Monthly Archives: May 2013

Does Anyone Still Wear a Hat?

Does anyone still wear a hat?

Does anyone still wear a hat?

“Excuse me, young man,” asks an elderly gentleman. “But do you have a hat check?”

“I’m sorry, what?” I say.

“A hat check. Is there a girl I can leave my hat with?”

“Ummm, no sir… I’m sorry but there isn’t.”

Elaine Stritch’s voice scratches through my brain as I wonder where this man has been for the last fifty years. A hat check? A fucking hat check? Is is he next going to ask me where the nearest Automat can be found? The median age of the show’s audience tonight is somewhere between 85 and death. The performer is celebrating his 80th birthday by putting on a show so naturally, most of his audience has their platinum AARP cards and Life Alert bracelets.

“Ah, well, I guess I will just have to hold it then'” says the old man as he shuffles back to his seat.

As I watch him walk away, it looks like he is clutching his hat as tightly as he is clenching his butt cheeks and I wonder how many spoonfuls of Metamucil he has had so far today. He sits down and looks around the room as if awaiting a cigarette girl to walk by and sell him a pack of Lucky Strikes that he can take with him to the USO show later on tonight.

“Cheese and crackers,” he says to his friend. “Can you believe this place doesn’t have a hat check? What is this world coming to?”

“I hear ya, buddy,” says the other old man. “Why just yesterday, I was looking for a shoe shine boy and I couldn’t find one anywhere. It’s disgraceful. I had to do it myself.”

“By the way, I noticed your shoes tonight were looking quite nice. Is that a new pair of spats?”

“Thank you for noticing. They are new spats. Aren’t they dandy? I found them in my basement last night when I was looking for a new tube for my radio. It blew out last night when I was listening to a broadcast of The Baby Snooks Show.”

The two old men seem happy in their world of of yesteryear. As the hostess walks by, I watch them give her the once over.

“Get a load of them gams, will ya? She’s one hot tomato. Whoever catches that one is a lucky so and so.”

I approach the table. “Hello, gentleman. Can I get you anything to drink tonight?”

One man orders an Old Fashioned and the other wants a martini with gin. Sadly, we are all out of our house made bathtub gin and I ring in Bulldog instead. When I place the drinks down I ask if they need anything else.

“No, I think I’m alright for now. Thank you, you’re the top. You’re the coliseum.”

The other continues, “You’re the top. You’re the Louvre Museum.”

They both begin laughing. “That Cole Porter is a genius, I tell ya, a genius.” They continue chuckling.

“Okay,” I say. “Enjoy the show.”

“Oh you bet we will. It’s gonna be a real ring-a-ding-ding. But can we get a couple of city juices?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“A city juice. Ya know, dog soup? A glass of water?”

“Sure, I’ll be right back.”

I return with their waters and step away from the time warp they are living in. I serve them another round and after the show, I give them their check.

“How much do we owe ya, sport?” one asks me.

“It’s $78.72.”

He throws a roll of money onto the table. “There’s ten sawbucks, buddy. The rest of the cabbage is yours. We gotta 23-skidoo outta here ’cause this one here is dizzy with a dame and we’re gonna go try to find her at the Automat.”

They place their hats on their heads and make their way out of the room.

“Thank you. Have a good night,” I say as they walk towards the exit.

“Our pleasure, kiddo.”

And with that, they are gone. They vanish into the night and fade away into memories of speakeasies, coppers, flappers and places where a hat check girl with amazing gams is happy to sell you a pack of Lucky Strikes.

Yes, a man really did ask me if we had a hat check. He was serious. He was old.

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Happy Bitchday

Happy Bitch Day

Happy Bitch Day

On this day many decades ago, a very pregnant woman went into a restaurant. Although her delivery date was only days away, the the temptation for one last meal out before being tied down to a bundle of joy for the next eighteen years was too much and she decided to take herself out to dinner. She sat in a booth and asked for an iced tea. As the waitress set the tall glass of tea on the table, the woman noticed that there was no lemon wedge. “What kind of waitress doesn’t serve a lemon with an iced tea?” she thought. At that precise moment, she felt a kick in her stomach. It wasn’t a simple twisting of her baby. It was more direct as if the baby needed out right that second. Another kick and this time it was enough to make the woman double over.

