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Friday, September 28, 2012

I Wish I Stayed in Heaven (Guest Blogger)

Thank you to Kelly, the Swiss Extremist over at The Misadventures of Swissy who sends us this post today about how in some countries, you don't tip! It sounds crazy to me too, but I guess that happens. I may have nightmares about it. 

For most of my formative years I lived out of a suitcase in a foreign land studying languages that interest me but everyone who looks at my resume says, “Ohhhh, you know Chinese and Japanese? Why study something so difficult?” Truth be told, I find French and Spanish baffling. The telephone has a gender? What is this madness? I get a lot of freebies and no MSG in my food as a perk. 

 In 2006 I landed in beautiful Tokyo. When I got off the plane I had my Berlitz book and lots of traveler’s checks* so I hopped in a cab and off I went to my hotel room. When we arrived I handed him the total and a tip, he returned the extra coinage to me and I didn’t think much of it. My friend HK met me in the lobby to give me the lowdown on how to live in the rising sun. I told her over lunch about the cab and she laughed, “There is no tipping here.”



“No tipping period? No bartender tips? No server tips? NO ONE TIPPED EVER?” I shouted in shock. She shook her head. I sat there, mouth agape, not knowing how to process this information. It was as if Beyoncé had come down from the pearly gates and said to me, “Welcome Swiss to heaven!” I would exclaim, “I never want to leave Bey Bey!” HK was used to that sort of reaction. She dealt with it on a nightly basis with her foreign clientele. I rushed back to my room and gathered all the Americans I was studying with to preach the no-tipping commandments. We knew exactly two things, our asses were going to be drunk and well fed.



Later that night at the club HK introduced me to her friends and we joked about my reaction. T asked me why I was so surprised. I told him, “It’s customary to tip a restaurant server 15-20% of the check, you tip the pizza guy especially if the weather outside has a name, and you tip the bartender if you ever want to see your drink.”



In Asia, you pay for the food and drinks with taxes/tip included. You can pitch a tent and spend a night at the table for all they care. There are some differences, namely you have to flag someone down for more food/drinks because there’s no “checking back”. It really takes the fuss out of the meal. We can eat slowly, get wasted and embarrass ourselves without having to argue about how much to tip the poor waitress having to listen to us sing the anthem a thousand times.



I really wish our customs would change. I have no problem with a 15-20% tip being included in the cost of the meal. If you’re going to tip that anyway why not make things easier? People would fuss about the prices but wouldn’t you enjoy your meal more if you knew people like BW could have benefits and not have to worry about bad nights? Also, we need to stop tipping every goddamn person. The Starbucks guy is paid well. The garbage men are paid well. My goddamn 9th grade English teacher is reasonably compensated. Let’s just throw money at everyone!



Until things change I’ll have to keep intercepting the check after my grouchy grandmother leaves 8% and take a shot of Jack and scribble in another 10%.



*Traveler’s checks are the worst, JUST SAY NO TO THEM. Bring concealed currency and credit cards; they’re more technologically advanced than us.



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Stranger, the Thief, a Jock's Junk, and a Mother (Guest Blogger)

Thank you to Brandy (Madame Bravado), who offers us this guest post today. Thank you!  -BW


I've done it all, from busser to F&B manager, in dive bars and fine dining. Now many years down the road and well entrenched in an office job, hospitality has gained a glimmering nostalgic sheen that makes me want to forsake my spreadsheets and steady income and run screaming back. The reality is: the 9 to 5 office life is a long Montana road barreling toward death on the horizon at 90 mph, while hospitality is more like the mountain roads where I live. You can never see more than 100 feet in front of you. Even though you know the inevitable lies ahead, at least you can lose yourself in the variety and the uncertainty that each shift holds.

I crave it- the chaos, the camaraderie, the personality prostitution- the affirmation of my worth with cash approval. I needed it like a rodent needs to chew to keep its teeth from growing into its brain.

I guess I've been waxing poetic and nostalgic but what we all really want to hear about are the assholes who are the bane of the server's life  What good is a story without a villain.
Below are some jabs, victories and revelations.


-The bitchiest way I was ever stiffed:
Old dried up hag: "Want a tip honey, buy a brush. "

-I once threw a woman's change in her face, and yes she really had it coming. Only bar tending can you get away with this move.

-A guy came to my service window and wordlessly pulled out his junk. I turned around and grabbed a can of beer, put it down, said " I'm sorry" and walked away.

-I only "stole" from a customer once. He was in the hotel bar/restaurant and was an utter and complete lecherous fucktard that harassed me and every female server working.  When I walked behind him I noticed he had dropped a $50 on the floor nearby. I put my foot on it and stood there until I could safely retrieve it. When he left I gave it to the servers to split.

-Breakfast and lunch service are really only for masochists and lifers. We've all worked with the 50ish lady who's just a little plump and is a serious pro but she only works days. She cares a lot about how you separate coffee filters and will talk endless smack about the freaks that work night shift, their debaucherous ways and how they get away with shirking all side work. Really unless a breakfast order ( or breakfast shift) starts with a pitcher of mimosas you know it's going to be a losing venture.

-I've had a lady ask for change for a quarter so she could leave me a tip on her horrific and insanely complicated Remus Fizz. There wasn't an ounce of contempt in her, that was her being generous.

-I have cut off a pregnant woman after her second white Russian by telling her the fetus was not 21. I shouldn't be forced into Camus like dilemmas while making $5 an hour.

In the end it's hard to recall all the war stories. I know I was abused, I know I shed many tears and kicked a lot of boxes in the back of the house. But what remains now some  5 years later is a longing. I was a damn good server, an even better bartender and I made great money doing it. Perhaps the only thing that compelled me to "get a real job" was the fear that I would end up that 50ish pro server eyeballing some lovely young girl as she mangled the coffee filters.




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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the Host Stand (Guest Blogger)

We have two posts today from the host stand. Our first guest blog comes from Jaleel who writes the blog From the Sidestand.  -BW
 
I Can't Take Your Order
At this point in time, I would like to let everybody in the world know that the host is not the person who takes your order. I don't know why people think that I stand up at the front but I also have tables that I'm taking care of, I know I seem pretty amazing but I can’t actually be in two places at once, yet.
This is normally what happens:
 
*Door Opens*
 
ME: Hello, how are you do-
DUMBASS: Three *Douchefully holds up 3 fingers*
ME: (demeanor immediately becomes slightly less pleasant) Alright it will be right this way *Brings you to table* Alright so will-
YOU: Can we get a booth?
ME: Sir, there are currently no booths available if you'd like I ca-
YOU: I guess this will be fine, I'll have a Bud Light...

So in order to not look like I’m an incompetent dumbass, I now have to get everybody's drink order at the table. I then have to stop the server before they get to your table so you don't look at them like they're a complete idiot. I then have to get your drinks while I probably have people waiting to be sat at the front. I have to tell the server what you got so they can ring it in and I bring out your non-alcoholic drinks. You then look at me like I'm a dumbass and forgot your booze before I have a chance to tell you it's coming from the bar and YOUR SERVER will bring it out to you (even if it was ready, I can't legally bring it out to you because I'm underage).
 
