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 19, 2008

What are you, five?

It was pretty much a nightmare scenario.

We were packed to the gills and I was handed a twenty top to take by myself, a bit of a challenge, but one I've never shied from.

The problem was it was twenty middle aged women and you know what that means...

Ranch, Diet Coke, modifications from hell, separate checks and White Zin.

The lady at position one had ordered the salmon with no sauce and steamed broccoli in place of asparagus, no problem right?

Wrong, the deal was the next lady in line modified her entree and so on down the line. The ticket I sent the kitchen resembled the combined efforts of the last five blog posts in length.

So the food came up, five trays of items that had only a passing resemblance of the actual menu description.

I set position one's salmon down, no sauce, no asparagus, sub broccoli.

"Ummm, what is this?" She said to me, pointing at her plate.

"Salmon, no sauce?" I replied.

"No, what is this?" She asked, pointing to the side of pasta that also accompanied the dish.

"I'm pretty sure that's fettuccine alfredo." I replied.

"I didn't want that, I told you I only wanted broccoli." She snapped.

I glanced at the nineteen other entrees waiting to be dropped off. The assistant manager was coming up with the last tray as well.

"Well miss, you don't have to eat the pasta, you asked for no asparagus." I retorted.

She flipped the salmon over and poked at it with her fork.

"There's sauce touching my salmon, I don't want sauce!" She exclaimed.

"Miss, is this an allergy issue?" I asked.

"No, I just don't want my food touching." She said.

I about screamed at her, "then who cares!"

I bit my tongue, at that moment the assistant manager saved me from saying something I probably would have regretted.

"Hey, drop the rest of the food, I'll take care of this one," he said.

I went about the task of delivering the rest of the dinner before it was cold.

Afterwards I approached the manager. "Hey thanks man, are we re-plating that or what?" I asked.

"No, she wants a new one." He replied. Looking at the line I saw there were about fifteen tickets on the wheel, with the kitchen rolling like a freight train on cocaine.

"Are you fucking serious, just scrape that dab of sauce off, plate it with broccoli and lets go!" I shouted above the noise of the kitchen.

"She told me her broccoli felt like it was dumped in ice water and that she'd know is we gave her the same salmon." He said.

"What is she, five? Just flip the fucking fillet over!" I said.

"Just let me handle it," said the manager.

"All right, its all you then."

Later as the dinner was winding down the manager approached me again. "Hey, we're buying her meal since it took a bit to get back out, we're also giving her a gift card."

He said. "What, so she can come back in and get another free meal? We did nothing wrong and she gets two free meals out of it for throwing a fit." I said.

The manager shrugged and said, "she's pretty pissed, we have to take care of it."

"I just don't believe in rewarding bad behavior, when I was a kid and did this kind of thing my Mom would have taken me to the bathroom and spanked the shit out of me." I said.

"Well hopefully you won't wait on her when she comes back." He said.

"Oh I won't, she's one I'll remember."

And with that I was out the door to split the checks a thousand different ways. With the gratuity added, naturally.


At 12:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all of this boiling rage, it makes me think you could have boiled over and become the guy who got canned for adding $100 to the tip in Des Moines recently...

At 12:27 AM , Anonymous Arlynnia said...

I've been lurking a long time, and just had to comment on this one.

I had an ex-boyfriend who sounds just like this lady. He refused for his food to touch on the plate. His reason? He only wanted to taste the particular item he was eating at the time he was eating it. I told him that was ridiculous since it all gets mixed up in here (rubbed my tummy like a genie lamp). He said, well excuse me for having taste. The taste of a five year old, I replied.

He was the pickiest eater and I cooked for him for 4 years, many nights making two dinners, becuase he had a list of foods a mile long he wouldn't eat at all. And to serve it up all separated on a plate like you're either a child or very elderly person. Geez. That's part of the reason he's an ex.

Maybe they should hook up, they sound perfect for each other.

At 9:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 40 something woman and I see everyday how these 20 somethings behave. That generation of " PEOPLE" are rude and spoiled. They think they are the only people on the planet. I see it in the grocery store and at the movies and in the malls. I am a mom of a twenty year old and a teen and if they EVER behaved like that in front of me or ever I'd spank them! The way she was acting because some of her food "touched" the sauce must go back to when her mother treated her like the princess she is NOT. Parents today are not doing their children any good by treating them extra special, these teens and twenty somethings believe they are way above the rest of the world. And the new generation will probably be worst. You are not entitled to behave this way because your in a restaurant. Good behavior starts at home. When I take my daughters out to eat, it is a pleasurable experience for all involved. I feel compelled to apologize for the behavior of these cretins. Parents smarten up !

At 1:30 PM , Blogger lachockitabanana said...

