Sunday, January 28, 2007 by Ospite.
5 notations

Typical Saturday night found us with the average hustle and bustle of the weekend crowd. Big reservations and oodles of walk-ins kept us scampering around hoping to be quick for the best buck.

Frank normally has a quality presence with larger parties and fares well. This night was no different. 8 guys were taking out one woman for her birthday. It was a large celebration with joyous laughter, constant witty banter, and much alcohol.

He took extra-special care of this table, for Frank tends to be both a ladies man, and a Man's Man. Almost everyone likes him. This is a wonderful trait when your well-being depends entirely on the generosity of your customers.

To celebrate the year anniversary of birth, we presented the woman with a birthday cake.

"Sing us a song! Sing us a song! And none of that boring old 'Happy Birthday' stuff!"

They had heard me sing other tunes throughout the evening and were hoping for a raucous affair to match their boisterous goings on. Naturally I obliged with the beginning toast from La Traviata, "Brindisi"...a tune you would all know should I sing it now. They laughed and clapped and cheered and seemed very pleased.

A short while later, the party departed. Frank was standing at the cappuccino machine and looked crushed.

"You alright? How'd you do?"
"It was horrible! He signed the credit card receipt but didn't write any dollar amount down! I got stiffed on a 9top!!"

I thought for sure he was going to burst into tears. I would have come close. His night was completely ruined, and it was only half over. When you have an atrocious experience with one table, it's so tempting just to give up on the rest of your tables.

One of our oldtimers found out about it and decided to change the outcome herself. She went to each of the waitstaff, explained what happened to Frank, and asked for a small donation. The old management used to do it this way, using the generosity of the servers to up the staff's spirits as a whole, and also mend what damage was done with the stiffed server.

We all chipped in, because we know that what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. By the time she was done, she'd collected over fifty dollars. She gave Frank the stack of cash. He didn't know what to do. He was shocked, and humbled by the gift from the servers. It was a moment when we were all proud to be part of the staff, knowing that each of us had a touch of philanthropy in our hearts.
Sunday, January 21, 2007 by Ospite.
10 notations

As I had noted, table 28 was making my evening pretty interesting. I was keeping the rest of my section occupied and enjoying the brief downtime of one less table when i turned around and saw them sitting at 28. Crutchmaster, her two kids, and her friend whom they apparently can never leave behind.

For those of you new enough to not know quite who this nemesis might be, dig through the archives to late July.

For a brief taste: "She very slowly and dramatically entered. About 40, black tank, khaki shorts, hair pulled up, and two crutches to support her broken ankle ... She then proceeded to ask around hoping someone would relinquish their relished position in line. It's like being chosen for the promised land. Obviously most people simply stared at her as she milked the injury for all it was worth. As time passed, she convinced her children to come up to the podium every five minutes to check on the status. You'd think I'd be exaggerating...but I'm literally not. We started timing them."

It seems this woman had the same birthday three months running, on which she dines with us, rudely demands a piece of free cake (which she will relinquish to her children for their consumption), and will pull this and the crutch routine on every server and employee with whom she comes in contact. On her last visit, several of us finally put the pieces together and decided to never again let her get away with cons, no matter how small.

So there we were..staring at eachother from two tables away. I had vowed to call her out on her false claims of birthdayhood, claiming it necessary to check ID before retrieving a cake on her behalf. All of my haughty words came sweeping back. I had an obligation. And to be honest, I was a little scared. This was The Crutchmaster afterall.

Holding the gaze of her wee beady eyes, I approached the table.

"Welcome back! It's been some time since you've been here. Or at least since I saw you last. How is everything? I see the cast is off."

Bam. Both barrels from the get-go.

She was thrown off. Confused. Startled. What else did I remember? Who else besides me might remember it too? The two minions and her dear friend just stared at her as about 5 seconds passed before her lips parted for an answer.

