Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Danger of Too Many Pickles

Pickle me this

Pickle me this

We servers have a dangerous job. Yes, firefighters and police officers have their fleeting moments of danger and I’m sure that being a coal miner is not the easiest, safest job in America, but when a restaurant worker has to deal with a type-1 crazy bitch from hell, it can get downright perilous. Have you ever seen the wrath of someone who showed up with an expired coupon? Or how about when the kitchen is out of mashed potatoes? Knives are drawn, words fly and punches can be thrown. There is a woman in Quincy, Massachusetts who knows exactly what I am talking about.

According to television station WHDH, a woman punched a sandwich shop worker for- brace yourselves, cause it’s real good: putting too many pickles on her sandwich. You can see the news story here but all they do is give you pickle jokes mixed in with the facts while a blind lady wanders around in the background. Basically, the story is this:

Some crazy bitch named Tina Drouin ordered a steak and cheese sandwich from Nathan’s and the worker put too many pickles on it. Tina got pissed off, threw a punch and then tossed two giant bottles of pickles onto the ground shattering them. Then, the lady ran away, but the restaurant worker, Carmen Bolton (no relation to Michael) did some boltin’ of her own and chased Tina down the street. She held the attacker down until cops arrived and arrested her and charged her with assault with a dangerous weapon. Yes, a pickle bottle is considered a dangerous weapon in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Let’s break this down. First off, you do NOT mess with Carmen Bolton. Second of all, why on God’s green earth did Tina ask for pickles on a steak and cheese sandwich? Everybody knows that a steak and cheese sandwich is perfect as it is with steak and cheese on it. If it was meant to have pickles on it, it would be called a “steak and cheese and pickle,” okay? If I was Carmen, I would have questioned the lady’s sanity right there.

“You want what on your steak and cheese? A pickle? Umm, I don’t think so. I can’t serve you because you sound like you have a case of the crazies. I can give you a pickle spear on the side but I can’t put pickles on a steak and cheese. That’s as unnatural as putting pickles in a margarita or Chardonnay in something other than a coffee cup, okay?”

But Carmen obliged because she is a dutiful employee. Carmen slipped in the pickle juice and got some minor cuts but she refused medical attention because she needed to get back to Nathan’s post haste because it was her turn to change the hot dog water and, as we already know, she is a dutiful employee. She cares about her employer which is why she chased down Tina “Too Many Pickles” Drouin. Had it been me who was assaulted by a fist and a jar of pickles, I would have pulled out my workman’s comp form before I landed on the floor writhing in pain. As soon as I saw the broken glass next to my skin, I’d have my finger on my Life Alert button that is programmed to dial 1-800- SUE-THEM. Let the cops find Tina, because I’d be too busy finding a big pay day. Way to go, Carmen!

In closing, I just want to tell all you restaurant folks to be careful out there. The world is full of people who want to do us servers harm. Whether it’s because we didn’t bring them coffee that was hot enough, we put too many pickles on a sandwich or maybe we just wrote a blog post about an ice queen bitch named Holly Hobbie who had a piece of fruit up her ass, there are people out there who don’t like us. (Okay, maybe I am the only one who has someone hate him because he wrote a blog post about an ice queen bitch named Holly Hobbie…) The point is, be safe, folks. If you sense someone wants to assault you, we can’t all be Carmen Bolton. Ask yourself, “What would Bitchy Waiter do?” And I will tell you the answer: Bitchy Waiter would take off his apron and run out of the back door grabbing his coat, his bag and a bottle of Grey Goose on the way.

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A Comment on Comments

A Comment on Comments

A Comment on Comments

In a post called Sad Unwanted Child at Booth 16, I described the scene as two parents seemed to be giving much more attention to their newborn baby than the five year old boy who was also a part of the family. It was oddly satisfying for me to see some parents who cared about their child as little as I do, yet sad at the same time. The comment section turned into a debate about breastfeeding for some reason, but one comment stood out on its own. Ashley had this to say:

I do care about babies. Why are most of the servers on here mostly complaining? I for one love my job, even the assholes. They show me that my life may not be perfect, but at least I’m happy. The fact that the other child was described as neglected, I would have called child services.