“Are you ready to order, ma’am?” asked the waitress.

The woman grabbed the side of the table with her hands digging her nails into the laminate tabletop that was sticky with syrup. “I think I’m having my baby right now,” she moaned.

“Oh, okay. I’m gonna give you some more time then,” the waitress said as she turned away and left.

With a force of nature never before seen, the baby began forcing its way out of the birth canal. The mother, worried and alone, didn’t know what else to do but let things happen. She leaned back in the booth and two minutes later she was looking at her newborn baby. With curly blond hair, hazel eyes, a devious smile and a black apron covering his privates, the baby looked up at his mother. With his tiny little hands, he pointed at the iced tea. His face scrunched up in a look of confusion and his lips moved into a pout as he began making noises with his new found vocal chords..

“Hello, little baby. Are you about to cry? Are you trying to tell me something, sweetie?”

He again pointed at the glass of tea, now sweating with condensation. “Tell that bitch to bring you a lemon wedge for the iced tea!” he wailed.

The mother’s heart melted at hearing his first words. “Oh my precious little boy. I shall name you Bitchy. Bitchy Waiter.”

 

So, yes it’s my birthday but it’s not the only important thing that happened on May 29th:

  • 1849- Lincoln says, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” What most people do not know is the second part of this sentence which is, “However, the three-second rule is a real thing and in some instances you can institute the ten-second rule and in very rare cases you can use the 30-minute rule, because some people are fools all the time and deserve to eat some dirty fucking bread sticks.”
  • 1851- Sojourner Truth addressed the first Black Women’s Rights Convention. 140 years later an unemployed actor who was waiting tables at Black Eyed Pea in Houston, Texas took the day off from work to portray her as a walking puppet for some stupid ass historical society bullshit, but he got paid $75 bucks so he was cool with it.
  • 1943- Meat & cheese was rationed in the United States which made it very hard on waiters and waitress across he country. A ham and cheese sandwich no longer had ham or cheese. It was two slices of bread with a piece of lettuce, a pickle spear and yellow construction paper with holes cut out of it to give the illusion of swiss cheese.
  • 1980- At the 53rd National Spelling Bee, Jacques Bailly won by spelling the word “elucubrate.” It is a verb which means “to produce (especially literary work) by long and intensive effort.” To use it in a sentence, one would say “After wasting too much time on the computer, Bitchy Waiter was able to elucubrate a mediocre blog about waiting tables.”
  • Bob Hope was born on this day as well as John F. Kennedy, LaToya Jackson, Annette Benning, Melissa Etheridge, Beatrice Lillie and the angel known as Lisa Welchel. Happy birthday to all of us!

I will now commence the festivities. Tequila shall be had.

 

 

Is Good Head

Good head.

Good head.

I always arrive to work knowing there is a shift meal waiting for me. Most of the time, I eat before I get there in case the meal is something that I would rather not ingest. I have learned that Juan takes it very personally if anyone eschews the meal he hasprepared for us and it’s easier to simply take it whether I plan on eating it our not. With trepidation, I look over to the kitchen to see what combination of leftover slop and about-to-turn foods will be thrown together and presented on a plate as our family meal. Sitting on a plate behind the line is the most awful shift meal I have ever seen. I don’t typically like my food to have the ability to look back at me, but this one wasn’t only staring at me, it was haunting me. It isn’t a plate of pasta or even a whole fish. Today’s shift meal is a pig head, complete with snout.

“Mucho bueno, para familia, huh?” says Juan.

“What the fuck? Is that a joke?”

Juan puts his hands on the mouth of the pig and moves the dried crispy lips. “I’m very good. Yummy.” He laughs at his own joke as the nose of the pig falls off the face and onto the cutting board. Juan quickly replaces the snout and continues on with his sick ventriloquism act. “Ouch, my nose hurts.” He laughs at his own joke as he pets the pig’s head as if it were a kitten. “Good, no?”

