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, January 22, 2009

A tale from back in the day...

Bella again. I read the comments on my blog entry, and I'd like to answer some of the questions.

The guy I ran a delivery to, who tried to weasel his way out of tipping on the basis that he had no cash: He did end up tipping me, a dollar (WOW!! A whole dollar!!), I could have sworn I had said that, but in re-reading, I found that I did not. The look on his face when I indicated that he could write in a tip on the cc slip was one of blank surprise (is that even possible? Maybe dumbfounded is better...) that I would dare to make such a suggestion. He didn't say anything after that, just wrote the tip in and signed it. Sorry for not covering that information, and thank you for pointing it out!

Now, on to my oldie but goodie.

I used to work in a fine-dining establishment. The owner, André, was the most awesome gay Frenchman I have ever known.

We had a prix-fixe meal (ie, lunch or dinner, six courses, set price), and an a la carte menu. When customers came in, they were to tell the maitre 'd whether they would be ordering a la carte or our prix-fixe meal. We were informed ahead of time (No particular reason, just a quirk of Andre's).

A party of seven (three men and four women, dressed formally, mid 30's to early 50's, I'd guess) came in, informed the maitre 'd they'd be ordering a la carte, and were sat in my section. I rang in their order accordingly. They raved about how great the food was, and how awesome and professional the service was...until I brought the check. Almost $2,000. They had ordered drinks, wines, appetizers, bottled water, soup, salad, entrees and desserts.

"Esscuse meee, missie, whyyyy is our beeeeel so high?" One of the men said. I explained to them that they had ordered a la carte, not the prix-fixe, which in actuality, wouldn't have saved them much, as they had ordered the most expensive of everything.

I honestly don't remember the exchange word for word suffice to say I was called a "Styoopid liddle gorl" and Andre, dressed in a tux with a silver ascot around his neck (I shit you not) happened to be walking by me. He paused, put his hand on my shoulder, looked at the man and said "Eez zere a prooplem?" (I'm trying to phonetically recreate the accents as best I can...) The man explained what happened and then asked if there was any possibility if they could switch to the prix-fixe and pay the extra. Andre explained that it wouldn't save them any money at all, as they had ordered the most expensive items, and there'd be upcharges for that. And then he said "Alzo, I see zat my server has not charged you ze your beel is not correct." Then when I was at my server station, he passed me and whispered "Geef zem ze 20% gratuity."

I smiled at him and just said "Thanks for backing me up. I really thought I was going to have to set it prix-fixe and eat the difference." (I was very new there when this happened) And Andre just said "People, zey will do zis all ze time. Welcome to ze world of serving. But I take care of my staff, zey're right 99% of ze time."

So this table, that was bitching about an almost 2000 dollar bill ended up having to pay almost $2400. Had they not bitched and just left a tip, I wouldn't have even been made aware of the gratuity that I had neglected to add as was the rules for parties of 6 or more.

Customers, learn from this: Bitching will not always get you your way and sometimes it will hurt you. If you have a valid problem, fine, we'll fix it. But if you walk into a place that you know is going to be expensive, don't try to haggle the bill. No matter what all those "Save money dining out!!!" articles say.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Et tu, Taco Bell

This commercial has come up more than once on several other boards and so I'll add it here.  

There is a current taco bell commercial where a guy is getting a cup of coffee and says 'keep the change'.  The next guy in line says "what are you doing?  You know you can get blah blah blah with that change?"  Prompting the first guy to take back the change and say "you really just pushed a button."

I'm a firm believer in any press is good press, so on that thought, here's some free press for TB.  You're advertising firm sucks ass.  The commercial has nothing to do with TB other than a tag with what to do with change.  Honestly, I can't even remember what you're pitching, (which is a sign of a bad commercial) but I know I'll be heading to Del Taco from now maybe it did work since I remembered who the commercial was for.....


Where is our saviour?  Where is our superman with his white apron tied around his neck?  Why, in this year of our lord, 2009, are we still inundated with hollywood telling the masses that waitrons are the enemy?  That we are mindless, lazy, and not worth the change in your pocket.  That money is so sacred that it is better to snub a fellow human being than toss them a pittance for a job well done?

Why are we portrayed as people that need to be saved or pitied?  

