Waiting Tables “Really Isn’t That Hard”

I'm sure she will be deleting this Tweet any second now...

I’m sure she will be deleting this Tweet any second now…

For many people who are not in the wonderful world of food service, waiting tables seems like an easy job. In all honesty, being a server is not as difficult as operating on a brain or controlling air traffic coming in and out of JFK. Then again, I have never done either of those jobs, so I can’t be certain. Maybe they are easy jobs and the people who work in those positions just try to keep it a secret so more of us don’t rush into graduate school and try to usurp their cushy employment. What I do know is that waiting tables isn’t always easy and I need to prove that to a random Tweeter named Ra’Kel who thinks it is. Or at least this Tweet makes me think that.

I do not know Ra’Kel. I have never met Ra’Kel. In fact, I only know two things about her:

1. If her Twitter profile picture is any indication, her selfie game is on point.
2. She thinks being a waitress really isn’t that hard.

Most of us who wait tables would never say that it’s a difficult job, but I think all of us would agree that we can have really difficult shifts. Anyone who has opened the restaurant and then closed it 14 hours later knows this to be true. When 4:00 PM rolls around and all you want to do is sit down for twenty minutes and eat something other than some fries or a piece of bread that you snagged from the kitchen, that’s when you begin to think waiting tables is hard. And then you remember that your second shift is just about to start and you will be on your feet for eight more hours or so, all the while keeping a smile on your face and a pep in your step because you know as soon as either one falters, there will be a customer who will leave you a bad tip for it. We all know that happens, right?

“My waitress didn’t smile enough so I didn’t tip her.”
“My server moved too slow so only left him 10%.”

Waiting tables is not easy. It can be very strenuous work and completely exhausting. I once worked in a restaurant where the ice machine, for some god forsaken reason, was located in the basement. Filling up the bar with ice was the worst thing I ever had to do there, trudging up and down a steep, narrow, metal staircase while balancing a huge plastic bucket of ice on my hip. I fell once and as I lay on the floor of the kitchen, sprawled out in a puddle of kitchen goop, I was not thinking, “Well, that was easy.”

When I was 20 years old and a food runner at a Mexican restaurant in Denver, whenever I was carrying out a tray of five sizzling fajita plates, holding them completely over my head so I could inch through the throngs of people at the bar who didn’t see any reason to move out of my way, I was not thinking, “Well, this is easy.”

When I worked at the Marriott on Mother’s Day and we had three different seating rotations of an hour and half each and over 300 reservations for each one, as we scrambled to reset the the tables for the next round of families, none of us ever took a second to say to someone else, “Man, this is easy, isn’t it?”

When I worked at Houlihan’s in Times Square and we were one block away from Radio City Music Hall, that job was never easy. Never. If you think trying to appease a ten-top with six children who are on their way to see Barney or the Teletubbies (it was the 90’s…)  in a show that starts in twenty minutes is easy. You are wrong. Dead wrong.

Every restaurant is different. The place I work in now has about 15 tables; just me and  a bartender take care of the whole place. When it’s full, it can be hard. When it’s not full, it can be easy. If you work at a high turnover restaurant in a tourist location, you are going to have a vastly different shift than I do at my tiny neighborhood restaurant in Queens. Unless you have waited tables, you do not have the right to judge whether the job is easy or not. Just give your server the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can. If it looks easy, maybe it’s because that server is so good that they can make it look that way even though it might be the most difficult night of their career. After all, don’t you want someone taking care of you who makes the job look easy? That means they are really good at their job. And people who are really good at waiting tables deserve a nice tip.

Thanks, Ra’Kel, for this opportunity to let me prove you wrong.

The Old Bitch & the Baked Potato

untitledEvery once in a while, someone sends me a message relaying an experience they dealt with at their restaurant. This story came from someone who wishes to remain anonymous but I decided to share it exactly as she sent it to me because it is such a perfect explanation of what we servers so often go through at work.  -BW

This is the story of the Old Bitch and the Baked Potato. I work at a Cheddars Scratch Kitchen (I’d prefer not to disclose the location as there is only one location in the city that I live in and we can be fired for complaining about customers on social media.)

Me: “Hi, welcome to Cheddars Scratch Kitchen, my name is-”

Old Bitch: “Water with lemon. The same for my husband and we’re ready to order as well.”

Me (politely ignoring the fact that my name is not, in fact, water with lemon): “Okay, no problem, what can we get started for y’all today?”

Old Bitch: “I’ll have the Lemon Pepper Catfish with very little seasoning but make sure the fish is extra cooked, almost crispy on the edges, and on the side I want an extra hot baked potato make sure it’s EXTRA HOT because last time it was so cold and no cheese on the EXTRA HOT baked potato and also a side of broccoli but with no butter and steamed extra long.”

