Monday, January 09, 2006

Oh, waiter!

One of my firm beliefs is that there are two jobs everyone should try once: waiter and retail sales clerk. That personal experience enables you to separate the good from the bad from the merely put upon by forces outside her/his control.
Thanks to Awful Souls for pointing me to one of the best blogs I've seen in a while, Waiter Rant. Many of us have walked a mile or two in comfortable waitron shoes at some time or other and can relate to the trials and pathos of serving other people food and booze. This blog should be required reading for anyone who dines out (and who doesn't occasionally?) because the guy gives great tips on things like ordering wine and cleaning dog poo off the sidewalk.

But mostly, it's funny (sometimes serious) observations about people being people (or assholes) while they're in a restaurant. His stories are great, like today's about a jerk customer and his timid wife. Go to the waiter blog to read the whole thing, but here's a little slice:

Twisting the neck of the bottle against the blade of my wine opener, I remove the foil in a single fluid motion. Opening up the corkscrew one handed, I insert it into the plastic cork and effortlessly open the bottle.

Normally I don’t let the customer examine a plastic cork. It’s rather pointless. But I want to see what this guy’ll do with it so I lay the plastic stopper on the table.

The man snaps it up and waves it under his nose.

“You’re an authority on Italian wines my ass,” I think to myself, biting my tongue to keep from grinning.

In lieu of saying “that’s fine,” the man impatiently gestures for me to fill his glass. But, there’s a lady at the table, and etiquette demands I pour her glass first.

“Just give her a little,” the man snaps, “She’s on a diet.”

I remember customers of this and other annoying ilks. It was all I could do to keep from smackin' 'em upside the head with my tray.

As a sweet young college thing, I did a couple of stints at restaurants, usually breakfast and lunch shifts during the summer. One morning this idiot felt the need to harrass me in every way possible, but I remained pleasant and business-like throughout the ordeal. He finally left to pay his bill, so I sauntered over to the table pick up my tip - and found a nickle and three pennies (such a tipper!) swimming in his leftover egg-goo. He watched, smirking, as I dumped the goo-covered penny-plate on the busboy's tray. Did he really think I would fish 8 cents out of that yuck! I'm sure he's living high on the hog in Smirk-Hell right now, thank you very much.

Any good waiter stories you want to share?


PT said...

I've never worked as a waiter, but I did have several bar-tending jobs before I found myself a 'career'.

At the time, I didn't really enjoy them, but nowadays I wish I could afford to just work in a bar part-time.

Unfortunately, bar work doesn't seem to generate as many customer-abuse stories as other lines of work.

Though I do remember a sense of frustration that waiters and the like were tipped and barmen never were (and still aren't). Though, as a committed hypocrite, I now feel aggrieved at being compelled to tip bar-staff in the US, but I am happy to tip waiters...

My brain hurts!

MaryB said...

So what's the deal about bartenders in England not getting tipped? I worked in a pub in Walton-on-Thames in the mid-1970s (way before you were born, sonny) and all the patron did was include me in the round of drinks he/she was buying.

I've never been much of a drinker - all my gin talk aside - so the "and one for you" was kinda lost on me. I really could've used the pounds and pence, if you know what I mean.