Archive for September, 2008

Verbal Tippers: The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions
September 28, 2008

So I could’ve added “Verbal Tippers” to one of my dislikes on that previous post… But I so strongly dislike them that I decided to dedicate an entire post to them. Congrats.

Yesterday was a crazy busy night, very exciting stuff. I had this one table of five, a family, and the mother was super friendly and really funny actually. They were all a little bit drunk so I had extra fun with them. Their bill came to around $150 and I left the check with the dad to pay. As I said goodbye they broke out in a chorus of Thank you Janets and seemed sincerely happy with their service. I know they were because they told me so like 15 times. As they get up to leave the mom grabs me as I’m talking to another table and says, “Thank you again, hunny” and kisses me on the cheek. I don’t come from a kissy family…so that was weird for me. I look at the tip: They left me 20. On $150. You do the math. WTF?!

The bottom line is that verbal tipping – or as in this case, combined with a little non-verbal tipping – sucks. Don’t tell me I did a good job. You don’t even have to be particularly friendly. I mean, don’t be a jerk to me but you don’t have to go out of your way to talk to me and get to know me – talk to whoever you came to the restaurant with!! I sort of appreciate it, but at the end of the day, nice words don’t buy gas. 20% does.

And to elaborate, I would like to send a message to all the pushy religious people out there who think it’s cool to leave churchy promotional stuff at my tables in leau of a tip. “God blessing” me as I say goodbye and leaving 10% with a Jesus brochure does nothing for me. Last time I checked, the gas station doesn’t take Jesus brochures. I may not be an expert (and who is??) but I don’t think true Christianity is even remotely about pushing guilt on people. I already believe in God and love Jesus. You know what else I love? Money.

Bought on a cross - not with your stupid brochure.

Bought on a cross - not with your stupid brochure.

To quote a like-minded blogger:

“What teacher commends you for excellent work then hands you a C? It’s all about setting the expectation level; at least bad tippers who avoid eye contact when they leave have the decency not to get our hopes up. As I see it, verbal tippers are cowards. They hide behind their words. They’re fully aware of their meager pittance and try to cover it up. That, or they’re just plain retarded and think we work to feel pleasant about? ourselves. Sorry to break it to you, but we work to …earn money? What a concept!”

http://mmoomh.blogspot.com/2008/01/10-types-of-restaurant-guests-that.html

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The color of your skin is a**hole.
September 27, 2008

The best serving advice I ever got
September 22, 2008

http://www.chainleader.com/coffee-trends/articleXML/LN841608947.html

That’s a link to an article about how the recession means lower tips and fewer customers. Ditto.

So about that advice. I was talking to my manager Saturday afternoon and he started telling me about how tables with kids like to be really engaged. He said to be really chatty and learn the kids names and hang out with them – to even hover a little bit in case you need to hand them the check right away so they can leave if the kid gets a temper tantrum.

Alright. Let’s entertain the little demonseeds.

Demonseed.

Demonseed.

I gave this little baby a hug and told her parents how beautiful she was and what a good kid and blah blah blah. But I actually meant it. She was a really attractive baby, and compared to the screamers at the table next to her, she was such a happy little toddler. I didn’t even notice or mind that she spilled her little goldfish on the floor. She was just too damn cute! And then this other table had two little kids…around five or six. I learned their names (Aiden and Emily) and catered to them all night. I asked the little boy about his drawing (an alleged “computer” although his sketch more closely resembled Toucan Sam) and asked the little girl who braided her hair so pretty.

The table with the one kid left me 20% and the table with the two kids left me 25%. Who knew? I mean, usually I spend so much of my energy whining and getting annoyed by how much of a mess the kids are making to realize how sweet they are. I think I have a new outlook.

Likes and Dislikes
September 20, 2008

I had a horrible night last night. I walked out with like $28 on a Friday night. The idiot hostess sat a guy in my section 25 minutes before I got to work, so he was obviously pissed by the time I got to his table. That’s just setting me up for failure, folks.

So to boost my morale, get some stuff off my chest, and prepare myself for work tonight, I will share with you my favorite and least favorite things about my job.

NO ME GUSTA!!!!!!!!

1. Cheap tippers! YOU IDIOTS! 15% is passe. Inflation, people! Inflation! (Sub-complaint: Canadians and Europeans who don’t understand that you TIP IN AMERICA because servers make normal hourly wages where they live.  This is AMERICA.  Fact: I make $4.60 an hour. My friend worked at Chili’s in Dallas, TX and she made $2.18 an hour. Tips are where the money comes from.)