Who will unite us as a people and lead us in boats made of monkey-dishes and ramikens to hollywood on a sea of ranch dressing to slaughter these pigs and flood the streets red with ketchup?

To end on a positive - the only time I can remember a waitress portrayed in a decent light (no, the movie 'waiting'  was not a decent portrayal of anything other than an nut sack)  is the song waitress by the band 'live'.  Check it out.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Silly Pranks or Things To Do When It's Slow...

From Sarah...

Do you guys play practical jokes on one another when it's slow?

We do!

Little things can be the quickest way to have me giggling like a school girl.

Last Saturday is a perfect example. We started out super slow and this was a shift I don't normally work so I didn't want to be there. We open at 11:30 and I had not yet received my first table by 12.

This one guy that I work with, let's call him Frank, was standing by the service bar putting little hats on lemons. Frank is annoying, he'll be the first one to tell you how to do your job even though he can barely hold down a 3 table section at night. So, I decided to mess with him.

I grabbed an anchovy from behind the line and snuck up behind him. I very carefully placed the anchovy on Frank's shoulder without him feeling it. I walked away and held my laughter in untill I was out of earshot.

Five years old, I am!

Frank didn't figure it out for at least a good 10 minutes. That thing could not have smelled very good. The service bartender told him it was me, so of course he had to get me back.

And he did.

About half an hour later, I felt something cold and wet on my leg. No, perverts, it wasn't that! The boy slipped an ice cube into my apron pocket without me feeling it. I thought it was hysterical. I wish I had those skills.

Not really the best story, I know, but we had fun and I felt like sharing. What about you guys? Do you any of you have silly pranks and jokes to share form the workplace?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Sarah again...

It's Tuesday night and I picked up an extra shift to cover some school expenses. Tonight I am in a great mood, laughing, joking, having great conversation with my co-workers and tables.

The night goes by incredibly smooth, I'm not in the weeds once.

Towards the end of the evening I get a middle aged couple. They order drinks, and then tell me they are ready to order. No apps or salads, just two steaks. The food comes out and everything is cooked to the right temperature. I do my quality check and everything is fine.

A short while later, I notice that the gentleman has finished his meal and pushed his plate off to the side with the fork and knife at 3 o' clock. Our style of service indicates to remove dishes once they are finished, so I do. The man smiles and asks about our desserts while the lady continues to enjoy her meal. I describe the desserts and go to refill the mans iced tea.

The lady finishes her meal, I remove the plate and the man asks for a slice of key lime pie. I mark them for dessert and order the pie. I drop check with dessert.

When I go back by the table, I see the man has placed cash down on the check presenter and I go to collect it. He tells me not to bring change and I thank him. The lady gets up and excuses herself, presumably to use the restroom. I go to the POS and see that the guy has given me a total of 121 dollars on an 80 dollar check! I go thank him profusely.

My manager calls me over a few minutes later. He tells me that the woman got up to tell him that she felt like they were being rushed and she wanted to bring it to his attention. I was like, huh?! "they guy left me a 40 dollar tip on an 80 dollar check!" I say.

Manager says the woman didn't want to say anything in front of her guy. He says maybe she just wasn't used to our style of service which is entirely possible because while we are upscale, we do pre-bus the table without waiting for everyone to finish. It isn't white tablecloth or anything.

Okay. I don't really get in trouble as it wasn't a valid guest complaint so whatever.

Five minutes later they leave. Manager comes back up to me and says the guy told him how amazing the service was on the way out.

I'm still wondering what all that was about?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Over a woody?

A guy walks into the bar and starts complaining about a car parked in our togo parking spots.  

We have two spots right next to the door and we have no way of telling which car is for togo and which ones are just douchebags hanging out in the bar.   

Normally, I'd agree with the guy, but we know him and he's a bigger douchebag than whoever owns the car outside.   He wants to talk to the manager and I don't feel like arguing with him since it's 7:30 on a friday night, we're on an hour wait and my bar is a tad bit busy.  I send him to the hostess desk where three managers are hanging out and the other bartender and I laugh.  

The bar gets caught up and I decide to see what he's talking about.  I walk outside and a perfectly restored woody is sitting in the togo parking spot.  

I walk back inside and the guy is still arguing with management that he wants the complex security contact to have the car towed.  I decide to join in the fight and ask "how do you know he's not actually waiting for togo?"

