Sunday, April 16, 2006 by Ospite.

It has been a remarkably slow week at the trattoria. I'm talking painfully slow. Cutting-waiters-from-the-floor-before-they-get-their-first-table slow. Not only has the slowness hurt our waiters, but the tips that have been accompanying the slothful patrons setting up camp in our restaurants have been horrid.

The phone rings...light at the end of the tunnel. A party of 16 is in town for a conference and would enjoy dining with us Saturday afternoon. Normally this size is out of the question. We are a restaurant, not a catering facility. I gaze across the empty tables and lose myself in the pleading eyes of my meager staff. I gladly take the party, hoping to lighten the mood. ETA: 1pm.

1pm finds us twiddling our thumbs...they are nowhere to be found. rings.

"Hi, this is Baxter pary of 16. We'll be about 15 minutes late."
"Not a problem, thank you for the heads up." rings.

"Hi, this is Baxter party of 16. We're going to be anoter 15 minutes behind schedule."
"Alright, thank you for the update."

I cut all but 3 of my waiters off the floor. Dre is in dire need of money right now. Let's just say she "owed" the government money on her taxes this year. She begged to take the party and stay on after her shift for them. I granted her request and so she sits patiently awaiting their arrival. rings.

"Hi, Baxter again. We're going to be there in 15 minutes. Don't worry, we're coming, we're just down the road."
"Thank you. I would hate to have to give away your table."
"Oh, please don't do that...We all want to sit together."

2:15pm. They arrive. Finally, they come pouring through our doors. 9 of them. I show them to their table, where I am informed the rest will be shortly behind. Sure enough, 18 more people walk through the door!

"Hey there! We've got 18 people."
"Are you with Baxter?"
"Yup! Can you arrange the tables so we can sit together? Great."

Dre is almost overjoyed to the point of fainting. We spend c. 8 minutes arranging, setting up and getting menus, place-settings, etc. for the now very large party. They are visible at the door getting a little jittery. Hunger, I hope.

"I'm all set for you."
"Great, we're starving."

They walk to the tables, greet their friends already sat at the 9top, then sit down. They don't even look at the menus before they launch into a large debate about what type of food the party would prefer. Not which dishes, but whether or not they'd prefer Italian cuisine, or RED LOBSTER...

"Excuse me, we're going to go elsewhere." They leave in a mad rush. I had reached my limit of patience with this party...Baxter.. That name is scripted now on my black-list.

The initial 9 stayed for three hours, not a single one ordering more than an entrée, or even alcohol. Dre was not happy. Nor was their rudeness received well on her part. I wished for a time machine to go back, take the phone call again, and laugh in Baxter's ear.

When the bill was rung up, Dre came over to me and tossed me the head's credit card. "Rev. ____ _ Baxter."

"That bastard is a 'reverend.' I HATE church people! They think they rule the world, want everything for nothing, want comp-ed meals, free iced tea, and will probably tip like they were raised in the back hills of West Virginia!!"

"I have to admit, I grew up in the church, still go to church, and I have never understood the mentality of most church groups that go to restaurants. They are the worst customers and give Christians an atrocious reputation. Their behavior makes me sick."

"No kidding. And of all weeks!! Seriously people, catch some salvation spirit here. Jesus died to show you real love. He died! At least have the decency to tip 20% if you're going to go around flaunting that you speak on his behalf!"

Dre is the antithesis of churchgoing folk. And I agree with her 100%. For some reason, most of the church people I have run into in either service or sales want someting for nothing. They feel that because they are saving the world's souls, they are above paying for meals, or standard services that every normal red-blooded human being of every sect of society must deal with. Christians are NOT EXEMPT. Do I get this from Muslims? No. Hindus? No. Atheists? No. Christians? Yes. I will never understand why.

Please realize that I am a church-going man and I find such public displays of religious stupidity morally reprehensible. People out there, if you are going to preach to the world that you have the answers to a lost and wayward society, don't put a wedge of hostility between you and it by acting like we owe you something.

Baxter left. Dre walked away with an 11% tip. I rest my case.


Blogger pherring said...

It has been slow at both Restauraunts I frequent. (1 which I work in, one which I am a bit of an extern, long story.)

I left a $5 tip tonight on a $3 tab.

12:25 AM  
Blogger peg said...

I do that a lot. When I drink, I can nurse one all night. The girls at the bar I frequent (for Karaoke and comraderie) keep my water glass filled all night long. Quite often they get a 50% tip from me.

1:09 PM  
Blogger smila said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:00 PM  
Blogger smila said...

I believe in God, but i dun like the church. There are people in there who are worse than the people who's never step foot in church. No offense.
Anyways...good read, ur blog :D

7:01 PM  
Blogger irishlucky said...

I recoil from the very idea of becoming a Baxter. Not the person, but the idea and attitude and ew! My sincerest apologies and best regards as to the future at the trattoria. Good luck!


8:30 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

Hi, just came here from a link on Waiter's site.
I am completely in love with your stuff, I've already been through all your archives, and I'll definitely be back.

9:36 PM  
Blogger 3308 Juliet said...

Why in the world didn't Dre auto-grat the party? Everywhere I've ever worked 18% gets tacked onto any group of 6 (or 8) or more.

5:51 PM  

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At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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