A lot of the time, the server is the only person who can ring in your stuff because a host doesn't have a screen to order stuff or transfer tabs. Please don't order something from the person who seats you unless they prompt you.
 
Just because the theme for today is ‘Stuff Hosts Can’t Do,’ you should also know that I don't take your payment. I don't know why a lot of people thrust their cards at me while I'm walking people to a table or why they come up to the host stand two seconds after they put their card in their book and ask if they pay me.
 
Do you see a fucking register up here? No. Do you see a credit card swipe up here? No. Again, a host doesn't have some magic power to tap into a server's open tables and make a payment. 

Moral of the story, follow your host, order from your server, pay your server, and be a better customer.


And now another post from a hostess named Trisha.

Fortune Teller Hostess

Hello restaurant goers, this is your friendly hostess speaking.  And by friendly I mean being the most accommodating, welcoming, and poised host on the outside, while on the inside I’m secretly giving you dirty looks.  Also, I’m probably wondering how much more of a moron you could possibly be. 

First of all, although I’d love to have the power to tell the future, but unfortunately, I don’t.  If I were a fortuneteller, I wouldn’t be making $9.00 an hour and accumulating debt in college.  I’d be off to Vegas or some shit.  Also, I’d be able to tell that you’re an asshole ahead of time.  The wait time that I give you is an ESTIMATE.  It’s not an exact fucking time.  When I tell you that it’ll probably be about 30 minutes for a table don’t bitch at me when it has been 32 minutes and you haven’t been sat.  I could have turned a certain four-top 20 minutes ago.  Please, be my guest and go up to the four-top who has been twiddling their thumbs and tell them to leave.  I wish you would.  Don’t worry; you’ll be in their place in no time; sitting for hours on the patio, causing the damn cycle to continue.  I’m really sorry (not really) that my crystal ball was wrong this time.  Here’s some insight into how we determine your wait time.  I look around at the guests happily shoveling food into their faces and figure that they will be there another 35 to 45 minutes.  So next time I hear, “Well, you told me…” with that snooty look on your face, I will most likely make you wait a little more.  Just for fun.  And also because you’re a bitch.

Oh, and don’t just walk past the PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED sign on your way in and sit your ass down at a table.  Get the hell up.  For one, it’s fucking dirty.  That’s pretty gross.  You have a backwashed margarita in your face, and you’re ready to eat?  You should just start walking to the hospital now. 

Aside from expecting me to be a fortuneteller, you assume I’m some great acrobat.  Again, I assure you if I were, I would be in better places. I would have been in London this summer, winning a gold medal to bitch slap you with.  Yes, I told you I would seat you in a few minutes, but during those 5 minutes people have been stampeding in the door, one after another.  I cannot take names and seat your ass at the same time.  So don’t fucking come up to me 7 minutes later while I am running around seating tables asking if I forgot about you.  No, I did not forget your ugly face that only a mother could love.  There are two parties ahead of you.  Wait your fucking turn.

Lastly, (for now) yes, there are empty tables, and no you cannot sit there yet.  A stampede just came through the door and I’m trying not to triple-sit sections.  Unless you want a server who will have time to accommodate your know-it-all ass, I suggest you wait a couple of minutes.  You don’t understand why you can’t sit there?  Well, I don’t understand how you picked out that ugly shirt thinking it looks great.  Don’t tell me how to do my job.  I know what I’m doing, so respect your fucking hosts.  If you yell at me, chances are I’m going to tell your server that you’re a dick.

And of course, have a wonderful day!



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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spotting and Identifying the Frugal Guest (Guest Blogger)

Thank you to Dan over at Do We Need This Stuff who came up with this post for us today. Dan has years of serving experience and he sounds just about as jaded and pissed off as I am. I like Dan and you will too.  -BW


Oh the frugal guest. Too many times are we fooled by their charm, calm demeanor, friendliness, or a combination of everything we look for in guests who are fortunate enough for us to not completely hate them. We have been fooled time and time again while taking care of them, only to be disappointed when it comes time to view how gratuitous they were... which we always learn is not very. "How can they do this?" we often ponder. I question I have learned the answer to. The answer is: very carefully.


You see, like all of us, frugal guests have a method to their madness. They generally travel in "packs" (or families), and while we cannot force them to be more generous with their money (legally, that is), we can at least prepare ourselves better for that moment of "they left me f*cking $9 on $90??" Luckily for you, I have observed and studied the frugal guests of our world, and now, am batting almost 1,000 when it comes to pointing them out before they leave me dick for a tip (I'm not gay, but sometimes getting dick would be a better tip then these assholes leave).

The water "joke".

This sign will only work in groups of four or more... And let me just point out - not all frugal guests give an immediate tell-tale sign, and just ordering water doesn't necessarily scream frugal. However, I have learned that people who order water because it is free, will find it funny by the 3rd or 4th water order (which I never got the joke). It will go something like this:


Hello, my name is DanORants and I will be giving you exceptional service today. Our special tonight is prime rib, which your frugal-ass can't afford. We serve that with fresh horse-radish and an Au Jus - which the confused look on your face tells me you have no idea what that even is. May I start you folks out with some fresh lemonade or a glass of Cabernet, or how does an Old Fashioned sound?
OK, so not my usual greet, but you get the gist. However, here is where the joke comes. The response from he guests will be: "water", "water", "water", and then somewhere in between the 4th and 5th request for "water", the word "water" becomes friggin hilarious to these people! The whole table fills with laughter, and the only thing you can think about is how the check for this table is still at $0. Now, don't confuse the water order for something it might be. I, for one, prefer water over any other non-alcoholic beverage. You have to look for the water order going from "what I want to drink" to "it's hilarious we are all ordering water". People don't burst into laughter when they all order Coke.
The free-shit request and appetizer rejection.

I work in a restaurant that gives cheese-biscuits to everyone who sits down in our restaurant (I do not work at Red Lobster). I hate (and love) the concept. I love the idea that we "thank" our guests for sitting down and giving them something that barely costs $.07 per biscuit. I hate the fact that people take that shit for granted! All of the time, when I suggest an appetizer, people will say: "Do you have some of those, cheesy biscuit things?"... You know what asshole? We do! You know why we do? Because years ago, when the concept was first started, we gave our first table some f*cking cheese-biscuits... Since then, you entitled pricks have just come to f*cking expect them, and even worse, you know feel you are f*cking owed them!

