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Monday, November 26, 2012

One Wet Purse

It was bound to happen. Any waiter, no matter how good or bad, is eventually going to see their tray get wrapped up in this crazy little thing called gravity and watch it come tumbling down. I try to never drop anything. After all, I've tried for for three years, seems like thirty. Could you ask as much from any other man? (Bonus points to anyone who gets that musical theater reference.) Wednesday night, my perfect record went down in flames. Well, it went down in liquid.

I am working at the club and the show has a pretty healthy audience. With it being winter and all, and people having this overwhelming need to stay warm, there are big black coats hanging on the back of every chair, making my confined space to walk even more confined. The words "complimentary coat check" are as meaningless to people as "please tip your server based on the amount before your Groupon." Between the coats, the purses, the bags, the small space, the dim lights and the glass of Chardonnay I had earlier, it is near impossible to serve with ease.

My mood is already pretty miserable seeing that it is the night before Thanksgiving and all I want to be doing is sitting on my sofa having a wine tasting. I get to work at 5:15 in preparation for the 7:00 show and by 6:50 it seems that no one is coming. There are four people in the audience when it is decided at 7:15 that it will be canceled meaning I set up everything for absolutely no reason. The four people who did bother to drag their asses out to the club have their drinks comped and not one of them leaves me anything. Girl at table 23, you were prepared to pay a $10 cover charge and then you ordered a $14.95 martini knowing you would still have to buy a second drink requirement and you still can't even leave me a fucking dollar when we apologize and buy your drink for you? Get the fuck out, cheap bitch. It's not my fault that some dumb ass producer thought it was a good idea to book a show on the night before Thanksgiving. And her friend who was performing in the show? He didn't even show up. I now have two hours to kill where I am making no tips and only making $5.00 an hour. Grumpy? Yeah, that's me. There is an 11:30 show this night as well because you know that everyone wants to go see a show at 11:30 PM on Thanksgiving Eve. "Brine the turkey? Fuck that, I'm gonna go see a show!" There are precisely zero reservations on the books but we are not allowed to cancel on the off chance that they have twenty or thirty walk-ins.

The 9:30 show begins without a hitch other than the multitude of black coats impeding my walking path. I trip on a black bag that is sitting in front of booth one and the lady moves it over about six inches. She doesn't move it in the direction that it will actually make any difference, say like under the booth, but she moves it so that I am still likely to trip on it, it will just happen six inches later than before she moved it. "That was close," I think.

Ten minutes later, I am inching towards table 26 which is practically on the stage. I try very hard to be indiscreet so as not to bother the performer. I squat down with my tray of drinks and reach over to hand a martini to my customer. The vodka is safe. I remove an empty beer bottle from the table and place it on my tray. I then move my hand towards the glass of seltzer water as I also move closer to the customer. It is then that I feel under my feet the coat that will be my downfall. My foot catches on its sleeve knocking the beer bottle over and thus unbalancing my tray. The glass of seltzer tips over and spills on a purse. You know how quickly your brain works when something like this happens?

Oh my god, I think I'm gonna fall over, no I'm not gonna fall over but the beer bottle is gonna fall over, oh my god it's gonna knock over the glass and it's gonna spill, oh my god it's spilling all into this really tacky cheap looking purse that looks like it came from Mervyns, oh my god, she's gonna be so pissed, oh my god, did I remember to set my DVR to catch Project Runway, oh my god, that purse is so wet and so ugly, oh my god at least it wasn't a martini or juice because juice would be messy and vodka would be wasteful, oh my god, maybe she won't notice, oh my god she noticed, oh my god maybe I shouldn't have had that glass of wine, oh my god, what am I saying, of course I should have had that wine, oh fuck.

"I'm so sorry," I say. "Thankfully, it was just water. I will be right back with something to clean that up."

I return with some napkins and blot up the spill and the show goes on. The woman is very understanding. If it would have been a screwdriver, maybe not so much, but seeing that it was just seltzer, she was alright with it. Let's face it, her and I both knew that her purse needed to be hosed down with something, if not gasoline or soap and water, then at the very least, some seltzer.

