Friday, November 12, 2010

say whaaat?

note: i mainly work with a bunch of college kids, many of whom have never worked in a restaurant before. Most of them are also utterly devoid of common sense. Case in point--we keep cocktail sauce, sour cream, and tartar sauce by the window where we pick up our orders. They are kept in a container of ice to keep them cold. At the end of the night they're changed into clean pans, the melted ice is dumped, and they're put in the refrigerator. Or that's how it's supposed to be done--99.9% of the kids re-ice the sauces and THEN put them in the refrigerator the first time(and sometimes the 2nd and 3rd time) they have it as side work. When i point out that you don't have to ice something that's going into a cold refrigerator they look at me like i'm retarded every. single. time.

the other night one of server A's tables decided that they wanted to pay for one of my tables. My table was a young couple and a baby throwing alphabits everywhere, and their tab was about $30.00. A came over to me while i was ringing their food up to tell me that her table wanted mine's ticket. Okay, no problem...yeah right. Like most restaurants we do server banking, no cash register, and A couldn't figure out how we'd accomplish this feat. Then again, A also can't figure out how much change to give a customer back without using a calculator. I've actually seen her enter $30.00 minus $25.75 into the big adding machine sitting by the credit card machine. Yeah.

i told A that i've had other tables pick up other servers' tickets in the past, and it's no big deal. I just do the following: if they're using a credit card i tell them since there are 2 separate tickets with 2 separate servers i'll have to run their card twice. That way everyone's finances and tips stay separate and it avoids confusion (and if you don't trust your co-worker it keeps them from having the opportunity of claiming to be short changed). I've never had any problems with it and i've never had anyone not get tipped. A: blank look, followed by "if they're using a card can't i just add up the 2 tickets, charge them the total amount, and give you cash?" Me: "I suppose you could, but why go to all that trouble? This way our tips stay separate too." A: blank look.

as it turns out there were 3 people at A's table, one of them paid for their tab and another paid for my table. Even easier, right? Hell no--A came over to me with the 2 credit cards, totally lost. I handheld her through running the card for her ticket, then i ran the other card for my table's ticket. You'd think this would be the end of it--and you would be wrong. A never brought me back my ticket or credit slip and i had to go into her section to find it laying on her table. The person had tipped me 20%, and i told my table that they were good to go, another table had paid for them and tipped me, everything was taken care of. My table got all weirded out and acted like a stalker might be waiting for them out in the parking lot. They collected their alphabits spewing baby and made a run for it.

later A came up to me and told me that since i hadn't given her the tip i should at least sweep under one of her tables to make it up to her. Uh...what? Trying to figure out what she was talking about i said "oh, did they not tip you on your ticket?" "Yeah, they tipped me." Me: long pause. "And why would i give you the tip they left ME on MY ticket?" "Because it was my table, you didn't wait on them." "Yeahhh...but they tipped you for your service on your tab, and then paid for my table and tipped me for that. Why would you get my tip on top of what your table chose to leave for you?" "You should of at least given me half."

at which point my head exploded. (actually the above conversation went around in circles for a good 10 plus minutes. If i typed all that out your head would explode too).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

sorry i'm walking funny, but...

...apparently i have my head stuck up my ass.

i made the mistake of showing up early one sunny Sunday in August, and of course i was thrown several tables as soon as i walked in the door. One of the tables was out on the far reaches of the patio and the manager assured me that they had only just been sat. Now our patio runs the full length of the restaurant and has 7 tables, and there's only 1 door to access them, so to get to that 7th table you have to walk alllll the way down there, past all 6 of the other tables. Really, i want to emphasize what a looong walk this is. So i go out the door and start my hike to the last table and the people at it sit and stare at me all crazy the entire time i'm heading their way. It's a young-ish couple and a fat kid. I get there and do a short intro they have no interest in, and the man at the table tells me he wants the steak and eggs. The menu states that it comes with "up to 5 eggs". After saying "i want the steak and eggs" he sat there in dead silence so i had to prompt him with "how would you like your steak cooked?" and "do you want all 5 eggs with that?" "I only want 2 eggs, it'll be cheaper that way, right?" "No, i'm sorry, it's the same price whether you get all 5 eggs or not." "Well that's insane! 5 eggs is stupid! Who the hell can eat 5 eggs? It outta be cheaper!"

