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....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pet Peeve Cop-out list for the third week of October.

Been busy with classes so sorry for the slow post schedule.

Pet Peeves of the week:

1. Customers demanding that I use my god-like powers to control the actions of others. This has mostly applied to patio diners. The first guest was sitting in another section and was demanding the waitress stop that irritating “humming” noise that was emanating from another building, then he pouted when he was reminded that we don’t control the air conditioner from the building across the street. It didn’t help that he then told the waitress there was no need to be a snot and that he usually is a good tipper, not this time I suppose.

2. People who want to order off menu. The other day a patron about had a conniption fit over the fact that I wouldn’t order him an omelet. The fact is we aren’t a breakfast joint, look for a menu that proudly boast 24/7 breakfasts and all you can eat Johnny cakes if that’s what you’re in to.

The customer asked, “well you have eggs, this is a restaurant isn’t it?” Yes, we have eggs, but I’m not going to throw a wrench in the engine that is the kitchen while they chop up some peppers and rustle up some ham for you.

This also goes for trying to order anything you’ve seen on “Iron Chef.” Just because you’re a foodie doesn’t mean you know shit about preparation or actual cooking.

3. People who place their refuse on the table. The two grossest things I have seen this week was a little pyramid of spent olive pits as well as a pile of shrimp tails, placed on the table. My friends, keep your food on the plate, just like mommy always tried to teach you.

4. Peanut Butter sandwiches. Yes, a person who cannot be called a customer because a customer spends money, whipped out a peanut butter sandwich and Diet Coke instead of ordering. Stay at home or the office please, restaurants aren’t a place to just hang out, you have order their products as well.

5. If the restaurant is closed go somewhere else. Don’t bang on the door, don’t bitch me out on the phone because I won’t take your reservation. The other night we were closed for a private function and a customer on the phone was told no take out orders, the customer proceeded to scream at the server who answered the phone and demanded to speak to the manager. For once the manager backed up the waiter, naturally the caller threatened an email to the corporate office. Its only dinner folks, and there’s always tomorrow.

6. Gum goes in a napkin, not a plate, nuff said.

7. Flavored Tea. This has become the new indicator of a shit table beyond ranch and White Zin, not that people want raspberry tea or peach tea, but that they throw a fit when we carry plain old regular fresh brewed Iced Tea.

8. In that vein, people who wonder why we don’t carry Diet Berries and Cream Dr. Pepper or some other nonsense fringe soda flavors, because we carry soda that sells, that’s why.

9. The wine samplers. Now sampling a glass or two is ok, but I think the Olive Garden experience has soiled wine sampling for every other restaurant. I don’t need to pour six different glasses for free, only for you to settle for some shitty White Zinfandel of other swill.

And no, I won’t open a bottle that is sold only by the bottle, much less a reserve wine, just for you to drink a 1 oz pour and decide you want something else. We can’t sell that bottle after we open it and I don’t believe in that kind of waste.

10. Management and owners who keep a tip for themselves. My friend who brought me to a different restaurant reports that the owner once again kept $200 of a tip on a private party. This time he took it directly out of the tip pool as there was no assigned gratuity and there were individual checks. She confronted him on this issue, the legalities, as well as pointing out that it was the reason I quit my position.

He refunded her money.

Strike another one up for the good guys.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

To go means go

I was covering the bar the other day when I had a fun reminder of old times when I was a full time bartender. This seemed to be the case at my last restaurant as well when I covered a few bar shifts during the week.

The first point I am going to make is the whole take out at the bar issue, to tip or not to tip. Take out orders at a full service bar are often compared to getting fast food, they are apples and oranges.

Besides the general quality of the food (hopefully) being better, there is much more preparation involved. At every restaurant I’ve worked at the person putting the order together generally has to hunt down silverware, make salads, prep the soup, get sides of ranch, condiments and everything else you would expect.

Most restaurants are not set up to handle to-go very efficiently except those with car side service such as Applebee’s. Much of the reason is that restaurant food has more components that only last several minutes in a box. If you’ve ever opened you steak sandwich you bought you know what I mean, condensation and a soggy bun. Or if it’s a pasta, the sauce may have broken down, etc.

So basically it’s a big pain in the ass to track down everything you need for take out. The real pain in the ass is being away from your station, the phone is ringing, servers want their bar drinks. Any cocktail tables are being neglected and anyone sitting at the bar is pretty much screwed for a couple minutes.

Now I’m not trying to completely bitch about a facet of the bartending job, just pointing out that yes, there is service and effort involved beyond handing someone a bag of a rapidly deteriorating product.

Service where I come from is rewarded with a gratuity. Generally the bartender is stiffed in this exchange. From what I’ve read on Bitterwaitress the to-go people that chain restaurants often employ are stiffed on many occasions as well.

Reasonably I can’t say that we expect the traditional 15-20%, but a few bucks or even 10% is not only appreciated but generally earned.

This brings me to a second point, a sub-section of the aforementioned non-tippers.

And its always the non-tippers that do this.

As I was covering the bar for a few hours the other day a couple of I answered the phone and a woman on the other end started giving me a take-out order.

Of course it was a huge pain in the ass.

Side salads with no onions, RANCH, iceberg lettuce only, none of that “purple stuff“ and pretty much none of what makes a salad good or healthy, but extra sides of ranch“, naturally.

This was followed up by some vague request for a lunch feature from “a couple weeks ago” of which they knew none of the ingredients other than it contained fettuccini.

