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Why Should Anyone Have to Work on Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving...

Happy Thanksgiving…

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and plenty of people are up in arms about certain big box stores being open tomorrow and keeping employees away from their families on Thanksgiving. Best Buy will be open on Thanksgiving at 5PM as will Toys R Us but the winner of all crappy employers goes to Radio Shack who will open at 8AM on Thanksgiving morning. I suppose Radio Shack feels the need to be open all day so that people will have a warm place to hang out until Best Buy opens up a few hours later.

“Why can’t Black Friday begin on Friday?” people proclaim.

“Employers should let their employees be with their families on Thanksgiving Day!” they say.

“It’s unfair for the greedy retailers to take advantage of their staff!” say people.

Yes, plenty of people say that today, but it doesn’t mean those same people won’t be out tomorrow cutting a bitch to get a 120” flat screen TV for $1.99. Before the tryptophan from the Butterball has even had a chance to make them drowsy, they will be running people over with carts and jumping through plate glass windows to be the first asshole in line at Target.

Black Friday

Black Friday

Every year on the news, we hear about how unfair it is for stores to open on Thanksgiving, but you know what we never hear on the news? We never hear about how unfair it is for restaurants to be open on Thanksgiving. Just like in so many other ways, the restaurant industry gets a pass card for treating employees with little or no respect. Raise the minimum wage? Yes, but not for servers. Give full-time employees medical coverage? Yes, but not for restaurant workers, just cut their hours so they’re part-time now. Retailers open on Thanksgiving? That’s awful, but leave restaurants open. Wal Mart is always making headlines about how their employees are getting the shaft with hours and not getting paid a fair wage, but not restaurant workers, they’re fine. Yes, it’s horrible that Macy’s and JCPenny will be open on Thanksgiving, but please for the love of all things holy, make sure Chili’s is open that day because someone might need to eat a plate of Texas Cheese Fries even though they already ate half of a turkey, a bucket of cornbread stuffing and two pecan pies. I don’t ever see anyone standing up for restaurant employees who have to say good bye to their family on Thanksgiving in order to go serve someone else’s. Before you jump all over me and bring up other professions that have to work on holidays like nurses, doctors, etc., let me just remind you that this blog is about the restaurant industry. A hospital has to be open 24 hours a day and when people agree to that job, they have an understanding of that responsibility. When someone takes a job slinging hash somewhere, they don’t necessarily assume they will never see their families again on any holiday because they will be required to wear an apron on those days instead.

The next time you hear someone complaining about how stores should not be open on Thanksgiving Day, why don’t say this:

“Yeah, I totally agree. There is no reason that anyone needs to go to a fucking K-Mart on Thanksgiving at 6AM. Those employees are having to get up at the ass crack of dawn just to sell some Martha fucking Stewart towels at 50% off. Twenty-five years ago, nothing was open on Thanksgiving, not even grocery stores. That’s what made Thanksgiving special; the fact that everyone was home that day spending it with their family. Close down the stores! Close ‘em all down! And make sure all the restaurants are closed too so those workers can be home that day as well!!”

If you say that, I predict that the person would reply with, “Oh, well, restaurants should be open because some people don’t want to cook on that day and they should have an option. So yeah, close the stores, but make sure Chili’s stays open. Somebody might want some Texas Cheese Fries or something. It’s just restaurant workers, who cares?”

You are then to say, “Fuck you.”

Yeah, fuck you.

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This Is What Happens When You Throw a Penny At a Customer

I will throw this at you...

I will throw this at you…

Hello, gang. Over the sumer, I did a live version of “The Bitchy Waiter Show” and it was great fun. One of favorite parts of the show was telling a story about the time three women left me a penny for a tip. Needless to say, I was not pleased about it, but I can admit now that the penny was all I deserved. You can watch the video below, but I also want to ask for your help.

“The Bitchy Waiter Show” has been placed on the preliminary ballot for a BroadwayWorld Cabaret Award for Best Show of 2014. It’s truly an honor, but I need your votes to get onto the official ballot. If you like what you see of the show, please click this link and vote for me. You don’t have to register or anything, just vote.

My category is #13. Of course the facilitators of this ballot ask that you vote for all the categories, but I leave that up to you. After all, it’s doubtful that many of you saw most of these shows, but I know that a lot of you came to see mine which makes me feel comfortable asking for your votes.