I always want to tell people:

Do you remember the first time you came to this restaurant? You had no idea there was going to be cheese-biscuits coming your way, did you? However... they did come, didn't they? What the f*ck makes you think they are not going to come this time? Do you think today is my first day, and they wouldn't train me before I started waiting tables, and the fact that we have f*cking cheese-biscuits has gotten past me?
How does this relate to the frugality of the guest? Simple. They ask for free shit they know they are getting when you ask them if they would like an appetizer. Don't be fooled though, not every restaurant immediately gives free shit, and these frugal guests have other "tells" of how they care very little for your livelyhood! Not everyone wants to eat an appetizer. Fine, I can't argue with that. However, a simple "No, we won't like an appetizer" will not suffice for a frugal guest. They need to leave the impression that they normally would get an appetizer, you just happened to catch them on the wrong day. This is when you hear excuses like: "No, I had a late lunch" and "We want to go right for the good stuff". Now to the second response, I have a pretty witty come-back (I think) which is: "But, you're skipping over all of the good stuff on this side (pointing to the appetizer section) of the menu!" Frugal assholes don't appreciate having their terrible jokes called out, either way, you have a frugal guest on your hands.

I'll have another drink please...

If an asshole guest doesn't trust your ability to monitor their drink-levels... they don't value you as a working human. I used to think people were just so used to bad service they felt the need to ask for a drink refill. Finally, I realized that the assholes asking me for a refill (when their glass was still half-full) were the same assholes tipping me an embarrassing 12%. Bad news, you have a frugal guest on your hands.

I do, however, have a method that will make you feel better and embarrass the guest at the same time! All under the guise of good service! Many years ago, I had a guest that had twice asked me for a refill with a half-full glass (or half empty, however you choose to look at it), after I had gotten his first refill before his request and before his glass was empty. I was pissed and offended. How did I respond? Every time I went back to that table, I brought with me another full glass of beverage for him. By the time he was ready to pay the check, his girlfriend (probably a slut) was embarrassed and he had six full glasses in front of him. He complained to my manager, and I just explained to him how thirsty he appeared, and wanted to make sure he was well accomodated!

This is where you start.

I can go on and blog about people who want to split a meal, and ask if there is a plate-sharing charge. I can go on about the uncomfortable silence that happens when asked: "Should I leave this all together?" (Yeah, that's another thing... When my wife and I go out with friends, we either say "Let us take you out", or they will say "Let us take you out"... either way, who is paying should be decided before entering the f*cking establishment!) There are many signs of the frugal guest. The one thing we can be certain of: no matter how they present themselves, they all have one thing in common: They do not give a shit about your tip!



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Monday, September 24, 2012

How Long is the Wait? (Guest Blogger)


This posting comes from someone who needs to remain anonymous because she has a strict social media policy at her job and by writing this she could be fired. Judging from what she tells me, the place is pain in the ass to work but we all need to keep our jobs no matter how shitty they are. She tells me that many of her co-workers read The Bitchy Waiter so hopefully no one will figure out that she is talking about their very own hell hole of a restaurant. And apparently she wrote this while hiding out in a bathroom stall. I love this girl..

-BW

I work at a large restaurant in a tourist area (notice I didn't say resort area; resort implies class, and there is nothing classy about our clientele!), that can seat 480 people comfortably, not including the bars. During peak season, we are open from 11AM to 11PM, and are usually on a wait by 11:30, and don't get off a wait til after 10. It has been this way for years, and I have worked there for years, and the constant bitching about the wait is wearing on me. I have worked the hostess stand (God bless those poor souls), and am now a server. One of these days, I am going to get sick and tired of hearing people complain about the wait, and that is the day I am going to say what I really want to these dumbasses! It's going to go something like this: (it should be noted that I corrected "their" grammar)


THEM: The wait is an hour and a half?!?! Are you kidding me?
ME: Are you kidding ME? You just parked far enough away that a cab ride from your car to here would have cost a fortune, you walked by hundreds of cars, pushed through hundreds of people holding pagers, and you can't believe we're on a wait? Here's a bag of trail mix. You can hike back to your car, because you're too stupid to get a table!

THEM: (them being a party of 20) An hour and a half wait? What if we split up?
ME: Oh, well, we can seat you right away. I could have sat that party of two ahead of you, but they refused to split up! YOU STILL HAVE TO WAIT, DUMBASS!

THEM: Can we sit at the bar? (Clearly visible from the hostess stand, and packed three deep)
ME: Absolutely, just go up there and tell all those people that I said for them to move, because YOU want to sit at the bar!

THEM: We know the owner.
ME: So do I. That won't get you past the hostess stand any more than it has me!

Now, they have a table, and I am their server.

THEM: We waited an hour and a half for a table.
ME: Oh, so YOU'RE the one that waited!

THEM: We had to wait an hour and a half for a table.
ME: No, dumbass, you didn't HAVE to wait, you chose to.

THEM: We waited an hour and a half for a table.
ME: I'm sorry, what can I get you to drink?

THEM: I don't know.
ME: Are you fucking kidding me? You waited an hour and a half and you don't know what you want to drink?

THEM: We waited an hour and a half for a table.
ME: I'm sorry, are you ready to order?
THEM: We haven't looked at the menu yet.
ME: Are you fucking kidding me? You waited an hour and a half and never looked at the menu?

THEM: We waited an hour and a half, and our kids are starving.
ME: Wow, you are really shitty parents!
or
ME: From the looks of them, that's the longest they ever waited for a meal!

THEM: We waited an hour and a half, do you have any crayons and paper for our kids?
ME: No! Because they color on everything except the fucking paper, and you do nothing to stop them!

THEM: (at the shittiest table in the restaurant) We waited an hour and a half.
ME: You should have asked for one by the water; they would have sat you immediately!

THEM: I didn't know gratuity was going to be added!
ME: And I didn't know I was getting the cheapest asshole in the world at my table. Looks like we both got something we didn't want!

THEM: We waited an hour and a half for a table, the food took forever, it wasn't that good, and the check is way too much! We won't ever come back!
ME: I'll let everybody know we will be shutting down soon, because your cheap ass won't be back!

I could go on for hours, but there are cheap, redneck assholes to serve who don't like to be kept waiting, and I have taken up this bathroom stall for way too long!



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Friday, September 21, 2012

What Makes a Good Server? (Guest Blogger)

In my absence while I am on vacation, I have assembled some wonderful guest bloggers to fill in for me. Please comment and share. Also remember, these are guest bloggers. Visit their websites and show them some love. 

This blog comes from Nathan Partyka who writes at How To Be A Good Server Blog.  He also has the word "party" in his last name, so you know he must be cool.


Thanks,
BW


I used to work for a big franchised restaurant chain and we were doing some market research to improve guest satisfaction. This got me excited because I personally had an idea of what makes a good server but this was an opportunity to find out what the market research results would reveal from the following question:

What makes a good server?

Over a 2 month period of using comment cards and surveys we got back approximately 11,500 total responses from 31 of our locations to this question and the top 10 answers are as follows (in no particular order).

