DISCLAIMER: All of the names of said places of employment have been changed… due to contractual agreements that forbid me to openly discuss what happens in my ACTUAL place of work (true fucking story). No real names of customers or coworkers will be used (although you WILL know who the fuck you are) and I will, at all costs, avoid saying anything even slightly derogatory or even negative… scratch that… I plan to avoid even WHISPERING the name of “You know Who”… and that would be my main boss….. MR. GM. If I start on a MR. GM tangent, stop me, sedate me, lock me up and forbid me from seeing the light of day till the spell of idiocy fades and I can get back in line, worship my leader and know my place.
I know of the endless posts that are circulating about the struggles that exist for waitresses and I am in NO WAY trying to discredit those. I am simply adding to them and while my stories are very similar, my stories can also be…at times… a bit more colorful. Why? Because I am a kick ass server who happens to have the mouth of an alcoholic sailor who never knew his father. Im inappropriate. I push things. I should have multiple terminated employments and maybe a couple lawsuit but I also happen to be quite the charmer…. So here I am. 9 years later, at a…. Fried chicken shop and a uuuh…. Downtown club (neither are true) working as a server, cocktail server, manager, bartender, busgirl, babysitter, suicide attempter (all are true).
SO where the FUCK do I start?
OH I KNOW!
I am going to include tips throughout this very drawn out post on how to become a better restaurant patron and tip number 1?
IF YOU BRING IN A BIRTHDAY CAKE, ALWAYS offer your waitress a piece.
If I watch you take your entire Vons mass produced cake home in your HONDA CRV where I KNOW it’s just going to be forgotten overnight, found in the morning, looked at in disgust and thrown away in your sprayed down and spiderweb free black can, I’m going to mentally kill you in the most painful way possible.
Your cake is annoying as fuck. Ya, I know it’s a happy time. I know it’s thoughtful to bring a cake but if you wanted something more personal, host it at your house that was just cleaned by Lupita and show that you’re not too snobby to disrupt your perfect peaceful life, in order to honor the day of birth for you cousin Timmy who you’re pretty sure has a coke problem but has enough of his inheritance to mask it.
Or just take the free fucking ice cream sundae and be on your happy way. If you make me go out of my way, find a free space in our fridge for your 3 foot cake, make me carry it in fear of dropping it, find enough candles to not look pathetic, make me figure out a way to keep all of those candles lit while walking that monstrosity through my cramped din….. Chicken shop just to sing an awkward happy birthday to Timmy, I better get the fucking middle piece no one wants with the least amount of frosting.
Don’t be a cunt. Give your server the cake.
The other day I had an older couple who came in for a late breakfast. It was their first time coming to the uh, chicken pie shop and wanted my best suggestions. So I gave them my regurgitated routine about the most popular items and went to grab them their drinks. One regular and One decaf coffee with double regular creamer and half the amount of French Vanilla. They also wanted two waters, one regular, one with extra ice and the LEMON on the side, not on the glass. They also wanted the tabasco ahead of the time because the husband needed a small tomato juice. Not sure why they order the tabasco before the tomato juice but either way, I gathered my info, I set out on my journey, I retrieved the goods, I delivered with a vengeance.
“Alright folks, here are your waters, your lemons on the side, I brought 8 half and half and 4 vanilla coffee mates and here *places regular coffee in front of man* is your regular coffee and here *places decaf coffee with not only a spoon in it, like the regular had, but a straw to signify its difference, in front of the woman* is your decaf”
“Um I ordered decaf”
“Yes, that’s the one I placed in front of you”
“Are you sure?”
Now. Before I carry on, I want you to understand that the customer is NOT always right.
I want you to understand that your server is NOT an emotionless robot
I want you to understand that I have been taking abuse for 12+ years and can only hold back so much soooooooo…..
“Yes. I happen to be intelligent enough to know the difference between decaf and regular coffee. SO here is your DECAF COFFEE MA’AM”
She looked at me absolutely dumbfounded. That was the moment I knew I fucked up. The moment that I knew my ugly mouth was about the get me fired because I was already on thin ice thanks to a yelp review…. We will get to that… and I really needed to shape up or ship out.
“Oh my goodness. I am so sorry. I didn’t even realize how I was acting”
We both stood in silence after that. Her husband may or may not be a stroke victim because I’m pretty sure rather than being at a chicken shop, he was actually reliving his days of fighting the civil war. One place he surely wasn’t? At that restaurant, in our conversation. The moments that followed were that of a miracle
“Don’t worry ma’am, you don’t even know how often it happens”
“No really, you deserve an apology. You’ve been nothing but helpful and I shouldn’t have ever questioned whether or not you could get me my decaf coffee”
Yes people, miracles do happen and customers DO realize that they’re assholes. She tipped me $30 on $25 and will probably never question another human beings ability to bring her her overpriced coffee again.