Ashley, most of the servers on this site who complain are here for that very purpose. It’s called The Bitchy Waiter, you know? I am happy you love your job and how wonderful for you that whenever you see an asshole it reminds you to be happy. Whenever I see an asshole I just think of anal bleaching, but that’s just me. As for your thought that you would have called child services in the case of the neglected child, I think that’s a great idea. Maybe it would go something like this:

Child Protective Services: Child Protective Services, can I help you?

Ashley: Umm, yeah. I’d like to report a child that needs protectiveness because he is, like, totally being all disrespected and shit and totally neglected

CPF: Alright and your name?

A: Um, I’m Ashley and I will be your server today.

CPF: Thank you, Ashley. And where is this child right now?

A: Um, he’s at Table 16.

CPF: Table 16?

A: Yeah, in my restaurant. He’s at Table 16 and his parents are being all rude to him and ignoring him. Like they are all drooling over their new baby and this kid is not getting any attention whatsoever and it’s like totally sad and bumming me out.

CPF: And what is the child doing right now?

A: Eating macaroni and cheese.

CPF: Eating macaroni and cheese?

A: Yeah, but they ordered it without bacon and it’s way better with bacon and I think that’s gotta be like some kinda child abuseness so you’d better send some foster parents over here right away.

CPF: So let me understand: the child is in a restaurant and eating macaroni and cheese with his family?

A: Yeah.

CPF: And you think the parents are paying more attention to their other child?

A: Yeah.

CPF: And you called Child Protective Services because you feel this is a case of neglect.

A: Yeah. So when will the foster parents get here, because my shift is over in about an hour?

CPF: Miss, I don’t think this is a severe case of neglect.

A: Well, he was sitting under the table all alone for like ten minutes.

CPF: That’s not really neglect.

A: Well, did I mention that they ordered his mac and cheese with no bacon?

CPF: Yes, you did.

A: Well, I rest my case then. And his shirt looks dirty and he looks like he needs to blow his nose. And I think they’re gonna use a coupon and that tells me that the parents are cheap and therefore more than likely not buying this kid any toys.

CPF: Does the child look like he has been beaten or does he seem afraid of his parents?

A: I can’t tell right now, he’s playing with an iPad. As soon as he puts it down, I’ll go look and see if I can find any bruises.

CPF: Miss-

A: You can call me Ashley.

CPF: Ashley, this child does not seem in need of our services.

A: Really? Cause it’s like the parents like the other kid way better and I just wanted to do my part to help the children. I do care about the babies.

CPF: I’m hanging up now, Miss.

A: You can call me Ashley.

(click)

A: Hello?

 

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Sad Unwanted Child at Booth 16

oh boy...

oh boy…

I can tell that it’s the first night out for this family with their newborn baby. It is wrapped in swaddling clothes with layers upon layers of blankets to keep it warm despite it being about 70° outside. The baby is roughly the size and shape of one of those industrial size cans of ketchup that are such a pain in the ass to open and its face still has that “I just squeezed out of a vagina look.” There is a blue beanie on its head telling me that it must be a boy because new parents are very specific about gender roles. Boys must have blue and girls must have pink. End of story. The baby is in a stroller that is larger than any of the two-tops in the restaurant and it is piled high with every conceivable accoutrement. They look as if they are planning a trip across the country when I know for a fact that they live two blocks from the restaurant. If there happens to be some Baby Wipes emergency in the course of the next forty-five minutes, these people are prepared. I watch as the parents coo and cuddle to the precious marvel that their seed and egg created when I notice movement under the table. There is another child of about five sitting there with his arms crossed. I surmise that this is the big brother and he is feeling neglected. His feelings are accurate. He’s sitting underneath a table alone while his parents ignore him and fawn over the new baby not nine inches away.

“Hello, folks, can I get you anything to drink tonight?” I ask.