Smiles
Kindness
Outgoing personality
Attentive
Helpful
Knowledge
Recommends items
Makes us feel comfortable
Makes us feel special
Genuine

So let me do a quick break down as to why I personally think these were the top 10 answers to the question "What makes a good server?"

Smile
The simplest gesture and most common form of politeness, when eye contact is made this is when you pull this guy out and wait for the returning smile. Hostesses normally get told to smile just before they pick up the phone because you can hear the smile come through their voice. One smile normally leads to another one :D.

Kindness
It comes in many forms whether you pull a chair out for a guest, ask how someones day is, open a door for someone, smile (two birds with one stone) the list could go on. It's these small acts of kindness that can leave a happy feeling with your guest.

Outgoing personality
You don't need to be the center of the social scene, if you can have a conversation with a stranger comfortably then this is an advantage to you. You just need to be yourself and relax when talking with your tables. Engaging with your tables can help build rapport which in return will increase your tips.

Attentive
Guests love it when you anticipate their needs before they even ask you. For example if you noticed a guests coffee or pop getting low swing on by with another one without them having to ask you. (note that standards and procedures would vary venue to venue).

Helpful
If someone is walking around the restaurant looking lost simply point them in the right direction, if a guests hands are full when they are leaving then open the door for them. This one has benefits much the same as the ones from kindness.

Knowledge
Knowing the food and drinks menu is one thing, but knowing the region of a wine that a guest has just ordered and telling them a quick story or fact about it is going to show your tables that they are in good hands. You don't need to overdo it but being prepared with answers to questions which may not be a normally asked is good for both you and your guests.

Recommends items
Everyone has different taste so if a guest asks you what you would recommend or what your favorite dish is there is no wrong answer. This is a question directed at your opinion so if you answer with confidence and let them know why it is you chose that particular item then you can win some brownie points when the dish you recommended was a hit.

Makes us feel comfortable
People are in a better mood when they feel secure and comfortable. If you treat every person that walks in the door as if they were a guest in your home then you will make a lot more money than someone who treats their guests like strangers who are eating at a restaurant they work in.

Makes us feel special
When people think they are getting better treatment than those around them it makes them feel great. If you can master the art of making each and every table you serve feel special you can increase your average tips and the general mood of your section will be uplifting for you.

Genuine
Don't lie, be honest and genuine with your tables. People prefer to hear you say "Sorry i dropped your meal while I was bringing it out" rather than "It shouldn't be too much longer, they're working on it now". We are human and we make mistakes and people are understanding of that. It shows respect when you are being genuine and put yourself in their shoes, wouldn't you want someone to be honest with you?

So there's something for you to think about when deciding what it is you need to do for others to see you as a good and competent server.

Have a super day everyone.



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Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Dish Best Served Cold (Guest Blogger)

 In my absence while I am on vacation, I have assembled some wonderful guest bloggers to fill in for me. Please comment and share. Also remember, these are guest bloggers. Visit their websites and show them some love. 

This blog comes from the most excellent, Terry Everton who writes at Working Stiff Review.  


Thanks,
BW

“Excuuuuse me, Waiter…This table is dirty. Do you think you can clean it for us?”

“Sure, just as soon as I grow a third hand,” I told the two entitled princesses as I walked past them with my hands full of six dirty plates. Even though there were at least eight clean tables on the patio, they had determined that the unset one with dirty glasses on it was where they absolutely had to plant their asses – after bypassing the hostess and seating themselves, of course.

Here’s a tip from your server. If you absolutely, positively want to assure yourself the worst possible dining experience you’ve ever had, then ignore the hostess, seat yourself and bitch to the first restaurant employee you encounter about how dirty the table you just sat yourself at is.

By the time I made it back out to the patio after depositing the dirty plates in the dish area, a busser had visited the princesses and cleared and wiped their table. I arrived just in time for the blondest of the duo to summon me again in her best sing-songey tone.

“Um, excuuuuse me, Waiter…Do you think maybe we could get some menus?” 

There are select moments when life lobs you softballs, and whether you choose to swing for the fence is entirely at your discretion. Always one to recognize and appreciate such rare gifts from the universe, I wound up and gave it a whack.

“Oh golly,” I palmed my jaw as I replied. “Didn’t the hostess bring menus with her when she sat you?”

They both looked at each other like I had just changed the channel halfway through an episode of The Kardashians. “Uh, we, uh, well, uh…”

“I’ll tell you what,” I continued. “I’ll go ask her why she sat you here without bringing you any menus. I can’t believe we’re paying people to give such bad service to our valued guests!”

The least blonde of the two began backpedaling faster than a right wing Christian fundamentalist who had just inadvertently stumbled into a John Waters film festival. “Nooo, wait…She, uh, didn’t really, uh, do anything wrong, uh, we kinda, just picked this table out ourselves, uh…”

Swing, batter batter batter, swing! Swing, batter batter batter, swing! “You know what, you’re right. Let me get our manager to come talk to you, because I’m sure he’d want to know how badly some of the people on his staff are performing. He’ll probably fire her, though I hope it won’t upset her mother too much, what with her recent cancer diagnosis and all.”

The blondest of the duo began running in the opposite direction quicker than if she had just been told she was about to stumble headlong into a hurricane of sense.  “Uh, no, uh, I think, uh, maybe we should just, uh…”

“Stay here,” I told them. ‘I’m gonna go get the manager so we can all pitch in and get this bitch fired!”

I walked to the nearest side station, rang up a shot of Jagermeister for myself and downed it when no one was looking. By the time I had taken a lap through the bar, kitchen, dining room and made my way back out onto the patio the pair of blondies had decided to vacate their ill-gotten table and plant themselves elsewhere, preferably in a different restaurant.

After she had sat the freshly-cleaned former princesses’ table with a four top, the hostess cornered me. “What did you say to those two girls who sat themselves, anyway?”

“Not much,” I lied. “I just told them that I’d be with them as soon as I got rid of some dirty plates, and when I got back to their table they had left. Why do you ask?”

“It was weird. They each gave me a strange look, wished me good luck and handed me a twenty dollar bill as they left. I don’t know what I did.”

Vengeance, as always, is mine.



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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Death by Breadcrumbs (Guest Blogger)

This posting comes courtesy of Mandy over at The Rogue Wino. Anyone who considers herself a wino is good with me so I hope you will all flock to her blog and give her some love.

-BW

The woman's hand was up, insistently waving me over to her table. This was surprising because she, along with a friend, had only come in for a late-night dessert‒What could possibly be wrong with a bowl of ice cream?


"Excuse me," she said, pushing her dish my way. "I'm so sorry, I should have said something. I have Celiac's disease, I can't have this touching my food."

She was pointing at the offending item, the source of the poison: A lone wafer cookie, the stiff texture of a fortune cookie, standing up like a shark's fin from the top scoop of her gelato. It had not crumbled or flaked into her dish in any way.

"Could I please have another? Thank you."

At our expense, we brought her another dish. I had to throw the first, perfectly good, dessert into the trash, another victim of what I have deemed "Gluten Madness."

