Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and a Classic Arcade Game


A bit of knowledge about a certain classic arcade game will make this story much funnier. This story takes place in The Bar.

-A Description of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-

Dr. Jekyll is in his early 20's. 23 to be exact (I carded him). He has reddish/blond hair, which is cut short. Almost a flattop. He is in great shape. He must work out regularly, because his arms lightly strain the seams of his long-sleeve dress shirt. Either that or he spent some time at Balco. He stands about 6' 1'' and he weighs about 210 lbs.

-Dr. Jekyll's Story-

It's a Wednesday night around 7:30, and The Bar is hopping. On this late fall weeknight, it's filled with yuppies.

Everywhere I look I see men with gelled hair wearing long-sleeved striped shirts open at the collar, a flash of gold chain visible around the neck. The sleeves are unbuttoned and rolled up twice. No more, no less. Fossil must have made a small mint selling watches to this crowd.

The women are wearing blond highlights and those goofy shawls that enjoyed a few months of popularity in late-2004, early 2005. Personally, I don't like the shawls. They leave too much to the imagination.

Three guys sit in my section near the entrance. One is younger, early 20's, with short reddish-blond hair. The other two are in their mid-30's. They both wear their hair slightly over the collar. All three are wearing name tags. "Hello, my name is..."

"What's going on, fellas?" I love the informality that The Bar takes on as afternoon turns into evening.

"Not too much. Just got out of a seminar at the hotel across the street. What do you have on tap?" One of the 30-somethings. He seems friendly. Good. I hate assholes.

"Sir, we have 34 beers on tap here. I could name them all, but it may be quicker if you just tell me what you'd like, and I'll let you know if we have it on draft. If we don't have it on draft, we'll definitely have it in a bottle. We carry over 400 different beers in a bottle." This is one of the main reasons our bar is jumping tonight. Yuppies love exotic beer.

"American Beer for the Masses Light?" Chimes in the 20-something. Cheap beer with very little taste. Still, it'll get you drunk. I deduce that the 20-something must still be in the past-fratboy stage.

"Of Course, Sir. And for you gentlemen?"

They order two of the higher-end, fuller flavored ales. Experienced drinkers, more interested in the flavor than the buzz.

"And would you like 16 or 23 oz. drafts?"

The 30-somethings order pints, while the 20-something opts for the 23 oz.

I ring in their orders, deliver their drinks, and offer menus. I depart to ring up another round for a neighboring table.

When I return with their drinks, I notice that the 20-something has downed his beer. Oh boy, here we go.

"Would you like another, sir?"

"Yes, please." Maybe he was just thirsty.

"And are you folks ready to order?"

I take down their orders. Three burgers with fries. I ring them in and bring 20 his second beer. He immediately downs half of it. The other two gentlemen don't seem too worried, so I don't say anything. I just don't want Dr. Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde. I've seen it happen, and it's not pretty.

I make a point to tell the manager on duty, Janine, that I have a customer who is mainlining beer like a rock star on a bender.

At The Bar, management likes to make sure that nobody gets wasted. One trashed person can ruin the atmosphere in a hurry. Every time a customer has four drinks, we have to tell the manager. We write down what they've had over "x" amount of time, whether they've eaten, and what Level they're at. Here's a quick breakdown of the Levels.

Level 1: OK to be served more alcohol. Customer may become more talkative, and may have slightly slurred speech.

Level 2: Slurring becomes more pronounced. Customer may become overly loud. Motor skills may deteriorate slightly. If they are not driving, they may be served another drink. Manager must give the OK.

Level 3: Customer is a raving lunatic. The customer can barely walk. If they are still able to talk, it is usually non-sensicle babble at a decibel level slightly below that of a jet airplane warming up the afterburners. The customer will light the wrong end of a cigarette and smoke it anyways. These people need to be put into a cab and sent on their merry way before they vomit in the bathroom.

"Janine, I've got a guy who's downed two 23's in about 8 minutes. He's at 34. Can you keep an eye on him?"

Janine is cool, and she knows that I'm still relatively new. She'll keep me out of trouble. She's also got a bit of sass in her. She'll have no trouble booting this guy if he gets out of hand.

"No problem, dude. Go ahead and give him another one for now, but give him a glass of water too. Hopefully he'll get the hint." I order another beer for Dr. Jekyll. She's the boss.

The burgers come up a short time later. I bring them out. Sure enough, the beer's gone. The other two have finished their first 16 oz. beers. The kid is ready for his fourth 23 oz., which is like drinking 8 12 oz. bottles.

"Would you like another round, gentlemen?"

The two thirty-somethings nod, and Dr. Jekyll orders on as well. He seems completely normal. Kid must be able to hold his liquor.

I look over at Janine, who is hanging out at the door, near my table. She gives me a nod.

I bring the table their round.

They eat, and thankfully Dr. Jekyll nurses his beer throughout dinner.

I clear their plates. Dr. Jekyll has finished his fourth beer. I don't offer him another one. I'll let the boss make this call.

Janine sits down at the table. She's making small talk, but she's really looking to see if Dr. Jekyll is ok to have another beer. A few minutes later, she finds me in the kitchen.

"That guy's ok for another beer. I can't believe it, but he still seems sober."

"You sure?" I don't want to get fired. I like this place.

"Yeah, it's on me now. Don't worry, I got your back." Janine is an awesome manager, the type you work hard for out of respect.

I set down Dr. Jekyll's beer. He looks up at me. His eyes are glassy, unfocused. Uh-oh.

"Thanksth" This is the first time I've heard him slur. He doesn't touch his beer. He sits back in his chair, and his eyelids start to drop. One of the 30-somethings reaches over puts a hand on his shoulder.

"Hey buddy, you OK?"

No response. The guy gives Dr. Jekyll a little shake. Dr. Jekyll transforms into a crazy-eyed Mr. Hyde. He bolts upright in his chair. His fraternity training takes over. He grabs his beer, opens his mouth, and pours the entire thing down his throat. He slams the empty glass back down on the table.

In college, I would have been impressed at this performance. At work, I'm horrified.

Janine comes flying out of nowhere. She's witnessed the whole thing.

"You guys need to pay your bill and get your friend out of here." She's talking to the 30-somethings, but all eyes are on Mr. Hyde, who is now sitting with his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands. He's looking at the floor and moaning softly.

The 30-somethings look at each other, shrug, and look back at Janine.

"This is so weird. We've known each other since we were kids (he motions to his 30-something friend). We just met this guy today at the seminar. He's from out of town, and he's staying at the hotel across the street." Unbelievable. Did the kid think he was cool, showing these guys (that he just met!) how he was a hard-core drunk?

"I don't care," Janine is pissed, "Get him across the street. If you can get rid of him, you can come back." Not a bad move.

The 30's get up and try to pick up Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde has other ideas. He stands up and makes a beeline for the bathroom. He's running into people, knocking over tables and chairs, and slamming into walls. It looks like an out of control car speeding down the highway, careening off the guard rails.

The 30's book after him. A couple minutes later, all three emerge. The 30's are on either side of Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde has an arm around each of the 30's, and it's obvious he's dead weight. His head lolls from side to side with each step.

"We had to hold him while he peed," explains the 30 on the left. Probably not what he thought he'd be doing when he woke up this morning, but hey, good times.

