Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yelling Restaurant Cowards

Yelling Restaurant CowardAngry Customer Restaurant Rage

Last night was interesting. So there we are, it's a super busy Friday night at the restaurant. The whole FOH (front of the house) staff was on pins and needles.

To add to this already extremely satisfying eve, we had an unholy amount of hungry customers that were impatiently waiting for at least 45 minutes for a table. It was strange, I mean customers tend to get cranky any time they have to be on the waiting list for over 30 minutes, but last night... they were feeding off each others' negative energy. It was kind of like when toddlers are waiting in line to sit on the lap of a mall Santa. If one kid starts crying, then makes eye contact with another weary child, this sort of strong transcendent and emotional connection happens... Suddenly the latter child feels this need to cry, in some mimicking fashion that mirrors the actions of the first.Angry Restaurant Customer Domino Effect Once the second kid starts to look around, and catches the eye of a new child, the domino effect takes a hold. The same damn thing happened last night, just replace the crying children in this scenario with "adults."

So, the girl hosting (don't even get me started on her) got the burnt of a grown "man's" temper tantrum. Hold on, before I continue... I guess I should tell you all about the girl I work with. She's a little, barely 21 year old. She rests a rough 105 pounds on 5'1'' frame. Just a petite post teenager. Sweet kid outside of work, but lazy as hell. She will do anything to worm her way of actually putting in any physical effort around the restaurant. She also does a pretty effective job of getting her shifts covered that might involve working a busy night. So needless to say, I don't exactly respect her. I am also not a big fan of having to work the same shift as her.

Now back to the story. I am busy running around helping bus tables, just so we can get some asses in chairs. I clean up a table, and make my way back to the host stand to seat the customers. Once I get up there, the host is busy trying to calm this mother down who has been waiting probably around 45 minutes.

This lady is part of a waiting big top. The group was probably quoted a 30-40 minute wait time. The host tells the lady that she is doing her best to get the group down, explaining that we would need to wait for two tables in the restaurant to free up. To
accommodate groups over six, we need two tables. The lady wasn't exactly putting forth an effort to be understanding, but I attribute that to the fact that they had hungry kids both under five waiting.

I kind of butt in and explain things to the lady. I'm considerably more seasoned in the restaurant business than the girls I was working with, so I am used to handling grumpy custies. By the time I finish with her, she isn't happy... but calmed. I walk off and continue working hard to turn tables.

I say maybe 10 minutes later, I make a return trip to the stand. I was going to ask the list runner what size of table was needed next. All of the sudden, the same lady returns, all huffy and puffy. She interrupts a new group, that is trying to get onto the list. She starts stammering something I couldn't exactly hear due to noise that was in the restaurant. I finally make out enough of her babel to find out that like half of her group is leaving. She only needed a four top now (which actually made it possible for her to have the very next table).

As soon her huffy puffy fit was over, another guy that had been waiting a few feet away came bustling up to the host stand. He goes into a tirade. I was actually kind of dumbfounded at how upset this guy was. I would assimilate this guy's anger to a child in big black rubber rain boots, stopping around in a puddle after his mother took away his favorite toy.

This guy could have possibly threw the biggest cry baby fit I have seen since I started working in the restaurant business. He literally was tearing up after he was done yelling at the girl working the list. Mind you this guy is 250 pounds, yelling at a young girl more than half his size. I can't remember exactly what he said, but I remember a few snippets of his rant. They include:
  • "You told me it was going to be 30 minutes and it's now been an hour! You don't do that! Maybe the other way around!"
  • "Now I have to take my four year old son home hungry, thanks a lot!"
  • "Very professional, well done guys! Well done! Very professional!"
It was a lost cause. My co-work stood in horror, as she was ridiculed in front of over 15 waiting customers in the immediate area. This guy was yelling directly at her, although his focus shifted about 45 seconds into his tantrum, as I began to work my way in between the two of them. As he was going on and on, I tried to interject several times to calm him. After that failed, I couldn't do anything but laugh. I just chuckled as he finished up and pushed his way out the door. I'm pretty sure he left before he burst into tears.

