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....

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.


At 10:24 PM , Blogger Bartender Savant said...

Well done, fuck sticky fingered management.

At 10:34 PM , Anonymous Floater said...

Bravo! (Not being sarcastic.) You'll find a better job soon. Maybe you could sue that asshole.

At 11:11 PM , Anonymous The Pensive Penguin said...

I've heard of such thievery also, but never gotten ripped off like that before. The on-call thing is bullshit too. I had a job at a casino cafe in vegas for about four months last year, where, technicaly, my employee status was on-call. The manager that hired me said that meant I'd be getting minimum, three, usually four or five shifts, almost all (this was a 24 hour cafe) per week. I told him I was okay with that as long as he was being truthful. He wasn't. In the four months I worked there, I worked a total of 22 shifts, most only 6 hours, most on graveyard, almost all on little (1-2hours) or no (asking "how soon can you be here?") notice. You think you're broke after a little time spent in training, I was eating nothing but ramen for a while. Never again will I fall for taking an on-call schedule.

Good for you for getting out as quick as you did. If he's screwing you over like that now, imagine what he'd have tried to pull once he got more comfortable with you.

At 11:58 PM , Blogger briliantdonkey said...

Sorry to hear this didn't work out for you. I admire you standing by your convictions, I really do.

Playing devils advocate though IMO, you should have first confronted them about the rip off. Not that they DESERVED a chance to fix it. Not that you should have HAD to confront them, but who knows maybe they WOULD have fixed it and if not you were going to quit anyways which I wouldn't blame you for one bit. Mind you I doubt they would have fixed it, I am just saying maybe. At the very least you could have gotten an explanation for it right from the horse's mouth instead of second hand(even if it was from a friend).

As far as the on call/not getting the shifts you wanted stuff I can't really say I agree with you completely on that account. You are the new kid on the block and like it or not(no matter how much experience you have) you have to prove yourself anytime you go to a new place. Just like every server that comes after you(in other places where you had seniority) has to prove his/her worth to you and others before you can trust them to 'be in the weeds' with you. If I am not mistaken you have been in this biz for a good while. As such, I am sure you(like me) have met more than your share of people who have "waited for 23 years' supposedly, only to find out that they completely SUCK the minute they get more than 2 tables at a time. EYE know you aren't like that, YOU know you are not like that, but the management at your new place(like I said just playing devil's advocate) has NO way of knowing that. I don't think you are going to find many places where you can come in and immediately be put in premo sections, or get primo schedules. If you do, you are either VERY VERY lucky, or the place sucks so bad that there is a reason for being able to do so. Anyways, I have rambled long enough, and like I said sorry to hear this didn't work out for you. I hope like hell you will stay in school(most including myself don't). Otherwise you will be working for assholes like Mike for quite some time.


At 12:08 AM , Blogger Ninja Skitten said...

i guess that there is something to be said for corporate, in that they usually have safety nets in place to prevent that sort of thing... you should however sue, the tip out situation is beyond reprehensible and they better business bureau of you aren should be notified along with your state workforce commision, if you have one... furthermore the verbal agreement you entered wih your employer regarding scheduling should have been up held but was not, so i forced to make the trek to the local unemployment office you at least have justification for leaving your job... waiting jobs are a dime a dozen and i'm sure someone with your talent will land on your feet soon enough...

At 2:46 AM , Blogger caramaena said...

Geez - cleaning up vomit when no one else would should have meant you'd get a bit more, I would have thought. That totally sucks.

I wouldn't have stayed either.

At 6:44 AM , Anonymous Kath in the Yoo Kay said...

Sorry to hear it didn't work out - but well done for standing up for yourself! I'm outraged on your behalf at Mike's cheek.

I'm in a very similar situation to yours: I too left an arsehole employer for a great-sounding one that lied to me about the job and I too was forced to quit. Your line about green grass & fertiliser absolutely made my day - how very appropriate!

Hang in there... and best of luck for your next opportunity.

At 8:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just goes to show the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer.