“We’re fine for now,” says Mom. “This is our first night out with the new baby and we’re taking it slow. He’s only two weeks old but I was just dying to get out of the house. I’ve been cooped up in there for weeks. He’s sleeping right now so hopefully he’ll keep at it, but you never know, right? He’s a baby! But he’s our baby.”

“I’ll give you some more time.”

Too much information, lady. I just want to know if you want a drink. I don’t give a shit about your baby, your last nine months or how stretched out your baby-maker is. You just let me know when you want a Coke or something. I move to the sidestand to watch them for a signal that they may be ready for something other than the undying love of their newborn child. Meanwhile, the other kid has come out from under the table to sit in a chair. He looks dirty with a snotty nose and messy hair. He could be auditioning for a community theater production of Oliver. He reaches over to touch his little brother’s face and his hand is swatted away by his mother.

“Stop that, your hands are filthy. You were just crawling around on the floor!”

The neglected little boy sulks at his table and the mother fails to realize that the only reason her son was crawling around on the floor was because she had allowed it.

The family eventually decides that they are ready to order. Although I expect them to order a bowl of gruel for Sad Sack Son #1 they instead get him some mac and cheese with French fries.

“The baby doesn’t need anything,” she informs me.

I’m glad she tells me this because I am seconds away from ordering it a well done New York shell steak and a pint of Guinness, on the house of course, in celebration of it escaping from her uterus.

When I set the meal down before the unwanted child, I wait for the opening chords of “Food, Glorious, Food” and look around to see if a gang of street urchins are going to pop out of nowhere for a production number. I am disappointed that instead of a serving of musical theatre, all I get is a side of boob when it’s time for the baby to eat. I politely avert my eyes to offer a tiny bit of privacy, which is more for my comfort than the mother’s since she seems quite at home in Booth 16. Honestly, I wish she would breastfeed everyone in the restaurant because then I wouldn’t have any glasses to bus from the tables.

“Is there anything else I can get for you right now?” I ask. “More napkins? More water? Fresh ground pepper? An invisibility cloak?”

“We’re fine for now. Everybody’s happy. Especially this one. Wow, he’s hungry!”

The parents eat their meal while staring at the baby, the baby eats his meal while staring at a breast and the five year old eats his meal while staring at his future of no longer being the only child. It’s the end of an era, kid. You’re no longer the special one. You’re one of two. Enjoy that mac and cheese while you can and get ready to learn the lyrics to “Where is Love” because your life as you knew it is over.

After everyone has finished eating and they pay the check, they begin preparation for the long journey home around the corner. The breast is packed away with the diapers, blankets, pacifiers and chew toys and they roll the special little angel out the door.

“C’mon,” they yell out to the five year old. “Time to go.”

He dutifully follows behind them and as he walks past me, I am almost certain I hear him humming “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”

 

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The Myth of Spitting in Food

Myth: waiters spit in food all the time.

Myth: waiters spit in food all the time.

The recent article I wrote for CNN’s Eatocracy, 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Blame the Waiter, generated hundreds of responses with a sharp divide between the “get a real job” comments from most customers to the “everyone should wait tables for six months of their life” comments from most waiters. The comments were all pretty mundane but one person by the name of Thomas had this to say:

I have a harder time respecting wait staff when on these forums there is always a post about spitting in food. If servers want to be treated as professionals, you might want to stop posting about messing with people’s food. It makes it sound like the profession is staffed by immature children.

I hate to admit it, but I think Thomas is right. Can’t we all agree that spitting in the food of a customer is a veiled thereat that most of us would never even consider doing? It’s sort of a restaurant myth that it happens all the time. I’m not going to pretend that it never happens because, let’s face it, sometimes customers can drive us to the very edge of our sanity and we struggle to retain some kind of control over the situation. Howeber, I would venture that most people who have waited tables have never actually spit into someone’s food.

Full disclosure: I did it one time and I felt really bad about it. It was over twenty years ago and the man called me a faggot and I spit in his lemonade. Yes, it was immature of me, proving Thomas’ point that the profession is sometimes staffed by immature children. I was barely 22 years old when I did it. You can read that tired story here.