They make their way to the parking lot. Janine and I follow. She's making sure they get Mr. Hyde away from The Bar. I haven't been paid yet.

Suddenly, seeing the lights of his hotel, Mr. Hyde breaks for freedom. He shakes off the 30's and sprints through the parking lot. I try to catch up, the 30's hot on my heels, but he's got a big head start and he's moving!

In between our parking lot and the hotel is a busy road. It's a step below a highway, and the speed limit is 50 mph. People drive at 60. There's still a lot of traffic. Cars are flying by.

I figure Mr. Hyde will have to stop and I'll be able to take him down so he won't hurt himself. I'm wrong.

Mr. Hyde barrels into the intersection full-speed. A minivan brakes hard and swerves to avoid hitting him.

Mr. Hyde falls down. He gets back up and he's disoriented. He takes two wobbly steps back towards me. I'm frozen in horror.

He sees me and turns back towards the hotel. Cars are barreling past, horns-blaring. The way he's moving back and forth in the street... for some reason, all I can think of is playing Frogger in the arcade.

Mr. Hyde falls again. There is a large SUV heading straight for him. It brakes, but it's too late. Mr. Hyde is going to get squished like a bug.

Miraculously, Mr. Hyde regains his footing. He takes off at a dead sprint towards the hotel. He makes it across the street!

But for some reason, he doesn't see the large concrete sign bearing the name of the hotel. He plows into it, headfirst, and lies motionless on the sidewalk.

At the next available break in traffic, Janine, the 30's, and I run over to check on Mr. Hyde. He's out cold, and there's a large knot on his forehead. He's breathing heavily.

The 30's pick him up and carry him into the hotel. Janine and I return to the restaurant.

About an hour later, the 30's walk back in.

"How is he?" I have to know.

"He'll live." The 30's are pissed at being turned into babysitters. "We forgot to pay our bill."

"Understandable," I reply. Janine notices the 30's and walks over.

"You guys have had a long night. Can I buy you a drink?" Like I said, Janine is an awesome manager. The 30's gratefully accept. They pair their bill. They leave me $20 on a $60 tab.

I'm happy, they're happy, Janine is happy, and Mr. Hyde is alive. Plus we've all been privy to the BEST GAME OF FROGGER EVER!

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Miss Illinois Pageant Contestants


This story took place about a week ago. I am working at The Bar now. The Bar is trendy, upscale, and well-kept. There are three rooms. The Main Room is long and symmetrical, with five booths framing about 50 tables. The bar is located in this room. The other two rooms are filled with tournament-size pool tables, plush leather couches, and at least 10 big-screen TV's each. The two side rooms are called the Maroon and Blue Rooms because those are the colors they are painted.

-The Miss Illinois Pageant Contestants' Story-

I pull into the bar at 11 am on Saturday. I'm tired and hot. It's 95 degrees outside, and our uniforms are all black. I also have a touch of a hangover, which doesn't improve my disposition.

I'm looking forward to a relaxing day of work. Saturday mornings are rarely busy, which means the servers have time to talk, hang out, and eat.

As I pull into a parking space, I notice three younger girls heading into the restaurant. This in itself is not odd, as there is a clothing store next door and their patrons often come into our place to use the restrooms. What I do find odd is that they are dressed like slobs in ratty t-shirts and shorts, yet their hair is done up, and someone painstakingly applied their makeup. Weird.

I walk through the doors and come face to face with Jackie, our Event Coordinator. Jackie has a great job. She gets commission off of every pre-scheduled party that comes into the restaurant. She uses the servers to set things up, take care of the partiers, and then tear the decorations down. Servers covet these parties because we get an automatic gratuity. The work is brutal, but it's worth it in the end. The final bill often tops $1,000.

Jackie is flipping out.

"I need you now."

"Jackie, I'm flattered, but you know I have a woman." Hungover and saucy. Good combo.

"Shut it. The Miss Illinois Pageant girls are here in the Maroon Room, and I need you to take them. They have food coming out in fifteen minutes. You need to get their drinks." Big smile from me. Life doesn't get much better than this.

"Oh, and the entire party is comped."

SHIT! This means that I get no automatic gratuity.

"Hey, do they know they're supposed to tip me?" I ask as Jackie turns to leave.

"I hope so. We'll see." I am happy she's so concerned about my welfare.

I clock in and head to the back. I fill a pint glass a coffee. I drop some ice in and chug it down. I'm going to need all the energy I can muster for this one.

Walking into the Maroon Room, I take in the scene in front of me. There are about twenty five girls scattered throughout the room in groups of four and five. They are all dressed like the three I saw walking into The Bar earlier. There are two chaperones sitting at a table towards the back. They look haggard. I decide to start with them.

"Hello! My name is The Server, and I'll be taking care of you and the ladies this morning. Your food will be ready in about fifteen minutes, so can I start you off with something to drink?"

"Coffee. Black." The first chaperone doesn't look at me.

"Hello young man! I'd love some iced tea with sweetener." She looks around before beckoning me closer. "You know, one of these girls' life is going to change tonight." She's dead serious.

Great. I've got one chaperone who believes I am to be seen and not heard and another who is trying out the pageant catch phrase on me.

I speak with the chaperone briefly before moving on and taking drink orders from each of the contestants. It's the same each time I go to a new group. If the first person to order looks me in the eye and is friendly, the rest of the girls follow suit. If the person ignores me while giving me the order, the rest of the girls refuse to look at me.

Some of the snippets of conversation I hear...

"My Dad is a really important man. We have apartments all over the world, but we sub-lease them to make more money."

"Can we get drink drinks? I love drinking."

"My favorite part of this whole thing is meeting all of you. You're all so special!"

"This competition isn't just about how you look in a bikini. You have to have a personality too!"

Gag me. Out of the 25, 2 seem like real people. The rest seem as fake as Britney's cleavage.

I get their drinks and bring out their food.

They each eat half a plate of food. No more, no less. Only two of the girls head to the bathroom immediately after they eat.

Everytime I bring them a refill, they act like I've saved their puppy.

"Thank you so much!"

Every now and then, a couple of our Saturday regulars wonder into the room. Some are looking to score, others to see what this whole thing is all about. All are quickly turned away by the chaperones.

"Move along here. These girls need their rest. Shoo!" They actually say "shoo."

I refill endless iced teas, waters, and Diet Colas. Finally, they are ready to head back to the hotel to get ready for the pageant that evening.

The chaperones approach me. Here it is, the moment of truth. Will I get a tip, or have I wasted 4 hours of my life?

"You've been so wonderful! You should come see these girls tonight. We're at the local high school. Aren't they all so amazing?"

"Absolutely amazing ma'am. Unfortunately, I am saving for a house, and I don't know if I can afford tickets." Trying to work in the fact that I need money.

"Oh, don't worry about that! The tickets are free! Have a great afternnon, and try to come tonight!" She turns around, and walks out the door. The girls follow, single file, like goslings following momma goose to the lake. The other chaperone follows behind them, ready to ward off any would-be attackers from the rear.

No tip. I don't know whether I should curse the chaperones, Jackie, the contestants, or whoever told this group that we would comp them. I settle for cursing all of them, just to make sure.