My god if you're that picky about how you want your food...stay home and do it the way you want.

At 5:33 PM , Anonymous bebe said...

Anonymous, i'm sorry but i think you misunderstood. The table was 20 MIDDLE AGED women. The woman acting like that was at least 40.

At 3:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you ever get sick of bitching about your tables? Seriously it's entertaining to me but it seems like you would be much happier to leave it at the door or perhaps find a different line of work. Good luck with your boiling rage and please do not kill anyone.

At 1:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always reward the doosh bag customers thats what all restruants do. I wish all managers would see them for what they are...bad for buisness

At 1:54 PM , Blogger Wraith said...

Hmmm, simply scintillating, I tell you; finally I have found a blog that has the same view as I do. “What view is that”, you ask, why it is that view that allows one to actually point out the true fault in society, where you are not afraid to call a spade a spade, and hopefully ridicule the living daylights out of the subject in question. I deal with similar issues on my blog, my partners sometimes struggle to throw those metaphorical blinkers that society has placed on them and see the truth, but they are getting there ^_^
Keep up the blogging; I eagerly await my next dose of insane truth!

At 2:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These type of people should definitely not be rewarded, but shunned and humiliated in public.

At 3:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always find it highly amusing how these women, invariably late middle aged, puffy haired, in some sort of a matching sweater pant/skirt set in some hideous shade, are always shocked to find out that their specific extensive reworking of the menu is not universal.

"What?! You mean not everyone orders the taco salad in shell with the shell on the side and only two of the original ingredients? You must be mad!"

~KH, The Hooters Girl

At 7:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a good manager.Managers have to do something to appease the guests or head office gets a call and they get scolded even though it was no one's fault. Also what I find sometimes is when you put modify something only with the entree the kitchen doesn't understand " only."
It was the kitchen that screwed up.The guests did seem to jump all over it though.That is the business we are in. We see people at their worst.

At 2:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should suck it up and do your job. You are paid to put up with people like this...that's why it's called the SERVICE industry.

At 8:29 AM , Anonymous banquet manager said...

As a long time manager, one of the hardest things to judge is when to "comp" a meal and when to not. Just because a guest complains about a meal doesn't mean we should bend over & touch our ankles. We need to see what we can do to improve their experience while they are still here and not comp their meal now and invite them back for another free meal. We train our customers based on how we treat them and giving away the house for an unreasonable guest is not always the best way to go. Great post.
So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager

At 9:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was doing his job - so "sucking it up" was necessary!

PS - I LOOOVE when I get to include gratuity!

At 10:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These types of customers are everywhere, bookstores,coffe shops,walmart, even Micky D's. This Special Snowflake belive, that since they walked out of the house today the world must now bend to their will. The problem is, they tend to make a lot of noise, and owners/customer service reps don't like that kinda noise so these people are given stuff just to shut them up. We train these customers to expect to be treated like the Queen of England and then wonder why a,servers feel homicidale b, why turnover is so high c,well there is no c.
I know it's cheezy but treat others like you would like to be treated and really the world would be a better place(or we should be able to shoot those Special Snowflakes with a Tazer till they promise to behave) you choose.

At 8:53 AM , Blogger schmuckraker said...

I am convinced picky people WANT to go out to eat so they can complain and talk about it for a week or two.

I just wanted to know, what did the other 19 people act like when she did this??

At 8:19 AM , Anonymous Jessica said...


I’ve been reading your blog after climbing into the industry two years ago.

My second job has always been bartending or serving. My first (9-5) job is Marketing.

It is always hard to find a position that starts at 6:00 PM. . . but I have managed for a few years.

In my particular case now, I am in desperate need of advice.

I accepted a cocktail waitress position in August at a wine and martini bar in a great “yuppie” neighborhood over a choice bartending position downtown. After speaking with both owners I believed the martini bar would be a better place to beef up my bartending skills, service attitude and perhaps move to management in the future. The martini bar owner had many connections and seemed to be on the same page with me concerning where I wanted to go in the future.

For the first 3 days I worked for free as a busser…no pay.

The head bartender appreciated my work ethic and quickly moved me along, soon into a profitable section.

For a while everything seemed great! Everyone verbally praised me for my attitude, dress and work ethic. The second job schedule fit in great with my first and the money as a server was great (140 on a great night)!

However as the summer cooled business began to slow…immensely. The bar continued to hire outside bartenders despite my obvious desire to move up (I would come in on off days and work behind the bar for free), they hired a completely incapable bar manager and shifts were cut from four days to one a week!

I also began to notice things. New servers without ANY experience were hired without training, never made to work as bar backs and just plain sucked at their jobs. They however were given more, BETTER, shifts than I. This prompted a change in my attitude. I no longer openly displayed a selfless attitude with management. I was less eager to please and stopped coming in to train. After being unfairly disciplined by the incompetent manager, almost all the warmth evaporated.

