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, November 29, 2006

Late, Sunday Night

It was right before close a few years back on a typical slow Sunday night when I noticed I had a new table.

They one of the regulars, one of the ones that we wish weren’t regulars and hoped would move on soon. They were a young couple in their mid-twenties, and the man of the relationship was a snide jerk.

Every time he came in it was something.

I understand every now and then the service is slow, food cold, dinner not what you expect or even a long wait at the door.

But I had waited on this guy for the last three weeks straight and it was always something.

He always wanted a free dessert or a comped meal…

And he always tipped shit, like 5% style.

So being set up for disaster I took the table with my usual Oscar Award caliber performance.

“Well hi folks how are we tonight?” I asked.

The gentleman looked at me from under his troglodyte like brow.

“Iced Tea.” He replied.

I wasn’t shocked at his answer, it was one I’ve heard many times before.

“And for you miss?” I asked the lady.

“Ya’ll have Mountain Doooooo?” She asked.

“We sure do!” I answered enthusiastically.

She had ordered Mountain Dew the last three weeks straight.

I know, I refilled it at least six times.

So they ordered the usual basic Italian, Chicken Marsala and Lasagna…

Hell I still know what they ordered and this was three restaurants ago.

So by the time I had placed their order with the kitchen they were in need of refills.

These definitely are the type to down as many as possible, although my record for customer refills was eleven raspberry iced teas, they never did quite break that feat.

So naturally I slip up.

The gentleman’s drink had begun to perspire and as I set down his refill of tea it slipped from my hands, and although I caught it about a third of it had spilled on his brown shirt and blue jeans.

He almost exploded out of his chair at me.

The man started freaking out about how I ruined his shirt (brown, no stain) and how I ruined his experience.

“Sir, It was an accident, let me get a towel.” I said reasonably.

I almost had to reassure myself that indeed it was an accident.

But I’m not that petty to spill on someone purposefully for a few weeks of hassle and bad tips.

His girlfriend had to almost hold him back.

“Its ok honey, just let it go, let it go.” She said soothingly to him.

He was still breathing heavily.

For a second there I thought I had a fight on my hands, then he eased back in his chair and started breathing normally.

So a few minutes pass, I talk some smack about the nutcase at table 102 to the kitchen staff, and their dinner is ready.

After dropping it off a minute or so pass and the bartender catches me in back grabbing a coffee.

“Hey man that wack-job is looking for you out there” He said to me.

Fucking great.

I reapply my oh so genuine smile.

“How is everything doing so far?” I asked.

“This is crap, what is this?” He said pointing to his date’s dinner.

“Chicken Marsala.” I replied earnestly.

“I worked in a kitchen for two years, and this shit isn’t Chicken Marsala, that’s just gravy over a chicken breast.” He said menacingly.

“Well sir that’s our Marsala sauce, not gravy, and that’s how it is prepared.” I said.

“Well I want you to get her a new one, right now!” He exclaimed.

“Sir, I’d be more than happy to do that, but that’s how our chef makes the Marsala, it’ll come out the same way.” I explained.

“I want another one.” He said.

“Hey Jeff, I need a remake on this Marsala.” I said walking back in the kitchen.

“What’s wrong with it?” Asked Jeff.

“I don’t know, nothing, they didn’t even take a bite. Guy says that it isn’t Marsala, its gravy.” I said.

“We don’t even have fucking gravy!” Jeff replied.

“Just make it, please, this guy's being a fucking prick.” I said.

Jeff graciously complied and out popped a new Chicken Marsala, looking just like the first one.

Why? You may ask.

Because it was prepared properly the first time.

So I went back to the table with the new dish

“Well apparently your chef doesn’t know shit, he can’t even make a fucking Lasagna, mine’s cold!” The gentleman said as I arrived.

Probably because he didn’t eat any of it in the time it took to replace his girlfriend’s dinner.

“This is bullshit, I don’t even know why I come here, your chef sucks, your food is shit and you spilled crap all over me, I want to see a manager now!” He said.

So I went on the hunt for the shift manager, this would be a fun one to explain.

The search took me past the kitchen.

“Hey man how was that Marsala?” Jeff asked.

“The man says you can’t cook and your food is shit.” I replied.

“Yo fuck him!” Jeff replied.

“No shit man, no shit,” I said.

So by the time I had snagged the manager the bartender had ran in the back.

“Hey, your shithead buddy there just walked out the door and was bitching me out on the way.” He said.

Great, a walk out on top of everything.

Sarah, the shift manager just sighed.

“At least I don’t have to talk to them.” She said.

She voided their ticket and it was almost like they were never there.

They never returned to the restaurant, and thank goodness for that.

I hate that type of regular, if only I hadn’t accidentally spilled his iced tea. Then he’d be back the next week with another complaint and another shitty tip.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sell Out

Management has cracked down on all aspects of the restaurant due to the owner's new totalitarian regime.

Write ups were threatened and management warned us that they were keeping a secret police type log on any rule infractions and that they may write us up without us signing the documents or being aware we are being disciplined.

Well about a week ago one of my coworkers that I am friendly with was called back into the office to discuss a card that was filled out with him as the waiter.

Apparently a table had come in later in the night when we ran out of the fish entree, being that it is the lent season we have been running friday features as an alternative to our red meat dishes.

"Nick" as we will call him, informed the table and went on to the other features and such.

The table made a comment about us running out of the dish, but if we don't have it there's not much we can do, there are other seafood entrees on the menu as it were.

Around that time Nick was seated another party, this time of eight.Once again they were not able to order the features, no big deal this time around.