Again, click this link and go to category #13 and vote for “The Bitchy Waiter Show.”

Thank you so much.

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How to Thaw Out a Bitchy Heart

It’s cold outside, but my heart thawed out.

It is my regular Thursday night shift and we have a new bartender working tonight. The last one, BJ, only lasted two weeks before the manager let him go for complaining too much, not being friendly enough to the people who sat at his bar and once making a mojito with salt instead of sugar. I questioned firing him for making a simple mistake like mixing up the identical plastic containers of salt and sugar, but the manager told me that after he sent the drink out he knew he had made the mistake and just decided to wait and see “if they would notice it or not.” Of course they noticed. Fired.

The new bartender is named Matt and he’s a nice enough guy. I’m not in a great mood to begin with and seeing yet another bartender here means that I will spend the evening having to answer the same questions I have been answering for two weeks with BJ. Having a new bartender makes my mood dip a little bit lower than it was when I left home for work. We make the obligatory small talk for the first thirty minutes of the shift until our first customers come in. This being a neighborhood restaurant, Matt happens to know them. It is an older man and his wife and they are joined by a younger woman.

“Hello, Tom!” Matt says from behind the bar. “Have a seat and I’ll get you some menus.”

Matt is already friendlier than BJ ever was and he places three menus at Booth 8. As Matt walks back behind the bar, he whispers in my ear.

“That’s my former neighbor and his wife. She has dementia so you might have to be a bit patient with them.”

I look over at the couple and the man is very sweetly taking the coat off of his wife who has a beaming smile and is looking around the restaurant scanning the room for familiarity. It takes a few minutes for them to sit down, so I just watch how gingerly this man treats his wife. You can see in his eyes the amount of love he has for her and it’s easy to tell that he does not mind one bit that he may have do more for her now than he used to. The woman they are with sits across from them; she seems like a family friend.

When I approach the table, I realize that the smile on my face is different than it usually is when I’m at work; it’s real. I want to make sure that this woman gets the best possible experience from me and I want to do everything I can to ensure that she is happy for the next half an hour. The husband orders some coffee.

“I haven’t made any yet, but I’ll start it right now so it will be really fresh for you,” I say. “What about you, ma’am, would you like some coffee?”

She smiles at me but doesn’t answer my question. She looks like she is trying to remember me, wondering if I am someone she has met before and should recognize and I just want to to tell her, “It’s okay, you don’t know me, it’s fine.”

The friend asks her if she wants coffee and she eventually nods her head yes. The husband orders a cheeseburger as does the friend and then they ask the woman if she would like one too. Again, she nods her head yes.

“Would you like cheddar cheese or American cheese?” I ask her.

“Yes,” she says.

The husband answers for her, so I ring in three burgers with cheddar, all medium well. When I return with the coffee, the man thanks me for the piping hot freshness of it and when he pours the cream into his cup, I notice that his hands are trembling in that way they do for so many elderly people. He dutifully pours the cream into his wife’s cup, stirs it and then slides the cup before her.

All I want to do for this table is smile. I want to make eye contact with this woman and let her know that someone is out here who wants her to be happy. Whether she understands me or not, I want to talk to her.

Their food comes out and they enjoy their meal, the woman eating every last bite of her burger. Her husband and friend congratulate her for doing such a good job with her plate and she again simply says, “yes.” But she is smiling. Always smiling.

As they get up to go, I watch the husband help his wife with her coat and scarf and I see her look at him and I feel like she surely must know who he is. If not, she at least knows that it’s someone who loves her very much.

“Thank you,” I say to all three of them. “And have a great night,” I tell the woman. She returns my comment with another smile that makes me feel grateful. She doesn’t know who I am, but I hope that she can tell that my feelings for her are genuine. I truly wish a great night for her. I want her to remember that time she went to a restaurant and the waiter was so nice to her. I know she won’t remember that, of course. How could she? It seems as if she doesn’t even remember her own husband so why would I expect her to keep me in her memory? If nothing else, she knew for that very moment that someone was being kind to her and like a flash, that moment was gone for her.

