Whenever one decides to go to Chili’s it is with the assumption that something bad could happen. Perhaps the Crispy Cheddar Bites won’t be quite crispy enough or won’t taste quite cheddar-y enough. Or maybe the Mini Chocolate Molten Cake will arrive to your table still partially frozen in the middle. These are the risks one has to take when dining at Chili’s. For one unlucky Chili’s diner, something even worse happened: his car was broken into while he was inside. Yes, thieves in the parking lot were putting just as much effort into breaking the windows of his car as Andrew was putting into swallowing a plate of Big Mouth® Bites (4 mini burgers with applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, sautéed onions $ house-made ranch!)
After Andrew was finished eating, he went back to his car and discovered what had transpired. It upset it him so deeply that he temporarily forgot how badly he needed to empty his bowels of everything he had just filled them with. Presumably, he called the police and his insurance company to alert them of the crime, but after he was off the phone with them, he still wanted someone to complain to.
“Why not Chili’s??” he thought.
So Andrew went to the Chili’s Facebook page and complained as if it’s Chili’s fucking fault that someone broke into his car. He says that they took “zero responsibility” to which I say:
Look, it sucks that your car got broken into while eating at Chili’s. As if your day wasn’t shitty enough, what with having to eat at Chili’s and everything, but it’s not their fault. It’s no one’s fault except that of the low-life criminal who did it. You can’t go looking for people to blame and hope that someone is going to give you a free Mix & Match Fajita plate for your trouble. That’s what your insurance is for, Andrew. Call State Farm, file a claim, wait for your check and when you get it you can go buy all the Spicy Loaded Boneless Wings your heart desires. Going to the Facebook page of Chili’s and trying to convince them to take responsibility is not going to do anything at all other than get yourself made fun of on a blog written by a bitchy ass waiter who has nothing better to do.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a woman named Madeline went to eat dinner at Cracker Barrel. It was date night with her military husband and they were going to see a movie afterwards. She wanted to see “Sleepless in Seattle,” but he really had his heart set on “Jurassic Park.” As they drove to the restaurant, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” played on the car radio for the tenth time that day.
“I love this song so much,” said Madeline as she turned the volume up. “Whitney is amazing. Maybe we should go see ‘The Bodyguard’ at the dollar theater.”
“You’ve seen it three times already,” said her husband. “Just rent it at Blockbuster. And Dolly Parton sang this song with way more emotion anyway.”
It was just one more thing they didn’t agree on. Their marriage was getting shakier each day, more shaky than Katherine Hepburn’s head at an awards show. They pulled into Cracker Barrel and her husband got out of the car to go sit in a rocking chair on the porch while Madeline stayed in the car to hear Whitney finish the song. Once they got inside, things only got worse. First, their favorite table was occupied, then the iced tea wasn’t sweet enough and to cap it all off, her husband kept winning at the little game on the table where you have to move the golf tees around that wooden triangle. But the worst part of the meal was when the waitress ignored Madeline.
Hubby announced what he would be having (fried chicken livers with double mashed potatoes) but the waitress didn’t ask what Madeline wanted. Madeline just sat there waiting for her to specifically ask her what she wanted, so Madeline, being the the smart type, said out loud what she wanted. For some reason, the waitress didn’t write down the order until Hubby repeated it.
“That was weird,” said Madeline as the waitress walked away. “It’s like she didn’t want to pay any attention to me. I bet it’s because I’m Mexican, right? Do you think that’s why she was ignoring me? I mean, I’m sitting right here talking to her and it’s like I’m invisible. I think she’s a racist. That’s totally it. It can’t be because she didn’t hear me or any other logical explanation like that. It simply must mean she is a racist. Ay dios mio! Do you think that’s it, dear? Hello? I’m talking to you!”
Her husband looked up from the game he was playing. “What did you say?”
After dinner, Madeline was fuming. She sat through “Free Willy” (all the other movies were sold out) but didn’t enjoy it because she couldn’t stop thinking about how she was treated at Cracker Barrel. On the drive home, “I Will Always Love You” played again and even that did not lift her spirits.
Fast forward 23 years. Madeline is now divorced and lives alone. She often sits in her living room playing Whitney Houston’s greatest hits on her CD player and wonders where her life went off track. She traces it back to that one night at Cracker Barrel where things went so horribly wrong. Frustrated with her life and wanting to share her pain with others, she finally decides to do something about it! She goes to her computer, finds Cracker Barrel on Facebook and writes a complaint about something that happened twenty-three fucking years ago.
Twenty. Three. Fucking. Years. Ago.
“I feel so much better. I have really needed to get that off my chest,” she sighs. “Maybe they’ll send me a coupon for a free biscuit or something.”
She pops her VHS tape of “The Bodyguard,” the one she bought for a dollar when her local Blockbuster went out of business twenty years earlier, into her VCR and begins to watch it for the 1000th time. Two minutes in, it abruptly stops, the tape being worn thin after so may plays. She removes the cassette from the ancient machine and the tape stretches out, some of it stuck inside the VCR. It is ruined.
