The following is journal entry I wrote on MySpace (ohmygod, who remembers MySpace?!) in 2006. It’s edited a bit from its original version. Enjoy.
The Sunday of Shit (and why I’m disillusioned with the food service industry)
I might just be the Ernest Hemingway of the restaurant industry. No, you don’t have to worry about me blowing my head off with a shot gun, but I am so disillusioned with waiting tables it is ridiculous. I used to have hope for humanity. I used to think that people are basically good underneath everything. Then I started waiting tables. I’ve been shit on by people so many times it it’s almost laughable. When I say it’s almost laughable, I mean one of those crazy “I’ve lost it!” maniacal laughs that serial killers and evil villains have when they’re talking about getting their next victim or taking over the world. Today started out pretty good. I got a $10 tip from my first table on a $32 check, so I thought maybe things would continue that way. Then Murphy stepped in.
I saw the host seating me at table 12. I was a little bit busy, so it took me a few minutes to get over to the table to get the drink order. Our policy is 60 second greet times, and mine was taking a little longer than expected. I could see the two girls sitting at the table, but I didn’t anticipate it being a big deal for me to take an extra minute to get to them. The minute I walked to the table, I apologized for their wait, thanked them for their patience, welcomed them to Restaurant Name and offered to get them something to drink. The response? “Well we got that girl (she pointed at the host stand) to get our drink because you was taking your sweet time.” Um… okay. I blinked, skipped a beat and replied, “Okay. Well I’ll be right back to take your order then.”
I walked to the kitchen to find the hostess so I could take the drinks from her and mentioned what they’d said. I told her I didn’t really feel like dealing with them, and I briefly thought about giving the table away, but decided against it. After all, I’ve been serving for a while. I’d just wait on them, get my “one dolla’ holla’” and move on.
I dropped the drinks off at the table and asked if they were ready to order. The girl on the left looked up at me, rolled her eyes and said, “If I order wings, can I get them without the sauce?” I told her yes, and she said, “Well, what’s the the cheese-steak? Is that like a normal cheese-steak, or does it have chili on it?” Out loud in my “server voice” (which is sickeningly sweet) I told her that it’s like a normal Philly cheese-steak. In my head I told her to fucking read the menu, since there’s a nice little description right under each item. She decided to order that, but she only wanted meat and cheese. Check. I looked to the other girl to see what she wanted to order, and she pointed at the menu and said, “The same thing, but I don’t want no mushrooms or bell peppers. What kind of onions is on it?” I explained that they were our fajita onions, which are basically just grilled onions. She crinkled her nose, rolled her eyes, and said, “Yeah. That’s fine. I want onions, cheese, and meat.” I politely told them if they needed anything to let me know, and I went to the computer to enter the order.
I tended to my other tables for a bit before I realized the girls at table 12 needed refills. I went over to the table to make sure that one of the girls was drinking sweet tea. She told me that she was, and said, “And put the lemon in it.” I returned with a sweet tea for one of the girls, and a strawberry lemonade for the other. The girl drinking sweet tea said, “I have a quesh’in. Do ya’ll have smoothies?” I told her that we don’t. Then she said, “Are you new?” Another blink… another missed beat. “Am I new?” I asked. “No. I’m not new.” So now the girl’s insulting my service? I mean, okay… I didn’t get to her table right away, but someone did greet her. What had I done to give her any impression that I was new? I answered all of her questions right away because I was knowledgeable about the menu, but that wasn’t good enough for her? I decided to let my manager know that we might have a situation with this table, because it was starting to become pretty obvious to me that I could not please these girls.
I went to the kitchen, explained to my manager what happened and how the girl was giving me attitude, and told her we might have issues later. She told me to keep her updated.
