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 31, 2006

The Most Important Image

This has absolutly nothing to do with restaurant work, but I found it very interesting and amazing of how small we all really are.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Take

"So what are your scheduling expectations?" Asked Mike.

"Well I go to class full time so I was thinking four or five shifts a week, depending on what I have going on." I replied.

"Well I believe we can work with that, we'll get you on a training schedule for next week and add you for the week following that." Mike said.

I shook his hand, "thanks for the opportunity."

Fast forward two weeks.

I'm on the schedule all right, only two shifts. With on call shifts in the place of what we worked out for me. The schedule was to be done a week ahead of time, however to save time apparently they did the schedule for five weeks instead.

Goodbye concert, goodbye football game, goodbye date, hello on call.

"So what's going on with all these on call shifts?" I asked Mike.

"Oh, those are only temporary, you'll be working most of those anyways." He said.

"Well I have a school schedule, I need to know when I'm working or if I'm not." I said.

"We'll call you by two in the afternoon to let you know, so you can make plans or work on classwork or whatever."He said.

Great, so I don't know if I'm working or not for the next five weeks. I can't make any plans a week, a day or even an afternoon ahead of time, because I might work.

"By the way what's going on with the tip on the party the other night?" I asked.

"You'll be getting it on Wednesday, we had some administration work to do before we can hand it out." Mike said.

"Ok, just checking," I said.

First on call shift: No call.

I called in to see if I could work, the training time with no tips had really taken a hit on my pocketbook. I left a message, no one ever called me back.

The next day I wasn't scheduled, however they called me to see if I could be on call for that night.

So they weren't even seeing if I could come in, they just wanted to know if I could if they got busy.

"Sorry Mike, have a paper to hammer out." I said truthfully.

Next on call shift: No call by two.

I went out and ran some errands, when I returned home there were about five missed calls. Apparently they wanted me to work and had left several messages for me to come in.

Well the messages were after four in the afternoon, two hours after they were supposed to call me. In fact he even had Lindsay, one of the staff who had recruited me, call me several times on her own number, thinking I wasn't picking up because the work number was on my ID.

I called work back, it was around 5:30, no answer so I left a message.

Hours later I received a call from the boss.

"Maybe I miscommunicated with you, I'm used to being able to call someone in at four and having them be here by five." Mike said.

"Well you told me yourself that you would call by two if you needed me." I responded.

"Sometimes we have late reservations call in, we really could have used you tonight." He said.

My irritation was growing.

The next day I was talking to Lindsay.

"Do did you hear about your tip out?" She asked.

"Please enlighten me." I said.

"They only gave you $100." She said.

My jaw dropped.

The party's bill was $7,000.

"What was your tip?" I asked.

"$175, the bartenders only got $125." She said.

"Here's the best part, the owner kept over $400 for himself." She continued.

"Why the hell did I only get a hundred bucks?" I asked.

"Because you were new."

Simple answer.

Here's simple math, 20% of 7k is $1,400.

Devide that six ways for the staff, including the house as a person that figures into $233 a head.

Apparently Mike's wife, who helps him on paperwork, decided she could divide up the figure whatever way she wanted, keeping the majority portion for him and herself.

So we worked a huge party that took tons of work from everybody involved, and I made shit off of it.

I was there late the night before the party setting up and polishing glassware and silverware.

Not to mention cleaning up an old man's vomit, staying very late the night of the party to clean, and coming in the next day and picking up as well.

All for $100.

So what would I do? What should I do?

The owner had pretty much taken money out of the hands of his staff.

That makes him a thief in my eyes.

I wasn't getting scheduled in any way that I thought I would be. Before being hired no mention was made to me of on call shifts.

There might not be any white zin or ranch, but there was the same amount of bullshit that often comes with this job.

What right does any owner or manager have to take gratuity and keep it for themselves? I've heard of this behavior before, even read about lawsuits made by staff against restaurants that did this exact sort of thing.

The last time I checked the owner made his profit off of food and beverage, not the tip.

That's why we only make $3.09 an hour.

He could have charged a rental fee or administration cost to the host of the party. But being that they might object and host the party elsewhere, he took the money out of our pockets instead.

That man selfishly put himself over the well being of the staff which makes less than minimum wage.

I don't work to pay his bills, I work to pay mine.

I stewed on it for a day or two, getting angrier with each thought of going bank in to work.

