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....

Monday, May 28, 2007

But the last time I was here...

“Yeah, this isn’t what I was expecting.” The woman at table 42 said to me as I checked on them.

She had ordered a veal dish served with a crab meat garlic cream sauce and garlic mashed potatoes, not really good make out food.

“Oh, I’m sorry, what seems to be the issue.” I asked.

‘Well this wasn’t what I was expecting, the last time I was here it was different.” She responded.
I rolled my mind’s eye, I knew exactly where this was going to go. She was three quarters finished with her entrée and looking for a comped meal, well I don’t comp unless absolutely necessary.

“Well ma’am, how was the dish prepared the last time you were here?” I asked.

“It came with pasta, like fettuccini or something, and it came with crab.” She said.

The dish had never came with pasta and while it had been garnished with small, split crab legs, they were only useful as a garnish as they had little meat, we had switched to several crab claws as the garnish for the time being as they add more color to the dish.

“Well ma’am, the claws have taken the place of the legs and there is crab meat in the sauce as well” I said.

“That’s not the way it was last time.” She said.

Now it is sometimes prudent to pick your battles, in the restaurant industry we might as well be the French Army since we surrender at the first sign of hostilities.

However I am neither French nor prudent.

“Perhaps you had a different entrée last time, perhaps a dinner feature.” I said diplomatically.

“No, no, no, I wanted pasta and instead I get this.” She said as she gestured toward the vague remnants of her potatoes.

Now I love it when the guest uses the phrase, “the last time I was here,” or, “well you did it for me last time,” generally the customer is full of shit when they utter this. Or if they’re right I don’t mind reminding them that this is this time, not last time. However, on this occasion I was sure, in fact 100% sure that the dish came out as it should have.

“Well ma’am I am confident that the dish was prepared properly, next time you come in if you want to request pasta instead of potatoes I am sure we can accommodate you.” I said. This was my last attempt at diplomacy.

“I don’t think I should have to wait until next time to receive what I ordered.” She snapped back.

“Ma’am, you received precisely what you ordered, would you like me to quote my written order?” I replied.

“No, I just want this to be what it should be.” She said.

“I can get you a menu to look at if you would like, the description is thorough and will match what you received.” I replied curtly.

“Well the menu has changed since the last time I was here, I was just expecting what I had last time.” She said.

“Ma’am, I assure you the dish always has been sided with potatoes since it was on the menu.” I responded.

“Maybe it came with pasta before you worked here.” She said, desperately trying to legitimize her claim.

“I’m afraid I have worked here from the first day we opened our doors” I replied.

“This still wasn’t what I was expecting.” She said stubbornly.

“Well that’s where we’re at then.” I said, recalling a compatriots way to end an argument. I smiled and left her with a quizzical look plastered on her face much like the drying mashed potatoes on her lapel.

This was one I was prepared to cut lose, sometimes you have to do that with a table. I wasn’t planning on much of a tip, but I wasn’t planning on comping her meal, which was prepared properly as well as eaten and frankly I didn‘t want to give her the satisfaction on any more of a debate.

Unfortunately she managed to flag down one of the managers, the writing was on the wall, we were going to pay for her dinner and I knew it.

Tim (not the same Tim from other stories, but all GM’s will be known as Tim) has sat with her for five minutes, as I traveled past the table several times, I caught pieces of their conversation, pretty much a replay of what happened earlier.

I caught up with Tim at the POS station (Point of Sale computer, or as well waiters call it, Piece of Shit).

“We’re not buying that entrée are we?” I asked.

“Sometimes you just have to smile and not, Secret.” Tim said.

“That’s horseshit, either she’s a scammer or an idiot, and I have respect for neither, we shouldn’t buy her shit.” I said angrily.

“Sometimes its best just to get them out the door, I’ll drop off the check.” Tim replied with a grimace.

“Fuck that.” I said, storming off. I made sure to swing by the table after they slid their shitty ten percent tip on their bill‘s discounted total.