The point is, I have been serving for twenty years since then and have never even considered doing it again. So why do servers always threaten it? Maybe it’s the same reason that parents tell their kids things like, “If you don’t behave, you’re not going to be allowed to use the computer for a week.” The parents don’t mean that most of the time, it’s just something they say so the kid will pick themselves up from the puddle of disaster they have melted into. It’s a veiled threat. The movie Waiting had a mantra in it: “Don’t fuck with people that handle your food.”


We all like to pretend that we would do these horrible things, but the truth is most of us are too humane to follow through on the threat. Aren’t we? Well, aren’t we? Let’s forget that a man called me a faggot twenty years ago and I felt alright spitting in his lemonade, because he totally crossed the line and was asking for such behavior. For the most part, when a customer really pisses us off, all we do is go into the kitchen and call the lady a bitch or the man an asshole and then maybe we don’t fill their water glass anymore. Some of us take out our frustration by writing a blog for five years. Servers aren’t scrambling around hocking up loogies to deposit into soups and gravies and I have never seen someone intentionally put hair into food. I have seen a server pull a hair from a plate of food as he was walking to the table and then serve the food anyway, but that’s a big difference, right? It’s not like I put the hair there on purpose or anything. I was just saving the customer from discovering it and therefore doing the customer a huge favor.

Servers spitting in food all the time is a myth just like so many other myths of the restaurant industry, like that man telling you he’s going to take really good care of you and that he’s a big tipper and then leaves 10% or the woman who says that her children are very well-behaved and then ten minutes later you’re peeling them off the walls. Just because people say something does not mean it’s true. The next time you hear a server saying that he will spit in the food if someone is rude to him, just know that it’s something he’s saying to try to gain some power. It’s a threat and very unlikely to happen, right? I am right, aren’t I?

Just don’t call me a faggot and then order a lemonade.

 

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Please Don’t Be a Sneaky Waiter

Don't be a sneaky waiter.

Don’t be a sneaky waiter.

This is the story of a sneaky waiter who used dishonest tactics to increase his check average. Please do not do what this waiter did.

Helmut and Inga were about to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Looking to do something special, Inga researched Yelp and found a nearby French staurant that had great reviews. “Oh, I’ve heard about this place,” she told her husband. “It’s supposed to be really good. Want to go there on Saturday night, dear?”

“What’s Saturday night?” asked Helmut from behind his newspaper. “Isn’t that meatloaf night?”

Inga sighed and reminded him for the fifth time that week that Saturday was their 20th wedding anniversary.

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Helmut. “I knew that. Sure that sounds great, hon, whatever you want. It’s your special day.”

“No, it’s our special day,” Inga corrected him.

“Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.”

“So, would you like to go to dinner there on Saturday?”

Inga took the silence as a yes and made a reservation for 7:00 on Saturday.

Four days later, Inga and Helmut arrived at Place de Vosges Cafe. Inga had hoped for a corsage or maybe a card or at the very least for her husband to open the car door for her, but she settled for the fact that he wore a shirt that had a collar on it and a tie that matched. They were ushered to their table which was set with a clean crisp linen tablecloth and candles and had white roses in a crystal vase on the center of the table.

“Oh, it’s beautiful! Isn’t it beautiful, Helmut? I’m having such a wonderful time already and the night hasn’t even started. I love you so much, dear.”

“Kinda expensive, huh? Jeez, they sure are proud of their soup. It’s $15.”

The tuxedoed waiter stepped away from the table and Inga couldn’t tell if he had somewhere else to go, if he was judging them, or both.

“Helmut, dear. This is our 20th anniversary. I have been saving money for this night for two months and I don’t want us to even think about the prices. I love you and I want us to have a wonderful night. Please, have a good time tonight. For me?”

Helmut set down his menu and reached across the table to hold Inga’s hands. “Sweetheart, the steak is $52.”

Inga pulled her hands away just as the waiter returned.