In my area, the gluten-free craze has exploded. Interestingly, Celiac's disease, the true gluten-intolerance illness, affects only 1 in 133, according to celiac.org. Judging by the scoffs, interrogations, and menu substitutions by my customers, I would have guessed this number was closer to 50 in 133. It's as though my aging clientele, worn out by the effort of maintaining their gleaming, upper-middle class lifestyles, are jumping on this particular fadwagon as a way to explain all of their ills. "Oh you have Celiac's disease?" I'll inquire of my customers after yet another obscenely detailed inquiry into our menu's ingredients. "Um, no," they pause. "I've been told I might have an allergy."

Let's make something clear: Gluten intolerance symptoms run the gamut from a simple case of buggy gut, to, at their worst (as in the case of full-blown Celiac's), serious intestinal issues; it is not, however, an allergy. Yes, wheat allergies that can result in anaphylactic shock do exist. These types of allergies are also rare, and customers are pretty good about letting you know when something will actually send them to the hospital. From what I've read, Celiac's sufferers can have the tiniest amount of gluten in their diet and still be OK. Basically, none of these gluten-free freaks are going to end up clutching their throats and passing out at my tables because they've accidentally ingested a few stray bread crumbs.

I "get" the gluten-free diet as a healthy lifestyle choice. Grains as foodstuffs came along fairly late in the game in human history, and our bodies have not fully adapted to processing them efficiently, let alone the gummy protein that is gluten. Once our modern day comforts are factored in‒ caffeine, alcohol, processed food and sugar‒we have a recipe for digestive fatigue and failure. Yet my customers, caught up in the Oprah-fanned swirl of self-righteous dietary advice, have lost their minds over gluten. They have turned their backs so harshly, this substance that once provided them with so much joy: "Delicious, fluffy donuts and air-light breads, I banish thee!" they say. And should I do something so presumptuous as, say, bring a basket of this dangerous "bread" too close to their table, they shame me as well.

We offer gluten-free rice pasta on our menu, something which, to my surprise, makes many of my customers' eyes light up. To me, this substitution seems like a delusion: "I know, instead of having vegetables tonight, I'll eat a processed rice product! Drenched in cream and animal fat! I'll never get cancer that way." Spurred on by the thought of having all of their usual comfort foods gluten-free, they begin a barrage of insipid questions:

Do you have gluten-free ravioli? Does our chef want to try and roll out a crumbly pasta that will fall apart in boiling water and taste like shit? Fuck no.

Why don't you have gluten-free pizza? Because we refuse to serve anyone cardboard with cheese melted on it.

Do you have gluten-free bread? We already lose a ton of money by letting people stuff their faces with empty calories free of charge. Buying bread that costs way more and tastes like crap to accommodate your diet? Nope. Not happening.

Do you think you could check to see if you have any gluten-free crackers or something back there? Again, we are not about to keep weird food stuffs around to feed your insanity, or at least not for free.

Sigh. I'm always more than happy to answer questions and make substitutions for people but really? At a certain point people need to start thinking for themselves, and do their homework about whatever fad diet they're involved in before they start badgering their hapless server.



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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Home Away From Home (Guest Blogger)

In my absence while I am on vacation, I have assembled some wonderful guest bloggers to fill in for me. Please comment and share. Also remember, these are guest bloggers. Visit their websites and show them some love. 

This blog comes from the most excellent, Terry Everton who writes at Working Stiff Review.  


Thanks,
BW

Of all the monosyllabic morons I’m forced to tolerate during any given day, nothing compares to the unbridled treat of getting to wait on the guy who expects the restaurant he’s visiting to transform itself into his personal dining room.

I had the privilege of enjoying a family of these retards the other night. They consisted of Papa Bear (Captain Hemorrhoid), Mama Bear (From Mom to Bitch in the Flick of a Switch), Brother Bear (Dudebro) and Sister Bear (Emo Chick Bravely Enduring the Overwhelming Angst of Life).

I approached their table with my usual “Good evening everyone, may I bring you something to drin…”

“Bro, change the TV to the Lakers game,” Brother Bear interrupted. “

Yeah, why are we watching hockey when Kobe Bryant is playing,” Papa Bear chimed in, apparently scaling the curiosity summit one perilous step at a time.

“I’ll talk to the bartender about it,” I answered while considering buying a semi-automatic rifle online to use on my intestines. “Until then, may I offer you something to drin…”

“What kind of ice do you use in your iced tea,” Mama Bear shot me in the gut with instead.

“I believe it’s the frozen kind,” I responded as I silently comforted myself by envisioning Freddy Krueger having his way with her.

It should be noted that Sister Bear sat with her head buried in her folded arms on the table. Apparently the oppressive weight of her fourteen years on the planet had taken its toll, and she found herself crumbling under the burden of basic socialization.

“Well, we use one inch cubes at home with little holes in them so the tea gets super duper colder, which is the way we like them,” Mama Bear enlightened me with all the charm usually found by someone being repeatedly stung by a hive full of bees.

“Gee, that sounds really neat-o,” I countered while trying not to throw up in my mouth. “Though I’ve never measured them, I’m pretty sure we use the same standard ice cubes you’ve probably encountered in most restaurants that have had the privilege of serving you.”

After a few more minutes of navigating our way through the various ways our beverage selection paled in comparison to the way they normally enjoyed Pepsi (in lieu of the Coke we serve) in the comfort of their home, I returned with four glasses of water, no ice, lemons on the side.

“Have you decided on what you would like for dinne…”

“So Bro, who picks the music around here anyway, ‘cause it really sucks,” Brother Bear asked in his best thespian recitation.

“I’m inclined to agree,” Papa Bear confirmed with all the warmth one normally associates with Indianapolis in January. “And it’s way too loud as well. I can hardly hear myself think in here!”

I looked at them with the look you give someone after they’ve just hit you upside the head with a two by four. “I’m pretty sure the music is selected by the owner. And he’s pretty specific about the volume we keep it at, Bro. Have you made any decisions regarding what you might like for dinne…”

“I’ll take your Island Burger,” Mama Bear announced to anyone who gave a rat’s ass, which most certainly didn’t include me. “No Island Dressing. And you can give my pickles to someone else. We also don’t make our burgers at home with lettuce, so you can leave that off too. But I’ll take cheddar cheese. And American. Both kinds, don’t forget. And just a drop of Dijon mustard, but not too much ‘cause it overpowers the taste of the meat. And I need the tomatoes on the side, but we don’t like them to touch the bun. Oh, and the bun. We don’t eat sesame seeds. Or onions. So make sure the bun doesn’t have any of those. And we like it toasted, but not too much. Just enough. And we like our French fries cooked just until they turn brown but not too brown and no salt. And we’ll take barbeque sauce instead of ketchup.”