“Thanks a lot folks, I hope to catch you next time.” I said with a smile and a nod.

The woman shirked back from me.

I patted the check, ”hope you got everything you wanted, have a good night,” I said still smiling.

I may have picked this battle and seemingly lost, but the moral victory belongs to me, I don’t comp shit unless its legitimate, and this certainly wasn’t

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Calling In

Click, click, click…

Damn, battery dead and I have to be at work in fifteen minutes, I love it when this happens. I flipped out my cell and dialed work, no answer. I dialed the office number next, same result.


Luckily I live on a bus route that takes me close to work, unluckily the next bus doesn’t swing by for another forty five minutes.

I ran back up to my apartment to wait it out, I called work again five minutes later, still no luck.
There’s a possibility that a manager is of doing something or on the other line, knowing our management they were running late, the same offense they’ve been writing people up for with all vigor as of late.

I wait five more minutes, still no answer.

Finally they answered about five minutes after my shift was scheduled to start, fate was against me and it was our fearless leader, the GM, we’ll call him Tim for this occasion.

“Tim, I’m running late with car problems.” I said.

“Well why are you calling me now?” he asked, “Didn’t your shift start already?”

“I’ve been calling for twenty minutes, I’m sure you were just busy.” I added with a sarcastic note.

“Well when are you going to be here?” Tim asked.

“The bus doesn’t arrive for another twenty minutes, but I won’t get there until about ten forty five or so.” I replied.

“Can’t you get here any sooner?” Tim asked,

Umm, the bus is on a pretty set schedule and a cab would take even longer.” I replied.

“What about your side-work?” He asked.

“It’s easy, I just have to set up the server station and make coffee.” I said.

“Uh, how do you know what your side work is?” He asked suspiciously.

“Because I really have no reason to be late and I snuck in the back door to check out the side-work chart and decided to go drink coffee for forty five minutes,” was the answer I wanted to give. However I gave him the truth…

“Because I’m closing server today and that’s what the side-work is.” I said.

“Well if your closing server then how are you going to get your work done if you’re late?” Tim asked.

“I was hoping someone would implement this teamwork you’re always talking about.” I replied sardonically.

“Well get here as soon as you can, bye.” Tim said, finishing his interrogation.

I don't know what it is about this guy but he would second-guess the second-coming if Jesus stood right in front of him. One of my biggest pet peeves is being questioned or second guessed without reason. I may only be a waiter, but I'm not a third grader either. I don't know if I've ever had that kind of hassle with a simple late call.

So I rode our delightfully pathetic public transportation system and had to sit next to a guy who mumbled to himself for the entire trip, then I had to walk the five blocks to our place of business. I arrived just in time for the pre-shift meeting.

“Secret, you better get on your side work, we open in fifteen minutes,” Tim declared in front of the assembled staff.

“So no one decided to help me out?” I said accusingly to both Tim and the staff.

One girl announced, “I made coffee.”

“You’re quite the humanitarian,” I stated.

"If you would have been on time this wouldn't be a problem." Tim said.

I just sneered at him and walked to the server station.

Of course it was a mess and the other opening staff had their shit all over it, oh well, it had to be done. Later I learned that Tim made no effort either to ask anyone to jump in and help out or to roll up his sleeves and do it himself. Some teamwork, and I really didn’t appreciate my car trouble being second-guessed as later Tim gave me a load of grief over me covering my close shift to get a ride to jump my car.

With these ass-clowns its always teamwork until it becomes their work it seems.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Unholy Day

So I almost escaped unscathed for the four “unholy” waiter holidays of the year.


I switched out for New Year’s Eve, skipped out of Valentine’s Day and had family plans on Easter.

I knew it would catch up with me, my karma might be getting better, but it isn’t perfect.

I was scheduled for Mother’s Day, the most feared amateur, evil day of the year when the entitlement pricks show up for their “special day”. It has been three years since I’ve worked one and I can’t say I missed it much, sure there is money to be made, but it is hard money and I really don’t need to put myself through that kind of hell to make it.