So Nick received a comment card from the first and smaller party.

Apparently their side of the story was Nick told them we were out and then went on to sell the other party the fish feature.

They said Nick lied to them and was a bad waiter and yada yada.

Nick relayed his side of the story and that no, the party of eight did not receive any fish features as we were out.

Why would he lie?

A party of eight is automatic gratuity so he wouldn't have held out for a larger tip from them.

Maybe if he didn't like the table he would lie, but that would be rather petty and since the feature spiel is at the beginning of a dinner he would have no motivation to lie for that reason.

Well the manager heard him out, and pushed the write up towards him.

When you sign a write up it pretty much means you admit to the actions described, which means he would have to admit to lying to his table while serving the dish to the other party.

Apparently Nick tried reasoning a bit further, but they made him sign it anyways.

Once again way to back up your staff.You take a very honest and hard working guy like Nick and call him a liar.

Management is so afraid that the almighty customer might call the owner, hell they probably sent the assclown that wrote that letter a free gift certificate as a reward for being a lying piece of crap.

Way to sell out your staff once again restaurant industry, and yes this type of behavior is the rule for these middle managers, not the exception, unfortunately.

Side Note, I may have posted this a long time back, it was in my document file, though not on my archives here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


So it is rather well known that most restaurants offer little to no benefits.

This includes sick pay, vacation pay (remember I received 150 for an entire week off), profit sharing, 401k, regular minimum wage and health and dental benefits...

Well I did have a 401k at a former spot which was nice...

And they do offer insurance where I am currently employed, unfortunately since I make $3.09 an hour my checks wouldn't cover it so I purchase my own private insurance.

One staff member had their insurance deducted from their checks, and at the end of the year it was realized due to the deductions, the taxes weren't paid to the IRS, thus they received a $2,000 tax bill.

Yet another reason I pay out of my pocket.

So I anticipate the arguments that we all need to get real jobs, after all restaurant employment is non-skilled and thus undeserving of benefits. I do believe that when you treat restaurant staff as real employees that they respond with doing a great job and actually sticking around instead of contributing to the ever high turnover of our industry.

Turnover which is far more expensive in the long term than insurance, for instance.

And I tell you pretty much everyone is glad when they can receive health care of all things.

Well the city of San Francisco has made an effort to require all businesses, including restaurants, help uninsured employees receive benefits.

Under a new law San Francisco requires employers to give them health benefits!

How radical!

This would cost between $1.06 and $1.60 per employee worked hour.

Not bad when you consider the low wage of service staff.

Of course this is unacceptable to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (the same group which opposed living wage regulations for restaurant employees)

Here is the article from "The Examiner" by Joshua Sabatini.

"SAN FRANCISCO - A group of restaurant owners filed a lawsuit Wednesday that could jeopardize funding for The City's ambitious plan to provide health care for more than 82,000 uninsured residents.

Pushed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano, the recently adopted health care ordinance was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors, but largely opposed by the business community, which will have to pay a portion of the program's estimated $200 million price tag. The program is expected to begin this July.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a nonprofit group representing the interests of restaurant owners, allege in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco that The City's health care ordinance is pre-empted by a federal law, known as Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which sets national standards for employee benefit plans. The federal law prevents states and local governments from dictating specific terms of an employee benefit plan, which includes health care benefits.

"ERISA broadly pre-empts all state and local laws relating to the administration of federally governed employee welfare benefit plans, the lawsuit said. If implemented, the ordinance would intrude both directly and indirectly upon the administration of such plans.
The health care ordinance requires businesses with 20 employees or more to invest $1.06 to $1.60 for each employee hour worked for health care.

"The judge will rule that the intent of ERISA is violated by the funding mechanism of the health care program," said Kevin Westlye, president of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

While not having seen the lawsuit yet, proponents of the health care ordinance were quick to defend it against a legal challenge.

"This law was written very carefully to avoid pre-emption under ERISA," said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor and Research. "This law is like the minimum wage law. It sets standards for spending on health care. The law says nothing about the content of the health services, which is what ERISA addresses."

"I haven't read the details of the lawsuit but I am confident we'll prevail and it won't stop our momentum over the course of the next year to begin the process of implementing the San Francisco Health Plan," Newsom said.

Westlye and other business leaders wanted to explore other options to fund the program, such as a quarter-cent sales tax.

"[The lawsuit] is an example of what happens when a process like the health care mandate does not seriously take into consideration the financial impact of legislation on small businesses and restaurants," said Steve Falk, president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "It doesn't surprise me that a lawsuit has been filed just out of frustration of not being listened to."

So restaurant owners are claiming that they can't afford to pay their employees a dollar more per hour because the policy could have an adverse effect on their profits.

These owners would risk having all people who would be positively affected by this ruling the loss of their health care, as this could hold up benifit plans in all industries.

They would rather have a tax hike that would effect everyone in the city...

Rather than pay their employees $1.06 more in the form of health care investments.

That is why I can't stand this business at times.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Posh Waiter

After I hammer out my fifteen page term profile on "The Shining Path" Guerrillas I'll try to get to some real updates...

Including what happened in the aftermath of my unfortunate stint at "the new place" and my temporary gig that I'm doing now until after the holidays.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Vote!

Like now!

What are you doing reading this blog?

Go Vote!

But for the love of God pick up a newspaper, google a candidate or pick up a pamphlet.

At least know who you are voting for and what they stand for, nothing gets under my skin than knowing people are out there voting and have no idea why or for whom.

So go now!