9.11.2006

Seriously, The Bathroom?

I had, quite possibly, the worst table that my restaurant has served on Saturday. It is really the first time that I have questioned the sanity of people that I have served.

My restaurant hosts a universities local alumni chapter during football season to watch their team. It is quite a spectacle to watch. We have about 100-50 people all dressed in the same colors, and they shout, and sing, and chant as if they were really at the football game. As you can imagine they create quite a mess.

So the game is over and the alumni are filing out. Everyone on the staff is working to reclaim the restaurant as quickly as possible. It is during this chaos of pom-pom streamers, empty can of Natural Light, and cleaning spray that 6 people walk into the restaurant and ask for a table for 8. I tell them that we just finished a football game, and it will take a few minutes for me to clear off and set a table.

I then go inform my manager that 8 people will be here for dinner. Now, I am suppose to leave after the football game. She asks me to get the table started and then she will take it over. I clear off and set the table and seat the party. Then, I ask for their drink orders. Two of the men ask what bourbons we have. We carry a lot of bourbons in our restaurants, most of which I rarely serve, so I ask them for a minute and go check to see what is behind the bar. I return, list of bourbons in hand, and ask again for their drink orders. One of the guys is disappointed that we don't carry Wild Turkey 101, apparently regular old 80 proof Wild Turkey doesn't pack quite the same punch. The other bourbon drinker convinces Mr. Wild Turkey to order a different high end bourbon, which they both get with Coke. I emphasize this because good bourbon really isn't meant to be drunk with Coke, and while I don't care how people get drunk, the addition of Coke surprises me a little. I just didn't expect people who get so demanding on their bourbon of choice to then mix it with Coke.

After cajoling drink orders out of the rest of the table, I put their orders in, and check to see how the rest of the cleaning process is going. I pick up their orders and return to their table. They then order their dinners, two people get the surf and turf and Mr. Wild Turkey gets the prime rib.

After I put in their dinner orders, I see that more people are at the front waiting to be seated. Usually, our dinner shift after a football game is pretty light. Particularly when the game goes until 7:30 or so, because the restaurant is filled during the prime dining time and people go elsewhere. This is why my manager felt that she could handle the dinner shift and send me home after the football game. The problem is that people are streaming in to watch the Texas game, creating another rush too big for my manager to handle by herself. I tell her that I will stay and start picking up new tables.

I go back to the kitchen and they tell me that we are out of prime rib. So I go back to my table and tell them that we are out of prime rib and ask if they would like anything else, note prime rib is also part of the surf and turf. The surf and turf people are upset but quickly agree to substitute the New York Strip. Mr. Wild Turkey is very upset and asks if we have rib eye. I say that the New York Strip is the only cut of steak that we have. He remains upset, but agrees to the New York Strip. I go tell the kitchen about the substitutions and tend to my other tables.

After a while I return to the table to check on their drinks. The bourbon drinkers would like another round. While I am there, Mr. Wild Turkey is still upset about the lack of prime rib and begins to tell me that New York Strip is no substitution for prime rib. Mind you, he isn't being charged for the prime rib, but I apologize and go get their drinks.

I return and tell them that we are now out of the bourbon they selected and ask if they would a different bourbon. This sends Mr. Wild Turkey into a tizzy. And after apologizing again, I get them their drinks with the new bourbon.

Now at this point I can understand their frustration. They have asked for a few things that we have run out of. This happens in restaurants, and they aren't being charged for anything they are not getting, but I can see why they are upset.

Eventually their food comes up and I serve them and refresh their drinks. When I return five minutes later to ask how the food is, they say fine but are still clearly upset. The restaurant is pretty busy now, and we are short staffed, so I don't have a lot of time to worry about them.

As I am tending to my other tables, one of the guys signals that he would like another bourbon. I get his drink and tell them that this is the last of this bottle of bourbon. Now, in defense of my restaurant. They were drinking high end bourbons that we don't sell a lot of, so my manager doesn't keep extra bottles of these around. This usually isn't a problem because we have other high end bourbons to select from. Of course, the table is appalled. As a waiter, you develop of sense of when you have lost a table and any chance I had for a good tip with this table is gone. I assumed this was the point at which I lost the table. I don't particularly blame them, sometimes things just happen and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the dealer is showing 6 but has a 5 hidden underneath. You are just screwed.