“No. I think I’ll pass today, thanks. I’ll swing over to the deli and get a Cliff Bar or a banana or maybe I’ll just eat a roll of paper towels because I am not eating a pig head. Where did that come from?”

“The Chinese grocery” chimes in the manager. “I bought it for us today.” He says this with pride as if he is presenting us with free iPads, blank checks and chocolate.

I realize that this pig’s face was once attached to bacon which is quite tasty when mixed into an omelet if you can forget that the egg came from the ass of a chicken that is crammed into a coop with 11 other hens who are wallowing about in their own feces. I like ham sandwiches and pork chops but I do not like seeing the teeth and whiskers of the animal from which it came. I am a carnivore, but I am one of the millions of people who like to pretend that my meat comes from an animal called a hamburger and that chicken fingers grow on trees like plums. It is not rational for me to think this way but this is why I will not eat any meat with bones in it or the the dark meat or skin of a bird. Any reminder that my meal was once something that I could potentially have had as a pet must be erased before I can enjoy eating it. How can I be expected to take pleasure in veal parmigiana if I allow myself to imagine what that young calf was like as it was force fed whole milk and heavy cream while lying in a cage? Just put some extra sauce and cheese on it and cut the bone out for me, please.

A few minutes later, Juan confirms with me that I will not be participating in the family meal.

“No, I don’t want to be a part of this family. Consider me an orphan today. I’d rather eat gruel.”

“Gruel?” he asks.

“Yeah, gruel. Like porridge? It’s what Oliver wants more of? Oh, forget it. No, I don’t want pig head today.”

“Is good head,” he assures me.

“I know good head, and that’s not it.”

He begins to plate the food for the others who are looking forward to having a face to face conversation with their lunch. I watch as he slices the forehead into thin slabs of “I can’t eat that shit.” I hear that someone wants to eat the cheeks and that the tongue tastes like bacon and I can’t tell if they are being funny or if they actually want a tongue, lettuce and tomato sandwich. The forehead is served with cous cous and salad and it’s the first time I have ever seen cous cous be the most appetizing item on a plate of food.

Once the head has been picked clean, it goes into the trash can. Juan places it in the garbage carefully and with great deliberation. It’s as if he is showing respect for this pig that has fed him so well but he informs me that he wants it facing up so that when the late shift gets in it will freak them out when they throw something away. “Adios, piggy piggy,” he says as he walks away from the garbage can. I walk over and look into the can. The pig is staring right at me and I am surprised that the eyeballs are still there. Didn’t someone want to freeze them and have them later as garnish for a bacon infused martini? I take some paper towel and cover up the head, partly out of respect but mostly because I don’t need to see some pig giving me the once over every time I throw away a napkin.

I relish my peanut butter Cliff Bar and begin my shift. But I can’t help but wonder what this Cliff Bar would taste like with bacon bits in it.

 


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When Co-Workers Quit, Are They Still Your Friends?

best-friend-quotes

best friends?

Thursdays were always a good day for me at the restaurant because of who I worked with on that shift. Brendan and I had been shift partners for over a year and a half. For a long time, he was the bartender and I was the only server and that was it. No busser, no runner and no other servers. We pooled the tips and at the end of the night, we split them down the middle. We had a routine, Brendan and I did. We knew how to work together and we liked each other. We shared stories about our lives that had nothing to do with work. We both heard about the other’s wedding and we knew about each others families. That all changed last Thursday when I got to work and saw Brendan’s name had been scratched off the schedule.

“Nooooooo!” I silently screamed. “Noooo!!!! What happened??”

Minutes later another bartender showed up and started doing sidework. I knew this bartender but hadn’t seen him in months. “Hey, I thought you didn’t work here anymore,” I said. “What happened to Brendan?”

“I dunno. I was told he doesn’t work here anymore and now I’m back. Would you get me some lemons when you go downstairs?”

I had always gotten the lemons for Brendan but Brendan never had to ask me to do it. I just did it. As I stood in the walk-in, I pulled out my cell phone and sent Brendan a Facebook message.

“Where are you? What the hell?”