At the end of the show, I again apologize and tell her that after three years (seems like ninety) this is the first time I have spilled anything. She seems unimpressed. I am very careful to not let her smell the Chardonnay on my breath as I tell her good night. Her tip is a good one because she probably realized that her purse is white again and not dishwater grey like it was when she arrived. The 11:30 show is canceled and I get to go home early after my shift drink of vodka, Campari and grapefruit juice. My no-spill record is no longer intact, but thankfully my buzz is.



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25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had a Woman and a husband sit down at a deuce. Instead of checking her long oversize coat she steals a chair from the neighboring table and piles her $400 Coach purse and coat on it.
The entire time serving her she has to help me by taking and handing me things because I don't have good access to the table with the extra chair there.
At the end of the meal she makes the leaning tower Pisa of plates, cutlery and a hot drawn butter from her lobster dinner.
As she hands it too me, the butter drops all over her coat and purse. Her husband starts to freak out repeating over and over how much the purse was. I loved it.

Rogue Wino said...

I was stiffed once by an 8-top for spilling a splash of water on a woman's stretch pants. I had a hard time filling her water perfectly because her massive ass was blocking the way.
The group looked like they had come from the Walmart across the street, so it was likely I only lost out on a few bucks anyways.

Anonymous said...

Thank god you spilled on someone. I'd honestly love to see that. Who cares about three year records, anyway?

Kriss said...

You just wanted to take that cup away from her, so she didn't have to taste its poison.

Jimbo said...

Quote from JC Superstar.

Anonymous said...

JC Superstar!!! I love bonus points!

Unknown said...

I was working the patio and the wind was blowing like hell, I spilled a tray of drinks at the table but mostly got it on myself. The customers were very gracious. I went through that frantic moment myself and by the time I found a manager to comp the round, worried about all the broken glass on the patio, and getting in the weeds because of the delay, I was full-on anxiety attack! It cost me my job. "of course I smell like alcohol you motherfucker. I just spilled a whole tray of drinks on myself!" Actually one of the best things to ever happen-getting out of that shithole.

maxi said...

I am so shocking with a tray. I have spilt an Irish coffee all over a woman's lap once. Urgh - was shaking so much I had to sit down for 5 mins!

More recently I spilt a tray consisting of red wine and coke down the back of a lady at a hen do. Luckily her blouse was a red and brown flowery thing and she was so drunk she found it hilarious. I handed the table over to someone else!

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, all the drinks I've spilled have been in the server alley.... unfortunately, most of the trays of food I've dropped have been in the dining room and that just hit the floor. The closest I came to getting food on a customer was an order of garlic toast that slid off the plate then table and into a fellas lap. I made a lame "new and improved flying garlic toast" joke and he laughed. Tipped me $5 or $6. Customers with a sense of humor are the best.

Anonymous said...

pity you could not have spilled something on springs1. :)

it happens; lucky for you the woman didn't rip your head off and shove it up your ass.

Unknown said...

love the jesus christ superstar reference!!

Anonymous said...

That is, hands down, the funniest post I have ever read. "That purse is so wet and ugly".... I can't stop laughing.

Only thing I ever spilled on a customer was when I was a busgirl. I was refilling someone's coffee cup. He was on the patio, at one of those green patio tables that have wavy metal bars and little spaces. I overflowed the cup, and it went right through the table onto his legs. He was so angry. I didn't last long at that job. Really, it was the table's fault for having holes in it!

Mrs_Deb said...

I tripped going up a couple steps and flung two huge pina coladas all over two ladies who had stopped in after playing tennis. They were really very nice about it and refused any sort of compensation. I had another server deliver the replacement drinks :-).

Becky said...

I spilled 4 beers on a guy who took it upon himself to help me by taking his drink off my tray while I was putting another beer on the table. Idiot.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I hate it when people do that, Becky. I have the worlds smallest hands. Seriously, freaky tiny hands. And skinny wrists. I am a mutant. So balancing a full tray of drinks on it is well, a balancing act. One I do quite well if no-one interferes. If someone tries to remove a drink for me it ruins the whole equilibrium and I risk spilling drinks everywhere. One time this snot-nosed brat grabbed a drink off my tray, bumping the tray badly as he did it, (he couldn't wait the extra 5 seconds to start slurping down his apple juice or whatever) and it upset the whole thing. The kid ended up with a whole bottle of beer down the front of his shirt. It took a lot of effort to pretend I actually cared.

