Real Customers of Genius
January 17, 2009

Janet Presents: Real Customers of Genius

Today, we salute you, Mr Verbal Tipper.

(Mr. Verbal Tippppppper)

We all know servers don’t work to make tips. We just want to know we did a great job.

(I just want your approval)

They say money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy a college student booze and books. And your empty compliments can’t buy anything.

(I’M BROKE!)

Oh, you maven of Stepford, you master of Yuppieville. I hope you feel fancy and look rich when you drink White Zinfandel in your polo shirt.

(Let’s just double the tax!)

With any luck, you’ll not only tell me how great I was, but you’ll leave a religious brochure next to that 10% tip.

(But I don’t wanna go to hell!)

So thank you, Mr. Verbal Tipper. Because when a recession hits, you keep my confidence up and my wallet empty.

Here’s to you Mr. Verbal Tippppperrrr


*Inspired, obviously, by Bud Light’s Real Men of Genius*


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Rambling Rant
January 5, 2009

Let’s talk about high expectations, serving at a restaurant at the mall, and cheap bitchy customers.

The mall:

Get off the interstate and head to the mall. There’s traffic. You stop and go, trailing close behind a hunter green Dodge Strattus that winds ever slowly through that right turn. Once you reach a crowded parking lot you realize there’s not a chance in hell you’ll grab a decent spot, so you settle for some shitty patch of pavement between a minivan and a Lexus – between Sears and Rite Aid – a friggen quartermiledash to your restaurant’s front door. You run past the cars with tantalizing anticipation of a busy night. All these people are here to eat! you think. Excitement builds. It creeps through your skin, through your wallet, out your smile. Imagine the guests at the tables, the tips in your pocket – the money!

You blast through the door – can’t get there fast enough – and blink a few times to fully comprehend the visual of ghost town a la carte. Empty booths, vacant tables, bored hostesses, zombie servers…that rush? That tease? For nuttin’.

This must be what it feels like to be blue-balled.

And so would be tonight, along with so many other nights/situations in which my childlike optimism gets the best of me. I.E. hope is foolish – and that the old complaint about serving is so true: The money at this job is so unpredictable and it’s really hard to budget yourself when you’re working for tips. The crowded parking lot could either mean a busy night for you or a sale at Macy’s. The two women in Ralph Lauren could mean rich people who tip or pathetic phonies looking to impress….(somebody. But not me.)

haha you suck

haha you suck

Let’s talk about those women, and let’s not mince words. This pair of C U Next Tuesdays tipped me $5 on $51. The one in a Ralph Lauren shirt, the other in a Ralph Lauren hat. Both get wine, appies, dinner. Seem extremely refined and gracious – way more polite than I am even if I was being fake. They seem to take their sweet time – like the type of customer that likes to “wine n dine” as to SLOWLY enjoy the dining experience. These types generally enjoy running you into the ground with special requests and bizarre customizations – but if you do it in an obliging and professional manner, they tip you quite well. In fact, these are usually the types that enjoy hearing my “I’m a college student…No, I’m single…I grew up in Buffalo…I want to do PR in Boston” schpeal because they either A) feel like I’m a future successful member of “their” league therefore of their caliber and worthy of a tip or B) are really awesome, humble people who worked really hard to get to where they are and remember where they came from. But yea, they tip well if you do your job.

Not these “ladies.” $5 on a $51.79 tab?! Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me? That is less than 10%, and to this I ask #1 What the heck is wrong with you #2 Where’d you get your clothes, Plato’s Closet? Waterloo Outlets? Screw you. #3 Do you even know how sorry I feel for you, that you have to put on that kind of show to make yourself look like some yuppie when in fact you’re just a cheap POS?

Here’s the thing about status: You can wear what you want, and you can act how you act to make yourself seem all hoyty toyty to the people you are trying to impress. But the real rich people are the ones who have the money, but never lost the perspective of where they came from, the memory of a time when ten bucks made a difference, the compassion of the financial situation of others who are actually working hard for a dollar. Character is what you do when no one is watching, and I feel the same way about status. It’s not the popped collars and the diamonds that make you seem rich to me. It’s not those outward symbols of money. It’s using cash-not credit. It’s the people who tip well and say thank you. The people in designer clothes who leave crappy tips are in denial. So I’m here to remind you that you are as fake as the lame-ass polyester wig on your head. You’re rude, trashy, and if I saw you again in public I’d happily hand you back the five bucks you insultingly tipped me because you obviously need that more than I do.

Phew. Breathe.

Finally, I’d remind you that I’m not taking your BS cop-out of a tip personally because it’s you – not me. Five years from now, after the recession, after Miley Cyrus goes to rehab and after one of the Jonas Brothers inevitably comes out, I won’t be a server. But you’ll still be pathetically tipping your server $5, wearing the same stupid Ralph Lauren hat in the same stupid restaurant.