I go to the back to relax for a bit, and my mind wonders...

The contestants are all in their bathing suits. The panel of judges is asking them questions. Every answer is the same down the line.

"World Peace!"
"World Peace!"
"World Peace!"

The lone gentleman judge stands up. It's me. I'm wearing a tux. It's shiny blue, with ruffles and huge lapels.

"How much would you tip a waiter?" They can't see me because the spotlights are shining in their eyes.

"Well, it would depend, but I never leave less than 15%."
"Why, 20% of course. My dad is a very important person."
"20%. Especially if the drinks are strong."
"I would tip him World Peace!"

They continue in this manner down the line. They are all pleased with the answers they have given. Until the spotlight moves away from them and focuses on me.

I rip off the tux like a basketball player tearing off his warm-ups. Underneath I'm wearing my server uniform, apron and all.

I sprint to the stage and scream at each of the shocked contestants in turn.

"Liar! Cheapskate! Phony!"

"As the head judge of this pageant, I declare all of you ineligable hypocrites. Maybe you should have tipped your server! Better luck next year!"

It would have been the BEST REVENGE EVER!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Unwanted links in stories

Hi all-

For some reason, random links keep popping up in the stories. I am unable to delete them. These may be a computer virus of some sort, so I don't recommend clicking on them. The only links that I intentionally placed in this blog are Waiter Rant (on the top right of the screen) and any links that refer back to another story. New Story coming tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Actor and my First Shift

-A Description of The Actor-

The Actor is in his late 30's/early 40's. He stands 6'3'', and weighs about 240 lbs. He has short, well-kept dark hair that he keeps in place with large amounts of hair product.

The Actor is gay, but he is not flamboyant. He is effeminate when he speaks naturally, but at his tables, he affects a masculine, macho persona. He says he does it to keep him and the table comfortable. Apparently, there are still some folks who get nervous around homosexuals. Maybe they're afraid they'll "catch gay" if he handles their food too long.

The Actor is dirty. Not Pig Pen from Peanuts dirty. Porn star dirty.

The Actor is an incredible thespian. He can sing, he can dance, and he can act. Working shifts with The Actor is always entertaining. Once he comes into a side station, he breaks into one of his characters. It's a sight that must be seen to be believed. Two of his more colorful characters were:

The Mildly Retarded Boy- think "Warren" from There's Something about Mary. But instead of "Have you seen my baseball?" he goes around asking "Can I touch your boob?" and lamenting, "I left my helmet on the bus."

Vlad the Eastern European Immigrant- He actually played this character onstage, and then brought it into the restaurant one night. He waited all of his tables as Vlad, and he got loads of comment cards saying how wonderful his English is and how wonderfully amazing he was as a server.

There are tons of stories involving The Actor. I will start with the first.

-The Actor and my First Shift-

I walk in the door for my first training shift at the restaurant. I am incredibly shy at this point in my life. That's part of the reason I want to wait tables. I want to reinvent myself as a socially comfortably person.

Thankfully, I won't have to deal directly with customers today. I am training on the expo line. I have to learn the plate presentations and the proper garnishes for our dishes.

It's Saturday night at 5 o'clock, and it's already busy. I make my way to the back. Valerie is doing paperwork.

"You learning expo tonight. You know Spanish?"

"Poquito." Never mind that I failed Spanish in school. I know enough to get by.

"Good, you working with Paco and Paco. Same name, different guys. Oh, and watch out for The Actor."

I walk back to the expo line. I introduce myself to Paco and Paco. Both are Mexican. On wears a backwards hat and a shit-eating grin. The other wears sports goggles and a house arrest ankle collar. They are both friendly.

I mull over why Valerie would warn me about The Actor. I ask Paco.

"Oh, he pinche Maricon, wey. He like you culo." Great. He's gay, and he'll like my ass. I'm glad I wore my tight jeans.

All thoughts of The Actor are quickly pushed to the back of my mind as the dinner rush begins.

Backwards Hat Paco moves with lightning-quick precision. He explains what he's doing as he preps plate after plate after plate. I'm trying to keep up while absorbing as much information as possible. I quickly fall behind, and I struggle to catch up.

After a few hours, the rush lightens. For the first time since I met Paco, I am able to leave the expo line for a drink. I have cotton mouth.

I turn around to head towards the main sidestation, located between the dining room and the kitchen. Standing in the sidestation are two attractive waitresses and The Actor. The Actor is holding both his hands waist-high, palms up, and he's pantomiming a squeeze. Both the waitresses are laughing.

When he sees me looking, The Actor slowly lowers his hands and smiles at me. He picks up a cup of coffee and sips on it, his eyes never leaving mine. I realize that he and the two waitresses have been checking out my ass.

After years of football training, including thousands of squats and power cleans, my ass is tighter than a drum, and I'm proud of it. I decide to test my new "socially comfortable" persona on The Actor.

"What? You want me to bend over the expo line?" I ask, thinking he'll be shocked that I'm so dirty. I was wrong.

The Actor takes another sip of his coffee, and calmly remarks,

"Sweetie, we don't have enough lube in this place for that, and I really hate making little boys cry."

The two waitresses are rolling, and I feel my face turn beat red. I force myself to smile. I know when I've met someone with superior verbal bantering skills. I've yet to meet anyone with a wit as sharp as The Actor's. Trying to think up a comeback would be pointless.

Instead, I introduce myself, and The Actor and I make small talk for a few minutes. He's a good guy, and soon we're laughing and talking like old friends. Unfortunately, I have to excuse myself to return to the expo line. He heads back to his tables.

Less than five minutes later, I hear a woman's scream from the sidestation. Thinking that she's either fallen or cut herself, I run around the corner to see if I can help.

The Actor has one of the waitresses pinned up against the wall, legs spread. She's screaming and laughing while he mock thrusts into her. He's shouting, "Take it, you dirty little whore!"

I'm speechless. I'm wondering how The Actor is going to avoid a sexual harrassment lawsuit. Then I look around. All the other servers have gathered to stare at the spectacle. Most are laughing. Some are even cheering The Actor on. The waitress is laughing so hard she has tears in her eyes. I didn't know it then, but in this restaurant, sexual harrasment is practically part of the job description. Weird.


A customer is standing at the doorway of the sidestation, holding a tab book and a fistful of cash. His expression is that of a man who wants to be anywhere but where he currently is. The servers scatter like cockroaches in a NYC apartment when someone turns on the lights.

The Actor continues to pound away. He glances over at the customer and lifts his hand in greeting.

"Hi! Do you need some change?" The Actor doesn't even slow his pace.

"Uh... take it!" The customer stuffs the money into the book and exits as quickly as possible.

The Actor releases the waitress. All the scattered servers regroup. They're all laughing.

"How much did he leave you?" one asks.

The Actor checks the book. "About fifteen dollars."

"How much was the check?"

"About 25 dollars." The Actor is smug, and he returns to his coffee.

"Geez, the guy has that image burned into his retinas, and you get 40%"

"That's what he gets for coming in the back."