I walk them to the door and pat the woman on her shoulder saying good bye one last time. Once they are gone, I realize that her smile will be one of my memories and I hope it never slips away. I also never want to forget the look of true love that man had for his wife because if I can always keep that in my memory, maybe I can use it the next time I feel a bit discouraged about having to work with a new bartender again. Sometimes, all we need is a smile to get us through the night.

 

 

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A Comment on Comments (Veterans Day Edition)

A comment on comments

A comment on comments

On Tuesday, I posted what I thought was a sweet little tribute to the Veterans of this country in honor of their day, mentioning how grateful I am that there are people in our country who are willing to do jobs that I couldn’t imagine having to do. I also included a link to the many restaurants around the country that will provide veterans with either a free or a discounted meal as a thank you for their service. At the very end of the post, I added:

Please remember to tip your server, even if there is no bill… No one who serves, whether it be in Iraq or Olive Garden, wants to do it for free. As the restaurant thanks you for your service, please make sure to tip your server for theirs.

No big deal, right? Wrong. A lot of people thought I was kind of an asshole for mentioning the whole tip thing. A few people agreed with me but plenty of people acted like I was a goddamn un-American asshole for even talking about the tip.

Susan said: I Would Have Thought Risking Your Life For Stranger’s Is Tip Enough……I’m Just Sayin…….

Cynthia said: Heaven forbid you would give up that all mighty tip to do something nice for a veteran without being compensated for it! Shame.

Dylan said: One day of the year were your tips shouldn’t matter as you wouldn’t be alive without these veterans.

Michael said: You’re a server and these folks have given far more than you’ll ever do. Shake it off for once and stop thinking about yourself, you self-absorbed twat. They risked their lives in service of their country to help protect the freedoms you enjoy. That’s tip enough, bitch.

At first, I could see their point and I felt bad for even reminding them that they should leave a tip if they were getting their food for free. After all, they did a great service for our country and we certainly owe them a lot for it. But then I started thinking. Veterans Day is a national holiday so all the people who work in banks and offices and for the government got a paid day off on Tuesday. Most people who work in restaurants have never even heard of a paid day off. If someone told a bank teller that they were going to have to come to work on Veterans Day this year but they weren’t going to get paid for it because the veterans already gave so much for their country, that bank teller would be all, “ummm, fuck that shit. I want my money. I don’t work for free” No one would think that’s fair to the bank teller and no one would suggest that it happen, yet for food servers, plenty of people seem to think it’s alright that we sacrifice our tips that day and that we should just focus on the “bigger picture.” Isn’t this just one more example of people looking at the occupation of server as less than a “real job?” Why should we be okay with giving up a portion of our income on behalf of veterans who don’t leave a tip. Just because a server expects to earn money when they go to work does not mean they think less of our country’s veterans. It just means that we want to get paid for the job we do just like every one else does. Regardless of why you got your food for free you just have to leave a tip!

Now before you jump all over me, I know there were plenty of veterans who left great tips because people also commented on that:

Teresa said: I enjoyed serving the vets AND I made bank!

David said: I did very well!

Grace said: Survived the free meal special at Applebee’s today. Thankfully we always have sweet and generous veterans who visit us. I love being able to serve our nation’s heroes but tips do help.

Let me just leave you with one more comment:

William said: For all that have anything negative to say about vets in this post u are just ignorant un-American pieces of dog shit. I am a vet and majority of my friends are vets and we always tip.but if one day out of the year we feel like being assholes guess what we deserved it and maybe u should dawn those boots and riffle and then maybe we would care about what u have to say on this subject.

Alright, William, listen. No one in any comment said anything negative about vets. All they did was asked to be tipped. Just because you “dawned” boots and a “riffle” does not give you the “I Get To Be An Asshole Card” for the rest of your life. You can be as rude as you want to people but if you think it’s alright to deny a server a tip and make them work for free, you are wrong. When President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919, I don’t think he meant it as justification for you to go to a restaurant once a year and stiff your server. If that’s what you think you earned for serving our country, maybe you are an asshole. (Your words, not mine.)

In closing, I want to make sure everyone knows that I am not anti-Veterans Day or un-American. I have never had anything bad to say about anyone who serves our country. I only have bad things to say about people who don’t feel the need to tip and if you happen to be a veteran, then so be it. If the restaurants are going to let the vets eat for free, maybe the restaurants should cover the tips for the servers too. Just a thought.