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Chasing The American Dream

January 29, 2005

WAITRESS

“Come on baby leave some change behind. She was a bitch, but I don’t care. She brought our food out on time, wore a funky barrette in her hair. Come on baby leave some change behind. She was a bitch. Good enough to leave some change. Everybody’s good enough for some change. The girl’s got family, she needs cash, to buy aspirin for her pain. Everybody’s good enough for some change. Some fucking change.” Waitress (1994) by Live.

With all due respect to Live lead singer Ed Kowakczyk, I’m not really sure if indeed, “everyone’s good enough for some change.” Right off the bat, my radar went up on this chick. She came to our table with an attitude. We hadn’t sat down for more than two minutes when she approached with her little pad and pen. “Drinks,” she blurted out? (by the way, can someone help me out with this rule, where exactly should the ? go in that previous sentence?. If I put it next to the ‘s’ in drinks, then I have both a ? and a , next to each other inside the “ and I know the punctuation is supposed to go inside of the quote marks…so which is it?)

Our table ordered two iced teas, one Diet Coke, and one water. She looked at us impatiently and asked if we were ready to order? Sorry babe, but I need more than two minutes to make up my mind. Feeling a little pressured the guys went ahead and ordered and when it got to my turn, of course, I wasn’t ready. Now, I don’t know if I said something or looked at her funny or what, but I pissed her off. I seem to be having that affect on women lately. So she gave me that arms-crossed, foot tapping, sideways look. I risked getting my head chopped off, but I asked to sub the bread on my sandwich for a wrap instead. Ooh, the look she gave me! I said I’d have the fruit salad as my side item and she made no acknowledgment that I’d even said something. She went right on taking the next order. Before she left, I apologetically asked her if I mentioned I wanted the fruit salad? “Yes.” And she was gone.

Gone for good, apparently. Our drinks never came. We gave her a good 15 minutes. We round-tabled the discussion as to who was gonna draw the short straw and have to get up, walk over, and ask the bee-ahtch where the hell our drinks were? I volunteered. We all know what kind of week it’s been for me, so I was already not in the best of spirits. I was ready to take her on. I was as charming as one could possibly be going on eight hours sleep in the past three days. Honestly, I was nice. I politely asked her if she’d mind getting our drinks? She was totally surprised and actually apologized before disappearing to get them.

I wouldn’t say the drinks arrived immediately, but she brought the out some five minutes later. There was only one problem. The large plastic cups all had that sort of steam-effect where you couldn’t really tell what was in them. They all had lemons and straws with the little piece of paper on the end. The point of the little piece of paper is to be able to identify the drink, no? Yet they all had the papers on the end, and it was virtually impossible to tell which beverage was which. Even the water took a few seconds to identify. She hovered over us as we tried to sort it out. Despite taking 20 minutes to get us the drinks, she made absolutely no effort to be either nice or apologetic. She fussed over separating the drinks and couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t decipher the tea from the Diet Coke.

She steamed away and shortly brought back our food. Zero banter. Just, the quick look at us. “Chicken salad wrap? Soup? Chicken Sandwich?” I felt like saying, “You mean you don’t remember who had what?” I refrained. We ate, and asked for our check. She brought it over and I made another mistake. My friend asked her for a to-go box. No reaction. I followed suit and asked her for a to-go cup for my tea. Hey, I need the tea to take my meds with. Shoot me! Jaysus, if looks could kill! She shot me a nasty look and without saying anything, left in a huff.

We never saw her again. She never came and picked up the tab, and she never brought out the to-go stuff. We had to ask another waitress to pick up the tab. I gave up on the to-go concept and just wanted to get the hell out of there and never come back. We discussed what kind of tip we should leave this girl. All of a sudden the song popped into my head, “da-di-da, everyone’s good enough for some change.” I don’t really think she was, in fact, ‘good enough’ but my friend decided to give her roughly 10%. $4 on a $34 tab. I think I would have opted for $3. Unless someone spits on my food, I don’t think I’ll ever actually stiff any waitstaff or server. But if anyone was deserving to be stiffed, this bitch was.