I return to the expo line and think about what I've just seen. I wonder if the customer will ever be able to eat out again. The thought of what goes on in the back rooms of restaurants will always hover at the back of his mind.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Deaf Guy


This story deals with a customer that has a disability. Servers are trained to deal with and be sensitive to whatever special needs a customer with a disability may have. I am no exception. I have read the menu, word for word, to a blind customer. I have provided pen and paper to help deaf customers order. My overall attitude is to make the customer feel as comfortable as possible.

This story is about a customer, his actions, and a tip. I will probably delete any posts that focus on the issue of disability. Disabilities are a side issue in this case.

-A Description of The Deaf Guy-

The Deaf Guy is in his mid-to-late 60's. He towers over most at 6'5''. I'd guess his weight at about 315. He has a substantial potbelly, and must sit at a table because he can't fit into a booth.

He wears jean shorts and solid-colored, loose-fitting T-shirts. He always wears the same faded blue/orange hat. His hair is gray, greasy and stringy. It hangs about an inch over his collar. He has a thick Santa-Claus length beard.

The Deaf Guy always walks to the restaurant. He must live close by, because he is never winded or sweaty when he arrives, even on scorching hot days. He usually comes in after the lunch rush, which is a good thing, as you'll see.

He always seems impatient and he loves to run servers, like playing with puppets on strings. I hate being a marrionette.

-The Deaf Guy's Story-

It's 3:00 on a Wednesday. I'm late-checking with Amy. Amy, odd as it may seem, is a mostly deaf server. She's a damn good one too. She lost her hearing gradually, so she was able to learn to read lips. She wears a surgically implanted hearing aid, which allows her to hear people in close proximity. Amy also harbors more neuroses and psychoses than a psych ward during a full moon. I could fill an entire other blog with stories about her, but a one word description will suffice for this story- BITCHY.

The Deaf Guy is walking through the parking lot. Amy and I are chatting at the host stand. I'm treading lightly on eggshells throughout our conversation. I don't want to do anything to make her snap, especially when we have another two hours before the PM servers relieve us.

Amy sees The Deaf Guy coming.

"Damnit! You take this guy."

"Amy, it's your turn." We've been rotating tables all afternoon.

"I don't care. I refuse to wait on him."

She hightails it to the kitchen, leaving me alone to face whatever horrors may be coming my way.

He walks through the double doors in front and fixes his steely gaze on me.

"Good afternoon, sir. Table for one?" I try to be cheery.

The Deaf Guy holds up one finger and proclaims, "Uuungghhhh!!" The grunt lasts for a full five seconds.

I'm taken aback, but I recover quickly. I grab a menu and lead him to the nearest table. As I'm setting down the menu, he taps me on the shoulder and points to a seat by the window.

"Uuungghhh!" Creepy, but OK. Who doesn't like a nice window seat? The windows overlook a large pond. Not a bad view, actually.

I nod and lead him towards the windows.

"Please sir, sit wherever you'd like," I say, sweeping my arm in the general direction of our window seating.

He pulls out a chair and folds himself into his seat. I hand him a menu, which he opens. He grabs my arm, as if I'm going to run away before he can order. I don't like being touched.

The Deaf Guy points to "Iced Tea" with his free hand.

"Uuunghhh" he says, running his finger repeatedly under his selection. He lets go of my arm. I can't be sure, but it feels like he gave me a gentle push towards the kitchen.

"Yes, sir, I'll be right back with that for you." I walk to the back rubbing my sore arm. The Deaf Guy has quite a grip.

Amy is cutting lemons for the night shift.

"What's wrong with that guy? Is he mentally retarded?"

"No, he's deaf."

I find it logical that a deaf server and a deaf patron would be a good match.

"Why didn't you take him? I don't know sign language or anything, but you do. You could do a better job than I could with him!"

"That asshole doesn't know sign language. He can't read lips. He gives deaf people a bad name!" Amy storms off in a huff.

I didn't know that someone could give an entire disability group a bad name, but I wasn't going to chase Any down for clarification.

As I fill The Deaf Guy's iced tea, I think about what Amy said. Amy worked hard to learn sign language and lip reading. She should be proud of her achievements. But does that give her the right to bang on someone who wouldn't or couldn't do the same things? I didn't think so.

Maybe Amy had treated him poorly the last time he dined with us. I made up my mind that The Deaf Guy was going to receive stellar service this time.

I return with his iced tea. He grabs it out of my hand and drains it. We've got a Chugger!

He pushes the glass back into my hand and takes hold of my arm once again. He uses his free hand to order his meal, pointing to his selections, running his finger under each item.

He orders an entree, a salad, and three extra sides. Each time, he punctuates his order with another "Uuuunghhhh."

When he lets me go, I definitely feel the push towards the kitchen. OK, I'm starting to dislike The Deaf Guy. But I've made a promise to myself. He's going to get great service no matter what.

I refill his iced tea three more times before I can get his salad out. He finishes his salad without incident. I refill his iced tea twice more before his lunch is ready.

I bring his sandwich and ask if there is anything else I can get for him. He dismisses me with a wave, and digs in to his meal. I don't like being dismissed. I'm disliking The Deaf Guy more and more as time passes.

I go to the back and eat my lunch. Two breadsticks and a souffle cup of ranch dressing. Yum.

I wipe my mouth with a napkin, wash my hands, and walk back to the dining room, another iced tea in hand.

The Deaf Guy is fast asleep.

He's sitting upright in his chair, his head leaning back. He didn't just doze off. He's in a deep slumber, and he's sawing logs.

What the hell?!

I clap a couple times, trying to wake him up. Then I realize that clapping is pointless. He's deaf.

I think for a minute, and I remember an elementary school lesson about Helen Keller. I stomp twice on the floor. Hard.

This does the trick. The Deaf Guy awakes with a snort, and resumes eating as though nothing has happened. Odd.

I drop off his ninth or tenth iced tea (I've lost count). Going to the back, I wonder how a person could fall asleep after drinking so much caffeinated iced tea.

I walk back out into the dining room. The Deaf Guy is asleep again. Head back, mouth open, snoring at full volume.

I realize that The Deaf Guy is a narcoleptic. He was probably drinking those iced teas so he could stay awake through his meal.

It takes The Deaf Guy nearly an hour to get through his meal. He falls asleep twice more, and each time, I stomp on the floor to wake him. My foot begins to hurt.

He drinks another six or seven iced teas. Probably stockpiling caffeine for the walk home.

Finally, The Deaf Guy is ready for his check. He mulls it over, nods, and pulls out a wad of bills. He counts very carefully, recounts, places the bills in the book, and hands the book to me. He nods and, for the first time since he walked in, he smiles. He points to the book and makes a cutting motion with his hand. No change.

"Thank you sir, you have a great afternoon!"

The Deaf Guy walks out into the afternoon sun.

I look at the bill. $18.27. I count the money. $19.00. He's left me 73 cents as a tip.

I refilled his iced tea damn near twenty times. I woke him up so he wouldn't fall face-first into his plate. I was friendly, courteous, and I didn't get huffy when he grabbed my arm. For this, I get 4%.

Amy was right. That guy is an asshole.


The Teacher and her Baby

-A Description of The Teacher-

The Teacher is in her early 30's. Medium height, medium-to-slender build. She has short dirty blonde hair and pale skin that turns red when she drinks. She always wears solid colored sleaveless shirts, white tennis shorts and strappy leather sandals. She is rather non-descript, and would blend in with most crowds.

