Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Where's Our Waiter?"

Restaurant Rage

There I am.... busiest night of the week. Kind of in the weeds, but working hard to get out. I'm probably seven to eight tables deep at the moment.

Two are cashing out, one needs drinks, and two others need to be greeted. I prioritize my trips. I head back to the server station and run my checks, head to the bar and load a tray with drinks. I walk by my tables, addressing the new tables with a quick "Hi guys! I'll be right back after drop this stuff off."

Things are going smooth and I start to see a clearing in the proverbial weeds. I grab up my two credit cards that I need to run, after dropping off the drinks. I head back to computer and run the cards. I stuff the credit slips in the books, drop the books on the tables, and thank those tables. Time to go address my new tables right?

I greet the first, they don't know what they want to eat, so I (like pulling teeth) extract a drink order from that first table. I jot it down on my pad and head to the second table that needs to be addressed. "Hey folks, how are you doing tonight?"

"Where's our waiter?" is the response I receive. "It seems like we've been here forever, can you get our waiter?" Unimpressed... but yet still very polite, I answer "Oh, that's me. Sorry about the wait, as you can see, we are very busy tonight."

"Well, our waiter said they'd be right back..." they continue. He looks at his wife and then she starts in, "We've been here forever now, this is just weird." It takes everything in me at this point to not correct them and say something along the lines of "Oh no... you've been here for roughly 3 minutes and six seconds... if it would have been forever, you'd look much older than you already do."

They continue for roughly seven or eight more seconds before I loudly interrupt: "Do you guys have any questions on the menu!?" They try to keep nagging me. I continue: "What can I get for you folks?!" The get the clue that my apologizing is done and that I'm not taking any more shit tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Like Old Friends...

It's kind of funny how things work out. When I say that... what I mean is how relationships form. Let me explain.
I pretty much start off with low expectations for everyone (customers) who walks through the restaurant doors. This is probably a very negative flaw of mine, but I'm not going to lie to you guys. I have very little faith in people. Sometimes... just when you think people can't get any dumber (Dumb & Dumber line running through my mind at the moment)... they do. That fact right there reinforces my way of thinking about customers.
I know that's really bad of me to think that way. To actually go into work each day, with the expectation of disappointment. The thing is... theoretically... that if you start at zero, you can't get worse. People can only gain points right? (I know... I know... there are exceptions. Negative numbers exist, and I'd probably be the first advocate of this argument, in this case... but for the theory's sake... let's just leave it where it is.)
Now, what I like about my low confidence in customers, is the fact that they can surprise you. My attitude errors on the side of safety. With low expectations, you are only surprised for the better! Especially in the case of regulars (and I'm not just talking about Family De Freakshow here...), they can go from horrible to great in just one meal.
There are many people now, that after years of seeing them and waiting on them (sometimes just idle chat at the bar), who I can say that I honestly really enjoy. Some of them even come to parties of co-workers, or join the staff for drinks. You run into them out and about, and stop and talk.
I've been out with my girlfriend (for instance), and a server (from a different restaurant) will bring some free drinks over to us. "It's from the gentleman at the bar." We'll turn to look and it's a regular that I know. Like old friends. That type of thing.
In conclusion... I'm not getting all soft on this blog. I just want people to know that there is a very positive and fun side of being in this business. It's just not as fun to write about, or... may be it's not even that... it's the horrible days and stupid customers that make the proverbial highlight reel. They are the ones that stick out in your mind... they necessitate the need for therapeutic blogging.
(Tourist season is quickly approaching... so keep checking back. I have faith that there is a lot of Restaurant Rage stories to come.)