You’re fucking welcome society.
TIP #2- Do not ever ask your server what they plan to do when they grow up. Chances are, I make more than you per hour. Do I overall make more than you? Probably not. I don’t work as many hours. Do I make more an hour than you? Most fucking likely. Is this my dream job? Negative Ghost Rider but is it sufficient to give me the needs to live a comfortable life, go on the trips I want to go on and drink enough to forget your shitty superiority? Abso-FUCKING-lutely. How would you feel if I came to your air conditioned office and asked you what you plan to do when your sedentary job gives you chair butt due to lack of psychical activity and a slowing metabolism? Or what if I ask “What do you plan to do when you realize you’re nothing but a stepping block for your boss to make the true profit while you bust your ass doing the real work and he’s off playing golf?” Yea. It’s gonna sting Sharon so shut your fat mouth and eat your 1 pound burger with the added avocado you don’t want to pay for.
Let’s talk about Sharon real quick… Sharon is married to Steve. Steve is a dick. One muggy afternoon at the CPS (chicken pie shop. Oh wait…. It was a fried chicken shop huh? Fuck. okay, FCS) Sharon and Steve come in for some overpriced pancakes. Steves a chatty one. Sharons an apparent abuse survivor…. I mean, Sharon is a quiet one, and the introductions go off without a hitch. Until I bring my hand up to my face to sweep a lock of hair out of my vision. That was the moment that the color in Jo… I mean Steve’s face changes. A crimson red starts to accentuate the white of his beard and the blue of his eyes which had taken on a dark appearance.
Something had changed in Steve and I was soon to find out.
Sharon shifts in her seat and I begin to retrace my steps. Was he upset that I touched my hair? Did I unknowingly curse? Did I forget to wear deodorant? Negative.
Steve grabs my wrist aggressively and ask “What does your MOTHER think of this?”
This, my friends, is called a tattoo. Its when a needle injects ink into your skin to create a permanent image on a part of your body. It is something that stays with your forever and apparently kills 15 children, burns 3 churches and gives 200 grandmothers involuntary heart attacks every time you get one. This is a serious and detrimental act of defiance and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately I was weak…. 21 times…. And partook in this satanic ritual of giving a huge middle finger to all of the important people of my life.
“My tattoo? My skin? The size of my wrist? I’m confused about what you’re referring to”
“No need to get smart little lady, you are fully aware of what I am talking about. And while we’re at it, let’s talk about that bush you have on your shoulder. Those flowers? What if I was a bee? Roses are for bees”
This is when he started to poke my shoulder. His finger being the bee and my shoulder apparently being a literal and super offensive rose bush.
“You wouldn’t want to get stung would you? Why would you put a bush on you if you didn’t want to get stung”
“That’s quite hilarious sir. I happen to love roses. Dead ones at that. There is something about a dying rose that I find so beautiful. So unavoidable and so unappreciated.”
“Well that’s quite morbid, don’t you think? Let’s get back to this one you couldn’t even hide if you decided to apply for a real job. I am sure you make your mother real proud”
“Well sir. The numbers you see, 7-3-93 represent my brothers birthday. He died when he was 8 years old. I was 12 years old. We were just two young children who should have never been subjected to such tragedy. The dove that the numbers are in, generally signifies peace. It was my way of saying “Rest In Peace” to my deceased brother. So since you’re so concerned with my mother’s reaction to this specific tattoo, she cried. She was moved to tears and not out of shame but out of pride and honor. This tattoo that you have pointed out is for her dead son so she was quite moved by my tribute”
Im almost POSITIVE I saw Sharon smirk behind her erected menu.
TIP #3- If you are not ready to order, Do NOT fucking say you are ready to order. We don’t serve “uuummms” or “hmmmms” at either of my establishments. We don’t have “Pointer fingers held dangerously close to my face” as an upgrade option. We don’t have a “Keep me standing there while you’re on your phone having a conversation and staring at your menu” as a happy hour deal. PEOPLE I will come back. This isn’t your last dire opportunity to have your buffalo wings and IPAs. My rent needs to be paid by you, I’M COMING THE FUCK BACK! Be ready, or wait. I have 20 other people who need my attention and you’re being a dick by keeping me there to watch your decision making process. I could care less how you make the ever so difficult decision of white or wheat bread. Get the white, you aren’t fooling anyone into thinking you’re healthy. You are getting a bacon cheeseburger.
