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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We Close at 11:00, not 10:56

It is a slow night at work. Well, from 7:00 until about 9:00, it is rockin'. There are two of us on the floor and we are weaving amongst each other in perfect synchronicity. Every time I go to refill a glass, I see it has just been done by the other server and more than once I see him go to the window to check on food that I had just run to the table. We are a good team. The customers are happy and I am in a good mood which is very surprising considering there is very little white wine in my system. Suddenly at 9:10, the restaurant dies a slow agonizing death. What had been a healthy vibrant restaurant throbbing with life and excitement is now wheezing for breath and struggling to find someone who wants to order some calamari. By 10:15, the last customer is gone, the other server has been sent home and I am left alone with the bartender waiting until closing time at 11:00. Sidework is done and I even reorganized the silverware, dusted underneath the bin and refilled ketchups. I was that bored. At 10:40, I start to send out vibes to passers-by to let them know if they decide to eat now, I will resent them until the day I die and then after I die I will haunt their sorry asses forever.

Bored, I head to the patio to see if it needs any attention. I pick up an errant lemon wedge and straw wrapper. I notice that a big spider has spun its web linking it from the fence to the giant Pelligrino patio umbrella. I toss a leaf into the web so I have something to watch as the spider races to the unwelcome item. Once he discerns it is not a fly or some other tasty morsel, he tosses the leaf to the ground. I throw another leaf into the web for an encore performance. It is now 10:45.

The candles are still lit on the tables because we do not want to give the impression that we are closing early. Knowing that my manager does not like us to do certain things before the official closing time, I leave the chalkboard scrawled with the words "No Smoking" on the patio as well as the two tables that will need to be dragged inside. At 10:56, I untie my apron and walk over to my manager who is scrubbing the line and wiping down the stove. "Do you mind if I run downstairs and get the book?" I ask. The "book" is what I fill in every night with who worked and what we made in tips.

The manager looks at the clock and then back at me. "Well, we're not closed yet."

Is she for real? All I want to do is run to the office and get the book so I can get a two fucking minute head start in entering information. The date, the names, etc. "Okay. I'll wait four minutes." I put my apron back on.

Five minutes later, at 11:01, I blow out the candles, drag the tables inside from the patio and pour out the last water pitcher. My manger graciously  brings "the book" upstairs for me. "Thank you," I say. She does not respond.

At 11:06, I am finished. The tips have been logged, the goodbyes have been said and the apron has been removed for the night. And then she has something else to say to me.

"I need people to be here who encourage customers to come in late, not people who are ready to leave."

I am getting angry.

"I don't want it to look like we are closed when we are still open," she continues. I guess me going downstairs to pick up a blue binder would somehow signify to the world that we are closed, while  scrubbing the line and wiping down the stove in our open kitchen is screaming to customers "Come in, we're open!"

"Did I do something wrong?" I ask. "Because all I did was ask to go get the book to start filling in names. We haven't had anyone in here for 45 minutes."

"Well, it's just-"

"Because I don't see how me getting the book four minutes before closing is any different than you breaking down the line," I continue.

"Well, we need to be busier late at night," she tells me

I am still trying to figure out how that affects me. Does she want me to wear a fucking sandwich board in front of the restaurant? Would she like me to telephone people at random and just let them know, "Hey, we're still open in case you're wondering." Or maybe I should tell the guests who come in at 7:00 that they should go home and come back in three hours. None of this is my fault or my problem. She was just being snippy because she sees profits dwindling and she can't be mean to the economy but she can be mean to me. And if she wants there to be more customers then maybe she should look into Groupon. Oh wait, she doesn't want to do that. Or maybe have a happy hour. Oh wait, she doesn't want to do that either. If I thought she would listen to me, I would suggest that he offers 15% off to anyone who comes in after 9:00. I think that is a great idea, but what do I know? I'm just a waiter.

I punch out and go home and then debate whether or not I should blog about this on the off chance that she reads it. Obviously, I decide to write it. Nothing I have said here is wrong. I even gave some handy dandy suggestions on how she could gain more customers. I kinda know a little bit about pimping oneself out for the sake of more followers and it's not any different than getting more customers. Maybe she is reading this and when I get back to work, she will want to discuss it with me. I will cross that bridge when I come to it but before I cross the bridge, I think I am supposed to answer three questions from the troll who lives under it. So let me answer those now and get it out of the way:

Yes, the Chicken Caesar salad has chicken in it.

No, I do not have another "real job" because this one seems real enough.

We close at 11:00.

Wish me luck on this post. I might be digging my own grave but as long as the grave has a mini-bar, I'm good.




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16 comments:

anne marie in philly said...

like the customers are gonna know what you are writing in the book anyway!

even the chain restaurants are going groupon and discounted appetizers after 9p. does you manager want to be out of a job too?

in my company, we need to constantly evaluate existing products for value modifications and invent new products to keep ahead of the competition. your manager might wanna take this hint.

Anonymous said...

First, if everyone had somewhere to go 'bitch' at.... ie: blogs... maybe the Earth would be a happier place. :)

Second, great advice. I too am a server, for many, many years, at the same place... infact, longer than any other server there. You'd think they'd want to listen to my advice... na, I'm just a server :))
But... in honesty, I like it that way. I smile, sweet talk people, make my money and leave. I don't need to stress about nothing else in that place. :))

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I love the scene in "waiting" when the kitchen staff is staring at the clock and two customers come in two minutes before close and they start throwing shit ha! So true. I hate those people.also your manager is weird, who cares if you go grab a book? Also I am coming to your town to dance at Lace for a week, I'm gonna message you my info I'd love to buy you a cocktail or ten !