What makes people this bitter? For the life of me, I’ll never understand why people in a customer service-oriented job can have such a negative attitude given the fact that it IS their job to be nice an cordial to people. Anyone fitting the description of this bitchy waitress, do me a favor and quit your job and do something more suitable to your personality. Us customers will be a lot better off for it.


P.S. Special Happy Birthday wishes go out to an awesome blogger writer, Island Girl Amanda

24 Comments:

  • << “Drinks,” she blurted out? >>

    A question mark is used with direct questions; therefore, in your example, the question mark would take the place of the comma. ("Drinks?" she blurted out.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 AM, January 29, 2005  

  • Thanks Anon. Gramarians at 1:30 in the morning. What a country!

    By Blogger Plantation, at 1:27 AM, January 29, 2005  

  • We are too similar.

    Similarity #1: You said "Beee-otch." That is too funny.
    Similarity #2: You wrote: "do me a favor and quit your job and do something more suitable to your personality"
    I have told so many people this statement it isn't funny. I get annoyed at rude people with customer service jobs. Ok, rude people in general. I waited tables back in college, so I know exactly what they are going through, however they should always treat the customers well.

    Thank you for the birthday wish! :) We are having a big "do" this evening. I will post pics n' shite soon. My computer crashed two nights ago so I am limited on what I can do online now. (hence, the lack of emails).

    Hope all is well! Enjoy your weekend!
    AG

    By Blogger Amanda, at 4:54 AM, January 29, 2005  

  • Yea, I was going to advise on the Strunk & White tip, but Anon beat me to it. Now now...you KNOW you can come to me with those kinds of questions.

    This issue...of which you write...it's been debated to no end by my wife and I. I tend to give them a lot of slack; they work shitty jobs and deal mostly with shitty people (ESPECIALLY IN SOUTH FLORIDA) who disrespect them day in and day out. I've seen and heard it a hundred times, while living down there and going out. I've heard "patrons" talk to their servers as if the workers were serfs/slaves/indentured. The attitude is perpetuated...it gets to the point to which you get attitude from your server before you even open your mouth--they anticipate you're going to be an asshole. It's tough. Endless circle of some sorts. I've gotten stiffed like that many times; I've kept my calm and have been nice (like you inquiring about the drinks), and still I've gotten the shit-tude. I chalk it up to a bad day--for the server and for me. I leave a tip (usually 15% for a BAD server, 25% for a good one) and go my way. If the server has been a shite, I still leave him/her 15%. Maybe that'll change her/his pre-conceived notion next time and won't pull the shit on someone else. It has to start somewhere. I realize you feel taken; it's your night out...but it has to start somewhere.

    I've also noticed that S. FL in general just has an air of mean-spiritness (is that a word??) hovering above it. It's the people coming down for the winters, mostly. It's a shame--beautiful geography, spoiled by people. Of course. Not surprising.

    But I digress.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 7:38 AM, January 29, 2005  

  • Once, I didn't leave a tip. The place was virtually empty. We waited 15 minutes before the server took our order. She forgot to put our order in. Our food came out cold (after waiting 30 min...gee, wonder how long it sat before she brought it out). We asked for the manager, he never came. It took another 30 minutes between the time we asked our server, & following up with other servers, to even get our check. Two chicken sandwiches & cups of soup took 1.5 hours. Every bit of "service" was provided with one of the worst attitudes I'd ever seen. We even tried to joke her out of it, make her realize that she was over the line. It didn't work.

    When I got home I called the restaurant, actually got the manager on the phone, and asked him if one of his servers was angry because a table stiffed her. He said, "Yes." I proceeded to tell him why. Evidently, they'd been having problems with her for a very long time. I understand that she lost her job. I believe everything happens for a reason (at least, that's what I tell myself) so I hope something good came out of it for her. Either she found work more suited to her personality, or she became a better server at another establishment.

    Oh, and I'm typically a 20-20% tipper. So you know she really pissed me off.