Sister Bear lifted her head and rolled her eyes heavenward, though whether her disdain was with her mother’s diatribe or the hopelessness of existence which had her firmly in its grasp was beyond me. She let out a huge sigh before returning to her hunched over state, as if she had exhaled her very soul in the process.

The rest of the orders followed suit, with each entrée taking on more modifications than a typical Orange County housewife’s surgically-altered face until what was inevitably brought to the table resembled the original menu description about as much as what was going to be left of my sobriety in a couple of hours.

After their food had been delivered, I checked back with them to make sure everything was exactly the way they were used to having it at home.


“Bro, it’s awfully cold in here, man,” Brother Bear clued me in on, while the sound of his voice actually sent waves of frost down my own spine. “I mean, I’m all for bein’ chill and stuff, but this is ridiculous.” He chuckled at the amazing subtlety of his undoubtedly unintended double-entendre and waited for me to bask in the endless trough of his wit as well. I instead went to my happy place, conjuring images of him choking on a spork.

“I absolutely agree,” Papa Bear agreed, as I looked around the floor for where he might have possibly misplaced his brain. “We keep our house at a constant ambient seventy two degrees, and this sure feels colder than that!”

I assured them I would adjust the air conditioning, which I didn’t. However, I did check back with them a few minutes later to inquire whether my non-adjustment had made a noticeable impact on their dining experience.

“Oh my god, it feels so much better in here,” mumbled Mama Bear with a mouth full of chopped cow as a droplet of grease made its way down her chin. “I thought I was going to melt from the cold!” If. Only. That. Were. Possible.

Sister Bear, on the other hand, had wrapped herself in the sweater she had brought in tow for just such an occasion as she obviously had been down the ambient road before, and was looking to radically announce that she was on the opposite side of the familial thermostat coup. That, and the added vampirific countenance it added to the dour cloud hanging over her head emphasized the impending Armageddon she was inches away from perilously falling into.

After they had consumed everything in front of them but the table cloth and their plates had been cleared I approached the table, dessert menus in hand. Butbefore I had the chance to describe the overpriced and mostly mediocre sugar-laden confections, Brother Bear jumped in and saved me from the faux pas I was unknowingly about to commit. “Come on now, Bro. We don’t do the dessert thing.” Silly fucking me.

“Uh, yeah. We’ll just take the check,” Papa Bear chimed in with a tone insinuating that I had disappointed them for the final time.

After they paid their bill and left and I had pocketed my ten percent tip, I knew what had to be done just so I’d have a puncher’s chance of getting through the rest of the night. So I popped a Vicodin and ordered myself a dirty Grey Goose on the rocks.

Just like I do at home.



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Monday, September 17, 2012

One Less Bitch in The United States

By the time you read this, I will be in merry old foggy London town. Yes, I poured myself into economy class on British Airways for a very bitchy European vacation. After a few days of wining and dining in London, I am going to see what waiters are like in Paris, France. I hear that all of them are old crusty lifers who are bitter, jaded, angry and hate tourists. In other words, it will be just like sitting in my very own station. If they are in fact as rude as I have heard them to be, I will be looking into a work visa so I can wait tables in a land where I will fit in. I bet you a Euro that they don't have any Olive Gardens or Red Lobsters over there and I hear that servers get paid a living wage. It sounds like a dream come true. Sacre bleu!

In my absence, I have found several people who were willing to write guest posts for me, so The Bitchy Waiter blog can keep on rolling just like the actual Bitchy Waiter who will keep on rolling his drunk ass from bar to bar while doing some sightseeing and general tourist crap. While in London, I have plans to see Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry. I sent out an email to both of them seeing if they want to meet for a Pimms Cup in Hyde Park. I haven't heard from either yet, but I know Liz has trouble understanding how email works and she probably sent me a message via courier pigeon instead. As for Prince Harry, well, he's been busy. While in Paris, my main goal is to drink as much sparkling Californian wine as possible.

Anyway, yes there will be guest bloggers. Please treat them with the same respect that I give to the customers who sit in my station. (Okay, that is hilarious.) Comment, share and by all means, go visit their blogs. The only thing they are getting out of contributing to The Bitchy Waiter is the hope for a little exposure, so please do not disappoint them. On the other hand, never forget how shallow and needy I am. If any of you forsake me for one of them, I will never get over it and will spend the rest of my life drowning my sorrows with tequila shots. ("So, what else is new?" says anyone who has read this blog more than once.)

I hope to be able to maintain the Bitchy Waiter Facebook page while I am away but vacation may get the best of me. My trusty admin Ron will be filling my slip-resistant shoes while I am away and he is much wittier than I am. Don't get used to anything if the Facebook page suddenly seems smarter than usual. In a couple of weeks I will be back and it will be dumbed down once again.

Thanks, everyone. Now get out there and treat your customers with respect and understanding so you can be paid back in 20% tips and pats on the asses. As of this second, I am on vacation where it feels okay to drink before noon. ("So, what else is new?" says anyone who has read this blog more than once.)

love,
BW



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Friday, September 14, 2012

Are Your Customers as Stupid as Mine Are?

Warning: the comment section of this post has become hijacked by a crazy fucking bitch who can't unlock her caps. I have deleted most of her comments because she is driving me fucking crazy but I am sure the nut job will be back. Beware.

-BW

I don't expect customers to be very smart, so it's not surprising when people give the wrong answer to this question: Hello, how are you tonight? There are so many correct answers to that question such as "I am fine" or "Very well, thank you," but one that is most assuredly incorrect is "I want coffee" or "what's your special?" People, just take a fucking moment to acknowledge your server and at least pretend for a hot second that you're not completely self-absorbed in your own life and have no concern about anything else. Coming from someone who always says good morning to the crusty ass bus driver on the Q32, I know it's not that hard to mumble out a simple salutation whether you truly mean it or not.

Last week, a woman came into the restaurant. I immediately went to her table. "Hello, how are you tonight?" I asked." Without looking away from her stupid cell phone, she said, "Do you have any bread? I'm starving!" Lady, please. You aren't starving. People in Africa are starving. Children in the Appalachians are starving. Supermodels are starving. You are not starving. You do not have a swollen belly nor do I see Sally Struthers anywhere trying to give you some canned goods. What you meant to say was, "I am good, thank you for asking. I am waiting for someone and I'm a bit peckish. Would you mind bringing me a little bit of bread, please whenever you get a chance? Thank you." Customers notoriously give the wrong answer to a myriad of questions. Here are justa few that make me want to pull my hair out but I would never really do that because my hair is sorta "my thing."

Q: Hi, how are you?
A: Do you have a bathroom?
✘ WRONG

Q: Do you have any questions about the menu?
A: I don't like this table, can I have that booth?
✘ WRONG

Q:Would you like cheese on your burger?
A: I need bread.
✘ WRONG

Q: May I take that plate for you?
A: My phone needs to be charged, can you plug it in for me somewhere?
✘ WRONG

Q: Would you like to hear our specials tonight?
A: It's cold in here.
✘ WRONG

Q: Are you ready to order anything?
A: Yes, I am. (And then to friend) What are you having? I have no idea.
✘ WRONG

Q: Did you get a chance to look at the menu yet?
A: I want steak, well done.
✘ WRONG

Q: Can I get you anything to drink?
A: No I don't drink, I'll have water.
✘ WRONG You do drink water, stupid.