2. Serving women, especially, ladies who lunch. They are demanding, condescending, nasty, and cheap cheap cheap. They expect the most and tip the least. They act like they are better than me. There is nothing like getting bossed around by someone who has never had to work for anything in her life. It twinges.

3. Messy children. Keep your kids in their seats with the food on the table. Are you gonna sweep that mac n’ cheese up?  No.  I am.  I once had this woman let her demonseed run all over my restaurant like it was a private playground. It is RUDE. From what my mom tells me, I am a former demonseed myself and you know what? They got a sitter. I couldn’t behave myself so I wasn’t allowed out until I could handle it.

Which brings me to my next point: Messy adults. #%&@*!!!!!!  Didn’t your mother teach you how to eat?  I can’t tell you how many thirty-something customers I’ve had that leave the table looking like someone dumped a bucket of pasta and breadcrumbs on the floor. Yucky.

4. Co-workers who don’t do sidework.

5. Co-workers who go on smoke breaks and expect you to watch their tables.

6. When people call me “miss.” GRRRR!!!!! My name is JANET.

7. When the kitchen screws up my food. Very very very rare. But when it happens, man, I’ll tell you that’s annoying.

8. Creepy co-workers.

9. People who come into the restaurant and modify every single thing that they order. Respect the menu, jerk.

10. Typical customers. Like the ladies who lunch: there will always be a caesar salad and a white zinfandel. And water, WITH LEMON PLEASE!! Phhff.

11. When I spill things on my white shirt and have to wear it the rest of the shift.

12. Sharing the employee bathroom with everyone else.

13. When I spill and/or break things.

14. Ditzy hostesses who can’t do their job. Follow the chart! My God!

15. Horrible bartenders that know less about alcohol than me or make you wait ten minutes for a freaking glass of wine.

16. Messing up on a wine presentation. It’s embarrassing.

17. CAMPERS! People who have already eaten, are on their third cup of coffee, and already cashed out.  But they sit at the table, chatting.  For seriously up to four or five hours.  It is so rude.  This is not your living room, it is a public space and you are taking up my section.  GO HOME. (Reference “Ladies who Lunch” comment.)

18.  Cheap, white trash customers who come into the restaurant and try to get their meals comp’d by making the most ridiculous allegations, including but not limited to: “The ravioli was too cheesy,” “The water was too cold,” “My well-done filet mignon took 20 minutes and that’s too long.” If you order something at a restaurant and they legitimately screw it up, tell the server and then tell the manager.  (Like if your salmon is hot pink on the inside, or if your soup is colder than your Diet Coke.) But if you just don’t like something then it’s not the kitchen’s fault – you just don’t like it.  I don’t like steak or chicken marsala.  So you know what?  I don’t order steak and I don’t order chicken marsala.

Me Gusta:

1. Good tippers! 20% or more.

2. Hanging out with fun co-workers and having them become some of my best friends.

3. When it’s really really busy and you’re running around doing a million different things – it’s a total rush.

4. Co-workers who help you out when you need it. I love teamwork.

5. Employee discounts on delicious food.

6. Meeting cool and interesting people that come into my restaurant.

7. The type of customer that tries to get to know you and seems to genuinely see you as a person, not their servent.

8. Serving boys, guys, and men. They tip better, demand less, are generally more easy-going than women.

9. All things considered, it actually is decent money. I make around $14 an hour on even a very modest (like $50 in tips) night. Other than engineering co-ops, what other job can a college student do to make that kind of money?

10. Getting dressed up in the uniform – I think it’s kinda cute in an Annie Hall/Diane Keaton way.

11. Flirting with cute chefs. A hot guy that can cook? Sign me up ; )

12. Actually…flirting with everyone I work with.

13. Having other bartenders and servers as customers. They are by far the best tippers because they know how it is.

14. People who say “please” and “thank you.” It goes a long way.

15. People who teach their children to say “please” and “thank you.” Thank you for leading a new generation of polite people. Other parents, please follow suit.

16. Good hostesses: the ones who ask you if you are ready to be sat, don’t skip you in the rotation, and are generally pleasant to be around.