Jill said...

Yes, I do believe you are to wear the sandwich board. No complaining - get out there. ;)

teverton said...

I used to work in a sterile corporate steakhouse (rhymes with lemmings), and it was mandated from on high that we were to accommodate anyone who came in up to fifteen minutes after our posted closing time. So, of course, on numerous occasions we were kept on the clock until well after midnight waiting for the starry-eyed couple in love who walked in at 10:14 to finish. It also wasn't uncommon for the general manager to then catch holy hell at the end of every period about his ridiculously high labor cost, which obviously had nothing to do with their policy and everything to do with his incompetence. Ah, the wisdom of corporate...

Mandy said...

I hate condescending lectures from management! Good for you for dishing it back, "have I done something wrong?"

jnana said...

I think you should give those suggestions anyway.

Bit curious, does your manager know that you've got this blog?

The Bitchy Waiter said...

Yeah, she knows...

Tracy said...

So I try to call in sick today. I called THREE times without an answer. (We have an answering machine that if you push '1', you can order on the phone, and if you push '2', it'll wring the restaurant. ok, that's clear now, right?) So I push 2 and wait and wait, and a message jingles in my ear "I'm sorry, there is no one to answer your call, please try again later" and then it goes to the wonderful options at the beginning again.. push 1 to order, 2 to wring the restaurant.. so again, push 2 and wait.. ring ring.. wait. It says the message again then hangs up. K, so I went through that three times.. the fourth, almost an hour later, after the first "I'm sorry.. blahblah.. " he answers. The GM. I tell Mr. Man that I am sick.. can't make it in.. and what does he say? "You must call in at least two hours before your shift as per union rules.." OK, if you answered the damn phone in the first place, it would have been MORE than two hours notice.. so I begin to say this in a delicate manner.. he starts to raise his voice.. "I can't run on six servers tonight.. if you don't show up, you will have to suffer the consequences.."

By this time I'm feeling all flush like I'm going to throw up into the phone and I find myself visualizing, no, WISHING it would splash all over his face on the other end..

Anyhow, I say, "Listen, I am truly sick and I have been trying to call. No one has answered the phone and I'm sorry about that but I have been trying.." this is where he raises his voice and starts to kinda shout at me.. "nooo.. you haven't been calling! I have been in the office all day and answering all the calls.." uhmm.. no. He hasn't. Why? Because I still have the annoying bitches voice in my head "I'm sorry.. No one is able to take your call at the moment.. please try again later.."

Now I've lost my mind. He is calling me a liar in a round about way.. "I'm fucking sick. No I will not be at my shift, serving people when I've been sick all day."

All I hear is "you are a liar." and click.

Fucking managers.

I would almost expect this from a family run restaurant.. it's in their nature to be dysfunctional, but this is a well known chain restaurant that is UNIONIZED. (I know, *I* have never worked in a restaurant that is unionized.. I found it odd..) How can Mr. Man GM get away with yelling at employees that they are liars and then hang up the phone? I thought a chain would be different.. *sigh* I heard last week he threw fries at a kitchen boy too. *smirk* I think he hates his job.

Anonymous said...

You're manager is crazy... Do they seriously want to stay there all night too?

Steven Nicolle said...

Unbelievable!

Unknown said...

my boss puts out so many coupons it can seriously damage my sales- sometimes more than $100 a night. Tuesday is half off pizza-which also means half off tips. By the time happy hour rolls around at 8pm, I don't hit the happy hour buttons because it's going to decrease my bottom line, not increase sales! I wish management would get a clue.

Anonymous said...

Guest blogger!

Anonymous said...

I once worked at a place where we closed at 10:00, but if a customer CALLED ON THE PHONE at 9:58, we would stay open, waiting for them, even if they didn't show until 10:15! WTF! What they bought barely covered the wages of the people who had to stay late. It made NO sense to me.

Amoure Oberholzer said...

I remember working late...I mean ridiculously late...I had a table come in at 9:00 so it's enough time for them to get out in an hour for closing right? Wrong! They ate and drank and ate and drank until every single table had left. I told them the kitchen was closing at 10:00. They said fine they don't mind. Now I'm already annoyed because all the other servers have cleaned up and even left already, the kitchen staff and even bar staff are all gone and I'm still waiting for this table. OUr doors are now closed it's 10:30 and they want MORE drinks...so what does my manager do...tells me to make them drinks!!
No jokes! I stayed until 1am serving them drinks and working on my own waaaaay after closing! Needless to say I had a big fight about it with my manager and quit the next day. Assholes

Amoure Oberholzer said...

I remember working late...I mean ridiculously late...I had a table come in at 9:00 so it's enough time for them to get out in an hour for closing right? Wrong! They ate and drank and ate and drank until every single table had left. I told them the kitchen was closing at 10:00. They said fine they don't mind. Now I'm already annoyed because all the other servers have cleaned up and even left already, the kitchen staff and even bar staff are all gone and I'm still waiting for this table. OUr doors are now closed it's 10:30 and they want MORE drinks...so what does my manager do...tells me to make them drinks!!
No jokes! I stayed until 1am serving them drinks and working on my own waaaaay after closing! Needless to say I had a big fight about it with my manager and quit the next day. Assholes