"Oh he's not.  I used to own beautiful cars and that's just a fuck you to everyone in here.  I used to do that."  

"Again, how do you know they're not waiting for a togo order."

"Because that car has been here as long as I have and I'm waiting for a togo order."

I look down at the beer in his hand,  "you're waiting for a togo order too?"

"Yeah!  I had to park all the way down the street."

"So you're mad because he beat you to the parking spot?"  All the while staring at his beer.

"No.  You're missing the point.  He's not waiting for a togo order.  I know it."

"How?   Maybe the kitchen screwed up his order and he had to wait another 20 minutes for a remake."

"No.  No way.  It's been too long."

"But if that spot would have been open when you got here, you would have parked there and had a beer or two while your food sat in the window waiting for you to pay?"

"Forget it man.  You're missing the point."

And with that he left his half finished beer on the counter and headed to togo.  I'm sure the 16 year old togo girl got an earful.   

The Woody was beautiful.  I'm glad I got to step outside and see it.  

Thursday, January 08, 2009

so many regulars, so little patience

Another guest blogger.  You can call me Chowda.  Thank you to Insane for the opportunity.  

Quick background  and History- I'm a bartender and the bar manager at....a bar.  It's taken me many years and even more barrels of alcohol to become 'okay' with staying in the restaurant business for over 20 years.  I am a lifer.  Actually, I've always been okay with it, it's just hard to explain it to outsiders with other jobs.  

There is a woman that comes into my bar her name is Margo, but we'll call her Twinkles for legal reasons.  About a year ago, she started coming in because she opened a business across the street.  Seemed nice, but my craz-o-meter would scream when she was around.   The girl could put down the liquor.  I'm a drunk most of the time and she made me say 'damn'.    A few weeks later, she comes in and sits at a table with some other regulars.  She finishes her first glass of red wine and falls out of her chair flat on her face.  Seriously, faceplant.  She didn't even try to catch herself.  I cut her off and tell the cocktail waitress to get her food and get her out.  She refuses the food and the regulars help her outside.  She flips out and starts screaming outside, then heads back to her store and trashes the inside of it until the cops arrive and take her away in cuffs.  Freak.

Her Dad calls and threatens to sue for putting something in her drink.  She's in her early 30s.

She gets the honor of 86.  Usually, in my little hellhole we only 86 people for a while, because all the freaks come in on my days off, knowing that no one else in the place has a backbone.  

So Margo, (oops I mean Twinkles) starts coming in again a few months ago, Always hiding in the corner behind regulars if I'm bartending.  Whatever.  She's entertaining as hell to me and I'm not liable if she kills someone.  How so you ask?  Well, let's just say she enjoys a little nip at work and keeps bottles stashed all over her store.  

Friday she sits at the bar.  I was getting a case of beer and she didn't know i was in house.  The look on her face was priceless when I came around the corner.  Cat and Canary all over again.

I go down to say 'hi'.  Again she freaks out with "Oh really?  You're going to talk to me after what you did?"

I was kinda lost here.  I hadn't talked to her in over a year and really had nothing to do with kicking her out, but I'm often a scapegoat when it comes to kicking people out or cutting them off.  

"Margo, I had nothing to do with you being kicked out."


I just laughed, "You couldn't even walk on your own."

"Oh really do you want me to call a manager over her?  I'll have you fired. I am a business owner and you are just a bartender."

So many things I could have said about her daddy is the business owner (with no business sense)  and she is barely a clerk, but instead I counter with, "Actually, I'm the bar manager of all of this."  I said as I splayed my arm out towards the bar and up to heaven.  "And I will get you another manager."

The only reason I got another manager is so they could enjoy this too.  We all know she's nuts and I'm a giver.  I like to share.

Before the second manager comes out, Twinkles daddy is at the bar yelling at me and #2.  Did I mention that #2 is the owners daughter.  Good times.  She can be a real badger if you corner her.  Daddy goes off on me and how I was rude and blah blah blah.  If he doesn't apologize they will leave and never come back.  blah blah blah.  
Owner's daughter says (I could kiss her for this)  "Sorry, he's the bar manager for a reason.  I'm inclined to believe him, since we've had to escort your daughter out of here before.  If he wants to apologize he can, but I'm not making him do it, so I wouldn't hold my breathe."

