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, 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?


At 12:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

She was jealous of you.

At 4:17 PM , Blogger SkippyMom said...

There is just no pleasing some people I swear. Sounds like great service to me :D

At 6:31 PM , Blogger Vestige said...

must've been that time of the month...

At 7:17 PM , Blogger RiceCzeks said...

I'll bet the guy spent "a little too long" looking at you and she got jealous.
That, or she doesn't know good service when it hits her in the head.

At 9:23 PM , Blogger Xtine said...

You would not BELIEVE how many people don't recognize good service, and assume the worst in any situation.

I'm with you on this one: she has no idea what quality service looks like.

At 11:02 PM , Blogger Tom said...

It seems like the only thing that she could have a problem with was the dropping the check with dessert. Although it's your place's policy, pre-bussing a deuce when the one left eating is a woman can be dicey, too. A woman eating while her companion is finished can feel somewhat self-conscious, especially if it is a first or second date.

I don't think it required a visit to the manager, though.

At 11:09 PM , Anonymous Food Service Ninja said...

There is a school of thought that you ONLY prebus the plates or bowels of a course WHEN all are done eating esp the ladies as they tend to talk more than eat so finish more slowly.

Personally I am anal on the prebus because when I finish something I want it out of my way so I can have room for my arms or if eating alone for my book to read.

This is a usually only done in fine dining situations. Just below or at the white table cloth level.

The dropping the check with dessert could have set of Grannie too. WaiterRant advocates dropping the check only after the guest asks for it. I drop it at some point when dessert is almost done or after busing the dessert plates. I will drop it when serving dessert if I know they are in a hurry or its a busy nite on a wait when I want to turn the table.

The only thing is you dont want Grannie so peeved she wont dine at your place or refuse you as their server on a return visit.

At 1:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

um, because the woman is a bitch, clearly.

on a deuce i wait til both are finished (usually, if the other persons plate is practically falling off of the table, i will pick it up). if it's a four-top i'll clear two by two usually. it all depends on how i feel about the table, really.

and i usually drop the check after a two-bite on their dessert. i don't see why that is offensive, especially if i ask, before i hand it over, if there is anything else i can get for them, coffee refills, etc.

some people are just finicky, no matter what. can't please everyone.

At 12:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, different strokes for different folks, especially in this situation.

Next time though, don't clear until everyone's finished, unless one asks for you to clear their plate.

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

That's so weird.

I had a night exactly like that last week.

But seriously, if that woman had a problem with the service, she should have said something to you, not go to the manager and complain. I think that is the sh*ttiest thing about our industry: that someone can complain about you, you get in trouble, and you probably don't even know who they are. I think if someone wants to complain, they need to do it to the offender's face. At least you'll know why you're getting into trouble. =/

At 7:31 PM , Blogger BizTone said...

Stuff like that happens at my restaurant all the time. I once had a lady (she's an annoying regular) tell me the kitchen took to long with her food. "It normally doesn't take them this long. I'm going to find ______, your manager and talk to her." People are freaks, you're an awesome server... no worries.

At 9:22 AM , Blogger MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

Ying and yang, or as dr. dolittle would say push-me-pull-you.... it happens all the time. obviously the lady wanted to extend her time with this high roller, while he was ready to call it a night... my guess is it was the last date!
peace, mTw

At 7:08 PM , Anonymous Donny said...

Nothing wrong with you.
Lots of people have free floating anger and free floating shit and it's going to be dumped on someone

This kind of complainer needs to dumped in a nation where people go to bed hungry

At 9:48 PM , Blogger Moose said...


(Rule Two: And you can sell them ANYTHING)

At 1:40 AM , Blogger the Cynical Server said...

Actions speak louder than words, and the gentleman leaving you over $40 on a $80 check is a loud speaking action!

Some people don't like when servers pre-bus tables. I have had a lot of people tell me that they would rather wait until the other members of the party were finished.

You can't please everyone. Be happy this guy gave you a 50% tip, and hope next time he comes in is with a nicer companion!

Peace out!