Anonymous said...

Luckily ive only spilled onto the table..but i also only one hand carry a tray with cups no hot beverages, beer bottles or wine glasses....i have very unsteady hands . I have however been spilled on as a customer, it was just water but the poor girl was so upset. I felt so bad for her.hopefully she understood that i was not upset at all.

Little redhead said...

During my brief career as a server years ago, I tripped over a metal pole, it was holding up the parasol or something I think and hiding between all the tables. I was holding a tray full of drinks and wasn't really watching my feet, so I never noticed the pole. I tripped, spilling beer all over a lady's coat. My knee was also bleeding, I was so startled. The people were incredibly rude about it as well. Some people have no sympathy. It was just a summer coat, easily washed, not exactly a huge deal.

Anonymous said...

My boss spilled a drink at a table of regular businessmen......of course it had to be the guy who is always starched and pressed to a "T".

Fortunately the restaurant is owned by women and there was a blow dryer in the office.....which is where this customer was rushed off to.

We had a running joke with this table about coming in for lunch and a blow job :P

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ Superstar!!!!!! Love it!

abbynyc said...

Tremendous bonus points for the JCS reference. Now can you scream "WHHYYYYYY?" at the top of your lungs?

favoritestar said...

So last night in the large party section (upstairs.... lots of stairs) I got a ten, a twelve, and a group that claimed they were 15, all being sat within ten or fifteen minutes of eachother. The first two parties ordered pre-dinner drinks and aps, and the purported 15 were at this point only 5. All was going well as I approached their table (hereafter referred to as 303 or Hell). We made some jokes, chatted about beer, determined that they would not be dining and all needed individual checks. A few more showed up, also nice guys, jokey guys, funny guys. Maybe 12 people total. Then, I watched in horror as 23 people joined them. I was calm, rational, terrified. Managed it ok for about an hour or so, right about the time the ten asks for their check. Busy splitting the check up, I had a tray of drinks waiting downstairs for 303. My GM brought it up. I asked him to please please please just set it down. He will do no such thing.He has some insane need to "help". I drop what I'm doing to run the drinks (which for whatever reason must not be allowed to sit for a single second). He still tries to help. I'm wading through the milling group of hipster thirtysomethings, looking for the guy who has moved clear to the back of the group since he placed his order, calling "Yeti! Yeti! Where did you go?" (He had ordered a Yeti by Great Divide- fantastic beer) I finally caught the guy's eye, go to pick up the glass off the tray, and my GM grabs it first. The tray and remaining 3 beers & a Jameson & ginger go all over me. And the girl sitting beneath my tray. And the cute couple next to her. But mostly me. My GM says "I was just trying to help" and I run for napkins & towels. I make sure she's good. I replace the drinks. I try to take a moment to clean myself up, but one of the (now 40) guys from 303 follows me and taps me on the shoulder. He needs a bud light. I say "give me a second, I just got beer all over me," and he says "I know, I wass standing right next to you. You better be glad you didn't get it on me!" DOUCHE.

Kyle said...

I had to read this three times in order to process it all because I continually spun into a dark black rage spiral.

Anonymous said...

Aww, that's a little sad. No compassion, cold hearted bastards! Did you sue? The establishment?

Heather said...

Our restaurant (which is really a tacky sports bar) just instituted a rule that we must use a tray for everything.

Not only does this mean your clean plates and glasses and forks are going on the same tray as that guy's napkin saturated in ketchup, it also causes a lot of spills bussing tables.

I dropped a tray last week, which I have never done before, because it was stacked with garbage, plates, half empty cups, and silverware.

My boss laughed at me (on the floor in front of guests.) And got fired two days later for something unrelated.
Bitter, yes. Vindicated, also yes.

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