    By Blogger M, at 11:12 AM, January 29, 2005  

  • life's too short. 20-25% for good to great service. 15% for poor service. sometimes poor service is a product of having a slow kitchen or having too many tables to cover( both could affect a server's attitude on a given day.) give the service industry the benefit of the doubt. a 4 dollar tip from white collar professionals making good coin is just plain cheap and shameful.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • Anon, respectfully disagree. I owned my own restaurant for two years so I know the food service industry. I know what a dreadful and difficult job servers have. I am a BIG tipper, believe me, and always treat servers with the utmost respect. I am lenient as hell, believe me, but you can only push me so far. For me, a server can't just 'mail it in' and expect to get a standard 15% tip. Makes no sense. I think 10% for shitty service still shows a bit of respect and hopefully will make he/she question themselves as to what they did to deserve less than 15%.

    It doesn't make a damn bit of difference how much money one makes, blue collar/white collar. It's got nothing to do with the customer's ability to pay. I was unemplyed for a year and tipped the same as I do now making good money. It's got ALL to do with service, promptness, cordiality (if that's even a word). What's TIP stand for? To Insure Promptness or something like that? Sure, it could be the kitchen's fault. I'm aware of this as I said. Believe me, it was NOT the kitchen's fault. The kitchen doesn't get drinks and the kitchen doesn't provide attitude. Cheap and shameful? C'mon now...

    By Blogger Plantation, at 12:37 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • you must not forget that a waiter only receives 2.13 an hour from the restaurant in salary. the tip is a supplement so the waiter can receive the minimum wage of 5.15 per hour(which isn't even a living wage). so even if the server doesn't give you a great attitude, they still provided you with service, albeit poor. you received your drinks and your food because she served you the items. even if she gave the customer perfect service and a great attitude, she could still get stiffed. botom line- she provided you a service and 15% is the customary charge for service in this country. on a side note: i find the blue collar workers leave better tips because they know what its like to struggle. white collar workers typically look for an excuse not to pay what's owed. it seems their always trying to finagle. bite the bullet, do the right thing and pay what's owed. as a restaurant owner you should know better. if the customer doesn't like the food, their still obligated to pay full fare.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:55 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • All right! A decent argument for a change. Like your opinions, anon, just don't agree with them.

    I know what servers make. I know what problems and people they must deal with daily, and I sympathize cuz I've been there. But what they make, isn't my problem. They've chosen to be in the customer service field. My definition of service seems different from yours. Mine includes more than just rotely bringing out food. Mine includes making an effort, no matter how small, at 'serving' the customer's needs. I repeat, it's very rare that servers bug me cuz I'm lenient. This girl clearly had issues and IMHO, did NOT deserve more than 10%. She didn't EARN it. But that's must my opinion. I don't know and don't care about the blue/white collar issue because, as I've stated, I tipped just as generously when I was unemployed. I DO know better. AND, I disagree with you on your last point. If MY customers didn't like the food and they voiced concerns to me, I didn't charge them. I guess we agree we disagree on this.

    People, join in the fun and chime in with your opinions!

    By Blogger Plantation, at 2:37 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • I have to agree with you, Plantation. Certain positions are suited for certain people. You would never see a queasy, vegan PETA-activist getting involved in scientific research. Likewise, uptight, bad-attitude people shouldn't be involved in the customer service industry. I know it sucks. But it's her choice to be there, so she should suck it up and do a decent job and contribute to society in her own little way.

    That said, I still could never stiff anyone. No matter how bad the service is, I always leave at least 10%.

    Enjoy Million Dollar Baby! Let me know how it is, I can't WAIT to see it!!

    By Blogger girl from florida, at 4:40 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • I love it how people think it's someone's choice to make 2.13/hr. Ever think that they HAD NO CHOICE?

    We're fighting over 5 % here guys...on a small bill, no less. I think PT was in the right. I've known people to bitch and not leave anything in that situation. I always leave 15% for bad service...I figure if the server is an asshole, maybe he/she will think for a minute: "hey, I'm a shitter, I'm having a bad night, I hate my job and I was horrible to these people...and they still left 15%. There's a lesson to be learned here in kindness and tolerance" And maybe--probably---the server won't. But still...I don't feel like an asshole, no matter how badly I've been treated.

    My wife, in her line of work, KILLS people with kindness. I've seen them melt in her hands. It's a fabulous strategy. She has never failed. Ever.

    Anyway...I know it's not "my problem" what other people make, but I try to be fair, and even if the situation is bad for my end of the bargain, at least I leave there thinking: hey...I did all I could; I wish this person has a better day tomorrow.