I have only seen her at the restaurant during the summer, when our patio section (outside aka "dining al fresco") is open. She has a baby who is about 16 months old at the time of this story. The Teacher and her Baby are regulars that usually come in for lunch. She's very friendly, she tips well, and her Baby is well-behaved. Great customer, except that she drinks despite the fact that she's alone with her Baby.

I've seen her with her husband once, so I know he exists.

I know she is a teacher at a local high school because she taught one of our waitresses.

-The Teacher's Story-

I've just returned from school and I'm beginning my second summer at the restaurant. It is late May, and the weather thus far has been awful. Today, however, dawns sunny and warm.

I arrive at 10:30 and help set up the restaurant. At the shift meeting, Valerie informs me that I'll be taking the patio section. It's the first day the weather has cooperated, and I have a premonition that it will be busy.

I hate it when I'm right. The patio fills quickly, and I'm stuck running eight tables. For those of you not in the industry, a normal server station is limited to three to five tables.

Eight is borderline ridiculous, especially when we have to expo our tables' food, run our tables' food and get our tables' refills.

Eight on the patio is insane. The patio is the farthest section from the kitchen and the drink stations. Every time someone wants an extra side of dressing or mayo, I have to sprint through the entire restaurant to get to the kitchen. I'm good, but I doubt there are many servers who are good enough to handle this.

I spend the entire shift "in the weeds." It's 90 degrees outside and I'm sweating bullets. I can feel my boxers sticking to the inside of my thighs, and I know when I go home I'll need to shower twice to feel right again.

Three solid hours of this and the lunch crowd begins to thin. I am about to be cut and I can't wait to head home for those showers and a nap before I return to complete my double shift. Then The Teacher saunters in.

I know I'll have to take her. The late checks (two servers who take over the restaurant when the rush is over) still have full sections, and no one else is volunteering to stay.

I've had The Teacher once before, last summer. She tipped me well, so I remember her.

During her last visit, The Teacher drank several beers, even though she is solely responsible for transporting and caring for her Baby. She got a little tipsy, but she drank a couple glasses of water and sat for a while after her meal, letting the effects of the alcohol subside.

(Quick side note- It is illegal for us to refuse alcohol to anyone of sound mind who is of legal drinking age. If a pregnant lady walks in the door and orders three fingers of scotch, the bartender has to pour away. Otherwise, the pregnant lady can sue us for discrimination. I love this litigious society in which we live.)

The Teacher is seated, and the baby is resting comfortably in a car seat/carrier combo.

"Hello, Ma'am. May I start you off your usual draft?"

"Yes, but could I have the larger glass? I'm really thirsty." She wants 20 oz. rather than 12. Not an unusual request. But the Baby...

"Of course. Would you like your usual salad?"

"Yes, I can't believe you remembered! I haven't been here in months!"

I wink. "We'll ma'am, I'm good at what I do, and customers are important to us. Your food should be ready in ten to fifteen minutes, and I'll have your drink to you in a jiffy." I'm such a kiss-ass.

I ring in her order, walk to the bar to retrieve her beer, and walk out the door, squinting to block out the blazing sun. I deliver her beer and begin my side work.

As I'm rolling silverware, my Server Sense goes off. It's been less than five minutes since I dropped off her drink, her food won't be ready for at least another five, but something seems amiss. I peak outside and see that she has pounded her beer like a fratboy on a bender. The foam is still clinging to the side of the glass.

"May I get you another?" Geez, it's hot out here.

"Please. I was really thirsty." She's sheepish, almost embarassed.

No worries. Two beers isn't that much. But the Baby...

I bring her another beer and go to check on her salad. The chicken is cooked, the salad is prepped. I add a breadstick and a dressing and her food is ready.

I bring it out to her and notice that her beer is only a quarter full.

"So hot today. May I have another?"

I'm starting to look for clues as to her state of drunkeness. She seems fine, no slurred words, glassy eyes, or loud voice. But I know from experience that on a hot day, those first couple drinks may go down easy but the alcohol will eventually hit you like a ton of bricks.

The Teacher seems OK. I'll bring her another beer, but I'll watch her closely. But the Baby...

She's gently rocking the Baby in its carrier as I return. I set the beer down and inquire about her food, which she's plowed into, full-steam.

She pauses, fork halfway to her mouth.

"Waiter, the sthallad is deliciousth!"

Awww SHIT! She's hammered. And I just placed a full beer in front of her. Time for damage control.

I immediately fill up her water glass and bring her another breadstick. I run to the back in search of a manager. Valerie is cashing out the other servers in the office.

"Valerie, there's a lady on the patio. She's getting pretty buzzed and she has a baby with her. She was fine and then all of a sudden WHAM!"

Valerie may be heartless when it comes to the well-being of most customers, but as a single mom, she has highly-honed maternal instincts.

"Cut her off. No more."

"Will do. I'll try to slow things down so she has time to sober up."

"Go." Such a great conversationalist, our Valerie.

I grab the water pitcher and start back towards the patio to refill The Teacher's glass. The scene unfolding in front of me stops me dead in my tracks. "Deer in headlights" doesn't do justice.

The Teacher has finished her salad and pushed it to the side. In its place, the Baby squirms in The Teacher's arms. The Teacher is changing the baby's diaper on the table. Where people eat. In the same spot where she was eating moments before.

Frozen in horror in the middle of the dining room, I've attracted the attention of the late checks, Deedee and Rena. They join me and we all stare out the window.

Deedee, our resident middle-aged alcoholic waitress, is the first to speak. "What the hell is she doing?" she asks calmly in her trailer park drawl.

"Changing her kid. Thank God this place is empty." Rena is half-laughing, half-gagging at the spectacle unfolding.

"I know there's a changing station in the men's room. Isn't there one in the women's?" I have to ask to make sure.

"Sure is. Must be an issue of convenience." Deedee shrugs and heads to the back. I turn to look at her go and I notice her swaying slightly. She's been hitting the flask that she keeps hidden in the bowels of her apron. Whatever gets you through the day.

I turn back, ready to tell The Teacher that she has to move to the changing station. She's already finished, and -uh oh- she's opening the door that leads inside of the restaurant, carrying the bundled diaper. She walks directly up to me and thrusts the diaper in my hands.

I'm too shocked to move. I can only stare dumbly at the disposable diaper in my hand as the smell of baby shit permeates the air, assaulting my olfactory sense.

"Take care of thisth for me pleezzzth." She turns around and walks back outside. My mind shuts off. I vaguely comprehend that I'm standing in the dining room at work, sweating like a pig and holding a diaper. For some reason, the fact that the diaper is warm piercess the haze. It's my only lucid thought.

I hear howling laughter. Rena and Deedee are holding onto the sides of the kitchen door to keep from falling on the floor. Rena is wiping tears out of her eyes.

I break out of my trance and find the nearest trash can. I dump the diaper and fight down the urge to vomit.

I find the nearest sink and scrub my hands like an obsessive-compulsive sanitation freak. They are pink, raw, and nearly bleeding when I feel clean again. I dry off with a paper towel and head back to battle.


The Teacher has another full beer in front of her!

"Deedee! Did you give that lady another beer?"

"Not me, man."


"Don't look at me."