17. Managers who aren’t too good to run your food or get behind the bar and make you a drink.

18. Good bartenders that are able to handle service bar as well as their own customers. Like my girl Cheryl. ❤

19. The fact that serving has helped me grow. I’m a more confident and assertive person – and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Except for the lottery, haha. After college, I will miss this.

Hi kids!
September 16, 2008

Let’s get this blog started! So I chose to write about my job as a waitress because although it may not be the most important thing I do in my life, my experiences as a server are some of the funniest and most character-building.

I began serving when I was sixteen. I worked for a banquet hall owned by a Polish family and did weddings on the weekends. I earned $30 for each three hour shift. I thought I was awesome. I always got yelled at because I talked too much and the angry owner’s wife was a freaking 75-year-old drill sargent. She could intimidate the Taliban.

From there I went on to a country club for two summers. I did mostly weddings, but also lots of showers and preppy golf parties. I’ve had an offensive amount of wedding cake in my life. My favorite memory of this job is from my first summer during the July 4th party when I got to sit on my roof with my first boyfriend and watch the fireworks. It was kind of magical.

My friends from the country club.  God, I miss this.

My friends from the country club. God, I miss this.

When I came to Rochester I worked at a pub for a month before I quit (before they could fire me first.) It was my first a la carte job, and the most difficult. I knew nothing about alcohol. I had no clue what a black and tan or a Manhattan was or hat martinis couldn’t be on the rocks and up. It was pretty tough. I was also young so I had a hard time standing up for myself when everyone else went on smoking breaks and left me to take care of the whole restaurant. The management was TERRIBLE. After two days of training (which consisted of me following around a reluctant server and getting my questions brushed off) I was thrown to the sharks of the Saturday night rush. Completely un-corporate (a very good thing) yet completely disorganized (a downside of some privately owned establishments).

From there, I went to work at a diner. I got fired after two days. I don’t know why. The place recently closed. Serves them right, huh? Pun intended.

I gave up on serving for a while and worked in a coffee bar. Although the job was fun, it wasn’t much money – at least not what I was used to. After ten months I was ready to head back to the restaurant, and got a job at an Italian place.

I was an absolute disaster. I couldn’t keep up, couldn’t answer people’s questions, spilled drinks, dropped glasses, and got upset every single time someone disrespected me. I would’ve been fired if it weren’t for an amazing manager who looked out for me, covered up my mistakes, and always sided on my behalf. Every day you meet people that you will soon forget. But some days, you meet people who make a lasting impression. People who show you sincere kindness and concern. When he quit in June, I wanted to give him a “congrats on leaving the restaurant and good luck” gift. But I soon realized that nothing could compare to the kindness he showed me. I wrote him a thank you note and cried.

All summer I wanted to leave this restaurant. Business there steadily declined. There were several lunch shifts where I got no tables at all – leaving after two hours having only made the $4.60 hourly wage. There were many weekend dinner shifts when I was cut at 6:30 and walked out with maybe $20 if I were lucky. Enough was enough – so I’ve moved on.

Ironically and arguably selfishly, I now work for the Italian restaurant across the street – their number one competitor in the region. I work with one of my best friends, and I’m just about done with all of the training. (A process, which may I add, has taken almost three weeks. Way more corporate than they claim to be, I think the training is a little excessive for someone coming in with previous training experience. But at the same time, I am completely confident now that I started slow. Upside: confidence. Downside: poverty; you don’t make tips during training.)

I’m happy to report that this is my easiest job yet. I’m actually a good server now. It really took me a long time to get the hang of this, to be comfortable at tables, to stay calm when it gets busy.  I have competitive cover averages, decent tips, and for the most part, happy customers. Most importantly, if someone is mean to me, I don’t let it ruin my night. The jerks will be out of my restaurant and out of my life in 40 minutes, afterall, so what do I care?

You can treat me like crap, like you’re better than me, like I owe you something, like I’m your servent. It doesn’t matter: I’m still me and I still know I’m great.

Which leads me to the underlying message and theme behind this blog. I will share a lot of bad customer stories and probably do a lot of whining. But my goal is to show you that I’m not just a waitress like the customers who sit at my tables see me as.

Behind every waitress (and bartender, and barista, and cashier) is a person who has experienced things that changed them for good. We are all people, and if you take the time to get to know people you will find how you can relate to everyone you meet, and you will really appreciate them. We should all treat each other with kindness, respect, and gratuity.