I went back to work on my other tables, and while I was running a check for a different table, I saw another server running my food to table 12. I dropped what I was doing and followed her the rest of the way to the table to put the food out, and saw that the girls were already giving her a hard time. I looked down at the cheesesteaks and saw that one was right, but the other had provolone cheese on the side, fajita onions on the side, and bell peppers and mushrooms on the sandwich. I took the plate, assured the very angry girl that I was going to fix it for her, and took it to the kitchen. At this point I was near tears anyway, but when I got it to the expo, she was pissed and said I’d rang it in wrong. Sure enough, I’d put the order in as *ON SIDE* instead of *ONLY*. To be fair, I did preview the check, but I only noticed the “O” at the beginning and sent it to the kitchen. The expo sent the Philly back to the cooks and they started working on it. I walked back to the office to get my manager and tell her that we had a problem and I would like her to run the food out to the girls when it was done. I told her what happened, and we walked back to wait for the sandwich to come out.
Get this. Sometime between when I left the table and walked back to the office, the phone rang. It was a girl, she was pissed and she asked to speak to a manager. Another manager picked up the phone and the girl explained that she was in the restaurant, her food had come out wrong, her server was rude and “don’t know how to do nothing”, and she wanted everything for free NOW. When he got off the phone with her, my manager came running out to tell us that she had called the restaurant from her seat. I looked at leaders and said, “I’ll be back, I have to go cry!” and walked back to dry storage. A couple of people followed me, I told them what was going on, and they assured me that I’d done nothing wrong (other than make a mistake ringing in the order, which could have easily been fixed). They even laughed when I told them that the girl on the phone said I was rude. I have never been rude to a customer in my life. I’ll walk to the kitchen and curse them until I’m blue in the face, but I will use my polite server voice when I speak with them and wouldn’t ever let them see me get angry.
The sandwich came up and a manager took it to the table. She tried to calm the girls down, but they were yelling about how incompetent I was. She walked away from them to take the sandwiches off of their check, and came back to tell them she’d taken care of it. They still wouldn’t calm down, and began cursing at her. She asked them to quit cursing and one girl said, “You can’t tell me what to do.” I am pleased to say I had a couple of bad asses on my side, because she stood up taller and said, “I dare you to curse again. Do it and I’m calling the police.” What do you think dumbass did? Not only did she curse again, but she made a threat.
Manager one went in the back and had manager two call the cops, and went to get change for the girls because she made them pay for their drinks. The cop showed up in a matter of minutes and walked up to the girls to ask them what had happened. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but from my point of view on the side of the restaurant there was a lot of teeth sucking, finger snapping and stomping. At some point, manager one walked out to give them their change, but made the fatal mistake of putting it on the table instead of into their hands. This apparently makes you a racist, because one girl LOST it and started yelling, “It doesn’t matter if you black or white, you’re RACIST. Why didn’t you put the money in my hand?!” She started throwing her fist into her palm, and he told her to get out of the restaurant. The cop went out with them and then took statements from my managers.
The girls sat outside for a little while longer making a scene. One of them called up her Daddy and told him what awful racists we are at Restaurant Name and how we treated her so badly, never once mentioning how she acted.
Why? I try so hard to not stereotype people. Let me tell you, it sucks to work your ass off for a table and be left a dollar. I try to not let it reflect poorly in my service. Sometimes I even get surprised with a nice tip, which is especially nice when you aren’t expecting it. But why should I work my ass off for these people who look down on me as their server? Is it that they’re better than me because they’re sitting in the booth and I’m ringing in orders and getting refills? I am absolutely positive I am a better person than either of those girls. I don’t care how dumb a server is, how much he or she messes up my food, or how long I have to wait to get someone to the table. It is never an excuse to pull the kind of shit those girls did today. I’m just happy I have managers that are on my side when that kind of stuff goes down, instead of people pleasing slugs.
Please, please, PLEASE, be respectful to your server. If she asks you how you’re doing, tell her. If she misunderstands you, be polite when you correct her. If she ruins your entire meal because nothing comes out at the right time, and things are screwed up, be polite. You can show your disappointment in your tip, there isn’t any need to be rude. That’s why we tip, to compensate someone for doing a good or bad job. If your server is rude to you, be the dignified one and just ask to see a manager and let them know what’s going on. Know that when you’re eating in a restaurant, the people who are serving you work hard for their money. And while they may make a lot of it in one shift, they worked hard for it and they earned it. And above all, NEVER fuck with people who handle your food.