They storm out, hopefully to never be seen again.    

Strangely, it was one of those interactions that made my night.  I may be JUST a bartender in the outside world, but in my bar you're JUST another customer.  

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I stopped serving for this?!?

My name is Bella. I'm 25 years old, have been serving for almost a decade now (off and on, but mostly on...), and I work at a sandwich shop. It isn't a chain, just a sandwich shop.

I thought that by handing in my apron and walking away from serving, I would be escaping the crazies and jerks I encountered on a very frequent basis.

Boy was I wrong.

I'm a cashier, but I do other things too. I make tips, pretty decent tips for only working the counter, so I can't complain in that respect.

But I get my share of the idiots. Like the lady who asked if our tuna was white meat or dark meat. I understand there is a difference between the standard tuna, and chunk white albacore, but for crying out loud, this is a sandwich and cheesesteak joint!! I've been asked if things are organic. Kid you not.

And people always try to haggle the price with me. I honestly never encountered this in all my years of actually wearing an apron and carrying a winekey.

I also, for the first time in my life, run deliveries...and I have to share this gem with you.

It was dark and raining, and I received an order for delivery in an apartment community, with multiple buildings and a very poorly-planned road system. I searched for this apartment for 30 minutes, tried calling the number on the delivery slip, asking at the leasing office. No dice.

Finally by some luck of God, I found the apartment, got out of my car, and sank into a puddle that came halfway up to my knees. Cursing under my breath, I knocked on the door. The guy comes and signs his credit card slip, then says "I had to use my card, 'cuz I don't got cash, so I can't tip you, sorry."

My poor wet little heart burst in a froth of anger and I said cheerily (very faked cheer, needless to say) and politely said "That's okay, you can write it in on your charge slip and add it to the total.

I know that as a server, I used to think that counter-people had a far easier task, and delivery people had it MADE, but now I'm learning that both jobs have definite pros and cons.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Order by Numbers

Here is your first taste of a guest blogger at The Insane Waiter. I'm Sarah, 25. I am a slave at an upscale restaurant in Western North Carolina.

It's New Years Eve and I'm actually excited to be at work for a change. The prospect of making well more than the usual on this night of many alcoolic beverages is fabulous. Anyway, I'm fairly new in town and had nothing better to do on this holiday.

Two things you should know about me.

1. I do think that the majority of the time your first table can set the tone for the rest of your shift.

2. I do not believe in generalizations. I will never make any snap judgments of how a person will tip based on race, etc. Most of the time, those people will surprise you. I can, however, usually pinpoint the tip potential after speaking to the guests for a few minutes and seeing how they treat me.

Which brings me (finally!) to my point...

My first table this evening is a two top. I greet them with the usual ditribe, offer the first-round drinks. Once I bring their beverages out, two glasses of sparkling white, I rehearse the features and ask if they are ready to order.

"I'll have the number 27 and she will have number 18."


Great. They are order by numbers people. This almost never happens, but when it does it is always on a holiday when people that don't usually go out, go, well, out. So I'm faced with a dilemma. There are several items on the menu with these same prices and I need to figure out a way to get the actual order without making this poor guy feel stupid.

I take a chance.

"Yes sir, so you'll have Rib-Eye and the lady will have the Grilled Chicken Salad?"

I can practically see a lightbulb flash over this guys head as it dawns on him that maybe those numbers were actually the prices of the entrees.

"Ah, yes. Right." He utters those few words quickly as possible and I find out the temp he wants his steak cooked at so I can get the hell away from the table.

Once in the kitchen, I input their orders into the POS and peer out into the dining room. The couple seem to be laughing and enjoying themselves and I hope that the awkwardness of a few moments ago have passed. Order by numbers people always feel like idiots when they realize their mistake.

The couple finish their meal and decline dessert. I drop the check and go about the rest of my tables. Later that evening as I'm typing in my credit card tips into ALOHA, I find the receipt from that first table. I had not looked at it before because we were slammed all night. The young man left me a 30 dollar tip on a 100 dollar check. There is also a note on the back which reads:

Thank you for not making me look like a jerk in front of my date. I owe you one.

I will never forget that guy.