“Noooooo!!!” she screams! “Whitney!!! I will always love you!”
She knows what she has to do. She goes right back to Facebook to look up Blockbuster so she can leave them a bad review, because everyone knows that a twenty-year-old complaint is the most legitimate complaint of all.
Poor, poor Madeline. Living in the past as usual. Don’t go chasing waterfalls, Madeline. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…
Note: this is a completely fictionalized account of the whole situation. Obviously…
Contrary to what most people would expect of me, I am actually very nice to my customers. I save my wrath and ire for the pages of this blog and what the customers see from me is a polite, well-mannered food-service professional. Well, most of the time.
When the two-top steps into the restaurant, I recognize them immediately. They come in fairly regularly and the woman always seems to have a stick up her ass and I imagine that it is her husband who puts it there. She’s tall and skinny with hair not unlike mine, except she uses the wrong product and it looks like a sad afro reject from the early ’80’s. It’s almost a mullet except the “business in the front” is a Dollar Store and the “party in the back” is the kind of party that one has when they work in an office and someone springs for a Subway platter and an ice cream cake. In other words: lame.
“Hi, folks, how are you? It’s been a while,” I say.
She eeks out a facial expression that could have been a very weak smile but it may have been that the stick up her ass shifted ever so slightly and it made her wince with discomfort. The husband ignores me. I pour their water, tell them the specials and let them know I will be right back to see what they’d like. Two minutes later, as I am walking past Table 16 to go out to the patio, the woman stops me to ask for ice. You see, we serve our water in the European style, meaning we do not add ice. Really, we do that because our ice machine sucks and it’s hard for it to keep up with the demand. I never mind getting ice for people who want it, but the way she asks for it rubs me more wrong than the stick did to her asshole. She acts like it’s the most difficult thing in the world to have to request ice:
I get her ice, without issue and they are ready to order.
“Now the chef knows this about me,” she begins, “but I’m gluten intolerant.”
“That’s fine, I can remind him.”
“Well, he already knows, I just want to make sure he remembers.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I say, assuming she did not hear me just fucking say I would remind him.
“We’re gonna share the Caesar salad, but it can’t have any croutons because they have gluten.”
“And we haven’t decided what else we’re having so just put that in now.”
As I head to the computer, the husband finally decides to use his words and yells out to me to not forget the croutons. You know, because they have gluten.
“Yes, sir, I got it.”
A few minutes later, I set the salad down and they are still not ready to order. The woman needs more napkins, but rather than asking for them like a normal person, she again makes it sound like I have intentionally given her fewer napkins just to spite her:
They are finally ready to order and they both want salmon. “Now, I need to remind you that it can’t have gluten. I want the salmon but instead of the couscous, I’ll have it with the risotto.”
“Absolutely, those are both gluten-free.”
“I know that. That’s why I ordered it. And I want it medium-rare. Last time it was way overcooked,” she tells me.
“Yes, ma’am. And you, sir?”
“The same. Medium-rare.” He really has a way with words, doesn’t he?
When the salmon gets to the table, they immediately cut into it to check its level of doneness.
“This is totally undercooked,” she cries. “And his is too!”
I apologize and explain that they were being very careful to not overcook it and that I can have it put back onto the grill. I do so. When it comes out the second time, her salmon is deemed acceptable, but his is not. He is frustrated.
“It’s fine,” he tells me.” I guess I’ll just eat this part that’s done and you can take that part back.” He breaks off about half of the salmon and scrapes the rest onto a bread plate, pushing it toward me. I assume he is so frustrated that he has lost his appetite so I plan to void the salmon from his check.
I’m pretty much done with them. Not a please or thank you has passed their lips and I have done nothing but try to appease them. I take the bread plate of salmon back to the kitchen and focus my attention to other customers who aren’t miserable assholes. Five minutes later, the woman flags me down.
“Are we sure his salmon isn’t getting overcooked? It’s been a long time.”
“Oh, I didn’t think he wanted it anymore, “ I tell her.
“Well, he said he was fine and would just eat that part of it so I took that to mean he didn’t want it anymore. I still have it, I can put it back on the grill.”
Thankfully, the plate was right where I had left it so it goes onto the grill for a third time. When I finally out the plate down and it is deemed alright, she begins to complain again.
“I dunno why you would think he didn’t want it. And the first time it was way too rare and we just wanted it medium rare so-”
I interrupt her:
And then I walk away as she is huffing and puffing with anger. I can’t anymore. They are dead to me. More dead than the split ends of her hair. More dead than the husband’s eyes after years of being married to a royal pain in the ass. It’s official: the lady at Table 16 is a bitch. I continue to serve them, making sure to fill their glasses with ice water and I efficiently clear their plates. I give them the check, but refuse to speak to them anymore proving that no matter how big of a bitch she can be, i can be a bigger one. They leave money on the table to cover their $68 check. I expect no tip and apologize to the bartender since we pool and I basically fucked up half of her tip as well. To my surprise, they left me $7, or 10%, which is 10% more than I was expecting or deserved.