*internally* (Well the kitchen is probably going to fuck up this order.)

Me: “And for you, sir?”

Old Bitch’s Husband: *opens his mouth to talk*

Old Bitch: “He’ll have the Grilled Salmon but cooked the same way as mine, and the same sides made the same way.”

*internally* (Well the kitchen is DEFINITELY going to fuck up this order now.) I put in every last detail of the Old Bitch’s complicated order and go about my business doing my job. I see that a coworker has run out the Old Bitch’s food, so I go over to check on Old Bitch and her husband.

Me: “How’s everything tasting so far guys?”

Old Bitch: “I specifically said no cheese on these baked potatoes!”

The Old Bitch then proceeds to pick her baked potato up off of her plate and place it directly on the table (which is disgusting because this means that I have to pick up her baked potato with my hands.)

Me: “I’m so sorry about that guys, I’ll bring a couple of new ones right out.”

Old Bitch mumbles under her breath about the offensive baked potato. A few minutes later I bring back two baked potatoes 86 the cheese.

Me: “Here y’all go, I’m so sorry about that guys. Is there anything else I can get for y’all right now?”

Old Bitch’s husband smiles and shakes his head so I start walking away from the table.

Old Bitch: “Um excuse me, I need to test my baked potato before you leave!”

*internally* (test it for what exactly? It’s a potato.) Old Bitch digs into the baked potato prodding and inspecting it, takes a bite, spits it out.

Old Bitch (yelling): “This potato is COLD, I specifically asked for an EXTRA HOT baked potato!”

Old Bitch proceeds to pick her baked potato up off of her plate and THROW THE DAMN BAKED POTATO AT ME. Luckily, I had a tray under my arm that I was able to catch it with.

This Guy Wants Servers to “Shut the F*** Up.”

lanceLadies and gentleman, I give to you a man named Lance who has very strong opinions about servers and whether or not they should be tipped. I always enjoy when something like this shows up in my inbox because it’s a joy for me to educate them about the wonderful world of serving. Once I mop up the trail of slime that a slug like Lance leaves across my keyboard, I hunker down and figure out what I want to say. Here goes:

Lance believes that servers who think a certain way are ignorant; namely, the servers who believe in the mantra “if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out and eat.” I believe in that mantra, therefore Lance just called me ignorant which makes me feel perfectly entitled to respond to his statement. He wants us to shut up and bring him his food. Well, we are perfectly happy to bring his food to him. Whether it’s a bowl of Ranch dressing, a tub of chicken wings, a vat of gravy or a pile of hay, we will bring it. Like farmers, it is our job to fill the trough and feed the hungry swine. In return for that service, we do expect a tip. I am not saying that every server deserves a 20% tip and a pat on the back. By all means, let the level of service determine the amount of tip. A good server is only going to expect a 20% tip when good service is given. We earn it. Lance seems to imply that a tip is given solely at the discretion of the customer with no mention of how good or bad the service is.

“Do your fucking job, or find another one,” he says. Most servers do do their job so most servers deserve a tip. In my case, I have two jobs: one is being a waiter and the other is being The Bitchy Waiter. It’s the second job I am doing right this moment which I think I am pretty good at, hence, the bitching. But don’t worry, Lance, I don’t expect a tip for this. It’s on the house.

One of Lance’s Facebook friends, piped in with a comment and before I respond to that, please excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor since that is where it fell when I saw he has a Facebook friend. M says, very wisely I might add, “if someone is not going to tip they should let the server know before hand so that we’re not wasting our time and energy on them expecting to make something.” Yes, yes, yes. If you know you are going to stiff the server, regardless of the kind of service you receive, grow a pair of balls and say it upfront. That way, we can focus our attention on people who will appreciate when we do our jobs well.

Lance responds: “No, this attitude makes people not want to tip. If you don’t like your actual paycheck, get another job. It is NEVER the costumers responsibility to pay a server ANYTHING.”  What attitude is he referring to that makes people not want to tip? Our attitude that we don’t want to do something for free? I think that’s how most people feel about their job. None of us do our jobs expecting to not get paid for it. And the truth is, most servers don’t like their actual paychecks because most of the time there is hardly any money on them. After we pay taxes (yes, we pay taxes on our tips even if Lance doesn’t leave one) the paycheck is minimal at best.

I do agree with Lance that is is never the costumers responsibility to pay the sever. Costumers have very little to do with waiting tables. In fact, I don’t even know if I have ever waited on a costumer since I am not in the habit of asking my customers what they do for a living. If one of my customers was a costumer, I would have never known. However, if one of my customers was a costumer and I gave that costumer good service, then that costumer, who happened to also be a customer, should leave me a good tip.

Lance, I hope you have learned something here. Carry on, cheap ass.

