would cost. How horrible of me!

I hope one day you own your own place...I imagine telling good customers to go elsewhere will not be something you practice then.

At 2:46 AM , Anonymous Flo said...

Look, if you go to a nice restaurant with the attitude that what you want is what you want..doesn't matter that it's not on the menu.."Bring me this because this is what I want and bring it to me now" like you're some fucking celebrity or something..EXPECT TO PAY AND DON'T BITCH ABOUT IT!! If you want to be treated like a "king", then pay up like one..AND tip your server!! Or get off your fucking throne and ASK how much it costs..and not after you've already eaten the meal!

At 6:31 AM , Anonymous fmkrco said...

This is hilarious. I remember when I worked in service and found everything a customer did near aneurysm-worthy as flo, brad and inane do.

But maybe it's how this story is written, but I get the sense there was an added charge that inane didn't warn the guy about and that's why the customer was so pissed off. At least tell us you warned him so now he comes off as an asshat. In this story he comes off as a guy who is pissed with the price ambush.

And flo, your feelings are certainly felt but your logic is lacking: someone tips after the meal, not before, so no, expecting to be treated well (why is "well" or "with courtesy" suddenly a demand to be treated like royalty with you?) comes first. If only because one first orders and eats the meal, and then pays.

Makes things more difficult for you to assess who to treat with kindness, but there you go, We all have our crosses to bear. I certainly deal with my share of shrieking monkeys.

At 8:12 AM , Anonymous Flo said...

My logic is NOT lacking; I think 15+ years as a full-time server gives me enough experience to comment about demanding and rude guests. I treat every one of my guests "well" and "with courtesy"..But when a guest is very demanding, barking orders that aren't even on the menu, expecting everyone to cater to him and then getting pissed when he has to pay for it..after that,"with courtesy" goes out the window. That guest isn't any more special than my other guests who aren't so pissy and demanding.
And a guest should always ask how much a specially-made dish is if their funds are limited or they are cheap fucks..BEFORE the meal. I think you missed my point fmkrco..I was talking about asking the price of the meal, not about treating someone well first before they tip.
You're probably one of those spaghetti and meatball people, eh? lol

At 9:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You fucked up. If you didn't tell the customer about the exhorbitant add-on charge he had every right to be angry, whether he was an asshole or not.

Ever see the diner scene in Five Easy Pieces? You all sound like you'd be right at home there.

At 10:36 AM , Anonymous jay s said...

While the customer was an A**, I would be upset too. Sure, you charged him for 2 apps (cause he had 2 meatballs), but if anormal pasta dish was like $10, and a steak was $17, $18 for S&M might seem a little off putting. BUt, he should have asked too, if it was a concern.

I went out the other night with my wife and well behaved child. The place, a large family chain, had no children's menu. Normally no kids menu = kids not invited, but this was not one of those places. We asked the water who said that they could make a kid's meal out of any of the items on the page. We got him a quesadilla. NOrmally comes with chicken, guac, sour cream and all the fixings. We got him a tortilla and cheese. The bill, $8.50! While I don't expect them to sell their stuff at cost, $4 would have been reasonable. Especially considering the relative prices. We were mad at the waiter for not at least bringing this up, since we had previously mentioned, if they didn't have a "kid's menu", my wife & I would share ours with him. The 15% he got off the extra $4 was much less than the money he lost by a lower tip (I usually tip %20) on the rest of our $50 dinner. I know its only $4, but a diner expects to have information up front, to make their own choices.

At 11:42 AM , Blogger TheDame said...

Bear in mind that lots of places are computer-based these days. If punching in an order of 2 meatballs and fetticini comes to 18.95, there's nothing a server can do. Patricularly because the computer sends the order to the kitchen, so it's not like there is an alternative.

Personally as a customer, when I want something I am damned ready to pay for it, and tip well to boot. I know when I'm being a pain in the ass but I make sure my server knows their tolerance and willingness to please me (no matter how badly they bash me back in the prep area) is much appreciated.

At 11:56 AM , Blogger Mrs. Sara said...

Insane, you should burn that mother down when you leave. :) Sounds like a hell hole. By the way, that customer WAS an ass.

At 5:31 PM , Anonymous Mike said...

I don't know how much of an asshole the customer was up to the presentation of the check, but Insane Waiter was at fault here. If the only way to accomodate the customer was to charge him for two dishes, it's the waiter's job to let the diner know that in advance.