(ever get that sinking feeling?)

i pried the order out of the female half and Fat Kid, and went back inside to put the order in. Guy had wanted tabasco with his meal (it's not on the table) so i grabbed that along with anything else i could imagine them wanting and i treked back out with it. Again they STARED at me the entire time i walked to their table, even stopping talking to just stare, and i had to try to find things to look at on my way over so i wouldn't be staring back at them. RFA (really fucking awkward).

it was really busy inside the restaurant but i could keep an eye on my distant patio table through the windows. I watched Fat Kid hoover down his drink from afar so i trucked out with a refill. Yes, they STARED at me the entire time i walked over. Eventually i saw another server run their food out so i was obligated to go check on them. As soon as i walked out that door they stopped eating--and STARED. At this point i was running out of things to pretend to look at as i walked over, i had no other tables to interact with on the patio, just them. Me: "Everybody doin' all right here?" Guy: grunt. Me: "Okay" (in my fake cheery voice). Once i got back in i was heading for my normal tables when i happened to glance out the window, i saw Guy chug down his full glass of ice tea, get up, walk all the way over to the patio cart (that was by the door) and fill his glass from one of the covered pitchers sitting there. Whatever dude.

at this point the hostess showed up and i asked her to check on them for me since i was busy. She did, and reported back with "They're weird--i don't wat to go back." Great.

watching through the window i waited until it looked like the meal was winding down. Sighing to myself i headed out the patio door. Again they all stopped what they were doing to stare at me THE ENTIRE WAY. I arrived at the table, bussed some plates, and offered dessert. "We're thinking about it" Guy responded. "Okay, well i'll give you a moment to think it over, the pie list is right here on the table, i'll be right back!" Sadly i headed back in without dropping off the ticket because they were considering dessert.

next thing i knew the manager was by my side, telling me that my patio table had come inside and wanted to pay--NOW. This was barely a minute or two after i left them, allegedly thinking about dessert. I found Guy huffily standing by the door and he wordlessly thrust his credit card at me. I ran it and brought it back to him and he said, and i quote: "I know it's busy in here and all, but everytime we sit on the patio we NEVER get the attention we deserve. It's just not right." To which i replied "And i'm sorry you feel that way", which is my polite version of "what the fuck ever". Later that night the manager told me that when he came inside wanting to pay he told her what a horrible server i am and that i had my head stuck up my ass. I have yet to figure out what i did wrong (other than come to work early), and the kicker is that he still tipped 15%. Da fuck??

in more positive news: last night we were insanely busy, and as i walked past the cookline i heard one cook yell to another "I need 4 metric buttloads of..." I didn't hear what this was in reference to but i know gold when i hear it, and i scribbled it down on the notecard i keep in my server book with off menu prices on it. I will henceforth be using this term regularly, as in "Jesus Christ! That bitch at table 32 is using 4 metric buttloads of ranch on her salad!"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

andrew jackson

the first time i ever smoked weed was, of course, while i was at work. Way back when i was 19 i worked 3rd shift at the illustrious Waffle House, located across the street from the biggest redneck bar in town. My co-workers were all major drug addicts who'd disappear en masse around 3:30 every night, leaving me to "watch the front". After i finally got mad enough to cuss a drunk customer out (the 3rd shift version of earning your wings) and threw their BLT out into the parking lot the other employees decided i was cool/not a narc and i was expected to join in. Which leads to this co-workers would open the standing cooler and blow the smoke up into the ventilation system, right over the flats of shell eggs. I've always wondered if marijuana smoke affects eggs in any way--Waffle House regulars are a remarkably loyal bunch. Anyhoo...