"Good good. Yes, I don't have to use those stupid crutches now."
"Which is also good because we haven't much room to prop your foot up tonight."
"Yes well, this corner is cramped. Could we get more room here?"
"Short of knocking down that wall or asking customers to leave, I hardly see how. So, shall we start with drinks? I know you're all familiar with the menu."

Again, they sat motionless for a moment. This time it was my turn to be on the offensive. I knew the tricks, the plots, the wiles. Not on my watch. Not again.

Drinks, appetizers, main courses...all went smoothly. I was awaiting the Birthday request, and had had the entirety of the meal to prepare myself for such an occasion. I had the check printed, book in my apron, prepared to drop. To-Go boxes in hand, I couragiously stepped to the table.

"So I'll let you box those up whenever you're ready. And as I recall, you tend not to save room for dessert, as our meals are rather substantial in size. I'll leave the check here and take it whenever you are set. But by all means, don't feel rushed, and please take your time."

I smiled. I looked at the kids, the friend, and last at the Crutchmaster. With the smile plastered on my face, I flashed a look that said, 'That's it. That's all you get.' Part of me wondered if it would work. I turned on my toes and stepped quickly as I heard my name called from a table at the end of my section.

"I'm sorry to call you over here again.."
"No no. By all means, I'm at your service. You have no idea what you've saved me from."
"Pissy customer over there?"
"Let's just say we have a history."

I retrieved the plates from this blessed soul who called me over and even got them free espresso for their troubles. When I returned, the Crutchmaster was gone. There was cash in the book, and a 15% tip on the table. I couldn't hold back the joyous manly armpump with an audible "Booyah!" That's right. I actually uttered "booyah" on the floor, causing much amusement for the surrounding tables.

I had slayed the dragon. I do not expect a return.
Monday, January 15, 2007 by Ospite.
7 notations

I've determined that certain tables are blessed and others cursed. Each table has a life of its own and it influences the behavior of patrons at it. Tonight I had a table that is always good to me; it often provides me with personal entertainment. I turned that table about 4 times, 3 of which kept me going back for more...

Round 1.
They were about 22. He was dressed plainly, she was decked to the nines. That kind of presence tells you she's out to get noticed. (this is a common theme with 20-something female diners in general). Clearly "together" as they walked in the door hand-in-hand. He got up to use the restroom several times during the meal and each time he did, she'd beckon me over for small talk. See was sitting in the corner of the restaurant with clear view of the far side where the bathrooms were. I could gather from her demeanor when he'd walk back onto the floor and took it as my cue to not appear as though there were flirting going on...despite the fact I found her number on the table and she was fond of adjusting her bra while I was present and her boyfriend absent. Sadly, the boyfriend paid, and thus the tip was average.

Round 2.
Son, 30s. Mom and Dad, 50s.
"Can I get you something to drink while you're looking through the menu?" (Same old line)
Dad: "Drink? Yes. Hell yes. I'll start with a Grey Goose dirty, extra olives."
Mom: "Sangria"
Son: "Same."
I can already tell I'll love this table. They drank well, but not too much, ordered a several-course meal, and were extremely pleasant to serve. As I was returning with the dessert menus, I noticed the mother was sitting on the floor against the wall, head in her hands.
"Ma'am, can I get you something, or help you?"
The two guys seemed to not notice, acting as this happens regularly. I knew they weren't drunk enough to ignore her, so I took her silence (except the unpleasant yet soft moaning) as a note that this was normal. I was about to turn and walk away, when I heard her say "Um, hot tea...lemon." "Of course ma'am." She then proceeded to get her plate handed to her by her son so as to finish her veal on the floor...where she drank her tea, and also finished off her son's cake. Father paid for this one, and the tip was 25%, and I was the one to help the mother off the floor as they left.

Round 3. The CrutchMaster's Return: To be saved for next time...
Monday, January 08, 2007 by Ospite.
0 notations

The phenomenon has leaked to Blogdom. I noticed WaiterRant on MySpace, so I decided to follow suit. Can't hurt, right? Seat My Table does MySpace
Sunday, January 07, 2007 by Ospite.
5 notations

It was a pathetic shift. I walked in the door and from the get-go I was annoyed. I was scheduled as a food-runner. This is the guy who's not your waiter who brings you your food. I hate this job.