“Bon soir monsieur et madam. Welcome to Place des Vosges Cafe. Have you had the pleasure of dining with us before?”

“It’s our first time here and it’s lovely, thank you.'” said Inga.

“Very well, madam. And are you here to celebrate a special occasion?”

Inga looked at her husband and waited for him to answer the question. Helmut was again looking at the menu, his eyes bulging out and the veins in his neck throbbing.

“It’s our 20th anniversary tonight,” said Inga beaming with pride.

“Ah, congratulations to you both! I will make sure then that we take extra good care of you this evening. Extra good care, I say.” He snapped his fingers and a man appeared who filled their glasses with Pelligrino. The waiter recited the specials and within minutes Inga had the glass of champagne she wanted while Helmut sipped a cold beer. Inga convinced him to drink it from the frosted glass that had been provided rather than from the bottle like he usually enjoyed his beer. He finally seemed to be enjoying himself and she didn’t even care that he had loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar.

The couple enjoyed their dinner of Gratinée des Vosges (onion soup) and Frisée aux Lardons (frisee salad with bacon and blue cheese) with a poached egg and they shared the Côte de Boeuf for two (prime rib) and they each had another drink.

As the waiter removed the last plate, Helmut said to his wife, “I’m stuffed. I don’t think I have any room for dessert.”

Inga tried not to show her disappointment. “Are you sure? I bet it’s delicious here. Just one to share?”

“Naaa, let’s go home,” he said. “I’m full.”

Inga protested ever so slightly. “If it’s about the money, I don’t want us to think about that tonight. I know it’s expensive but it’ll be worth it. It’s our 20th anniversary.”

“It’s not about the money, I’m just full,” snapped Helmut.

At this time, Inga saw the waiter approaching their table holding a plate with a dessert and a lighted candle. He placed it in front of the couple. “Happy anniversary to you both,” he said. The plate was inscribed with those very words, written in chocolate. In the middle of the plate was a large serving of bread pudding with two two chocolate-covered strawberries.”

“How sweet,” sighed Inga. “Look dear, an anniversary dessert!” She blew out the candle and took the first bite. She then gave a bite to her husband who begrudgingly acknowledged that it was quite delicious. They cleaned their plate and ten minutes later the check was presented to them.

Inga reached over to pick it up, prepared for the total which would be more than they had ever spent on one meal. She scanned the bill and her eyes landed on one item that gave her pause. “Hmmm,” she said. “Oh, well, it’s okay.”

“What’s wrong?” Helmut wanted to know.

“Nothing, it’s fine. No big deal.”

“What is it?” he insisted.

“Well, they charged us for the dessert and I kind of thought they were just being nice for our anniversary. I’m just surprised, that’s all. It was only $14. Of course we’ll pay for it, it was delicious.”

Helmut sat up straight in his chair. ‘That’s not right, they made it sound like it was free. And how do they know we even wanted bread pudding anyway? Where’s that waiter?”

“Please, dear, it’s fine. I’ll just pay for it.”

“No, it’s not fine. It’s sneaky. I wanna talk to our waiter.”

“Helmut, please, just let it go. I’ll pay for it, it’s only $14. Don’t make a scene.”

“I’m not going to make a scene, I’m just going to let him know that I think if we are going to be paying for dessert than we should have gotten to choose what it was and I didn’t even want dessert in the first place.”

Inga reached out across the table and placed her hand on her husband’s. “Please? Can we just go? I don’t want tthe night to end like this.”

“Fine. But I didn’t want dessert anyway.”

Their drive home was quiet, both of them thinking about how shifty the waiter had been. It had put a damper on their evening and Inga couldn’t understand why her husband was so upset. When they got home, Helmut got out of the car quickly and went into the house leaving Inga to walk in alone. As she stepped inside, the only light on was the one in the kitchen. She followed the light and heard Helmut getting something out of the refrigerator. “Helmut? You can’t tell me you’re still hungry.” She stepped into the kitchen to see Helmut standing in front of her holding a box. “What’s that?” she asked.