So after taking the order, which naturally will suck because ordering random ingredients with fettuccini when you have no idea of how to cook is pretty much a bad idea, I resumed bullshitting with a couple random bar patrons.

About twenty minutes went by when three bubbly, dumb looking Hollywood wanna-be type girls wandered into the bar.

“Um, yeah, we called earlier, is our take out order ready?” One of the girls asked in a great “Valley Girl” impersonation.

Not impressed I replied with, “It’ll be thirty four eighty five, I’ll go check on it for you.”

So I headed back to the kitchen and rustled up bags, silverware, napkins, TONS of ranch, bread and all other requited items. Double checked the order for accuracy, and yes the fettuccini looked greasy from all the crap in it, and bagged everything up.

“There you go and here’s your change.” I said as I took payment.

“Did you bring me extra ranch?” The girl asked me in return.

“Sure did.” I replied.

Of course, no tip.

About thirty seconds later my bar patrons and I looked in horror as the girls started busting out everything that I had just bagged all over the bar.

“Oh we decided that we have time to eat here!” One of the valley girls squealed.


In thirty seconds they managed to trash the bar area more than the entire lunch rush had. They threw the portion cups, napkins and bags all over the bar counter and started wolfing down their ranch salads, there was literally shit all over, including on the floor.

Maybe half the ranch made it to the salads, the other half all over the counter top.

This happened many times during my stint as a bartender and I really forgot how I hated it. People eating their to go food at the bar and making a mess with no tip, now back on my pet peeves list for sure.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Effin Hippies

Seriously, we have a deluge of new employees and about half of them are hippies.

They are slow and ignorant, they feel that since they are hippies that they are entitled to this laid back lazy brand of working, they even speak lazily as to show how laid back and cool they are.

They aren't cool.

They take years at the computer and have no sense of urgency when it comes to their jobs, thus causing longer waits for us "square" types.

They don't take any sort of direction well from the senior staff members, head waiters (myself) or management. I think they hate working for the man and expect everyone else to do their jobs for them

The other day I asked the hippie on the linens side work to make sure the hamper was lined with a bag so linens wouldn't pile up on the floor.

"Don't worry about it man," was all she could say.

Well during the middle of the rush I came thought the kitchen and another, more responsible, server picking up linens that had been piled up on the floor, blocking traffic and creating a safety hazard.

Looking down on the floor I said, "This is what happens when you leave a hippie in charge of something, shit all over the floor, its a good thing they don't run the world or we'd all be fucked."

When confronted the hippie said something like, “I’m too stoned and laid back to work.”

I responded with a ,”Do you fucking job, we’re not here to clean up after you!”

Later in the shift hippie girl wanted to check out with the closing server, myself.

“So what did you do for your side work?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Well I took a bag of dirty linens to the basement.” She responded.

I looked over by the dishwasher, sure enough the hamper was filled to the brim.

“You need to take those down also,” I said, pointing out the hamper.

“But I already took a bag down, man!” She said crossly, or as crossly as a hippie can get.

“You have to take all of the linens down, sometimes its one bag, sometimes its three, I don’t care.” I said.

“We also need five bags of linen napkins brought up from storage while your down there.” I said, pointing out another of her duties she neglected.

“Whatever man, this is bullshit, the night shift can take care of it.” She said.

“What’s bullshit is that you’re passing the buck to someone else so you don’t have to do your job.” I responded.

“Whatever,” was all she had to say.

While hippie chick was in the basement I looked over her other side work duties, stock tablecloths?

Not done.

Stock water glasses?

Not done.

It became apparent that she hadn’t done a single item on her list, yet she had the balls to try to check out with me.

She almost cried when she came upstairs and I confronted her on this.
Hippie chick #2 wasn’t much better.

The other day her opening duties were to set up the parties in the restaurant for lunch and straighten the other tables.

There was a party of eighteen, two of twelve and a twenty top.

The Twenty top was in my section.

After I had spent about thirty minutes setting up the kitchen and helping other servers with their work I noticed hippie chick struggling to put my table together. She hadn’t even started on the other parties or straightening the sections.

“Having some trouble I see?” I asked.

She had the tablecloths on upside down and in disarray with each table having cloths of varying length on them.

“Uh, I think I have it dude,” she said.

“I think you don’t, we open in fifteen minutes and you still have three other parties to set up.” I said.

“I’m almost done with this one.” She said, struggling to count the twenty seats (there were only eighteen).

“Not really, you have to tear this apart and completely reset it, the tablecloths need to be straightened and arrayed in diamond shapes so it looks nice, and you don’t have enough seats.” I said.

“Whatever man, I know how to do my job.” She said.

“Apparently not, go worry about you other parties, I’ll set up this one.” I said.

“Why would you even care?” She asked.

“Because this is my party and my tip, I want it to look nice.” I responded.

“Whatever,” she said,

“Yeah, whatever, go blaze up another one smoky.” I said.

Now it may sound like I have an anti-hippie bias, well maybe I do.

They are generally poor tippers, smell like patchouli and have gross hygiene. They are even worse to work with. Now this is a generalization, but they are among the least motivated employees, this may be because they feel they should give their attention to activism such as saving baby seals or global warming or poverty,

Well I have an answer for the last on that list, do your fucking job and show a sense of urgency,

I’m sick of picking up the slack for you and sick of you slowing down us who really want to get shit done.