that first night i smoked weed at Waffle House i got beyond stoned. I don't know if all drugs hit you the hardest the first time you do them but damn. There's no way anyone could miss how high i was. Of course i had a table at the time, and was also running the register. My customers were two doddering old people, out way past the normal old people hour. While they were sitting there gumming their eggs and wheat toast me, the cook, and the other waitress were lighting up in the back. We all came stumbling out bleary eyed and giggly right before the old man at the table creakily stood up and started his slow shuffle to the register. I met him up there and his quavery arm reached out and handed me a 20...i looked at the bill in my hand...Andrew Jackson stared solemnly back at me...but oh god someone had colored his hair in with a flaming pink marker. And i totally lost it--like i laughed so hard i fell on the floor, tears streaming down my face. Memories...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

freddy's nightmares

one night when i was working at the 24 hour chain a drunk white guy wearing a Freddy Krueger looking striped sweater came stumbling in. When i took his order he told me he wanted no lettuce. He elaborated on how much he hated lettuce and if there was any on his plate he'd send his food back and demand it be remade. Seeing as he'd ordered pancakes, eggs, and hashbrowns i felt pretty confident when i told him "absolutely!" Sure 'nuff his breakfast came out lettuce free and all was right in the world. Freddy shoveled it down all sloppy drunk style, dropping bits everywhere, and then he weaved his way up to the register to pay. (Dark clouds begin to gather on the horizon). I was working with a new girl that night and she went to cash him out. He paid with a credit card and after she swiped it she entered the wrong amount. Seeing her mistake New Girl called me over but it wasn't something i could fix, i had to go find the manager (K). Well when we headed up to the register we were greeted by a wall of stench. Freddy had dropped a bomb in my absence. It was like one of those Looney Tunes Pepe Le Pew cartoons (you know what i mean), where you see the stink wafting behind the skunk and the sun pulls a cloud over itself and people are jumping out of picture frames and running away and shit. I swear i saw the fake plant in the lobby wilt and a crack form in the glass on the door. Drunk guy emissions are the WORST. New girl stood there stoically while K fixed the problem and i ran away. I could feel my chromosomes mutating so i decided i had urgent business on the opposite end of the store to attend to. After Freddy left K hunted me down to say "you bitch! How could you leave me up there with that?!" Interestingly the new girl never came back after that night...

so a few weeks go by and Freddy pays us another visit, drunk again and wearing the same striped sweater. First he tells me he wants a big glass of milk with his meal, and then he orders buffalo wings with no lettuce, 'cause he hates lettuce and will send the wings back if there's any lettuce on the plate. I dutifully typed in NO LETTUCE on the computer screen just so i could hear the cook carry on about it. K came out onto the server line right when i was about to take Freddy's food out, she took one look at the combination on my tray and exclaimed "oh my god! Don't tell me he's eating THAT!!" The cook had just come out of the kitchen to see who the "no lettuce" guy was and we told him about Freddy's cash out adventure. Then the two bastards stood there giggling and watched me have to try to keep a straight face as i delivered his food.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Creepiest Table of the Night awards

honorary mention: that would be my last patio table of the evening. A young hyper guy with spiky blonde hair and an older foreign woman wandered in 15 minutes til close and told me that they were just there for drinks. I had to ask Young Guy for his ID and it seemed awkward not to ask for hers too. So i checked out his "high on life" picture and her Italian identification card. Young Guy joked around about how it was his big chance to get a girlie drink since nobody else was on the patio. After a prolonged "so what's good?" routine i went inside to get their drinks, a Bloody Mary for him and a delightful drink we offer called a Berri White for her. I dropped them off and noticed that his pants were unzipped. Once i went back in they proceeded to make out. 'Nuff said.

1st runner up: mom, dad, 2 young kids (son and daughter), grandma and grandpa. All was going well until it was daughter's turn to order. She asked for chicken and dumplings, with a baked potato and macaroni as her sides. Mom: "No, that's too many can't have the macaroni, pick something else." Kid: "French fries?" Mom: "No!! That's a starch!" Kid: "Corn?" Mom: "No more starches!!" Kid: "But i want macaroni..." Mom: "I said no! That's too many starches--how 'bout some spinach." Kid puts head down on table and starts to cry. Mom: "If you're gonna act like that you're not getting anything." Meanwhile the son was allowed to order a grilled cheese sandwich with macaroni, no issues. Helloooo future eating disorder!