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Gift Cards!
December 21, 2008

Gift cards! I can’t sleep and I thought I would take the opportunity to express my feelings about gift cards. As you can probably guess, I for the most part despise them. I will explain my top three reasons why gift cards can go to hell, then I will oblige you with an upbeat account of my first great gift card experience.

Top three reasons gift cards can go to hell:

#1. People who tip me on the check total left after they use a $25 gift card.

  • I bring you appies, martinis, and cannolis. You run up a tab of $50. Then you proudly hand me your $25 gift card along with your debit to take care of the rest of the bill. Then you tip me $5 and think you left an awesome tip because you tipped $5 on $25. No, you stupid piece of shit. Just because some secretary gave y0u a gift card for Christmas and you don’t have to pay for that food doesn’t mean that I didn’t do my job of ordering and bringing that crap out to you. So regardless of whether or not you are paying for it, I should still be compensated for serving it. So tip according to the entire tab, before your discount.

#2. Expired gift cards.

  • I had this lady try to use what she thought was a $50 gift card for her meal. I rang it through and it came out to only be worth $45. That’s because it was expired for a few months, and it decreased a couple dollars in value for every month that she didn’t use it. She played stupid (“I didn’t know it would decrease in value!” Really? Because it says so right on the back of the card…so…) and inevitably swindled my manager into honoring the full value of the card. It was a lot of extra work to re-do things in the computer, and it was right before close. And I found it hilarious that they tipped me the exact same as they did the first time we finalized their tab, even after I had stayed late and gone through all that trouble to save them five fucking bucks.

#3. The coupon mentality.

  • People expect special treatment because they have gift cards. I feel like people complain more about their food when they have gift cards because they assume that because it is free for them, it must be free for the restaurant too, so therefore it’s totally cool to return food they deem “not what I was expecting” or “just not to my liking.” So then they get those items comp’d, in addition to whatever gift card discount there is. The restaurant loses money, and I waste my time.

And now, for my great experience. I had a group of ladies come in with gift cards and free birthday dessert passes. Basically, they paid with cash the part of the tab that was left over after the discounts. They handed me the check book, said they didn’t need change, and went on their merry way. They left enough money to cover the tab had there not been a discount – meaning, I got to keep the difference as tip. I think it was like $25, which is awesome.

I don’t even expect people to be extra nice like that – I just expect them to be fair. But when people take the extra steps, it really puts a smile on my face. Maybe that’s the lesson to be learned: That not everyone appreciates the extra effort, the out-of-your-way actions. But when they do – they really do.

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Restaurants and Recessions: A Bitchy Waitress Perspective
December 17, 2008

The post is meant to communicate to the masses the reality of the recession and the restaurant. The reality is? It sucks. Restaurants and recessions go together like water and oil. Like babies and alcohol. Like Bush and boots. This post is not based on any of that credible news information garbage or on true statistics at all. This is my experience.

Despite the expected rush of the holiday season, my restaurant is somewhat of a ghost town most nights. Rows of empty booths line the perimeter of the dining room, with a few random tables sat. The white shirts, armed with our table crumbers and wine keys, stand in a row with our thumbs up our asses, with nothing better to do than to flirt and trade drunk stories from the weekend prior.

And then it happens: Your section is sat.

A deuce. They order waters, share a pizza, then one cup of coffee at the end. They stick around for extra refills for an hour and a half, expecting you not to notice that they are sharing the same damn cup of coffee. They leave you slightly less than 15%, as do the three other tables you have that night. Yet still, you tip out 15 bucks for the two lazy ass teenage bussers (and the one kid that actually does his job) and the creepy table runner – one of those kids you just can’t put your finger on. You walk out with $20, only to notice that your car is on empty on the ride home. $20 gets you 3/4 of a tank and a pack of gum, and you walk into your apartment having just about broken even.

A few weeks ago, our company president made a visit to our location. Nice guy. Great guy. I respect a company president that tries to learn the name of every server. My complaint: a condescending two hour speech about how to serve better and earn more money. I swear to God. Don’t tell me, don’t even insinuate, that I am not doing everything I can to make the best of my situation and earn 20% on every table that walks through those doors. The fact is, times are tough. And if you have to make little cut-backs in your budget, the first thing you will do is cut down on how much you tip some random waitress. It doesn’t matter if I do a lap dance or a magic trick: Some tables are just poor and pissed off and they are taking it out on me. There is nothing I can do to earn more, and I find it insulting for someone to suggest there is.