They will be back eventually and we will all pretend like nothing ever happened. The only thing I can be certain of is that she will still have a stick up her ass.
People make mistakes. Some of those people who make mistakes work in restaurants. Therefore, sometimes restaurants make mistakes. Are we not allowed to be human beings who occasionally drop the ball? Customers should not expect that every restaurant worker is a robot or a perfectly-tuned machine that can give the exact same experience over and over again, yet that is what many customers do expect. And it’s not fair. A woman named Monica has been “insulted and hurt” by a pizza and it is my responsibility to explain to her why she needs to chill the fuck out.
Short story: she loved Marco’s Pizza, had been ordering there at least once a week for months, sang its praises to everyone she knew until one day it went less than perfect and now they are pretty much dead to her. Yes, after ordering her free pizza as part of a reward program, it was not up to her usual expectations and she wrote a bad review. When the restaurant offered to make it up to her with a free meal, she refused and will never, ever return!
Here is what I don’t get, Monica. If you truly ordered there at least once a week for a few months, that’s a lot of pizza. Let’s define “a few months” as five months and “at least once a week” as six times a month. That totals 30 pizzas that were all excellent. One time you order a pizza, and it arrives with “hardly any cheese and little sauce.” Because of one bad experience out of 30, you are ready to give them a 1-star review and and never go back? Why? And when they explicitly apologized and wanted to make up for their error, you will have none of it? Monica, don’t be a martyr. You’re not Joan of Arc from France being tried for heresy. You’re fucking Monica from Richmond, Virginia and you’re “insulted” by a not enough cheese on a freakin’ pizza. If you think Marco’s intentionally left cheese off the pizza and then let it get cold just to spite the fact that you were getting it for free, I think you’re wrong. That makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist who believes that NASA faked the moon landings, Elvis Presely is still alive and that Roswell, New Mexico should have a TGI Fridays. Restaurant owners are not out to get you and sabotage your one free pizza. What is much more likely is that an employee had an off night and made a mistake and it happened to affect you. I would think that after exceeding your expectations for so many months that you would be willing to accept the fact that accidents happen. Some people will look for any reason to give a shitty review.
Flash forward fifty years to Monica at a retirement home:
“2016 was such a trying time. Our country was divided as we tried to decide who our next president would be, racial tension was at an all-time high, extreme terrorism was a global issue and I once got a pizza that didn’t have enough cheese on it…”
When it comes time to tip, we don’t want anything other than actual money, is that understood? I do not know how to make this any clearer. If the check is $65.01, the correct tip, assuming the service is up to par, should have been about $13. You want to know what the tip should NOT be? It should NOT be five fucking dollars and a goddamn 50% off coupon from Ruby freakin’ Tuesdays.
The waitress who sent me this photo is not allowed to say what she truly feels because she probably had to sign a silly little social media contract that prohibits her from doing so. I, however, signed no such agreement and can tell you exactly what I think about you:
You’re a cheap asshole. You may think that a 50% off coupon can be worth a lot of money but your waitress can’t pay her phone bill with a coupon. Last time I checked, T-Mobile was not accepting Ruby Tuesday coupons even if it does mean the Shrimp Shack Platter is going to be half-off the regular price. And you are assuming that the waitress wants to even go to Ruby Tuesday. No waitress wants to go to Ruby Tuesday unless she’s on the schedule to work there. If you think the coupon is such a great idea, maybe you should take it there, order a couple of plates of Hickory Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops and with the money you save, you use it to tip your waitress. How about that?
Over the years, I have seen people get tipped with AMC movie passes, Starbucks gift cards, leftover food, cute little sayings and foreign currency. None of that works because none of those things are useful money, which is what servers want. Imagine you are at work and when your boss hands you your paycheck, it is only half the amount you normally expect. You’re all, “Hey, what the hell, Mr. Wal-Mart Manager? Where’s all my money?” And then your manager is all, “Oh, don’t worry it, I made up for it with this big envelope of value!” And then she hands you a manilla envelope full of coupons she clipped from the Sunday newspaper. “If you use all those coupons, they’re worth over $100!” she tells you. You open the envelope and find coupons for tampons, Steak-Umm’s, mayonnaise and Shasta Cola. You are not happy, right? That is how you made your waitress feel by leaving a Ruby Tuesday coupon.
People, please keep your coupons. We don’t want them. We want money so we can pay our bills and know that we did a good job of serving you. For you to leave anything else is rude, inconsiderate and asshole behavior. A Ruby Tuesday coupon is worthless to us. (No offense to Ruby Tuesday…I’m sure your Shrimp Fondue is amazing…)