Q: Would you like some more water?
A: We ordered like an hour ago.
✘ WRONG

Q: Here is your food. Is there anything else I can get for you right now?
A: No.
✘ WRONG You need A-1, more napkins, more butter and more bread but you will ask me four separate times for them.

Q: How is your steak?
A: Tough and dry.
✔ CORRECT Your steak is tough and dry because you asked for it to be well done, stupid.

Q: How was everything tonight?
A: Oh it was horrible (as they hand me a plate that was licked cleaner than the balls of a yard dog.)
✘ WRONG AND STUPID

Q: Would you like dessert tonight?
A: No, I'm on a diet.
✘ WRONG There is no diet that lets you eat fried calamari, mac and cheese and steak for dinner and three Diet Coke does not mean you are on a diet. It means you are in denial.

And what questions do your customers routinely answer incorrectly?



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Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Comment on Comments

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I started this blog called The Bitchy Waiter. It was back when I was still fresh and young like a juicy peach just waiting to be picked. The third blog post I ever wrote was a wispy little thing called Are You Really Allergic To That? It only got a few hits because I was a newbie blogger and nobody cared. Not much unlike today, really. A couple of months ago, someone posted a comment. They may have been a little tardy to the party, but that doesn't mean that I can't comment about their comment. Shall we begin?

Actually, I find you annoying!!! I actually am allergic to MSG, Cherries, artificial sweetener, and a few other things. My throat will actually swell up if I even come near these foods. 

Am I to believe that if you walk past a bowl of cherries or a packet of Splenda, your throat will swell up. You don't even have to eat them? Now that is really fucking allergic and not at all in any way whatsoever an exaggeration.

I do my best not to order foods that do not contain any of my allergies but sometimes I have to change or take something off of my plate. I know it can be aggravating but that is how it is. I have been a waitress before and I did not mind changing an order or accommodating someone with allergies. I do not believe you should be a waiter or even work in this profession.

I agree. I should not be a waiter or even work in this profession. Starting tomorrow, I will be an astronaut. Can't wait.

You are not suited to be a waiter. You are more annoying than you say your customers are. You are abusive and rude to children. You should never call a child the names you call them and you should not react in an abusive way to children.

According the closet full of black pants and shirts with food stains all over them, I am perfectly suited to be a waiter. Also, you have not met me or my customers so you have no way to judge who is the most annoying. You'll just have to take my word for it that the customers are more annoying than I am. As for me abusing children and calling them names, I hardly consider feeding an asshole child Tabasco sauce when their parents aren't looking an abusive act. I think it falls more under the sadist column, for sure.

You should be FIRED from your job and be banned from being a waiter any where in this country!


I agree. Please alert my bosses that you think I should be fired for offending you. I know they will be so happy to hear from you. Please let me know how to get on that list for being banned from being a waiter anywhere in this country. All these years, I have just been doing it one restaurant at a time, but if there is a quicker way to being blacklisted, I'd love to know about it.

I do hope that one day you are treated the way that you treat others and I also hope that you will be treated exactly in the way you want to treat others. 

I hope that someday you can figure out how to not the say the same thing twice in one sentence and I also hope you can figure out exactly how to not say the same thing twice in one sentence.

I also hope you never have children but if you do, then do the decent thing and give them up for adoption to a family who will love and treasure children the way they should be treated.

Trust me, I am not having kids. That is one treasure I don't want. I like spending my money on things like Paris vacations and iPads instead of baby formula and diapers. Some people may call that selfish, but I think it's smart. There are plenty of people who feel the same way I do but went ahead and had kids anyway. Those are the really shitty parents.

I also hope that carma gives you hell and you realize just how cruel, obnoxious, of a person you are....... 


karma......

I hope you get fired, and have to grow up and realize how blessed you were to have a job and realize how much of a jerk you were and that is why you have lost your job. 

I hope I get fired and then have more time to write emails with long run on sentences and send them out to blogs and just keep on making the sentence longer by adding "and" to it and so on and so on.

Maybe you will become homeless, and so poor that you would be happy to have a job. Because at this point you should not look down through your over sized arrogant nose at others and realize you are scum off the bottom of the people you SERVE shoes. 

Anyone who can look down through their nose has some weird fucked up nose shit happening. Also, I am not scum off the bottom of the people I SERVE shoes. I am the scum off the bottom of the shoes of the people I SERVE.

I believe that being a waiter/waitress can be a Nobel profession just as any other job can be unless you reduce yourself to being scum! And believe me you have reduced yourself to scum. 

I did not realize that waiting tables was a Nobel profession. I am so excited that I am in the running for that. I might be the first scum to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Grow up and learn how to your job without being a pain in the butt. Or quit your job and find a job somewhere where the sight of you will not make every one around you want to puke when in your presence... May God have mercy on all the people who have to put up with someone like you and your big headed arrogant self!!!! 

You have never worked with me so you don't know that I am a pain in the butt. I might be, I might not be. You don't know for certain. Perhaps it would be better if I found a job out of the view of humanity so that people can stop puking when they see me. Perhaps a job in the sewers would be good for me. That way, very few people will see me and if they do see me and feel the need to puke, they will be right there in the sewer anyway so it'll be no big deal. Trouble is, I don't have any experience working in the sewers. Would it be alright if I used you for a reference? You seem to be the best sewer troll whore around and I am sure your name will get me far in the world of sewage. Maybe then, God will have mercy on all the people who have put up with my big head!!!!! Truth be told though, it's not my head that is big, it's just the hair.

Thank you for your comment. It was great.

Love,
The Bitchy Waiter



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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dude Looks Like a Lady

I first met this interesting couple at the restaurant about a year ago. The two sat down in my station and they each ordered a glass of wine. As I am taking the order, I assume the two are lesbians. The slightly more feminine of the two asks for a Chardonnay and the "butch one" orders a Merlot. I wonder if they are sisters, life-partners or just a couple of lady-loving ladies on their way to an Indigo Girls concert with a brief stop at Home Depot. I am a little busy at the time and the bartender tells me that I accidentally picked up a Pinot Grigio instead of the requested Chardonnay. I figure I will wait and see if they even notice. Two minutes later, I am called over to the table where Femmy says, "I do believe this is something other than Chardonnay." She licks her chapped lips and sniffs the inside of her glass. "Perhaps it's a Pinot Grigio, but definitely not a Chardonnay. Can you double check that I got the right glass of wine, please?"

Color me impressed. Color her in plaid flannel.