Restaurants are suffering. Roadhouse Grill got the proverbial 86, and rumor is we are just about sold out of Ruby Tuesdays. I know of a girl who works at a Ruby Tuesdays in Ohio. She was at the top of the sales and tip percentage scores for her store. Then she had to take night classes last semester, so she had to switch from dinner shifts to lunch shifts. It’s lunch: So it’s no wonder that her tip percentages and sales dropped. Formerly at the top of the roster, she plummeted to the bottom 25% – and they threatened to fire her. One of your best waitresses. And you’re going to fire her just to make payroll? That’s cut-throat. It’s a sign of the times.

Yet not surprisingly, Olive Garden prevails. The bitch, the Wal-Mart of corporate restaurants, is still packed with customers looking for tasty Americanized Italian cuisine with unlimited refills for $10.

olivegarden

walmart-evil-2

http://letustalk.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/walmart-evil-2.jpg

My restaurant is a limited liability company, so believe it or not, I’m not in as bad of a situation as I could be. I may be making $15 some nights, but no one is gonna fire me to cut down on payroll.

Something interesting about the business at my restaurant has been the usage of credit card sales vs. cash. My manager pointed out to me that our cash deposits are way up for our week-day sales, but we still have the weekend rush paying with credit cards. Meaning, it seems like if people can’t use cash, they aren’t going out to dinner on a Monday or Tuesday. They are staying home and eating leftovers instead. But they are still going out on the weekends, using credit cards.

I optimistically view this as a positive trend. Sure, it really sucks for me right now. But perhaps people are starting to get honest about what they can afford. They are spending within their means.

It comes down to integrity. I’m not of the age group that deals with the sub-prime mortgage crises, but I am of the credit card variety. I encourage people to get honest and stop swiping. Charging things to make it look like you can afford that meal is a lie. Skimping on a tip to afford that meal is a lie. I personally believe that if you can’t afford a meal with a 20% tip (unless the server does a shitty job) means that you can’t afford to eat at the restaurant that night. I think it would feel so much better to pay cash for a meal and leave a decent tip, knowing that you worked hard and earned that restaurant experience…and that you can afford to recognize the hard work of the server who provided that experience.

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Uncontrollable
November 3, 2008

You just can’t win.

This week, I had several instances when people flipped out on me for  things that weren’t my fault and it’s not cool.

For example, some woman ordered a beet salad at my table, and she was pretty pissed off when she got her dish and realized it was made with spinach, not arugula like it said in the menu.  She asked the busser to ask me for a side of arugula, which I couldn’t deliver on because it turns out we had run out of arugula – hence why the salad was made out of spinach.  And then to make matters worse, I guess there were only two chunks of avocado and she inquired – in a very smart ass way – if we had also run out of avocado.

At the same time, I had this lady at the next table over wanted:

-A big plate of penne pasta with garlicky alfredo sauce

-A side of marinara sauce “because I like to mix it together and make my own delicious blush sauce”

-A side of a half-order of eggplant parm with marinara and cheese

-The opportunity to comment that “I’ve been here three times and so far no one has gotten my order right yet”

WTF?!  What makes you think fourth time will be the charm?  Go to Olive Garden or stay home geez.

So it took me like seven trips back and forth to her table to completely understand what she was and was not asking for, making sure I was correctly communicating this order back to the chef.

Which leads me to one of my points – and I promise I do have at least one.  So much of this is about communication.  Me, properly interpreting the petty requests of irritating customers to chefs who, lucky for them aren’t paid through tips and have the luxury of not giving much of a shit what the customer thinks.  The chefs, communicating to me that, although I am being a complete pain in the ass and making their jobs very difficult, they understand my request and will reluctantly do it.  The managers, doing everything short of a lap dance to communicate to the customers how right they are, how wrong we are, and how this shitty service/hair in the food/insert favorite problem here never usually happens at this restaurant.

Most of my income completely relies on how effectively we all communicate with eachother because that is how the right food and the right experience gets to the table – and that is what the tip is based off of.  If the chef had just communicated to me that we were out of arugula, I could have communicated that to my customer.  Because I worked hard to completely understand the details of the other customer’s order, I was able to clearly communicate that to my chef, and the right order went out.  Most of my job, really, is about controlling this communication between the eaters and the food makers.

But unfortunately, this part of the restaurant experience that I actually control is only about 10% of what happens.  This idea of me only being able to control 10% of what happens is advice given to me by another server – and she has no idea how validating her words were.

And if I can only control 10% – the how on earth do I go about earning 20%?

The grinch who stole Thursday
October 31, 2008

That title refers to the stupid bitch at table 32 who had to question every little thing I did and tell me that we didn’t make our salad dressing right because we use cream and “I make salad dressing all the time and that’s not how I make it.”

Really?  Well then.  We have an opening for an Executive Chef.  Wanna apply?  Or are you too damn busy giving favors for jewelry in your Pittsford-ass cookie cutter sub-division to make something of your life?

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

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