Wishing you well with your next go round-

At 9:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that dream got dashed on the rocks in record time. Can you get your old job at the Spaghetti Garden back? Maybe Beef-a-Roo is hiring.

At 5:59 PM , Blogger Ranter said...

Wow, tough break about the new job falling through so quickly. Hope it doesn't affect your schooling too much, I'm sure things will pick up soon. Have you tried looking for a job on campus? University admin and library and that kind of thing might be looking for a responsible, reliable student! And I'm sure the hourly rate would be more than minimum wage!

At 7:40 PM , Blogger First Year said...

Just an FYI its actually illegal for a restuarant owner to get any portion of a tip. Tips legally belong to the person or people who directly served the customer is a regularly tipped positon- server, the bus people, bartenders. NOT owners. I suggest a complaint at your local labor board would be in order. Just legally speaking :)

At 8:16 PM , Blogger Hoodlum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:39 AM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

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

Well, fucking duh!! Treat a new employee like that, and that's what you get. $100 for all of that work is a slap in the face. I'm glad that you have the experience to know that. Good luck on your next venture.

At 2:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

fucking right....

and do like my bitchy cousins..... call the fucking better businness buera.

At 6:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good on you for leaving! In a way, they gave you a gift: unbelievable douchbaggery that only set the tone for the furture. After all, usually it's an accumulation of the little things that lead one to leave a place.

As for the owners taking a portion of the tip: disgusting and apparently illegal. Have you considered what kind of action you might wish to take?

Reports to the BBB are a great start, but you may also wish publicizing this shanda. After all, people who go to restaurants would not be happy to hear that the owner decided to keep the money they left for the service. If I knew a restaurant I patronized did that, I wouldn't go anymore.

At 8:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former line cook says good on you - working at a place that abuses you just shows them they can get away with it.

At 11:45 AM , Blogger The Home Cook said...

Wow. That totally sucks. $100 for all that work plus the hassle of cleaning up some old man's puke...the owner must not have his head screwed on straight. Not to mention all the other shit he put you through with the scheduling.

Sounds like you made the right decision about leaving.

At 4:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

good for you.. stick with your morals.. rip off artists aren't that good to work for ubless you care as little as them...

At 12:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have made a critical post or two about your attitude...however, you didn't deserve this at all. I'm really sorry.

Lesson to be learned here: While working for corporations is often an ass-pain, they do have an advantage over mom-and-pop places. Corporations have policies for damn near everything and by and large stick to them. The mom-and-pop places can (and do) do just about anything they damn well please.

At 12:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As First Year said, this is likely illegal.

I strongly suggest that you read these two articles:

Check Iowa law online or go to a free legal advocate. What they did is very likely illegal in Iowa as well. Don't give up on this one!

At 1:14 AM , Anonymous Josh, Des Moines said...

I'd like to know what restaurant this was so I DON'T EAT THERE!


At 8:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, you really got hosed.

At 10:49 AM , Anonymous Kristina said...

I just started reading your blog and this entry has me steaming! I have waited tables to pay my college tuition and now to pay my bills while looking for a full time job. Good for your for quitting. You shouldn't waste your time dealing with such shitty people. You sound like an excellent waiter and will find something better soon. I am sorry you had to go through that.

Good luck and keep up the good blogging!

At 11:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take comfort in knowing that the waitstaff/barstaff still working there are undoubtedly robbing the place blind.

At 5:39 PM , Blogger Ospite said...

I used to work in a prestigious country club in the locker room. My manager would take tips from members...

"Here, make sure you take care of your boys here in the locker room."

"Oh, I surely will. They're a good staff."

Then nothing. The wad of cash went straight to his pocket. We once did the math and figured out he made, on average, $18,000 in tips alone and never told his wife about it. He had a safe in his office.

At 9:15 AM , Anonymous restaurant gal said...

Good riddance! I knew the moment you mentioned the tip out to the owner, this stint was going nowhere.

Good luck and I hope the next place is a better landing for you!

Best, The Gal


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