So is life in the restaurant business. I need to get out! If I am still updating this blog in two years, do me a favor... hunt me down and kill me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

To Tip or Not To Tip

Restaurant Tip Slip
Racist Rage?

The above image comes from the website Post Secret. Well, if you want to get technical, it comes from Google's image index. Semantics...

I've actually heard this discussed quite a bit while waiting tables. While it's never been my personal experience with the restaurant industry, I have many co-workers who have said this is the case. Do you guys feel that certain races, sexes, age groups, etc... are better tippers than others?

While I may say things like "white trash" or "old people," the more I think about it... it is case specific. I have had very old people tip me well, or even go out of their way to get me a tip that they forgot to leave on a previous visit (The coolest Old Man Ever!). I have also had people that look like they just crawled out of dumpster, leave me a very generous tip too.

The restaurant is a crazy place where it is easy to get frustrated. A place where residual rage from a bad day can fester for weeks after. For me, at times... it's even had me lose faith in the human race. So, I can see where it would be easy to make a snap judgment on a bad day. However, I guess for some... it is fact (or so they think).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Policing my friends at the restaurant

Dining out etiquette

Restaurant etiquetteThis is another item that has been on my mind to blog about. It's a topic I wish I could teach a class on. It's restaurant etiquette. What I am getting at, is now, when I am out with my friends and/or family... I kind of police the table.

My friends and family aren't animals, nor are they tourist morons. It's really nothing like that... they are actually in the rare upper 3% of polite restaurant diners. They say please and thank you, they don't snap their fingers to get the servers attention, they aren't those people who ask the host if they can change seats, they don't stagger their drink orders and run the waiter, etc.

I do, however, look for things that would bother me if I were their waiter. If I feel like they are going to ask a stupid question or zone out while the server is talking, I jump in. I find myself watching who ordered what, so when the server or food runner comes out with the food, I can help direct if people can't remember what they ordered. Why is it... by the way, people can remember what they ordered when the food comes out?

Rereading what I have just wrote, I realize it looks like I have control issues. I really don't... I just feel like it's my duty to help the waiter avoid any unnecessary headaches. For example, we were the big top just recently, and made sure all the extra drinks were accounted for (by the people who ordered them) when the waiter was asked to split the check. Yes, I said big top, I said split the check. I feel guilty.

Do you all do the same thing? When you are the customer, do you just relax and get waited on? Or are the 2nd waiter at the table like I am?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Waiting Nightmare/ Sever Dreams

Restaurant Nightmares & Dreams

Table Waiting Nightmare

I've now been in the restaurant business long enough to know that most servers get "the dream/ nightmare." Many coworkers have recounted their stressful slumber's night terrors to me. What is "the dream" you ask?

The dream usually starts off with you (the server), working a normal shift. Things either begin relatively smoothly or slightly hectic, and eventually snowball into a deep, dark hole of unmanageable waiting hell. Tables you can't get to, late food, angry customers, long drink times, crying babies, the host double, triple, quadruple seating. Basically, everything that can go wrong, that would stress a server out, does. That type of thing.

I recently had one of the hosts tell me that they had the dream... which kind of shocked me. It has been my experience that only new and veteran servers have this dream. I guess this is not the case.

Before posting this, simply out of curiosity, I looked up this phenom and found that there is a lot about it. One man's site (Joseph Campbell of Scholars and Rogues), noted that he had not waited tables for about 20 years, yet he still had these dreams. While reading his, I realized that he had had multiple instances where he had these dreams, over long periods of time. This fact is a little surprising to me, as mine stopped shortly after my training.

Do you all get these dreams?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Halloween Waiting

Hey everyone... I know, it's been a while. Here we are... another holiday is upon us. Guess who gets work again? On a holiday? That's right! I am the perpetual bitch of the establishment.

The restaurant wants us to dress up... of course. I don't think I am going to. I will have to hear about it... sure. None the less, I'm not really in the mood. This is one of those lesser of two evil situations. Decisions, decisions.

Then again, the tables might be more apt to tip better if their server is all in spirit and having fun with the holiday. What is your restaurant's policy? Do you want dress up?

Well, I had a lot more that I wanted to get out in this post... but it is now after 2:00am. I'm going to bed. Talk to you all soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Here They Come... Labor Day 2009

Restaurant Rage

This post is in no way meant to insult cows. They are a beautiful and majestic creature. The bovine was used as a descriptive device, used to establish an imagery.