    It's come back to me three-fold in the past.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 5:01 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • I have to side with Plantation on this one.

    I'm not in a large metro area, but waitstaff here make a mediocre to decent wage; I tip between 18-22% at dinner, and 15-18% at lunch. 10% if the service is borderline acceptable. And I have been known to leave nothing if the experience was simply horrendous.

    In regard to the hourly earnings of the waitstaff, *anon* would have me take on the role of compensating for the employer's shortcomings. That's not my job.

    A tip is a tip; an added bonus; an extra; a little something to show appreciation for services rendered. A gratuity BY DEFINITION is not mandatory. And I will not pay someone above and beyond what I legally OWE, for treating me like crap, giving me incorrect, cold, raw, (insert undesirable adjective here) food, and/or making me beg for the check. No thanks.

    I got riled up just imagining the scenario! Argh! :)

    By Blogger JuRiScHiCk, at 8:16 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • Hey a new face! Tks JC for your comments and welcome to the party...

    By Blogger Plantation, at 11:06 PM, January 29, 2005  

  • Thanks for the kind greet!

    The weird thing about this post....aside from being a topic I discuss with others, often, is that I was JUST thinking about that Live song the other day. It just popped in my head. So when I saw your entry, I figured it was fate and decided to finally post a comment after lurking for a ...few weeks? :)

    By Blogger JuRiScHiCk, at 12:19 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • I'm curious as to why your radar went up "right off the bat" when she asked if you wanted drinks within two minutes of being seated? Devil's advocate: Is it possible her radar went off with you?

    There've been many times where I've waited way too long for someone to ask if anyone wanted a drink. I can't help but think that there are times we want to be left alone for a while and other times when you really want to be acknowledged and have a drink immediately.

    An FYI on the straw thing. Certain establishments leave the paper on the straw so you can remove it yourself, as proof that no one else's hand has touched it.

    When the service has been miserable, I'll leave exactly the 15%, which I feel is the minimum, 20 for adequate service. There are many restaurants down here that tack on a mandatory 18% due to tourism and varying customs. Aren't you glad it wasn't one of those?

    By Blogger Jewels, at 9:02 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • Jewels, hard to convey 'attitude' in words unless, of course, you insert emoticons. And we can't have that cuz Robotnik will kill me.

    It was the way she said it. No, "hi how are ya, I'm miss bitch and i'll be taking care of you today..would anyone care for some drinks.." Nope, just said flat out "drinks" with an angry stare. RADAR UP!

    Good point on the straws although some use them as identifiers for Diet drinks or whatever.

    What I want people to know is that I'm a very generous tipper. If I have a $10 breakfast tab, I'll leave a minimum of $3. Just last Wednesday, I tipped $5 on a $16 take-out order because they were so nice and went totally out of their way. I almost always give the benefit of the doubt.

    So believe me when I say, it wasn't me. It was the bee-ahtch.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 9:37 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • Now we're beating a dead horse. Suffice it to say that there are many, many assholes in this world--both on the Server and the Served side.

    And, PT...it's your blog. You can use all the emoticons you want. I'll only kill you if you use 'em in your emails to me.

    C I L L .. Kill you.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 10:02 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • Point taken. Hey, how about an encountered "bee-ahtch" of the year comp?

    Did you know that the Urban Dictionary (for whatever it's worth!) shows at least a half-dozen different spellings for byotch, beotch, bi-otch, whatever? Amazing what you can learn on the web, ain't it?

    By Blogger Jewels, at 10:04 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • My last weigh-in on this post, I SWEAR.

    I had to address Jewel's "mandatory 18%" comment; courts have ruled that if, on the printed bill, it says 18% gratuity, you do NOT have to pay it. If it says 18% service charge, then you're bound.

    This was decided in a case where a patron refused to leave the mandatory imposed 18% gratuity, and the establishment sued him for failure to pay for services rendered even though he paid in full for the amount of food, beverages and tax. The patron won.

    So.. just tossing that out there in case you end up in one of these situations in a place like that! In some cases, you have recourse. :)

    Done!