Is making more money worth getting treated like that? How can I work for someone who is so dishonest and selfish?

I thought of all the pro's of working there.

The high ticket prices, no management except him, the wine list, the clientele.

Then I thought of myself, what I stand for, it might not be for all that much, but what little I have I won't back down from. What I've written about on here went through my head. My little corner of advocacy for people like myself. It might not be that important to a lot of people, people like Mike, but it is important for me.

I made my decision in the morning.

I called two hours before my shift and told them I was done.

"I feel like I haven't done enough to get you going, to get you in here." Mike said.

I certainly agreed.

Maybe the only reason the grass seems greener is the amount of fertilizer they use...

All I know is I was done.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The House Take

"So tonight is a very big night, we really have to impress, these are some very well known names and affluent people around town." The owner, Mike, stated with emphasis.

"As well, this party took much preparation from my wife and I, so the house will be treated as an extra person on the tip out situation." He said.

That statement was met with a look of skepticism from the staff and more than one raised eyebrow.

"Don't worry, this is a huge deal and you will all be taken care of very well." Mike finished.

We, the staff, moved out to finish our preparations and Mike pulled me aside.

"I want you to get some gloves on and pick up cigarette butts and trash outside the front door, the guests will be arriving in limos and I literally want to roll the read carpet out for them, I want the entrance to be spotless." He said.

I gave a forced smile and proceeded to my glorious duty. Time passes, cigarette butts are cleared and Riedels polished.

The guests arrived.

I recognize them immediately, they are what passes for "old money" around here.

Half of them are what passes for assholes around here as well, I know most of them well from the upscale establishment I worked at that proceeded my employment here.

But their money still spends, and well, so the next hours are filled with us moving cases of wine, wonderful coursed dinners and champagne.

Everything went by the book, wordlessly wine was filled, bread delivered, tapas plates, salad, soup and dinner make the rounds.

More and more wine.

Toasts are raised to the "well known" family name, then it happened.

Mid toast I hear a spill and a gurgling sound as an old man knocked over his wine glass.

Lindsay, one of the other staff grabs me.

"I think that man is choking!!!" She said as she pushed me toward the man.

Purposefully I strided forward.

And skidded to a halt.

The old man wasn't choking...

He had hacked all over his plate and his thousand dollar suit.

I took one look at his coffee cup full of vomit and tried to turn, tried to flee.

It was too late, much like the Millennium Falcon in the Death Star's tractor beam, I was being pulled in.

The whole room was quiet, the woman making her toast to how great everyone was froze mid sentence.

All eyes were on me.

I pulled out a couple wine linens and tried to help him clean up.

Then he hacked all over my hands.

That was enough for me, I hightailed it to the kitchen.

"What's going on out there?" Mike asked.

"Some old bastard hacked all over me." I replied.

"Oh fuck." was all he could muster.

I washed my hands over and over, then retreated outside for an outlawed cigarette break.

Walking back into the dining room I noticed the old man sitting there covered in his vomit.
Not a single remember of his family had helped him out.

Not a move to the bathroom, not moving his plate, not getting him clean, nothing.

In fact the toasting had resumed.

"Why don't they help him?" One of the girls asked me.

"These are the rich and snobby, they don't help each other out, its beneath them." I stated.

"They pay people to clean up their messes, I bet they shuffle grandpa there back to the home until its time to break out the old man for another public appearance or a chance to get in his will." I continued.

Finally they cleared grandpa out of the way, leaving a vomit filled bowl and coffee cup. None of the girls looked like they were going to move in so I decided fuck it. I loaded up with linens and dove in.

With a precariously balanced stack of filth covered plates I made my way to the dish station. I set them down and went to toss the dirty linens.

I came back in time to discover Eduardo starting to pick up the plates.

"Careful there brother, those are filled with puke." I warned.

He took one whiff of the foul smelling assemblage and started to hack himself, running out the back door to throw up.

I did the dishes myself, I'm not above that, my first job was washing dishes.

And it can be hard, nasty, wet, smelly and really I do have an appreciation of this unglamorous, yet very necessary position.

So the party went on.

Towards the end one of the hosts, a very well known man around town, came behind the bar where we were cleaning up and started passing out $20 bills around to the ladies as an extra tip (I was the sole male server)

"Everything was wonderful, excellent job."

He got to me, gave a trite smile, turned around and walked away.

"Did you just see that shit?" I said incredulously.