That left the bartender, Darren.

"Darren, did you give that lady another beer?"

"Yeah. Where were you? She said she couldn't find you, so she came to me. Tipped me five bones too. Snooze you lose."

"Darren, Valerie cut her off! She can barely stand, and you gave her another beer!" I'm pissed.

"Hey, man, I didn't know. Sorry." Darren smokes enough pot to keep a small Central American drug cartel financially stable. He's pretty much unflappable, and very little concerns him. He shrugs and walks away.

I don't blame Darren. He had no way of knowing. Except that The Teacher could barely stand on her own. Asshole.

In life, as in serving, you have to clean up your own messes. Resigned to my fate, I walk back outside. I spend the next three hours sitting down and talking with The Teacher as she slowly sobers up. I make sure The Teacher always has a full glass of water, the baby is comfortable, and that all future diaper changes occur in the changing station in the women's room. I even help The Teacher open a jar of baby food. Can't tell which smelled worse, the diaper or the pureed carrots, peas, and peaches. Pretty much the same, I guess.

I'm sweating the whole time I'm out there. My shirt is completely pitted out and my boxers cling to me like a heavy, stinky, wet second skin.

Eventually, The Teacher is sober enough to drive. She pays her bill, tipping me handsomely.

She's embarassed, but I smooth things over. I apologize profusely for overserving her. I let her know that it was my fault, and that we want her to come back soon. She'll be back often, but she'll never repeat today's performance.

Finally, her SUV pulls out of the parking lot and I have time to take stock of the situation.

I hate that I'm leaving as the PM servers are coming in.
I hate that I smell like an old shoe.
I really hate the fact that I have to be back in an hour to complete my double shift.
Worst of all, I hate the fact that it's my own fault that I'm in this condition.

However, this shift's experience was the BEST BIRTH CONTROL EVER. If I never touch another dirty diaper again, that'd be just peachy with me.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

God doesn't pay my rent


This story involves religion. If anyone posts a comment to this story regarding the religion aspect, I will probably delete it. This is a story about a customer and a tip. In this case, religion is a side issue.

-A Description of The Church-

There is a non-denominational church in a bordering suburb. The Church is huge. It has televised sermons, cushioned stadium seating, and TV monitors situated in the back of the auditorium. Makes it easier for the late arrivals to take in the pastor in all his glory. The pastor drives a Jaguar, his son a BMW. They live in a $2 million home on 3 acres of land in one of those fenced-in, rent-a-cop guarded neighborhoods.

Every year, The Church hosts several conferences for people from all over the U.S. Once a year, there is a world-wide conference.

The congregation is cheap. There are no exceptions to my knowledge. Perhaps they are taught to never tip a larger percentage than they tithe. I don't know and don't care. If the pastor can afford a multi-million dollar home and several expensive cars, then the congregation has enough to tip 15%. Here is the worst of The Church stories.

-The Church Story-

The world-wide conference is in full swing, and our servers are jazzed. We're all making money thanks to the sheer volume of customers. It helps that one of the neighboring casual restaurants has asked The Church to send its parishioners elsewhere. No joke. Their servers bitched and threatened to strike if their management didn't take action. After this night, I won't blame them.

I have already put away $80 and there is still an hour wait at the door. The hostess seats me with a party of 12, taking up three of my four tables. Cha-Ching!

The party is friendly enough. No drinkers at the table, so the per-customer check average is low for the table. No biggie. Twelve burgers and twelve soft drinks brings the bill to about $130. Not bad.

The kitchen is rocking and the food is out fast. The table bows their heads for grace, then picks up their forks. Everyone is happily digging in. I check back to make sure everyone is happy.

"How is everything, folks?"

Nods and smiles all around, except for one gentleman who looks up at me with a serious expression.

"Waiter, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?"

Now, my parents instilled great morals, but I rarely went to church. I'm a non-practicing Christian. The way I figure it, treat others as you would have them treat you. Simple, effective.

I tell The Inquisitor as much, but in much nicer and lighter terms. Big Mistake.

"Oh, waiter," he begins, shaking his head, his half-eaten burger forgotten on his plate, "you don't want to go to Hell do you?"

"No, sir. I figure if I live my life as a good person, then I've added something to the world."

I hate philosophizing with customers. I make an exception in this case because these folks seem nice. And their bill was huge by this restaurant's standards.

"Son (I hate it when anyone other than my parents calls me that), you should come to our retreat next month. Here's a flier and a pamphlet." Now the table is all smiles, looking up at me expectantly.

I accept the documents with a smile to avoid further confrontation. I beat a hasty retreat. I toss them into one of the side stations and busy myself with side work.

When I return to present the check, The Inquisitor persists, "Young man (another moniker I hate), you think about what I said. We hope to see you next month."

"I'll think about it sir. You folks enjoy the rest of your conference, and have a wonderful evening!"

The Church crowd sits for a few more minutes, finishing the remains of their soft drinks, talking and laughing. They're probably really excited about the prospect of herding another sheep into their flock. They pass around the bill, put on their jackets, and leave.

I pick up the check book as the bus boy sweeps the empty glasses into the bus tub and readies the table for the next group of church-goers.

I count the money. It appears they've left me a 10 and 7 20's. $20 on 130. Not great, but better than I expect.

Upon closer inspection, one of the 20's isn't a 20. It's the same size and color as a piece of U.S. currency. They've stuffed it in between the other 6 20's so it's easy to miss at first glance.

It's another pamphlet. It reads: God will Provide. On the back, it reads: This card to be presented in tandem with a tip.

Bastards. God does not pay my rent; tips do. The already minimal chance of my looking into that retreat vanishes.

The thing that pisses me off most is that apparently these people didn't bother to read their own card.

My only hope rests with the thought that many years from now...

The Inquisitor is waiting at the Pearly Gates with his bags packed. He's ready to enter the great Castle in the Sky, and he's wondering what's taking so long. Finally he comes to the front of the line, ready to tell St. Peter that he's accepted Jesus as his personal savior.

Instead, St. Peter asks, "Inquisitor, why did you stiff that waiter? You've given a sect of our religion a bad name?"

The Inquisitor fumbles for an answer, and can only manage, "I gave him a pamphlet!"

"A pamphlet? Right..." St. Peter's hand moves to the lever beside him. He pulls, and a trapdoor opens beneath The Inquisitor.

As he drops out of sight, all can hear his fading cry, "But, the paaaamphleeeetttttt..."

Valerie, Ranch Dressing, and a Birthday

-Description of Valerie-

I introduced our GM Valerie in The Captain post. Here are some more details about Valerie.

Valerie was born in the Phillipines and is now in her late-20's. She is about 5'4'' and weighs about 165 lbs. She has short (chin-length), straight, thick dark hair, and she occasionally smokes UltraLite cigarettes (without inhaling). To best sum up her appearance, think of a Phillipina version of Monica Lewinsky.

In her youth, she was part of the upper echelon of Phillipino society. Growing up, she had servants dressing her and catering to her every need. In her late teens, Valerie got pregnant. According to her, it was her first time, and it was in a bathroom stall. Classy. She moved to America soon after she got pregnant. I don't know if she left in shame, if her parents kicked her out, or if she preferred Chicago's snowy, windy, cold-as-hell winters. In any case, Valerie was ready to take America by storm.