He responded almost immediately. “Yeah, I was going to tell you. I quit.”

I was stunned. Brendan explained to me what went down but I won’t go into it because that is not the point of this post. Let’s just say that someone was unhappy with his performance and rather than asking him to change, they thought it would be easier to cut his shifts from four to one so he would just quit. The restaurant business can be cut-throat. The point is that Brendan no longer works with me and despite how much I like hanging out with him, will I continue to see him? How often do we all enjoy the friendship of our co-workers but we never see them without their aprons on? All too often. If I want to continue my friendship with Brendan, I no longer can depend on a work schedule to maintain it. I will have to actually make plans and then follow through on them.

It’s odd when someone leaves a job. False promises are made.

“Let’s hang out real soon. Let’s do brunch or go out for cocktails.”

“Oh, totally. I’ll call you next week. Just because we don’t work together anymore doesn’t mean we won’t see each other, right?”

A week passes by and neither of you have reached out to the other. Weeks turn into months and the only interaction that has happened is when one of you “liked” a Facebook status and then the other person wrote”LOL.”

Brendan has been gone for less than a week, but the job doesn’t feel the same anymore. How am I supposed to take a picture of my shitty ass shift meal without him sitting across the table from me to let me know when it shows up on his Facebook feed? Who will appreciate my epic eye rolls when a certain customer plops down at the bar and starts talking about, basically, nothing. Who will crack funny jokes that I will steal as my own for this blog and my Twitter feed?

I will do my best to hang out with Brendan and his wife soon. The next time I see an Event from them, I will make more of an effort to go. But I wonder if Brendan will simply become another person on the long list of “really cool people I used to work with.” Could he go the way of Lauren and Bill  who always made me laugh but I have not seen since I left VYNL four years ago? Or Mike from my catering days? Or maybe Jennifer Z. all the way back from my  sentence at Houlihan’s in Times Square? I hope not.

We call the people we meet at work our friends but it’s not until you start seeing them outside of the restaurant that “friend” is the right word. Until then, we are simply co-workers, right? We have to try really hard to make that transition from co-worker to friend and it’s not easy. It is possible though. I met my friend Jane at that same Houlihan’s over 15 years ago and we still see each other. In fact, I hope she is coming to our place for dinner next week. Restaurant friendships can turn into actual friendships, they just take some cultivating. Who knows what will happen to me and Brendan. Hopefully I will see him soon at  a bar and we can drink together without calling it a “tasting.” If not, at least we will always have our time together at that crappy job that we both kept for too long because it was so close to our apartments.

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Please Don’t Beg to Your Waiter

Please don't beg.

Please don’t beg.

At the club I work, there is a two-drink minimum. That’s just how it is at certain music venues in New York City and ours is no different. We tell the customer when they make the reservation, the hostess tells them when they arrive, it’s written on their seating pass and I tell them again when I take their order. It should be pretty clear. I can tell Table 31 is going to be a problem just by the way he doesn’t want to sit where we have seated him. When a customer gets to the club two minutes before showtime, their seat might not be good as someone who arrived at the recommended 30 minutes before showtime. As I take the drink order for him and his friend, I remind them that at some point during the show they can let me know if they want another round or something else entirely. They order a coffee and a seltzer.

“And I guess we will just have to figure out what else we want to order since there is this two drink minimum thing.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

Throughout the show, I notice they are barely drinking their beverages. After passing by their table several times I decide that since they aren’t drinking alcohol I am going to let the two drink minimum slide. Five minutes later, Mr. Coffee wants my attention. I can tell he wants it by the way he is waving his arms overhead as if he is stranded on a desert island and he sees a plane flying overhead. I make eye contact with him and head across the room to see what he needs. He continues to wave his arms until I am within six inches of him.

“Another coffee,” he says as he holds up two fingers.

Two coffees?” I ask looking at his two fingers.

“No, just one'” he tells me as he continues to wave two fingers at me. Maybe he is giving me the peace sign, I dunno.

I add the second coffee to the check and when the show is over I give them their bill, which has two coffees, one seltzer but no cover charges because they are guests of the performer. Remember, I could have forced a fourth beverage or rang in a minimum charge but out of the goodness of my bloated black heart, I do not.