the grand prize winner: this award can only go to you, table 32. Yes you, lady drinking Miller Lite out of a wine glass and your bleary eyed husband (?) who kept knocking everything on the table over...they kept staring around all crazy throughout the meal and at first it made me think i'd messed something up, but once i realized they weren't really seeing me i didn't concern myself anymore. Toward the end of their visit i noticed a big glob of what appeared to be tartar sauce on the guy's chest. But--but--he was eating pot roast, and she had grilled chicken--there WAS no tartar sauce on the table. There was nothing on the table that could be mistaken for tartar sauce, such as salad dressing, butter, gravy, etc. I started pointing him out to the other servers and we all stared at him from across the dining room. He had a black shirt on so the big chunky looking glob of ?? couldn't be missed. Someone optimistically suggested it might be soap. But he'd never left the table and it wasn't there when he sat down...i'm probably better off not knowing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

side of thighs and a Dr. Pecker

not too long ago we had an ongoing issue with someone calling the restaurant and hanging up. They wouldn't just hang up the second the phone was answered, they'd wait through the "thank you for calling _____, this is _____, how may i help you?" spiel and THEN hang up. After multiple nights of this the GM went and got a set of new phones with caller ID. And what did we find? Turned out one of the (now former) cooks was going in the walk-in cooler and calling the restaurant number every chance he got and hanging up. I guess that's a better way to work out pent up workplace aggression than shooting up the place or starting a fire.

when i worked 3rd shift at the 24 hour chain i had to field prank calls on a nightly basis. I'd have people calling up to order food they knew we didn't have (pizza, burritos, raisin toast), i'd get numerous Sling Blade imitation calls, i'd have guys calling to ask me what type of underwear i had on. I'd also get a number of variations on the "i just left your restaurant/ya'll gave me food poisoning/i can't get up off the toilet" theme, complete with sound effects. But my all time favorite has to be this one:

years ago when i was still willing to train new people (those days are long dead and gone) i'd always have a hard time getting them to answer the phone. Anytime it'd ring they'd try to look busy or they'd walk away real fast like they had pressing business to attend to. Well on the night i'm thinking about i got the new girl to answer the phone and from a distance i watched her start to put a to-go order into the computer. Things seemed to be going well at first so i started doing something else, and when i finally glanced back her way i saw her looking franticly for something on the computer screen. I hurried over and i whispered "what are you looking for?" Covering the mouthpiece of the phone New Girl cried "He wants to get a muffburger--i've looked everywhere and i can't find it! It's not under sandwiches--where's the muffburger at?"

"you know, i really can't help you with that" i said, and i walked away. Eventually dude on the phone said he wanted to get a side of thighs with his muffburger and a Dr. Pecker to drink, and New Girl finally figured out it was a prank call. So see kids, you really do learn something new everyday!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

i dream of popsicles

we all have work dreams, right? Normally they follow the standard crazy busy/everything's going wrong/angry customers theme. A former co-worker once told me she had a dream that she was working at her current restaurant as well as a Waffle House up the road--at the same time. She kept having to run up and down the street to wait on her section in both restaurants. Personally, having dreams like that makes me feel more tired than i was before i went to bed.

friday afternoon i had this dream: it was winter and yet i had two tables inside and three out on the patio. Understandably i was pissed. There was a small snow drift alongside the railing surrounding the patio and it was windy. "So basically i just have a two table section!" i bitched to someone. Well lo and behold four people entered the restaurant and made a bee line for the patio, seating themselves at a table out there. They were all bundled up in coats and i could see them through the window doing the classic "craning their necks looking for a server" self seater routine. I took them menus. The two men at the table ordered normal shit on the menu, a country fried steak and a grilled chicken dinner. The women however went a different route.

"what type of popsicles do you have available?" I admit that i'm not sure but i'll go find out. I went back inside and headed to the kitchen. We have a big pie case by the salad station (we regularly have twelve plus pies available on any given day) but in the dream there was a large standing freezer in it's place. I opened it and it was full of popsicle boxes. Just like it would be in real life it was in total disarray, some of the boxes were totally empty, others were mis-labeled, a few boxes just had a lone empty wrapper in it, and i had to root around in there to see what we actually had. I scribbled all the varieties on a cocktail napkin and went back outside to recite them. One woman ordered a blue popsicle called Aquarium and the other ordered a red one called Red Ignition.

so then i'm running the food. I'm walking through the dining room with two plates on one arm and two unwrapped popsicles in the opposite hand. I drop the Aquarium popsicle. I cuss while picking it up off the floor and i take it back to the kitchen. I rinse it off in the sink, kinda shake the water droplets off it, and notice that now it looks shorter than the red one. "Maybe they won't notice" i tell myself, and i run the food.