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At Your Service: Staff Unity

I really love it when we band together against the customers. There is no better way to create a sense of unity than to coalesce against the common enemy, which in this case are the douchebags that attempt to make our lives a little less enjoyable.

The other day, a table sat down and almost immediately started trying to flag down anyone who looked like they worked at the restaurant. (They did not wait long at all for their server.) The busser walks by to clean a table and they wave their hands in his face. Dialogue is as follows.

Impatient assholes: "Hey! We're ready! We want to order!"

Busser: [Not even stopping as he walks by the table] "Okay."

And he kept walking. They stared, bewildered. I ran away giggling. They totally deserved it.

But the camaraderie can be - and often is - put to the test sometimes. One of our new bussers, "Mario," has the enthusiasm of someone who intravenously consumes Red Bull every hour. He's great. BUT. . . not so much when it comes to running out food. Turns out, he doesn't know the table numbers. And what better time than learn by trial-and-error than on a Friday night?

And, if you do get the right table numbers, please please please do not almost drop the pizza on the 70-year-old birthday girl. She doesn't look like she can handle too much excitement . . . I found out from a co-worker afterwards that the second I saw the pizza slipping my face turned bright red. I wonder how I would have looked had it gone splat.

On a brighter note . . .

What better time for hosts to lose the three-page wait list than on a Saturday night during prime dinner time? Their saving grace was that we take names and orders electronically while guests are waiting for a table to get them moving along a little faster. They were able to print out all the tickets and order them chronologically. These kids have it too easy. Back in my day, you had to walk 15 miles just to find a pen to put names on plain old paper, damn it.

That wasn't really a brighter note, was it . . .

On a slow, quiet Sunday last week, I had a young woman who gave me a dirty look as I walked over to her table (with a smile on my face, no less). She barked out that she wanted a bottle of water. I said sure. Then . . .

Young woman: Do you serve Top Ramen?

Me: Excuse me? [I thought there was no way I heard her right.]

Her: Do you serve ramen?

Me: No. We serve pizza.

Her: [Silence. Another dirty look.]

Me: Did you want to order any food?

Her: I want to, but I don't have money.

I walked away, wondering why the hell she would waste money on a bottle of water when she could buy food from a convenience store with that money. But, alas, I am not one to judge how the slightly-skewed choose to spend their money. Some people may judge me on how much I just spent on sneakers. To each their own, right?

A couple of minutes later, I had built up a level of irritation at this girl. Who is she to come sit in my section and order just a bottle of water? Sit at the bar for that. I decided to drop her check off. With tax it came out to about $2.50.

I come by a couple of minutes later, as my only real table was seated by her. She had the check in her hand. She asked me why it cost so much. I lost my patience.

Me: You're in downtown Chicago. In a restaurant.

Her: But I don't have the money for this.

Me: So why did you order it? Why did you sit down in a restaurant if you have no money?

Her: Well, what are you supposed to do if you want to rest?

Me: It's nice out. Go sit on a bench. You don't sit down somewhere and order something that costs money. You can't rest in a restaurant.

Her: What if it's raining?

Me: It's not. And then you stand somewhere in a doorway. I'll take the check whenever you're ready.

Her: That's so expensive. I'm from California and it . . .

Me: I'm sure it costs the same in a restaurant there. Pay me when you're ready.

Her: Well I have no money.

Me: Well what do you expect me to do about that?

Her: [Holding out the water bottle] Well I don't want it anymore then.

Me: What am I supposed to do with that? You drank out of it. So you have to pay for it. How about I get my manager over here and he can tell you himself to pay for it?

She agreed.

I got my manager. I told him that when she asked for ramen the girl was a little off and to expect possible difficulties. As I recounted what just happened, he asked me what I wanted to do about it. I said call the cops and followed it with, "If she tries to run, I'm not afraid to tackle a bitch."

Now, let me tell you I'm not a cold-hearted person. If she had come in, said she had no money and needed some water and a place to rest for a bit, we could have given her a small seat at the bar and a cup of water and let her sit there for a while. I've known what it's like to rely on the kindness of strangers. Just don't try to pull a fast one on me over a bottle of water. That's where I get mad. That's where you get no sympathy from me.

He ended up taking the bottle of water away from her and telling her to leave. I unfortunately did not get to see her out as I was taking care of another table.

The lesson to be learned? Be honest. Even people who have limited funds like to go out to eat. If you want to feed your family of five on one large cheese pizza with no appetizers or drinks, fine. Just don't sit at my table for two hours and let your kids throw shit everywhere. You get to eat, you don't make my life any harder, everyone is happy.

-

The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments. Catch up with the rest of this series and its companions in our Life At Work archive.





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Posted on October 29, 2009


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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