At first I protested, Sunday is my day off after all and I had a date that night (yes it went well) and beyond all of that I detest Mother’s Day.

Not because I hate my Mother or hate the idea of a day to honor mothers, its how they honor them that sometimes bugs me.

I suppose I could point out a few years ago when a table refused to pay the gratuity on their bill, that was a nice one for sure.

Being inundated with angry people trying to make last minute reservations wasn’t too fun either. If it is such a special day perhaps you should take the time to call in advance like considerate people do.

Its not our fault we don't have a table for you, its your fault for not calling ahead.

Well this year was no different, it didn’t help that I was scheduled lead server the night before and had a table camp out until about 12:15 A.M. or so. Waking up less than eight hours later for my next shift didn’t seem like such a good idea either, the fact that I was so wound up from my shift and couldn’t fall asleep until 4:00 A.M. didn’t help matters much either.

I crawled out of bed like a good subservient worker after four hours of sleep and made sure I was at least on time for this unholy day.

The shift didn’t start out so well either, the floor chart was plotted and full, the plan made and double checked. Of course in the restaurant business the plan is the first thing to go out the window when the shit hits the fan.

The first kink in the plan, for me at least, was I wasn’t to get a party until 11:15, that’s pad because I get to sit around for two and a half hours before I can get a table. Kink two was my second party in the other half of my section was in at 11:30. Murphy’s law of restaurants states that either the first party will show up late or the second party would show up early thus double seating me with two ten tops.

Murphy is a bastard because he was right, me on those tables was the equivalent of a Delta ‘88 being expected to go from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, it wasn’t going to happen in other words.

Kink three was my fault, due to the sections being split up for parties the normal sections went out the window and many stations had tables that were off to the side or tables that were usually in other sections. In addition to my two parties I also had one two-top table, a table I didn’t notice on the floor plan and therefore didn’t notice when it was seated.

Due to their unusually long wait before I got there we wound up comping their bill, so there you have it folks, I fucked up and was a bad waiter, I’m sure some of you are loving that. Of course the table was a friend of the owner and a well known name around town, at least they were understanding and left a good tip, I just hope they don't leave a complaint as well.

Kink four was your fault, yes you, the customer.

It seemed that several reservations decided to cancel or change their dinner plans without telling the restaurant.

I don’t know what kind of bullshit goes through peoples minds when they do this. One thing I have noticed is that many people make reservations at multiple restaurants and when their party gets together they chose whatever restaurant suits their fancy, then they never call to cancel their other reservation.

Fuck that, is all I have to say.

Here’s how it works out for the server and the restaurant. Holding tables like this screws other people who want to reserve also, as well walk-in groups are turned away. Those tables sit empty leading up to the time of the reservation and we hold the table usually 15-20 minutes just in case the party is running late, that screws the restaurant. Empty tables means empty pockets for all those involved, we had 46 covers no-show their reservation. Ten in my section alone, that cost me between 40-60 dollars when my afternoon reservation didn’t bother to call in, I hope they get the trots from wherever they wound up going.

After all of that some snatch went up to our hostess, bitched her out and reduced her to tears.

“You know, I just want to tell you’re not doing a very good job.” The lady snapped. “Look at all these empty tables and you just turned those people away.

“Well those tables are reserved for other parties.” The hostess stated.

“I’ve been watching you and its apparent that you have no idea how to do your job.” The lady snapped again.

I was furious, I don’t know what I would have said to that bitch, but I hardly think that she would get away with that talking to a grown man rather than a mere child. Its also too bad the manager wasn’t up there, we had the one manager on that actually backs up the staff, he was probably more pissed than I was at the situation.

Naturally the other managers didn’t help out much, after drafting several servers that have Sundays off due to their availability, the General Manager and the other assistants didn’t even make an appearance, they left one of the most difficult shifts of the year to one front of the house manager. Maybe in retrospect it was a good decision as he’s the only competent one of the lot and I’m sure the GM would just have fucked shit up more than it already was.