From the tone of this comment forum, it sounds like most of the servers need an attitude check. Like it or not, the reality of the business is that it's the server's job to make sure that the diner is enjoying himself, not the other way round.

People come into restaurants to have an enjoyable meal...there's more to the experience than just the food. I'm a reasonable, pleasant diner, I know my way around a menu and wine list, and I tip well. But I also appreciate being looked after properly. Take care of me and I'll take care of you. Hit me with an attitude, or make me work too hard, and I generally lose interest in tipping well.

At 5:34 PM , Anonymous Flo said...

jay s:

So you took it out on your server because there was no kid's menu, and because they didn't tell you the price of the quesadilla that YOU ordered..Nobody held a gun to your head and made you order for your kid..if you wanted your kid to eat your food, then you shouldn't have ordered the quesadilla! And let me guess, you didn't complain about this until that magical time when the check came..Then you complain, even though you already ate your meal!
In case you didn't already know, the server has NOTHING to do with the prices, so why take it out on them if you think they're too high?? And also, some guests get downright offended when they are informed of a price..As if you are implying that they can't afford it.
So don't make your server be the one to get shit on if you think the prices are too high, or there's no kid's menu, or anything else that the server cannot control. Instead, either go somewhere else or stay home! No one is forcing you to spend your money!!

At 5:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez you people need to work in a restaurant before you bash the servers.
Most of you wouldn't last one day guaranteed. It is hard work, and we have to bend over backwards to impress you people in order to pay our bills and feed our kids. Have some compassion for your hardworking server. They put up with a lot! And yes, they choose this profession, but they are humans too and deserved to be treated like you want to be treated: with respect. You have no idea what we go through unless you've walked in our shoes, and if you haven't, then cut them some slack and don't be so damn defensive!

At 10:01 PM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

Thanks for bashing me for my views, but you should at least know something about me first; I am a restaurant manager and I think that the customer was being an ass. If you order something that's not on the menu, it is not up to the server to tell you how much it costs, unless you ask. You don't ask, then all you know is that it's up to the restaurant, not the server as to what you will pay for that said meal.

At 2:23 AM , Blogger angsty cola said...

I've noticed a lot of people complain about waiters having 'an attitude' in their blogs. What the fuck? Are they just supposed to be subservient constantly? Being a waiter is a job, not a life station, and what's written doesn't necessarily reflect on how good they are at their services. Obviously Insane is good at his job and enjoys some aspect of it, if he hated everything about it or was truly horrid at it, would he be getting offers for other jobs or staying in the industry? Just because he leaves the 'customer is always right' mentality at the door when he goes home doesn't equate to an attitude problem. Insane is more than a waiter, he's human, and if he has less than pleasant thoughts or even actions towards someone who's being an unreasonable ass, what's wrong with that? I expect my wait staff to be courteous and even accomodating, but I also realize... gasp... they are human. Someone doesn't stop being human just because they put an apron on.

I mean, did the guy forget this is a restaurant and not his mama's kitchen? If he wants to make ridiculous demands and order off the menu, he deserves to pay more for it. That's so ridiculous.

At 11:12 PM , Anonymous Jay S said...

Flo, not only are you offensive, but you can't read. I said that I left 15% tip. That is the least I leave. I leave 20% for good service and 25% for great.

I think a waiter has a responsibility to inform the diner. If you just take the orders and bring the food, that's great, but any 16 yr old idiot can do that. Waiters are in a service industry. That doesn't mean they have to take crap or be abused, but that does mean they need to inform the diner. See Waiterrant's post on the diner who ordered his boar well done. For the Spaghetti and Meatball diner, had he been reasonable, a simple "we will have to ring that as a special order" would have been enough to put him on notice that it MIGHT be more, and if he cared, should ask. In my stupid kid's meal, we asked if this would be a kid's item. Had they said, we don't have a kid's meal, then I would be ok with it. Rather he said, our kid's meal is anything on the menu.

My kid ate it, he was fine. I paid the extra money, no whoop. But the false communication cost him money. If he had to charge me for that, fine, but don't mislead me up front.

Another example, went to a nice dinner the other week. Very nice dinner of a "name brand" chef. I had been to a sister restaurant for work the week before, so I thought I knew the average drink price. Uh, no, the same beverage bottle was 3x the price. But I didn't ask, the waiter didn't say, and it was a small deal, the waiter got 25% (or around $50).