The hourly is minimum wage plus tips. But here's where the servers' personal feelings get involved. How they tip out is based solely on how much food they happen to see you run to their tables. If your timing never crosses their path, they don't know which of the three runners took the food and therefore which ones to tip. The tips are bound to be lower in this case.

So I was running and, being a waiter also, people ask me for beverage refills, sides of sauce, remakes for their food, etc. I end up being yet another waiter to them. I had 5 dishes remade for 3 waiters, sold more alcohol than if I had been on the floor myself. The GM pulls me aside and says, "Why aren't you on the deck running food? Better get hustling, I'm keeping my eye on you tonight." I get reprimanded for bettering the customers...fabulous.

On top of this, we run into the issue of our dishes. For our entire restaurant we had only 30 pasta bowls. A ridiculous number. Half what we should have. We were continually running out of spoons. It was apparently my job to remedy this as well as run food. This of course cut down on my face time with the waitstaff, again, hacking my tips.

Candice was one of the other two runners. She tops out at about 5ft and has a permanent look of annoyance and angst. She's a real joy to be around for sure. Oh, and she's a slacker. She hates her job as a waitress, makes no money because customers can tell she's forever pissed, and makes no move to fix things.

Candice was walking in front of me as I was bringing bowls and plates from Dish with my arms more than full. Meandering empty-handed, she decided to turn around without warning and ran her head directly into the plates. A soft thunk was heard from the collision and she put her hand to her head. I was shot the most evil look I've seen in months and I stifled a chuckle. We were all moving at top speed. A restaurant can be like a freeway. If you're not moving along with traffic, you'll get run over. I'm going to guess she fought with her boyfriend and decided to smoke a joint on the way here to forget it. ...per usual.

So trying to keep the tears from welling up, she skulked into the kitchen hoping for a pity party. Sadly, she got one. Immediately I "ran dishes into her head." My popularity waned drastically.

Now, normally, I'm well-liked in the restaurant, but I've slowed down my socializing with the rest of the waitstaff due to other responsibilities. This isn't an issue when I wait tables, but when my tips depend on the rest of the staff, they tip the people they hang out with. It's restaurant politics. It was a 5 hour shift that felt like 30. The only thing that brought me any joy, was the short person vs. the dinnerware. It was a pathetic shift.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007 by Ospite.
6 notations

It was a busy Saturday right before Christmas. Just to keep the bloody Christmas music out of my head, I was running around singing "Shine on" by Jet. It's one of my tricks to make me feel like I'm keeping pace rather than actually being frantic. But no matter what, there's always a table that throws off your groove entirely.

This one was completely oblivious to the fact there was anyone else in the restaurant. 4top with what seemed be parents and two girls, one about 25 and the other about 18.

"Can I get anyone anything to drink while you're perusing the menu?"


"Ok. I'll give you a minute to look through the wine list."
"No wait, we're figuring it out."

Now, I don't mind when tables want my attention or even my time. It's why I'm there. To serve. But when I'm clearly very busy and they simply want me to stand there for 5 minutes twiddling my thumbs without actually interacting it's a bit annoying.

So, standing a bit longer, I can't help but hear the youngest girl discussing the chocolate martini she had last time she was here and she wasn't a big fan of our wine list. Finally, the 'parents' ordered a rather blasé pinot, and the younger daughter looks up at me...

"I'll have a cosmo."
"Can I see some ID?"
"ID, can I see some please?"
"But I'm with my mom."
"That means I don't have to show it to you."
"No, it doesn't change anything."
"Fine, I'll have water then."

For the rest of the meal, she continually started talking about alcohol everytime I walked by. "i had this before." "I had that before." As if that should make me cave, wipe away a tear, and toss vodka down her throat.

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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