Yearly Archives: 2013

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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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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