Upon closer inspection, I see that the two have matching wedding bands so I know now that they are not sisters. Scissor sisters maybe, but not biological ones.

"Are you folks ready to order?" I ask.

Chardonnay Lady says, "Well,  I know what I want but he might need a little more time."

I do not hear what she says after that because I am trying to understand why, if this is her husband and he is a man, is he wearing a pair of Mom Jeans. Even using the pronoun of "he" seems wrong. I look closer at the husband as he takes a swallow of his Merlot and I see the bobbing of an Adam's apple in his throat. 

Color me surprised. Color him in a pink polo.

A year passes and the couple comes in on occasion. They are always curt and short, never rude but never friendly, not smiling but not frowning either. They are just present. I always make sure to pick up Chardonnay and I have to pinch myself to not say "hello, ladies." He really does look like a woman. Remember Miss Jane Hathaway from The Beverly Hillbillies? He looks like her, but maybe not quite so manly.

Last week, the couple was in again. It was a hot humid day and they sat at booth 9 and ordered their usual wines. A few minutes later, another couple who had been sitting on the patio comes inside to finish their bottle of rosé in the air conditioning.

When they walk past the couple at booth 9, the couple that consists of a man and a woman, Mom Jeans Man says to him, "Hey, real men don't drink rosé."

"When it's this hot outside they do," countered the rosé drinking possibly unreal man heading to the bar.

The men were obviously friends, but the exchange was odd because the man claiming that real men don't drink a certain beverage has so often confused me with his gender. Do real men not drink rosé? Do real men only drink Merlot? Do real mean have bottoms shaped like pears? Do real men wear Mom Jeans? I am confused.

"Well, I guess we can make an exception then'" says Pear Bottom. "It is hot, after all."

The rosé-drinking man laughs and sits his decidedly un-pear-like ass onto a bar stool. Miss Jane Hathaway takes another swig of his Merlot and orders another. His wife asks for a second Chardonnay and gives me the look that says "don't fuck it up again" even though I only messed up that one time and it was accident over a year ago. It's our thing now, I guess.

The rest of my time with them is uneventful. They leave satisfied if not thrilled. I get a 20% tip and I am secure in knowing that for every pair of Mom Jeans there is a pear shaped ass ready to fill it and sometimes that pear shaped ass might belong to a man who looks more like a woman than Miss Jane Hathaway.

The moral of this story is to never judge a book by its cover. Or a man by his Mom Jeans.



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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today is September 11th

This post is atypical of what I usually write about, but seeing it's an event that cannot be ignored, I have to mention it. Today is the eleventh anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, otherwise known as 9/11. Those of us in New York City are stuck between a rock and a hard place regarding this day. Of course we must pay our respects to those who were lost but this is something that has been in the news every single day since then. Not a day has gone by that it was not mentioned on a newscast. It's tough to listen to all the time yet for some reason I can't ever turn the channel even though I would like to stop hearing about it. And then I feel guilty for thinking that. Am I alone in feeling that?

I was off work on September 11th, 2001, sleeping late. The phone rang several times that morning and I ignored it, but after the third or forth call, I dragged myself out of bed to see who was calling me. After I listened to the first message on my answering machine, I pulled back the kitchen curtain in my Brooklyn apartment and could see that one of the towers was on fire. It was one of the things that sold me on that apartment, the view of the World Trade Center. I moved into it straight from Texas and to have an iconic view like that really meant something to me. Like everyone else in the country, I turned on the television and watched the events unfold. From my window, I watched both towers fall as I stood in my kitchen unable to wrap my brain around what was happening.

Outside, neighbors were gathering and the smell of smoke had already made it all the way across the river. Ash and scraps of office paper floated in the air littering the streets with what may have been something very important just an hour before. I picked up a piece of paper and saw it was from the desk of a man I of course didn't know, but I held on to it thinking I should try to get it back to him somehow. Eventually, it was obvious that there would be no way to retrieve all the pieces of paper that were singed and burned and now flying across Brooklyn. I threw away the one scrap I had held on to, but have since wondered if his family would have liked to have had it.

I didn't lose anyone personally in those attacks so it was easy to distance myself from it at first. But as days passed, it was clear that we were all in this together. At The Brooklyn Marriott, where I worked at the time, someone lost his mother-in-law. They never found her. The next day when I went back to work, I heard stories from my co-workers who witnessed the throngs of people escaping Manhattan by walking over the Brooklyn Bridge which the hotel was at the foot of. People poured into the hotel as a safe place after getting off the bridge and away from the unbelievable happenings in lower downtown.

Within a couple of days, people started hanging flyers up with pictures of their loved ones who they were unable to locate. Two blocks from my apartment, a house was plastered with pictures of a pretty blond woman who had lived there and was missing. Her flyer was everywhere. Walking thorough my neighborhood, more and more flyers were posted of happy smiling faces who were at at the wrong place at the wrong time. To me, that was the saddest thing; all those people looking for their husbands, wives, sons and daughters when deep down inside they had to have known they would never see them again. It was torturous for me and I didn't even know them.

Over and over again, we hear the words "never forget" in regards to 9/11. Never forget the people, right? Never forget how quickly things can change? Never forget that we are at the mercy of someone who may want to cause us harm? Yes, let's never forget those things, but there is something else I always want to remember about the weeks following 9/11. New York City became a quiet and respectful city. Sitting on the subway, you could look into the eyes of a perfect stranger and know that you shared something with them. People were kind to each other and helpful. "Please" and "thank you" were common and patience was suddenly a virtue everyone had. Cars weren't honking and people weren't yelling. Everyone was sharing the same quiet city together. We all knew that the togetherness would fade away eventually and it was so gradual that it's impossible to say when it was no longer there. But for a while, all of New York City was a family. I wish we could remember that. Out of all the horrible things that happened that day, that was the one positive that came out of it. It reminded us that we are all here together sharing this planet. And we all need to lean on each other and help one another. Give your subway seat to the old lady. Stick your tongue out at a kid in the grocery store to make him laugh. Tell your friends how much they mean to you. These are the things that happened in New York City after 9/11 that I wish people would remember.

I didn't talk to my mom that day until late in the afternoon. Friends had called to check on me as did my grandma and brothers, but not my mom. When I finally talked to her, I asked if she was worried about me. "Nah," she said. "I knew it was your day off and I couldn't imagine that you got up early to go to the World Trade Center. I figured you were safe and sound and sleeping late." Of course she was right. Who knows you better than your mom? "I knew you were okay," she said. Ten days later I got on an airplane to go see my family in Texas. I hadn't cried about 9/11 other than a few tears here and there, but when I got off the plane and saw my mom, I sobbed like a baby. I held her tight and suddenly I was so thankful to be alive. So maybe that's what we should never forget: we are alive and it's our job to appreciate every single minute of our days. That is the lesson we should learn from the 2,985 people who died ten years ago.

This is a repost from last year, but still important. I hope you will share this by clicking the like or tweet button.




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