TIP #4- Unless you almost died, don’t fucking yelp about your negative experience
Strap in mother fuckers cause this shit is about to get REAL.
Now, I will tell you, I am an avid yelper. It is an invaluable tool to connect me to the one industry I am most passionate about and that is the restaurant industry. I will research endlessly about the endless spots we have here in…. Umm… St Louis? And I love how in depth you can get with yelps suggestions, pictures, menu summaries. But when it comes to the reviews, I will only glance through. I usually look for trends. If they suggest a certain appetizer enough, I will know to order it. Or if there is certain Happy Hours that are worth it, I’ll start drinking at 3pm instead of 5pm….. Just kidding, I’m already drunk by 3. I have even written a few yelp reviews myself!
But guess what- never have I gone out of my way to give anything other than a 5 star. Now before you roll your eyes, I don’t just hand out 5 stars like a kindergarden teacher trying to keep her kids from pissing all over the storytime carpet but when I have an exceptional experience, I make sure to tip my hat to those who gave it to me.
When I don’t have an exceptional experience? I don’t go back. Oh and I move the FUCK on.
Unless you had a waitress who downright disrespected you- put a hand on you, kicked your dog, stole your credit card information or had an establishment that didn’t even come close to meeting health code regulations or served you spoiled food, MOVE THE FUCK ON!
Just because you had to wait longer than you anticipated to be sat, or had a waitress who wasn’t tripping over herself to hear your 20 minutes story about how your grandson is in town and is from where you grew up in Arizona, doesn’t mean it was the WORST EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE! Just because your eggs were a little more poached than you like, or because the restaurant ran out of your favorite chorizo dip, just because you’ve had 10 margaritas and the 11th tastes like it doesn’t have alcohol, doesn’t mean you should stumble home to your keyboard and become a fucking internet bully.
But say there was something that truly didn’t sit well with you and say it would end up costing you when you felt it shouldn’t (you’re probably wrong but I’ll humor you) SPEAK THE FUCK UP! If you aren’t comfortable saying it to your server, guess what!!! There are managers for that! And most of them LOVE any excuse to discipline their employees so SPEAK THE FUCK UP! It is incredibly unfair to an establishment to be deprived of an opportunity to redeem themselves and create a repeat customer out of you. Because look, we’re all here to get paid and when you are happy, we get paid. When you aren’t, we don’t. So even though you’re convinced were only out to ruin your life, we truly do just want you to be happy, and to chill the fuck out, but mostly to be happy.
So SPEAK THE FUCK UP or MOVE THE FUCK ON!
Your little internet fits have gotten people fired and restaurants closed down.
Your one “less than satisfactory meal” has turned into endless non-existent meals for the person who has now lost their income thanks to you.
Think before you type.
To conclude I want to say this- with all of that moaning and groaning I do want to end on a positive note and say that my industry is a wonderful one. Annoying as fuck? Absolutely, but to the contrary of what the businessmen who come for after work drinks think, I love my job(s). I love food and drinks. I love the creativity involved with creating an environment solely based around the art of food and drink. I love the deliberate choice of lighting to accentuate certain parts of the building. I love the choice of decor to bolster the theme of your cuisine. I love the fast paced demand, the balancing of tasks. I love talking to vastly different people with different backgrounds and different reactions to my often vulgar and inappropriate jokes. I love just about everything about the restaurant world and working in it.
When I personally go out to eat I often experiences things I don’t love. I often get a dish thats too salty, a waitress that’s too chatty. I’ll get the shitty booth by the kitchen door or the screaming kids and while that wasn’t the exact experience I had in mind, I enjoy it all the same. You know why? Because I know of how much work, love, hate, tears, time and passion that went into creating that experience. I know of the man or woman who spent their entire life savings to fill the kitchen with supplies and able bodies. I know of the dishwasher who just got off his first job and rushed to the second, just to put food on his table. I know of the breakup that the server just went through and can see the puffy eyes and pain behind the forced smile that will make her the money she needs to feed her kid at home. I see choices that were made to use cursive font instead of regular on the menu to class up the joint, I see the slightly mismatched plates that probably drive the owner crazy but were necessary with the jump in costs. I see the holes in the bussers shoes and fading of the bartenders heavily worn shirt.
I see it all and I appreciate it all. Every last person who made my meal what it was, I see you and I thank you.
Now if only more of us would see as much as I would see, maybe my profession wouldn’t be as hard as it is. Try to remember that next time you go out to eat.
A Washed Up but not ALWAYS Bitter Waitress.