Labor Day 2009 is upon us. I can hear them coming now like a stampede of cattle. The loud clanks and hollow dongs of an army of cowbells. A large clumsy group, just wandering toward the restaurant. If I could buy every proverbial cattle guard in the world with my hard earned tips... I WOULD.

All truth be told, I should getting me rest right now at 12:43 AM. Tomorrow (Yeah, yeah, today if you want to be technical) is going to most likely be a very long and annoying day. Hungry, impatient, and unreasonable groups slumber as I write this. Their stomachs growing more and more empty with every passing moment. There is only but one cure for what ails them, with I as the would be doctor who must deliver the medicine.

Regretfully, I have chosen one of the only professions in America that does not recognize holidays. So, while all my friends and family are off on long weekends (weekends? what are those?), some camping and enjoying the great outdoors; I will be waiting on tables of tourists. Let's all anticipate together what is in store for the 2009 Labor Day:

  • I am almost positive that some group of 15 or so will roll in. Ask the host for a table and be utterly shocked that they will have to wait a half an hour on a holiday for a big top. The leader will look around the busy restaurant, but still not get it, then look back at the host and ask with a bewildered look on his face "30 minutes? Are you serious?"
  • I am going to get some table with like three or four, 14 year old males, who all wait until I am in the weeds to order their Pepsi's. Guaranteed they have them all slurped down and wanting refills before I leave the table.
  • The whole kitchen will be hungover and on pins & needles due to the crowds. I will have to hear about every modified order and mess up.
  • I will have some "Safe Sally" (person who doesn't stray away from their regular menu item), ask about something they have never had. I will explain it to them. They will hesitate. Their significant other will tell them to order their "usual," they won't... they chance it on the new item. I will bring it out, one bite will be taken... and they won't like it.
  • I will witness a bigger baby stroller than I ever imagined possible... they will want to leave their kid in it, the host will seat them at a table where the stroller ends up right in the walkway.
  • Some jackass will decide he is going to stand right by the brass bar at the end of the bar, where we pick up our drink order. We will ask him over 42 times to move, when he finally does, it will be 3 inches.

The Earth beneath my feet is a rumbling. I can see a giant dust cloud on the horizon. A distance "moo" just sounded. I better head to bed.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Co-woker Restaurant Rage

Can you cover my shift?
Restaurant CoworkerThis is absolutely one of the most Rage provoking things on my list of piss-me-offs. Co-workers last minute shift covering pleads. It happens all the time in the restaurant business, and it becomes annoying after the second time it happens to you.

Ok, let's get one thing straight first of all. If the schedule for the week goes up, and you ask me to cover (or trade, or whatever the hell it is that you need) Friday's shift, but you ask me on Monday... this is totally acceptable. But this is never the way it happens is it?

Sure enough, it'll be Thursday at 3:00 pm and a server will have a 4:00pm shift that day, and make the call. What in the hell, on God's green earth, makes you think I want to forfeit my day off to cover your shift in 60 minutes? (Did you notice how I used God and Hell in one sentence? That's some biblical talent right there!) Seriously, that short of notice.

I work with this one guy in particular. He always starts wheeling and dealing shifts as soon as the new schedule is posted, and good for him! More power to him. Here's what always ends up happening though. He'll work it so he has four days off, but in order to do this, he has to work like four or five double shifts throughout the week. Then when we get to those days he's on his double, he starts asking if he can be the first off when we phase. "Yeah, it's like my third double in a row... I'm just really tired."

Even worse?! Usually it's some last minute bullshit trip they want to take with a buddy, or some no-name concert they forgot to request time off for. The reason that pisses me off the most though? The HANGOVER! Look, I get it. I'm in an industry of drug abusers and alcoholics... I am. And they're not the evil type of people that are portrayed in film. They are lovable, they are fun, and they are your friends. I'm telling you though, if you drink that 7th cocktail at 2:15am, knowing you have morning shift tomorrow... I am the wrong guy to be calling you degenerate bastard!

What do you guys think? I know you've been there. Share some stories!