Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Scammer Series #2


For some reason, this Scammer made me feel sick to my stomach.

-The Lowest Scammer-

I'm bored. It's 12:30 on a weekday in September, our slowest month, and I have three tables. Mama said there'd be days like this.

I'm looking for a crossword puzzle in the paper when a mother and her daughter walk through the door. The mother is in her late 30's and the daughter looks to be about 9 or 10. They're both wearing shirts with a large cat face spread across the front. Animal shirts are usually a sure sign of a poor tipper. But since I'm desperate for cash, I decide I may as well take another table.

"Hi folks! How are you doing today?" I place bev naps on the table and plow through my spiel. It's automatic. I wonder if I could serve while sleepwalking?

"We'll each have water with lemon. Oh, and it's her birthday!" I briefly entertain the thought of trying to push a milk shake on them. I change my mind. The girl is a bit hefty, and she's going to be heading to junior high soon. Middle school kids are brutal.

"Of course, ma'am. I'll bring out a complimentary sundae at the end of your meal. Would you like us to sing for you?" I hate singing. I sound like a combination of Biz Markie and a bassett hound. Maybe today I'll get lucky.... Nope. The chubby little girl is nodding and smiling. Bummer.

I go to the back to punch in their order. I start rounding up servers and letting them know that I have a birthday and we'll need to sing. I get the usual responses.


"I'm too busy!"

"I don't sing."

"Fuck you!" (This from Soldato and Amy in tandem)

Oh well. I know when it's crunch time, they'll be there. For the next twenty minutes, I go about my merry little way. It's so slow, I have to force myself to stay away from tables. I have a tendency to check back way too often when it's a dead shift.

Finally, it's time to sing.

I must reiterate how much I hate singing. It embarrasses the birthday boy/girl, it embarrasses the servers, and it annoys the other customers in the restaurant. In fact, the only people that seem to enjoy the singing are the other people at the table.

Also, our restaurant doesn't have a fast, snappy version of "Happy Birthday to You!" Couple this with the fact that most servers hate to sing, and you've got a Happy Birthday song that sounds like a funeral dirge.

The servers gather in the back. We start clapping. I light a candle and stuff it in the ice cream. We march out to the table.

We sing. It's horrible, as usual. The customer seems to love it. Yay!

I bring them their check. Total bill: $13.95. Their tip: $1.50. I love animal shirts...

(Fast Forward to two weeks later)

It's still September, and it's still slow. I have one table. I'm doing the crossword puzzle in the back. A three-letter word for sheep. Hmm... ram or ewe, ram or ewe...

Rena bounces into the kitchen.

"Birthday, everyone!" She's way to cheery.

We all gather, clap, and head to the table.

I'm stunned. Sitting there, clapping and happy as can be, is the same little chubby girl, wearing the same shirt with the cat's face. We finish singing and go about our business.

I pull Soldato aside.

"That girl we just sang to... she was here last week! We sang for her then, too!"

"You're kidding me." Soldato shakes his head. "People never cease to amaze me."

He walks away.

I'm disgusted. What is this mother teaching her child? Instead of her birthday being a special day, it is best used to exploit restaurants for free desserts? That her birthday is trivial compared to saving 99 cents?!

I've seen this cat face shirt-clad duo several times since. They've gotten a free sundae each time. I've never said anything to anyone (except Soldato). I don't know why.

Scammers are low people, but some are just sick.


Laynie said...

You know, one might think they would at least say no to the singing. Why bring attention to themselves more?

Unless it's something drastic like the daughter's a cancer patient and they're celebrating all the birthdays she encourages her daughter to live for (an NO I'm not making light or joking, just stretching for a viable reason).

I am so amazed at the classlessness of people!

Angelize said...

I have known people to use the birthday thing, but only as a joke on the "birthday" person. It only happens on rare occasions, like once every other year or so, and to someone different every time, and then its just fun. To teach a child how to get a free sundae is awful. I don't think its ever right to teach a kid to lie. I am afraid I would have been sarcastic with them and say, "well, happy birthday AGAIN!" I would have ratted them out, but thats how I am. (probably not in front of the kid, or maybe.)

bbsgirl said...

I would have said something to the customer when she paid the bill. It's downright awful that she is exploiting her child in this manner. I'm sure you have regular customers in your establishment orther than these 2 and they also probably are aware that she i scamming the restaurant. I'd put an end to it.

junemibug said...

Hey there. This is June from earlier today - you were our waiter. Just dropping a "hello" and saying "thanks" for your help and company. Had fun. I don't really post here, but you can check me out here ( or on AIM (won4me_won4u). cya.

Marianne said...

Poor kid. I mean, really.

You have a great blog, though - I came here from waiter rant and you are now my new favorite!

I work as a waitress in summers between university, too - hope you continue with your blog!

Little Penguin said...

Just discovered your blog. I'm not a server but in the hotel biz and I can relate, especially the scammers. This story made me laugh, so thanks. And I love the fact you're in the Chicagoland area. We need more great blogs like yours based in this area.