    By Blogger JuRiScHiCk, at 10:33 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Management here at CTAD has 'retained' legal representation. So whatever you do, don't fk with me or I'll sick Jurischick on ya.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 11:22 AM, January 30, 2005  

  • I have Lawyerguy on my side.

    By Blogger Bubbles, Ink., at 12:17 PM, January 30, 2005  

  • I had a hippy waitress with long brown braids be so mean to me once, just taking our orders, that I started to cry (I was younger and less hardened then).

    By Blogger melinama, at 9:17 PM, January 31, 2005  

  • I just stumbled upon this blog, and I probably will never check back to see if my comment has been answered, but I'd just like to speak from a server's point of view for a moment, even though after reading your rebuttle to every single comment I know that you'll take little of it into consideration and most likely respond with all kinds of excuses. That's completely fine, after all, it is your blog.

    As a waitress, I can honestly say that even if you've owned a restaurant, you cannot understand the dynamic of a server's day unless you have actually physically waited tables. You need to know what it's like to have your host triple-seat your section with five tops right after you've agreed to take a party of thirty in the back. You need to know what it's like to give good service to people and have them still stiff you because they just plain don't feel like paying. You need to know how irritating it is to have every customer with a credit card receipt run off with your pens. You need to feel the absolute letdown that occurs when a table runs you back and forth like their personal whipping boy, makes you sing "Happy Birthday" to their rotten children, and leaves you 10% even though you did everything right. You need to experience how it feels to pull a double shift hoping to make your rent payment, and falling a few dollars short because some jerk decided to dine and ditch.

    I am in no way saying that you were wrong to think she was a bitch. The side of her that you saw that day probably was.

    In defense of her approaching you less than two minutes after you were seated, most restaurants have rules about that. Where I'm currently employed, if I get a table, I am instructed to greet them and take their drink order within the first two minutes of them being sat. Even if I am in the middle of taking an enormous food order from a party of fifteen, my manager will stare at me until I turn to my new table and herald their entrance.

    I agree that she shouldn't have been so abrupt, but she was probably just following the "greet your tables as they come in" rule. If she asked what you wanted to eat right away, she was probably hoping to get all orders down in one shot. I have customers that come in all the time and ask me, "What's good here?" I give them suggestions, they choose, they eat, they pay, and I turn over my tables more quickly. If I leave them to their own resources, they could sit there for ten minutes milling over the menu and still give me a blank stare when I come back.

    Also, a lot of times you get customers that don't like idle chit-chat. They know what they want when they walk in the door, and they'd rather order right away than make smalltalk with a server they'll probably never see again.

    Again, I don't know exactly what her problem was, I'm just telling you how it looks from a server's perspective.

    Forgetting to bring your drinks could be prompted by anything. She could have gotten sidetracked by one of her other tables, although she probably just plain forgot. It happens to the best of us. At least she apologized, right?

    Now, I'd like to, if I may, address the one part of your blog that made the waitress portion of my blood boil. You mention that she didn't remember who ordered what food. As a waitress, I can tell you that as soon as I put an order in the computer, I've always got twelve other things going on from all of my tables. By the time I get the food back to the table, I can't remember who ordered what because I've taken anywhere from two to ten more orders from other tables in the meantime.

    As for the to-go cup, I can tell you exactly the reason why she gave you a dirty look. If a restaurant gives free refills, they're meant to be consumed in the establishment. Granted, from what you've written I'm sure you didn't even get a refill, but she probably has people asking her for drinks to go all the time. I have that happen to me daily, and it certainly irks me.

    I'm sure if you had told her you needed it to take medicine, she would have been more understanding.

    There is loads more that I'd like to say, but this comment is frightfully longer than I ever wanted it to be. I'm not asking you to excuse her behavior, just to please think of any and all of the variables that could have contributed to her mood that day. We all have bad days, my dear.

    By Anonymous Cherry, at 8:11 PM, April 03, 2005  

  • Wow, Cherry. Nice commentary. Sorry you won't be coming back for another visit. But if you do happen to come back, I understand your point of view OK? And, my little restaurant was very small and yes, I did wait tables. I know how hard it is and all the BS you have to put up with. Listen, some people are better than others at dealing with the stress! This girl couldn't handle it and it showed.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 8:54 PM, April 03, 2005  

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