Point is, if the waiter is attentive, efficient, and informs me , I tip well. Otherwise they get the bottom.

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

the problem is that every person has their own idea of what being attentive and efficient is. everbody's standards are different; it sucks that some servers have to jump through circus hoops just to get 10%, all because the customer has their own warped idea of what being a good server, especially if they've never been a server before.
and jay s your server's response "we can make a kids meal out of anything on the menu" means there is no kids menu and they can modify things on the menu. if it still wasn't clear to you that was your fault. you need to use the words "do you have a kids menu?" (you didn't say that in your original post)maybe the server isn't supposed to say the word "no" directly and he's trained to do that. i wasn't allowed to answer with a negative at my restaurant.

At 12:52 PM , Blogger Pearl said...

I have to agree with the first anon. Was the customer told beforehand how much the special order would cost? Was that price in line with the cost of other dishes at your restaurant? If the honest answer to either is no, then the server is in part to blame.

But then, I don't eat in restaurants anymore (the idea of other people touching my food scares me).

At 1:25 PM , Blogger Secret said...

Hi all, love the discussion...

Two points that I should have added to the post, the typical pasta dish at the restaurant in question runs from 16.96-19.95 so his dish was in this range. Mind you each meatball is the size of a baseball, literally, so with the pasta it was a giant dish, which I warned him it would be.

Secondly I should have mentioned that I pointed out on the menu where the appetizer portion was (which includes other items on the dish that kitchen deducted from the cost of the pasta) so if he would have either taken a second to do math (or asked me to do it for him) he could have gathered the cost.

Take it easy friends and have a good weekend here!

Until next time

The Secret Server

At 3:35 PM , Anonymous Anon #7 said...

There it is: Case closed. The guy was a dumbass for not taking all of the clues presented to him.

I vaguely recall my days on the sweaty line, and a server saying, "What should we charge for [special order]?" If it was busy, the price was high. If it wasn't, they got a good deal. At another place where I worked, the kitchen or floor manager intercepted those questions, so it was probably a more consistent answer...

At 11:45 PM , Anonymous Eustacia Vye said...

To those who are complaining at the "waiter attitude" and how they seem to resent their customers...

Shut. The fuck. Up. I bust my ass all night, smiling sweetly and being sympathetic and courteous to people that treat me like dirt. Later, I rant about it. Someone asks for a special order? In my mind I'm cursing them to hell and back, but outwardly, I'm smiling and telling the guest that I'm sure we can honor their requests.

A waiter's job is not to like the customers. Just to PRETEND that he likes the customers. After I've cashed out, I don't have to pretend anymore, and I can freely hate any customer I want.

If you go to a restaurant and demand a special order, be prepared to pay for it. If you don't want to pay for it, don't order it.

If you go to a restaurant without a kid's menu, and order an adult item for the child, the kitchen is not going to discount the meal just because a child is eating it. That's ridiculous. Get the kid a fucking happy meal next time or something.

Insane, I remember my last week at my casual dining job... I completely dropped the foodservice persona the moment someone got rude with me. Everyone started out at the same place, but the moment they got snotty, I just stopped trying. It was sort of gratifying.

At 12:24 AM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

jay s, how much did you expect to pay for your child's meal?? You said before that you expected it to be $4, relatively priced. What I want to know is, what was the average price on the entree menu?

You also said that they could make ANY menu item a smaller portion for your child. You decided to take away from the REGULAR menu and make their REGULAR menu item with less ingredients. So, I guess that should have costed you less, right? Wrong. The fact that you ordered something that wasn't on the menu doesn't mean that you choose what you pay for it, regardless of what it costs the restaurant. There is a price for a kid's meal there, no matter what they get.

See the comparison?? You get a cup of soup somewhere for $2.99 or a bowl for $5.99. You want the bowl split just because you're saving a dollar. It doesn't work that way. There's a reason that your kid's meal cost that much, and that's because they don't wan't your kids in there.

At 9:29 AM , Blogger ~Deb said...

People are so irritating sometimes, especially in the food business. I worked in a bar as a bartender, and served food as well to my customers. They would complain about every fricken charge on their bill---and then have that reflect on my tip. People are weird when it comes to their food.

Meatballs and pasta sounds so much better than spagetti and meatballs, doesn't it?

I just found your blog today--love it!

I'll be back!

At 1:16 PM , Anonymous SussieQ said...

Well???? Where are you? Is it over? Hanging on to hear the latest!



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