They finish dinner, and I clear the plates and ask if they would like anything else. To my surprise they order more drinks and proceed to stay in the restaurant. They stay for a while and continue drinking, but a cold war has set in. They start talking down to me and clearly don't like me, and I am doing my best to hide that I don't like them.

At one point, Mr. Wild Turkey pulls me aside to tell me how disappointed he is. According to him, they dine out a lot in the neighborhood and they spend a lot of money, and I should have done more to make them happy, like give them discounts or something for free. This is when things start to make sense. The problem is that I didn't worship their credit cards enough. They buy expensive things and deserve preferential treatment as a result. Again, they have not been charged for anything that they didn't receive, but because they won the lottery by picking items the restaurant was out of, they deserve something for free. I officially hate the people. After Mr. Wild Turkey is done lecturing me I say apologize and walk away. If he expected something for free after his speech then he should have had a different waiter.

And yet they continue to stay.

After they have been in the restaurant for about 3 hours, and I have been working for about 9, they ask for their checks, separate checks. I give them their checks, and two of the people have decided that I didn't deserve any tip. Mr. Wild Turkey leaves me nothing on $48. Another guy leaves me nothing on $100, but manages to write "This is the worst restaurant ever."

And yet they continue to stay, watching me. We had balloons up for the football game, and one of the guys asks me if he can have some. I say fine, and he proceeds to grab two balloons, puts a hole in one them so that he can sound like a munchkin. The guy has to be at least 35. He tires of this, and just pops the second balloon. And still they remain.

After they have been paid for about 20 minutes, and I have picked up the checks and thus know that I haven't been tipped, Mr. Wild Turkey then asks me for another drink! Really, the guy after complaining about the restaurant, lecturing me, and giving me no tip, asks for another drink. I was flabbergasted. I answered that the restaurant was closing because the Texas game was over, and I walked away.

I then leave the restaurant and sit on the stair in the back. I am so angry that I am not sure that I can contain myself, and I just want for them to leave. All of my other tables are gone, so I sit out back for about 10 minutes. I walk back into the restaurant and they are still there. I couldn't believe it.

Eventually my manager goes over, when they are one of the last two tables in the restaurant, and tells them that we have closed. They finally get up and go. All in all, they probably stayed about 45 minutes to and hour after they had paid.

After I have finished cleaning and resetting the restaurant, I clock out and sit at the bar to enjoy a post-long ass-shift drink. While I am sitting, my manager says "Charles you have to see this." So I get up and walk into the men's bathroom to find that the soap dispenser has been ripped off of the wall, the cover of the smoke alarm has been removed, and an air-freshener has been torn off of the wall and destroyed. All petty vandalism, but the real imagination was when they took a vinyl poster off of the wall and stuffed it into the top of the toilette so that the water would continually run. That took creativity.

We are sure that it was my table that was responsible for the destruction. My manager and the bartender didn't have any problems, or weirdness, with any of their customers, and Mr. Wild Turkey's friends were my only problem. The vandalism has to have occurred late or else someone would have told us, and they were the second to last table to leave. I had been in there about 1:30 before the discovery and nothing was wrong.

It was when I discovered the vandalism that their actions after they paid made sense. They were waiting to see what I would do. Mr. Wild Turkey asked for another drink to see how I would respond. They waited to see if I would see the bathroom. I think they were trying to start a fight, like an actual fight!

When I discovered that vandalism, I was probably the maddest I have been in a while. My manager saw how mad I was and reassured me that I didn't do anything wrong. I was so mad that I couldn't talk. I was so mad that I couldn't get to sleep that night, and I didn't get home until 2 after working for about 10 hours. I still am pretty mad. My blood is boiling while I write this two days later.

As a waiter you take a fair amount of abuse from time to time. Not a lot, and I can mostly deal with it. But the owner of my restaurant works harder than any person should, and I won't stand for people disrespecting her. That is what put me over the edge.

So I guess they won. They got to me. Congratulations.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I have been thinking about this for two days. I just kinda needed to write this so I can be done with the whole thing. That is why I didn't edit or proof this post in any way.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:35 PM

    i love you charles

    ReplyDelete
  2. catherine12:35 PM

    damn. that is insane. i'm really sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One day, someone will smear crap in their food, and they'll contract a debilitating case of Hep A. Or at least, that is what we hope for. I'm sorry it had to happen to you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Any chance you can use the names on their platinum or titanium cards to report the vandalism to the police?

    Or better yet, google them and have a little fun with them, pretending to be a private investigator following up on the vandalism?

    ReplyDelete