I have a few questions.

1 – I believe my patrons are starting to notice my attitude, and it is affecting my tips. I don’t want that! How can I learn to separate the behavior of management and keep it from overlapping? How can I maintain a positive attitude in the face of 8% tips, a stagnant hospitality career, an asinine owner and incompetent boss? The hospitality industry in Cleveland is very cliquish and it is impossible to change jobs without whispers. I tried sitting the owners down and talking to them….they failed to show up for the scheduled meeting.

2- Is it even worth it. PRO: The martini bar banks! in the summer, and no amount of managerial bumbling can change that. I really enjoy the other bartenders and waiters. There are still $100 nights, and the neighborhood is great. My yuppies are (for the most part) nice yuppies. CONS: the owner is a self-serving ass. He is constantly comping tabs! Even on slow nights! The manager he hired is terrible…over or under scheduling..never in between. The place is starting to slip on service all around because almost no one is happy. Tips have been terrible (worked 3 week-end days and made less than $100). And I really don’t see them making me a bartender.

I really don’t want to go because of the customers, staff and summer crowd. But still…its making me miserable!

Please give me an honest assessment of the situation



At 10:25 AM , Anonymous MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

I've been a waiter for going on 40 years. It's a great occupation and you usually see people at their best...grandma's birthday, mom and da's anniversary.... etc ... as far as the seperate check crowd goes .. i JUST SAY NO ... and if they push it ... and they do .. i offer to find another waiter for them ... since the computer is just too confusing for me... it's actually not, but after one in a 20 top walked out and allowed me the pleasure of buying her dinner... I JUST REFUSE to do it anymore ... fortunately my employer values my service enough to go along with my idiosyncracies!

At 10:58 AM , Blogger Tony said...

great post. I've also enjoyed the back and forth in the comments...well done...

At 5:26 AM , Blogger purplegirl said...

One of the things I truly despise about the corporate place I work at is that finicky ass bitches like that love to come in--especially in big groups--and we're not allowed to add gratuity. The computer doesn't even have that function. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

At 8:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you on being pissed off i hate it when food is comped and then we offer to bring them in for another meal on us! What pisses me off even worse is when you know its one of those tables who is out looking to get a free meal

At 11:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like the waiter was mad he didn't get a book deal like
Must've given up!

At 11:31 AM , Blogger Erin said...

Place I waited at before the current hosted a clientele from hell. Check out this perfect storm:

-it was a (gourmet) pizza place: cheapskates love value and people always think pizza = value (true)

-across the street from a tennis club (water guzzling, separate checks, joiners galore, and hardcore regulars from this group, not to mention that they are pseudo-rich white middle aged a-holes)

-next door to Babies R Us - self explanatory

-two doors from Kookie Kutters "haircuts for kids" - again, self explanatory

-a $5.25 lunch special

-a kitchen populated with typical pizza place employee mentalities (think dumb young stoners)

It was utter hell.

Now I work for a locally owned brasserie with a way better clientele and owners who work 6 days a week and are AWESOME. They are the least liberal I've ever seen as far as appeasing shitty customers - it's great.

I got lucky after 18 years to find so good a place. But you'll always be way better off if you avoid franchises!!

At 9:02 AM , Blogger the Cynical Server said...

As a server, I cringed when I read this post.... I hate waiting on "the Kotex Mafia" and the ridiculously impossible demands they impose on you. The way this lady FREAKED when the sauce barely touched her salmon sounds insane, but I deal with situations like this dozens of times a night on a good shift! Keep up the good work, and don't let those "gift certificate chasers" bring you down!

At 8:46 PM , Anonymous DogsDontPurr said...

I was once dining at The Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills. The woman at the table next to mine vehemently asked for a substitution for the vegetable side, and insisted that the food not touch. Well, when they brought her plate, they had mistakenly put some offending vegetable on it anyway. She was livid! She even insisted that they completely change the table: take away the silverware, the glassware, the table cloth! Just because the offending vegetable had been in the vicinity of these things. Oy!

I have great respect for you waiters and all that you must go through. I try to tip as much as I can to make up for the rest of my fellow humans!

At 10:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, i've been reading this blog since i discovered it in early october. however, it is now december 30, 2008, and there have been no new posts since october. so i'll drop it from my list.
see ya. you were interesting, for a while at least.

At 12:13 AM , Blogger Lisa Lee said...

I just wonder why can't someone pay first and the rest pay her back? sigh~

At 3:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Serving sucks, but it sure beats working for a living :)

At 10:44 PM , Blogger Ziege said...


I read this post two times.

I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

Source: Banquet waiter job description

Best regards


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