“This is why I didn’t want dessert. Remember our first anniversary when we still lived in Brooklyn and we were so broke? All we could afford to do that day was spend $5 so we went to that little tiny bakery on Court Street and each picked out one dessert and then we shared them.” He opened the box revealing a lobster tail and a cannoli. “I went to that same bakery today and got those same desserts because I remember thinking that night that as long as I have half a cannoli and half of a lobster tail and I get to share them with you, I will be the happiest man in the world. I love you very much, Inga. Happy anniversary.” He kissed her and then said, “Are you too full for another dessert?”

Inga wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at her husband. She reached over to him and untied his tie and pulled it from his neck. “I love you so very much. You’re the sweetest man in the world.”

“No, I’m just the happiest one. Want a bite?”

They sat at the kitchen table taking turns eating the pastries having completely forgotten about the sneaky waiter who had tricked them into buying a dessert that didn’t even want.

 

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Servers Can Do More Than Complain- We Can Save Lives

Cancer Sucks

Cancer Sucks

Allow me please to step off the Bitch Box and show a softer side for a brief moment. Back in February, I wrote a story about a fellow server named Briana who was fighting leukemia. Her best friend Katie wrote me and asked if we could all send Briana positive thoughts and good vibes to help her through the rough time. Lots of people responded sending out love to Briana but Katie let me know that Briana lost her battle yesterday and she passed away. It’s a sad day for her friends and family but we can only hope that Briana is in a much better place now, perhaps a restaurant where there is no side-work, perpetual silverware that is already rolled and where everyone always tips 40%.

I didn’t know Briana, but thanks to Katie’s emails, I felt as if I did. I wonder if Briana ever read all the notes that people wrote to her and I wonder if it made her feel even a tiny bit better. It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone we love, but when life is cut so short, it seems so very tragic. Briana was so young. Four years ago, I lost my best friend to cancer and it still hurts me to think that he is not here to talk to and to make me laugh. I miss him every day and still question why he had to leave this earth so early. There is nothing we can do but accept it, right?

As I sat at my computer with tears in my eyes and wishing I could have done more for Briana rather than write a lame blog post, I received another email from a girl named Melissa. She told me that one of the cooks at her restaurant has been diagnosed with cancer. His name is Bo and he is only 22 years old. A 22 year-old should not be worrying about how to beat cancer or how to pay for it. He should be enjoying life. His friends at the restaurant set up a donation page to help him raise funds for treatment and I want everyone to consider donating a couple of dollars to it. There is no minimum to donate so even one dollar is going to make a difference. This blog gets about 5,000 visitors a day. Think if every single one of you donated one single dollar how much money Bo could have to pay for his treatment. Now imagine if everyone gave $5. I already went to the site and donated and I ask that you try to do the same.

Is this the chance I get to help someone? Wouldn’t Briana want us to help Bo? Can it be that this blog can do more than satisfy my need to rant and complain? We have all lost someone to cancer. It seems like that fucking disease is everywhere now. Maybe it’s just that we are more aware of it thanks to how connected we are in this digital age, but it is constant. Bo needs our help. Melissa wanted me to remind you how much we look at our our restaurant co-workers as an extension of our families. Many of us spend more time with them than our actual relatives so it is no surprise how much affection there is for our restaurant families.

You can read Bo’s story here and then you can go to his GoFundMe page to donate. Please donate what you can. We all make tips and we all have a few extra dollars that we can give to someone in need.

i465Mh2

Please share this page with your friends. Put it on your Facebook page and let’s see how much of a difference a bunch of bitchy waiters can make. We want to show the world that we can do more than complain about annoying customers and bad tips. When we have to, we can step up and help take care of one of our own.

Please go to Bo’s GoFundMe page to donate. You will be happy you did. I feel better knowing that I gave him a few extra dollars that can help save his life.

And to Briana’s friends and family I have this to say: there were a lot of us out here who had her in our thoughts and prayers. I am sorry for your loss. Even though most of us did not know her, all of us cared for her.

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