She landed a job as a pantry girl in the restaurant. She quickly became one of the GM's pet projects. She rocketed up the ladder, first moving horizontally from pantry girl to line cook to server, then moving vertically to Shift Supervisor, Assistant Manager, and then General Manager.

During her meteoric rise to the top, she developed a reputation as a hard-ass. She was given the nickname "Valerietnam" by one of our more clever, geographically-challenged servers.

Valerie is stingy, cheap, frugal, whatever you'd like to call it. She will do whatever it takes to make or save money, customer or associate be damned. This story is the best example of Valerie's thrifty ways.

-Valerie's Story-

Rewind to my second shift on the floor. I'm just out of training, and I'm allowed to take three tables at a time. It's a lunch shift, and our place is hopping. Our restuarant is located in an area with a lot of businesses and many of them spend their lunch hour at our establishment. Most don't tip incredibly well, but the volume and time constraint allows the servers to turn tables quickly.

As a new server, I have yet to find my rythym. I'm still making mistakes, and I'm hustling to try to keep up.

I get seated with a four-top. All women wearing trendy business casual, except for one who has donned a spiffy new blazer-skirt ensemble. I'll call her "Dressy."

I go through my spiel. They all order the same salad and waters with lemon. Dressy orders an extra rameken of ranch dressing.

I return to the computer and punch in their orders. I resume flying around, refilling drinks, clearing plates, running food, etc. The four-top's food comes up, and I deliver it with a smile. I have yet to make a mistake this shift, and life is good.

The women chow down. They only have a short amount of time to eat, so manners and etiquette take a back seat to ravenous hunger. I have to take a step back so I don't get hit with the lettuce shavings that fly out of the sides of their mouths. Seriously.

I am finally caught up with my tables, so I go in back to try to get to know the other servers better. They pretty much ignore me because I'm the new guy. They don't know if I'm going to make it yet, so they don't bother learning anything but my name. Hell, at this point I don't know if I'm going to make it yet, so I can't blame them.

I return to the floor and see that the women have polished off their salads. Another table's drinks are getting low, so I have to clear the women's plates quickly in order to get refills on time.

I notice that Dressy didn't touch her extra rameken of ranch. It's still sitting on the edge of her plate in the same spot. Oh well.

I stack up the three biz casual plates on my left arm and am going for Dressy's with my right. I feel the plates in my arm shift. Instinctively, I glance back to my left and pull my right hand over to help.

Unfortunately, I have Dressy's plate in my right hand. Fortunately, I miss her head by less that a milimeter. Unfortunately, the rameken of ranch flies off the plate.

Time slows to a crawl. Everything moves in slow-motion, and someone hit the mute button. I hear nothing, and everything in my field of vision blurs except the rameken. My entire being is focused on that extra dressing.

I see the rameken spinning end-over-end. The dressing is flying out in a widening spiral, splattering Dressy's blazer's back with line after line of creamy, oily dressing. Finally, the rameken hits the floor and bounces. It's still spinning, but nothing is coming out now. It's like someone is holding down the trigger of a machine gun when the clip empties. The chamber is still whirring and clicking, but nothing comes out.

Slowly the rameken spins to a stop, upright and empty. All three biz casual women look at Dressy in horror, mouths agape.

Life returns to regular speed and someone turns on the sound again. My first impulse is to run and hide. I regain my composure.

"Oh my goodness. Ma'am, I'm so sorry. I'm going to go grab something to clean you up, and I'll see if I can find my manager as well so we can take care of you."

As I turn to go, I hear one of the women comment, "Well, Happy Birthday, huh Mary? Ha ha!"

This stops me dead in my tracks. My mind does a quick situation recap. I've just spilled copious amounts of ranch dressing all over a lady's new business suit on her birthday. SHIT!

I book to the back.

"Valerie, you have to come out here quick!"

"What wrong?" She's testing the temperature of the soup kettle during the busiest part of the lunch rush.

When it's slow, she's preparing for Armegeddon. When it's busy, she performs tasks that have no bearing on the outcome of a shift. Outstanding.

"Ijustspilledranchalloverthisladyonherbirthday" The words spew out of my mouth.

This is the first (but not the last) time I've spilled on a customer. I don't know the exact procedure, but I'm sure it involves a manager visit to the table, endless apologies, ass-kissing, paying a cleaning bill, comping the food bill, and/or buying a new suit. Five years later, I know this is what should happen. However, Valerie has a different plan.

"Oh. Buy them a sundae" She turns back to her thermometer. The sundae bar is a unique feature in our restaurant. It costs $2 for a kid, $4 for an adult. You get a free one on your birthday, regardless of whether the server spills ranch dressing on you.

"Valerie, I can't go back out there and tell her that. I feel awful, I've ruined her suit. We need to pay her cleaning bill, not buy dessert for the table."

"Not for the table. For her. I busy."



Great. I go back to the table alone, armed with wet wipes and a plan. I'm not about to tell them that Dressy only gets a free dessert (one she's entitled to anyways) in exchange for my ruining her birthday.

"Ladies, your lunch is on us" I turn to Dressy, "Here is my manager's business card. Please send the cleaning bill to her. Again, I am so sorry about this."

The ladies nod, and then boogie as quickly as possible. They even leave me a $5 pity tip, which, to this day, I feel that I don't deserve.

I go to the back to tell Valerie what I've done.

"You stupid. I take employee discount off of their bill (50%), but if I get cleaning bill, you pay."

I am too emotionally drained to argue. After paying for half their bill, I end up walking out the door five dollars on the positive side.

I never got a cleaning bill, so either Valerie had a change of heart (doubtful) or Dressy wanted nothing more to do with our restaurant (likely). I never saw her or her friends again.

Today, I was the WORST SERVER EVER.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Captain

-A Description of The Captain-

When I first laid eyes on The Captain, I sensed that he was a couple ships short of a fleet (bad pun, I know, but bear with me). It was 3 in the afternoon. The lunch rush was long over, the dinner servers were probably still wiping the sleep out of the eyes, and our restaurant was a ghost town.

He was sitting by himself at the bar watching TV. Not the big screen TV, but his own portable TV set. It was probably the first model off the line in 1985. It was about ten inches tall, ten inches deep, and seven inches wide, with a three-inch screen and a three-foot antenna. Must have weighed twenty pounds. He was watching a soap opera while idly spinning a large commemorative coin.

The Captain is in his mid-to-late 60's. He tips the scales at nearly 300 lbs. His bushy gray hair, bushy gray eyebrows, and bushy gray lamb-chop sideburns attempt are harnessed under the navy blue captain's hat that provides his nickname. He wears this in tandem with a rumpled white collared shirt, faded light blue pants, and gray suspenders. He never changes clothes. I harbor a mental image of a closet filled with hundreds of rumpled white collared shirts and faded blue pants.

He isn't the worst-smelling customer that I've ever encountered, but he's close. His rank body odor is lightly masked by cheap cologne. He mumbles when he talks, so it's difficult to understand him. The longer he sits and drinks, the more difficult it is to understand him. Imagine Marlon Brando as Don Corleone playing "Chubby Bunny."