Restaurant Gets Revenge for Bad Yelp Review

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a woman named Rosie C. who posted an extremely demeaning and derogatory review about a restaurant/bar called The Royal Wolf. (Here is that post.) The review didn’t have much to do with the food and had more to do with the appearance of the waitstaff, namely that they weren’t as attractive as her. The post got a lot of attention and Rosie eventually deleted her review. Thanks to the magic of screenshots, this is what the review said:Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 10.35.12 AM
The restaurant, proving they have a sense of humor bigger than Rosie’s overblown ego, recently named a sandwich after her. No, the sandwich isn’t a piece dried twat crammed between two slices of over yeasty bread, it’s a chicken club!

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Rosie C.’s Club Sandwich

attractive maple-salt crusted rosettes of canadian bacon jerky, sour grapes drizzled with a champagne simple syrup & brie cheese served over (and looking down on) a country-fried chicken breast on a toasted white potato roll. served with hand-cut french fries. thanks for the inspiration & the Yelp review, Rosie! I wish you hadn’t taken it down.
$12.99

So even though Rosie took down her review, she will always be a part of The Royal Wolf, lingering like a fart in a car with the windows rolled up on a hot, humid day.

Way to go, Rosie! And way to go Royal Wolf! (Now, please go buy my book, The Bitchy Waiter.)

Waiter Snatches a Woman Bald-Headed

breaking-news

Antonio Sabasto, 58, displays restaurant menu.

Police in Savannah, Georgia have decided to drop the charges against 58-year-old waiter Antonio Babasto who admitted to “snatching a woman bald-headed” after she repeatedly ignored him as he tried to do his job. Last month at the popular riverside eatery Lampposts, Babasto approached his customer, 42 year-old Linda Dixschlapper to tell her the specials of the day and see what she would like to drink.

“I asked her how she was and she just answered Diet Coke,” claims the veteran server. “That kind of thing just really irks me, but I let it go.” Throughout the course of the meal, the woman continued to ignore Babastio who was simply asking her how her food was and if she needed any refills. Says Babasto, “She acted like I wasn’t even there. After a while, I decided to make it a game and see how nice I could be to her just to try to get her to respond to me. But she never did. That’s why I snatched her bald-headed.”

The final straw, according to a co-worker who wished to remain anonymous, was when Dixschlapper snapped her fingers at her server because she needed more complimentary bread. “It’s like it was the first time she had even acknowledged him and it was just so (expletive) rude, you know?”

Babasto snapped. He went to the table and proceeded to pull at her hair until she was completely bald. A witness says that the woman was in shock and didn’t even defend herself while the waiter went ballistic. “Tufts of her hair were flying through the air all over the restaurant. There was so much hair everywhere that other customers started asking to get their food comped because they all found hair in their food.”

Police were called to the scene as well as an emergency hairstylist. Babasto was arrested and charged with aggravated assault while the hairstylist deemed this a lost cause. “That bitch just gonna have to wait ‘till her hair grows back,” said Antoine Marsais, owner of local hair salon, Hair It Is.

Dixschlapper was last seen stuffing bread into her purse and wrapping a scarf over her head as she headed back to her parked car. Police decided to drop the charges after hearing the complete story. Police Chief Rory Cobb released the following statement:

After much thought, we feel that Mr. Babasto acted within reason. Ms. Dixschlapper treated him very poorly and it is understood why he did what he did. Mr. Babasto has agreed to buy her four scarves and three hats so that each day she can cover her head until her hair grows back. While he regrets that the situation went as far as it did, he does not feel the need to apologize. We agree with him.

You can read the whole story here.

A Prayer for Red Lobster Servers During Endless Shrimp

All our thoughts and prayers go to those souls who are working at Red Lobster because the world famous Endless Shrimp promotion started yesterday. That’s right, Red Lobster employees, yesterday was not a bad dream. It was real. The constant demand for Parmesan Peppercorn Shrimp and Garlic Sriracha-Grilled Shrimp from people who don’t know how to say “please” or “thank you” were not figments of your alcohol-induced slumber. It really happened and it will happen again today, tomorrow and every day until the powers that be decide that you have suffered enough.

I have never worked at Red Lobster so I can only imagine the horror that it must be to deal with this kind of promotion. It is probably just as bad as Endless Apps at TGI Fridays, National Pancake Day at IHOP or Veteran’s Day at Applebee’s. I want you to know that we are all thinking of you.

Here is a little prayer for you to print out and carry with you to work today. Keep it close to your heart. Put a copy of it in every sidestand of every Red Lobster from Maine to California. Memorize it if you must.

shrimp
Also, if you can’t make it to New York City so see my show on Friday September 9th, you can click here and watch it on a live stream. LIVE STREAM, people!