"He just stiffed you on the extra tip!" Lindsay exclaimed.

"I can't believe that, you cleaned up the old man's mess!" Jessica the bartended added.

"I know," I said,"I probably remind him that it happened, and we know perfect people like this never puke, shit or spit."

"It was an embarrassment, and he wants to pretend it never happened, I was part of what happened so I don't exist either." I said.

Mike then made an appearance.

"Great job tonight, Waiter, way to jump in there," he said, "drink up, we have a lot of clean up to do, we'll get you your tip out by Monday."

To be continued...

Wide Lawns, Narrow Minds...

First I'd like to say that I find the blog that is named in my title to be hysterically true and a great read.

I swear about a third of my "guests" are these type of self entitled assholes.

However her last post struck me hard and here's the link...

Well having heard about this type of horrid behavior by restaurant owners is shocking, but it has much truth to it.

There are several restaurant and bar owners in my very town that are reputed to act this way, and yet people love them and name drop them and believe they are doing a service by having such a great place.

But then there's what the staff hear and see.

The philandering, the thefts, the lying, abuse, drunkedness and drug using.

I won't name names with this litigious society that we have but lets just say many of these "respected" chefs and owners are the scum of the Earth, yet loved because that can throw together a decent plate of food.

Anyways enjoy her posts and check out "Wide Lawns, Narrow Minds"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Wish I Had His Power!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Overheard at work my last week.

Two of their new waitresses bantering.

And I quote...

"So like yeah, I came back from London this summer and like needed a waitress job." Said Girl #1.

"Really? London, France? How was it?" Exclaimed Girl #2

At that point everyone started cracking up.

"Did anyone over there know English? How did you talk to people?" Girl #2 added.

The next day I was in the private room and one of the girls starts freaking out...

"Shriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiek! OH MY GOD A MOUSE!"

My response: "Hey, at least it wasn't a rat"

Her eyes widened ever further, if that was possible.

"Yeah they get as big as cats around here." I added.

I thought she was going to pass out.

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Gig

So I just finished the training portion at my new gig.

Pretty much the usual deal, only a bit easier on the nerves since my trainers knew me and were instrumental in getting me hired.

So here are a few pro's of my new place so far...

1. No managers. The owner is the boss and I don't have a gaggle of server rejects with no knowledge of anything to do with the restaurant business attempting to defy logic at every turn.

2. The owner. While I haven't had enough experience with him to make a judgment, I do know he is an owner that came up in the business and is a restaurant guy. Not some millionaire who only has a place as a monument to his success and cares not for the business, but the recognition it affords him as his personal fellatio devise.

3. No White Zin!!!!!!!!!! Imagine my elation, no really, imagine the joy when I had to tell a table that we don't carry that awful, awful degradation of a fine grape.

4. No Ranch! One again, imagine my elation.

5. No kids menu! So much for the cheapies wanting a kids chicken alfredo, grilled cheese, or (shudder) chicken strips at a nice restaurant.

7. No high chairs, I haven’t seen a person under the age of 12 in there, no more crayons, broken crackers or those damn “goldfish”!!!

8. Gratuities on parties of 6! That’s right, not eight, then or twelve, six it is!

9. Great food, not a weak link on the menu, and innovative at that!

10. Best and most comprehensive wine list I have worked with. Intimidation to be sure, but no White Zin makes it all worth it.

11. Our clientele are there to dine, not order cheeseburgers. That equals huge check averages!

12. Did I mention no Ranch in the restaurant!

13. No substitutions! The chef’s dishes are prepared the way they are for a reason, don’t like an ingredient? Order something else. Its better to deal with my smooth demeanor than the wrath of a thwarted chef.

14. Lets see, a la carte salads, wonderful appetizers (no cheese sticks) and great martini list…

15. Great staff, I am the weak link for now, but a small, professional staff can make a restaurant, and certainly does here.

16. Respect, the owner realizes we are adults and treats us as such. No more condescension from managers who are less educated and experienced than their staff.

17. Feedback is welcome and respected by all involved. No more rash policy changes or asinine ideas that result in low moral or loss of revenue for either the staff or the restaurant.

18. No more ties, our uniform is informal to an extent so no more attempts at making me button my top button when I am pouring sweat or making me wear silly ties with dancing waiters on them.

Are there negatives? Sure.

I already have a good blog story and I’ve only been there a week.

But I’m certainly excited…

Oh yeah…