Then there was the kitchen, I had a table order medium well beef tenderloins that came out looking like a plate that a massacre had taken place on, side dishes were missing, items not fired and various other calamities.

It was just poor caddying all around and the lamest Mother’s Day I’ve ever had. Not the worst mind you, but instead of an ass raping it was like getting it one inch at a time instead.

The cherry on top was this situation. A group called in and were told that we were booked for the afternoon. Then they became a name dropper, "We're such and such's cousin and he told us we could have a table."

So we grabbed a few tables and threw them together. Naturally the party didn't show up, at first.

Then they walked in the door, an hour and a half late and fifteen minutes after we stopped serving.

Luckily my karma isn't too poor, the group wasn't in my section.

I did feel bad for the server that did have them, not only did half her section sit empty for an hour and a half, only six of the group showed up. That meant no automatic gratuity and name droppers are notorious for their shitty tips. As well that also meant no lunch break for her and the equally grueling night shift fast approaching.

On my way out the door one of the Sous Chef's stopped me.

"Where are you headed?" He asked with a sly grin.

"Out the door, what does it look like?" I said.

"I was wondering if you want to work expo for me tonight, I'll buy you dinner and pay you hourly." He said.

"No chance, I have plans." I responded.

"Well I'm short a guy, I need you to stay." He said.

"Sounds shitty, but I have plans." I said.

"What kind?" He asked, as if they weren't legitimate.

"I plan to sit on my couch and drink beer while watching The Sopranos." I responded, knowing full well I was going out for dinner.

"But we need you!" He pleaded.

"Too bad hotshot, see you in a week." I said. And with that I was out the door to get ready for my date and my well earned week of fishing up North.

See you in a week friends!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"We're going to have to let you go..."

So I was fired.

Many moons ago silly, not from my job today, I’m far too stellar of a waiter for that.

So many moons ago I was a bartender for a BBQ joint. Now that could sound good, who doesn’t like eating out with the common people in a roadhouse BBQ joint with B.B. King on the juke and a huge plate of ribs on your table with a checkered bib over your shirt to prevent the inevitable spillage?

Except this was a corporate restaurant with a fake roadhouse look with fake antiques on the wall and a decidedly TGI Fridays feel to it.

And the “common folk” were a bunch of suburbanite entitlement junkies with appetites for whatever restaurant opened in the last six months.

This was the place I was accused of being a racist for apparently shorting a nappy headed hoe on her dozen chicken wings.

Oops, I should be fired for that one, well I digress…

So I rolled into work one morning for my bar shift and I’ll be honest, I was about five minutes late. Of course in the restaurant world time runs a bit faster and five minutes means twenty in the eyes of both management and the customer.

Example #1: If a table waits five minutes for their bar drinks because it is busy, then it turns into twenty minutes magically when they bitch to the manager.

Example #2: If a party has to wait twenty minutes for a table, they go to the host desk and claim they’ve been waiting an hour, even when the host has what time they checked in, it is still an hour and they’re “HUNGRY/Have a show to get to!”

So walking in I checked the computer and noticed a large to-go order for a corporate account that wasn’t quite up yet, so I decided that I should use that few minutes to “drop the Cosby kids off at the pool.”

Shit, maybe I am racist.

So returning to the bar I find one of the waiters behind there getting the large to-go order ready, I thanked him and sent him on his way.

About that time the General Manager, who we’ll call Tim*, walked by and gave me a queer look as he made his way to the back office.

* A note about General Managers, they are always named Steve, Tim, Brian or some other short name as such.

About five minutes later, Bret*, the Assistant Manager came behind the bar and said, ”Secret, could you come back to the office, I need to talk to you.”

* All Assistant Managers are named Bret, all.

I acquiesced to his request and we made our way back for “the talk.”

We passed Tim and he shot me another queer look.

