Time for another installment of Dear Bitchy. I dug into the mailbag and found this question that perhaps I can shed some light on. You can email me here if you have a question that needs attention. Or email me to say hello. That’s nice too.
Dear Bitchy Waiter,
I need your advice. I work at a bar and grill and for whatever reason people constantly ignore the HUGE “please wait to be seated” sign and mosey on in and seat themselves. I have tried very hard to be nice when it does happen but it has become a daily occurrence and I just can’t take it anymore! What would you do?
Oh this problem again, with those stupid buckets of Thousand Island Dressing that we call customers. No matter how HUGE the sign is, they will not read it. They will ignore it the same way they ignore menus, their children and my crushed dreams. I once worked a restaurant with a patio which had a HUGE sign that said, “Please see the hostess if you would like to sit outside.” People constantly sat directly under the sign paying no mind to it. Even if the sign had been lit up with neon and sparklers and had photos of naked men and women on it, they would ignore it. It’s their way.
What can we do? Here is what I suggest: when someone sits down at a table without being seated there by a hostess, ignore the fuck out of them just like they ignored the fuck out of your sign. I have done this many times and it’s very satisfying. When I see someone sit down without the proper protocol, I walk past them continuously until they practically have to pull their arm out of its socket in order to wave at me hard enough to get my attention. They will usually say something all Bucket of Thousand Island Dressing-ish like, “Uh, excuse me, but we don’t have menus.” My reply is then, “Oh, that’s odd. I don’t know why the hostess didn’t give you one when she sat you. I apologize for her behavior, she does this all the time. It may be time to mention it to the manager so they can get someone in here who knows how to do her job. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I hope she has her resumé up to date because it looks like tonight may be her last night.” And then Thousand Island Family is all, “Oh, well, we sat ourselves…we don’t want her to get fired…uh, we’re sorry, we’re dumb.” Then they feel stupid and like shit and it makes me feel better.
Or maybe after sitting there for ten minutes, they’ll say to me, “Uh, is someone going to take our order??” And then I can reply, “I thought this was so-and-so’s table, have you been waiting long?” And then they will say, Uh, yeah, for like thirty minutes.” And then I say, “He must not realize you are here. Did a hostess seat you or did you seat yourself, because that would make all the difference in the world.” And then they mumble, “Oh, well, we sat ourselves here…” And then I say, “A-ha! Now we know why no one came to take your order. It’s because you sat yourselves. You should always wait to be seated by the hostess so these things don’t happen.”
Basically, there is no way around stupid people ignoring signs and seating themselves so all we can do is try to embarrass them enough so that the next time they will do it correctly. It is highly unlikely that embarrassing them will teach them anything at all, but from our point of view it is immensely satisfying. Try it. You’ll love it.
(Anonymous, this is your cue to tell me that “the customer is always right” and that I should be ashamed of myself for trying to embarrass a guest just to prove a point. But here’s the thing, Anonymous: I don’t care.)
Please email me here if you have a question for me. I love to help people. It’s in my blood. Also in my blood is a very alcohol content.