He gives me his credit card but then comes to find me a few minutes later to question his bill.

‘Why are there two coffees on here?”

“Because you had two coffees.”

“Can’t you count that as a refill?”

“No, I have to ring in each coffee.”

Suddenly he gets desperate.

“I’m begging ya, please. Please, my brother, I got a hundred dollar parking ticket today. I’m in a rough spot. I’m practically on the streets. C’mon, take one of the coffees off the check.” He points at the two coffee charges, tapping them repeatedly with his finger as if doing so will magically void them off. “Right there.” Tap, tap, tap. “Right there. Take it from $11 to $5.50 and then I’ll just pay you that in a tip instead.”

(Yes, our coffee is $5.50 a cup. Why? Because it is hand roasted by Peruvian children who grow each bean and take care of it as if it’s their own child. The coffee is brewed using water that comes from a glacier and we don’t use just any old coffee filter. Our coffee filters are made by specially trained Black Widow spiders who weave them out of fibers of organic cotton that we grow in Central Park. We then serve the coffee in golden goblets from the Renaissance period that are on loan to us from the Metropolitan Art Museum. Naaa, not really. It’s a New York City cabaret room. Shit’s expensive.)

“C’mon, my brother. Take off one of the coffees and let me tip you extra big instead. I’m begging you.”

I cannot understand how giving the $5.50 to me instead of the club is going to make his financial situation any better.

“I already swiped your card, sir, it’s done.”

“I’m begging you man, I can’t afford the three drinks. Take a coffee off and I’ll tip you real big. Cut me a deal. I’m in a rough spot. I’m practically living in my car.”

“I already did cut you a deal. We have a two-drink minimum so you guys should be paying for four drinks, but I only charged you for three.”

He finally relents and pays the check which has a grand total of $17.87. He leaves me a $3.00 tip, which I am totally satisfied with.

“Thank you, my brother. You have a great night.”

I watch as he heads over to his friend the musician and they make plans to go out for a cocktail.

My thought is this: if you are in such a jam and you are almost living on the streets or in your car because you can’t afford rent, then maybe you shouldn’t be going out to music venues to hear jazz. Maybe you shouldn’t be making plans to go out for cocktails. Maybe you should sit your ass at home and eat some Ramen Noodles that you make in a hot pot. Or maybe you should go to McDonald’s and lift some ketchup packets and mix them with hot water for some cheap-ass tomato soup. What you should not be doing is begging your server to give you free shit. It’s pathetic.

The bartender hears the whole story. “Was he for real?” he asks. “What a dick.”

“I know, right?” I say. “But it’s cool. I didn’t know what I was going to blog about tomorrow but now I do.”

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Another Article About Servers Written by Someone Who Has No Clue

If your waiter is rude, you made him that way.

If your waiter is rude, you made him that way.

So many people out there in the world of the Interwebs keep writing articles about servers when it is blatantly obvious that the writers have never worked in a restaurant. “Oh, but I worked at a Dairy Queen for three weeks in high school,” they say or, “But I eat out all the time so I kinda know how it works.” No. No, you don’t.

Someone named Tiara wrote an article called 10 Rude Things Waiters Do To You on the website Seriously Facts. I am going to ignore the fact that her name is Tiara because I imagine she has gotten enough grief for that name already. Her sisters, Bedazzle and Sequinista, probably made fun of her all the time. Out of the list of ten things that we are so rudely doing, I agree with a few but they all deserve a response. And here we go:

  1. Complain or bring up the topic of not getting enough tip from you. That is not rude, that is called educating a dumb ass customer. Maybe they know that tipping is not the law but they don’t know that tipping is the expected norm. And if someone is going to leave me $3.00 on a $50.00 check after I give then great service, I have every right to question what the problem is. I don’t do that often, but sometimes it just has to be done.
  2. Not help you with your food questions or order if they are not your assigned waiter, but pick up your credit card or cash for payment when you put down your payment on your table. I agree that a server should be more than willing to answer any questions about the menu (Yes, there are mushrooms in the mushroom quesadilla) but on the other hand it’s quite rude of the customer to just grab any server that walks by and start telling them things about their order. Wouldn’t you want to tell your server first hand? Anyway, a lot of computer systems at restaurants won’t let a server go into another server’s orders. So if you tell Bob to tell Alice to tell Susie to tell your server that you want cheddar instead of American, that information might not make it all the way back to your server. So you want any server to answer your food questions but only your particular server to handle your payment? And Tiara, your English is not good, is it?
  3. Pour water into your glass by tilting the jug on its side, resulting in water splashes all over you or your table. Only the most skilled of us can do this trick without spilling but there is a reason we do it that way. The ice in the pitcher ( I don’t use jugs…) won’t come out of the spout but if we pour the water from the side it will. And you know if your server gives you water without another bunch of ice cubes floating around in it, you’re going to complain. And then leave 10%.
  4. Bring you the check very quickly, and repeatedly asking about the payment in different forms just to get you to leave so that a new customer can sit in your place. What’s wrong with that? It sounds to me like you only want service when you want it. If the server let the check sit on the table for ten minutes, you would be whining about how servers never let you pay quickly enough to leave in time to get to the 7:00 showing of Jennifer Aniston’s new romantic comedy that’s playing at the mall. And yes, we do want to turn that table over. It’s how we make money, Tiara.
  5. Not pay attention to you when you need help, like when you need a refill of your water glass after you eat something spicy. Same thing as before. If the server is there to ask about your check, you don’t like it but when he’s not there to fill your water for the tenth time, you’re ready to complain. It sounds like you want a server to stand ten feet away from you and be ready to do your bidding as soon as you ring a little silver bell. And if you can’t handle your spicy wings, just ask for a pitcher of water.
  6. Touch your plate, glass or spoons and forks all over with bare hands. I agree, that is not cool. This is why I always make sure to levitate my plates, glasses and silverware directly to my customers so that they can remain as clean as they were when Juan pulled them from the dishwasher and placed everything on the shelf using his bare hands that he just emptied the trash can with.
  7. Touch a lot to try to get more tips. Touching strangers for pleasure or for money, by trying to make the stranger feel good unconsciously, is unacceptable. Define “a lot.” Also, it goes both ways, Tiara. Servers don’t want to be touched by you, either. When we walk by, don’t poke us in the back or tap us on the shoulder. But what if you touch a stranger for pleasure and for money, is that okay?
  8. Take away your plate if your friend or someone else in your party is still eating, or vice versa. I agree, this should not happen. Unless the one who has finished intentionally pushes the plate to the side of the table, it should remain until everyone is finished eating.
  9. Ask questions while food is in our mouth. This is another tactic used by waiters. When your mouth is full, you may say anything to tell the waiter to get lost so you can chomp down your food, including “Yes, it’s good.” Yes, this is another one of our “tactics” we use to find out if you everything is okay for you. It’s called communication. How are we supposed to know when you don’t have food in your mouth? If you are eating in a restaurant and never have food in your mouth, you’re doing it wrong.
  10. Giving you way too much attention, including asking you about the food or service or your needs and talking to you a lot while you try to focus on eating or while you try to talk to the people you came with. Okay, that sentence is too long and rather confusing making me think that English may not be your first language, but make up your mind, girl. Do want us to be there for you or not? So yes, be there for water refills, but don’t be there to pick up the check unless you are ready to go, but don’t be there to touch you, but do be there to answer questions about the menu, but don’t be there to take away a plate, but do be there to ask how things are but only if your mouth is food-free. Honestly, I can’t keep up.

Thank you, Tiara, for the article. It was a good read and thoroughly entertaining. I hope the next time you go to a restaurant you have a nice time, but I suspect you are a pain in the ass to wait tables on.

Everyone please go to the original article and leave your opinion and please tell them that The Bitchy Waiter sent you. I want them to know that if they are going to publish an article about waiters, then they will have me to deal with soon after it’s comes out.

 

UPDATE: The original article has been taken down for unknown reasons. My guess is that someone couldn’t take constructive criticism.  -BW

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