The Captain is odd. He scares women and small children at the restaurant. He's also cheap (I'll get to that). In short, he's the type of regular that you don't want to see walk through the door.

-The Captain's Story-

Easter Sunday, three years ago. I'm bartending all day to make some cash so I can afford an upcoming frat formal. Nobody else wants to work on Easter, and I have nothing better to do. It's win-win.

I've had some time off, so I'm psyched to work rather than dreading the double shift. I'm wiping the bar down after our shift meeting when the door opens. In walks The Captain, portable TV tucked firmly under his arm. Great.

He plops into his usual seat at the bar and orders a cheap American "beer for the masses." Popping the cap, I offer a menu. He orders one of our pasta dishes. For a casual restaurant, our food is decent. He's ordered one of our better dishes, and I comment,

"Nice choice, Sir."

He takes a big swig of pale amber beer and mumbles something unintelligible before turning back to his TV. Giving up on conversation, I head to the back.

Our hyperactive Phillipina General Manager, Valerie, is buzzing around the kitchen, cleaning and prepping the line. The restaurant has one customer, and she's acting like World War III is iminent. Typical.

Valerie is always under the impression that a tour bus full of hungry customers is going to break down on our block, ignore the other five restaurants that share our intersection, and march through our door demanding fast service. This has yet to happen, but there's always a chance.

"Valerie, The Captain is in port."

"OK, tell me if he get bad" The Captain is a regular, and he's gotten drunk and abusive on several occasions before. Best to let the boss know if there's a possible situation brewing. (Oh, and Valerie's English isn't great.)

"Will do. Can I help with anything?"

"Sure, wipe down wall" She tosses me a rag and I start wiping down the wall behind the soup kettle. Closers must have been in a hurry to get out the night before. Normally I'd be pissed doing any sort of menial task, but I'll do anything to avoid going back to The Captain. I'd hate to interrupt his soaps.

As I'm finishing scrubbing the remains of Potato Cheese and Bacon soup off the walls, The Captain's food shows up in the window. I toss a fresh breadstick on the plate and garnish the dish with a bit of chopped parsley.

I place the plate in front of The Captain with a slight flourish. I'm feeling saucy today.

"Is there anything else I can get you, sir?"

This is where things get strange. He chugs the rest of the beer, lays the bottle on its side and proclaims in a booming, clear voice, "THERE'S A SAILOR DOWN!"

At first I'm shocked that I've comprehended a full sentence. My shock deepens when I realize that The Captain has just referred to his beer as if it were a fallen comrade. Thankfully, my bartender autopilot kicks in, and I am able to find another beer in the cooler, pop the top, and set it in front of him. Another table walks in and seats themselves at a bar booth. Grateful, I walk away and begin my spiel at the new table.

By the time I have their drinks out, The Captain has finished his pasta. Unfortunately, he's also finished his beer.


Full volume now.

My new table looks up in surprise, then glances away, not wanting to draw attention. Valerie is hanging out at the host stand. She witnesses the whole thing, then walks away without so much as a glance. It's going to be a long, lonely afternoon.

My only hope is that The Captain will continue drinking at a feverish pace. I can cut him off and send him on his merry way. In doing this, I will have kept both the customers and The Captain safe. I'll sleep well at night.

At that moment, The Captain's Entourage arrives. The Captain's Entourage consists of his slightly larger but much nicer non-drinking sister and his slightly younger but much meaner and harder-drinking friend, the First Mate. Perfect. A designated driver and a drinking buddy. The Captain can stay and drink himself stupid now.

Valerie refuses to cut off anyone who has a designated driver, safety be damned. In her mind, if the restaurant is making money, all is well in the universe.

My plan in shambles and my Easter looking bleak, I steel myself for events to come.

As the afternoon goes on, the sister slurps down countless Diet Colas while the dynamic duo pounds beer after beer, each time piercing the silence with their battle cry "THERE'S A SAILOR DOWN!" It doesn't help that the First Mate has joined in. The restaurant and I are getting it both barrels.

To make matters worse, I've only had one other table. My money is going to have to come from the Captain and his Entourage. I'm screwed. The Captain is notoriously cheap.

Finally the night comes to a close. I bring the check to The Entourage. The Captain and The First Mate demand another drink. I patiently explain to them that we are not allowed to serve after 10 o'clock. We could lose our liquor license. They complain that I never called "last call", so they should be allowed another drink. I explain that "last call" is actually illegal within the suburb's limits because the police department believes that last call encourages binge drinking. They demand to see the manager.

I call Valerie from the phone at the bar. She's in the office in back. I'm not about to walk back and allow them the opportunity to walk out on a $100 tab.

"What?" She sounds angry. Sales must have been lower than last year.

"Valerie, the folks up here would like another round."

"So give to them"

"It's after 10, and they've had quite a few"

"Bigger check, more tip"

"Valerie, I don't know if that's a good idea"

"Give to them! And tell them they leave by 10:30!" Click.

Thanks, Valerie. I give them their two fresh beers. At 11:15, they pay their check. The bill is $110. They leave me two 50's, two 5's, and ten sheets of paper before waddling out the door and into the night.

I look at the sheets of paper. Each is marked as an official "1/10 ounce of silver note", redeemable for one dollar. The only problem- they are only redeemable in Louisville, KY. Why Louisville, I have no idea. I just know that I'm not going there anytime soon.

I spent the whole day catering to these yahoos, putting up with their eccentricities, and they tip me ten percent. Better still, it's ten percent that I can't collect unless I take a trip to Louisville.

I go in the back to cash out. I try to use the notes in my deposit. Valerie is having none of that.

"Give me real money."

"Valerie, please. I've made five dollars all day, and I need the money to..."

"No, real money only. You keep these" She thrusts the notes in my face and holds out her other hand. I sigh, place the two 5's in her hand, put on my jacket and walk out the door.


I take solace in knowing that The Captain will awake in the morning with a horrendous hangover.

Introductory Post

Hello. This is my first attempt at a blog, so I'll start you off with some background as an appetizer...

I am a 25 year-old male. I graduated from Princeton University in 2003. While at Princeton, I played football, joined an eating club (think co-ed frat), and attempted to drink my weight in beer every month.

I started waiting tables after my junior year of college. Now, four years later, I work a desk job during the week. On the weekend, rather than blow my hard-earned money, I wait tables.

Serving helps me keep life in perspective. I have found that you can judge a person's character by how they treat a server. I'm not just talking about the tips (which are nice, don't get me wrong), but about a person's demeanor. Some folks translate "server" as "servant." These are some of the people that you will read about in this blog.

You will also read about some of the people I have worked with over the years. Servers are a different breed. They are colorful, vibrant, often amazing and, at times, strange folks.

The names have been changed, but the people are real.

I have worked at two restaurants. One is a casual (read "bunch of random flea market crap on the walls") restaurant. The other is a higher-end bar. Both are in the suburbs.

I found Waiter Rant a couple of months ago, and I got hooked. The Waiter is a masterful writer, and I don't pretend to be his equal. However, I think that I have a gift for storytelling, and hopefully I can provide any readers with a dollup of enjoyment, a dash of enlightenment, and a sprinkle of entertainment. I'd appreciate any comments- good, bad, or ugly. If you want to throw your own story into a comment, feel free. I love a good story.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to....