As he pushed a write up towards me Bret said, “Secret, Tim said you were twenty minutes late today and he wanted me to give you this.”

“Well I was about five minutes late, sorry about that, but twenty, I don’t think so.” I said as I studied the write up.

Bret responded, ”Well he didn’t see you until twenty after.”

“I went to the restroom about five minutes after I checked in, the to go wasn’t ready and I needed to go so I went.” I said.

“Did you ask anyone if you could go?” Bret asked.

“I’m not in kindergarten, I’ll go when I need to.” I responded.

“Well I more meant did you tell anyone, in case the phone rang or something.” Bret clarified.

“Anyways, Tim wanted to you to sign this and he wanted me to tell you that we’re letting you go home.” Bret said.

Ok, are you letting me go home today, or am I being let go?” I asked.

“We’re letting you go.” Bret said with trepidation.

“Really now, after two years, for being five minutes late?” I said.

“Well Tim says you have a history of this and here’s a write up for tardiness that we documented.” Bret said.

“Why isn’t Tim here to tell me this?” I asked.

Continuing I said, “Look at the date on that write up, I remember when that happened a YEAR ago when I overslept my shift, so I’m getting fired because this is my history of being late?” I stated.

“Well maybe you can come in and talk to Tim next week about your job…” Bret stammered. “Fuck that, if he had any balls he’d be here right now instead of sending you.” I said.

“Further more, he’s been on my ass for weeks since I dropped down to part time for school, what, is he pissed that he has to do bar inventory now and all the other bitch work?” I yelled angrily.

“I don’t know, this isn’t my decision.” Bret said.

“You know Bret, I always liked you, but Tim is a chicken-shit fuck, why isn’t he here to do this himself?” I demanded to know.

“Just wait a week, I’ll talk to him and maybe we can work something out.” Bret said.

“Seriously, fuck that shit, I can walk into any restaurant in town and work, I have friends managing across the street that would hire me in a second* and I don’t have to sit at home for a week hoping I can have my job back, you can tell Tim to take this job and stick it up his ass.” I countered.

* I did just that and was training on the floor that very night.

“And I’m not signing shit.” I said as I crumbled up the write up and dropped it on the floor.

I walked toward the front door, I was right, Tim had been riding me for weeks now that I wasn’t of use to him and making his job easier anymore.

Tim was behind the bar talking to the suit picking up the catering order, he shot me his look again, one that was filled with fear.

“Hey Tim, I just wanted to tell you you’re a fucking chicken-shit and you can go fuck yourself.” I said to him as I leaned over the bar and grabbed my soda.

The suit looked startled and offended Tim winched back.

I felt free.

Tim always talked shit about employees that were let go, I think he took some pleasure in it actually.

He always said, "We were here before you and we'll be here after you're gone."

So I was feeling a bit nostalgic and I stopped in for take out seven years after walking out the door.

As I picked up my order Bret came and was quite surprised to see me, we shot the shit for a minute and I asked if he was running things yet as GM.

"Well Tim's still here, he's doing the best he can with what he's got." Bret said.

I laughed as a shook his hand.

"Catch you later Bret," I said making my way out the same doors I did seven years earlier.

I guess Tim's aspirations for a corporate management promotion didn't work out, but he was right, he's still there long after me.

L.A. Waiter Returns

Oh boy has this happened to me, men are suckers for female co-workers...

But last time at least I got a little play out of it ;)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Writer's Block

So absolutely dick has happened this last week at work, no controversy, no asshole customers and no server drama.

So a long time ago I did an "Ask the Waiter" type thing, so anyone have any questions on the industry go ahead and ask and I'll try to give my opinion.

And actually if anyone has any questions about my "real" life go ahead as well.

Another sad thing has happened, the author or "Wide Lawns, Narrow Minds" has called it quits to focus on her real life and to quit her destructive job, I wish her well and hope she puts up an archive.

Well fire away kids and sorry to seem lazy for topics this week.

-Insane Waiter