At 10:28 AM , Blogger LiLu said...

Ugh, I was in the biz for 10 years... and it's a sad truth that women are much, much more high maintenance than men. Although, it sounds like the guy just knew what good service is, whereas the woman had something up her ass. What you gonna do?

Spend that $40 on something nice. :-)

At 1:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, clearly a dissenting opinion here, but after all the vitriol directed to this woman (combined with some archaic sexist attitudes):

1. As one person noted, in many places (MOST places in US and Europe) you wait until everyone is finished before clearing the table-- precisely because it is viewed as rushing and pressuring those still eating (not necessarily wanting to score off a 'high-roller'-- please).

2. Starting the conversation about dessert with the man may have also contributed to a sense of pressure. It's also not clear from your narrative whether your ever inquired about her dessert, or just focused on the man.

3. All these comments that attack the woman as 'jealous' may not realise the actual jealousy: There's not some fantasy here that she is some ugly old hag and you the beautiful innocent who has been 'chosen' by her partner: You may be a server who clearly (even if unaware) directed all her energies to the male diner. You pegged him as the important one, your 'meal-ticket' and proceeded to give him the bulk of attention, while possibly disregarding her presence.

He is delighted, of course. Perhaps he's not the sort of person who actually thinks of those around him, and perhaps he adores those who flirt with him and give him all the attention he thinks he is due.

She may have another impression entirely.

What you seem to forget is that there are two diners and thus potential for two dining experiences. The hostility to this woman and defensiveness of this post suggests you do not want to think about that.

Now, all that said, it may come off as too harsh on the guy (I don't know him). It may also seem unfair that I am not immediately rushing to your defence.

But this post is so resolute in staying a vent only-- its query a joke: the tone you've set n writing and the responses you've received suggest that you're already holding fast to some atavistic beliefs and a clear sense of your excellence that has been unjustly impugned.

If this is a vent, you're welcome to it. I vent frequently about those I encounter. If you actually want to learn something from this, you may wish to give the other side of the coin a bit of a look.

At 11:47 AM , Blogger Kaditty said...

It bothers me so much when people act to me like everything's fine and then complain to my manager.

Happened to me a few days ago. I had a 2 top--man and woman. They had beer, appetizers and entrees.

When I approached the table I addressed the both of them and made light conversation. After dropping the apps I went back and asked the man if I could bring him another beer, to which he said yes. After dropping entrees I pre-bussed app plates, checked back, refilled ice'd tea and beer again ect.

I thought everything was going fine.

On one of my trips past the table I saw my manager talking to them. He then called me over and told me the man was really pissed off. Said neither of them liked their food and that I never addressed him, only his wife!!!! To this I asked my manager "How did his beers get filled then? At the very least I addressed him directly when asking if he'd like another!"

My manager gave them their entrees for free and told me that usually when a 2-top dislikes both dishes and complains to the manager only they were probably just making stuff up to get a free meal.


When I dropped the check I said "I am sorry to hear you didn't care for your food, we have taken the entrees off your bill for you"

The man still left me 20% of the original bill, so I don't know what his deal was.

I so much wanted to ask him straight up what his issue was...but didn't do it. ugh.

At 8:02 PM , Anonymous Brian said...

IMO the check should not be dropped until the customer either requests it or in response to a question agrees to take it. Until then you do not know whether they may want another drink or something and dropping the check too early will possibly make them change their mind. And clearing plates while some part of the party is still eating really should not be done without either request or agreement as well. If the policy is to do it without asking then the policy is going to generate some complaints.

Finally it is perfectly normal for the woman to make her complaint to the manager away from the table; since she is not paying she does not want to undermine her date's control of the dinner but her perfectly valid complaint should be communicated, since it is much better for the restaurant to know the problem than not.

There is a good reason people are telling your manager instead of telling you directly. They want something to actually be done about their complaint. Normal ego defense makes it difficult for almost anyone to absorb direct criticism. The manager's job is to hear the customers' complaints and decide how best to take action. The manager is not looking for an excuse to get rid of wait staff.

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