Get some Bitchy Waiter in your email!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do Your Really Want That Water or Are You Wasting My Time?

As in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I see water, water every where, but not a drop to drink. Unlike our seafaring sailor who was surrounded by salt water and unable to satiate his thirst with his surroundings, I see glass after glass of tap water that people ask for but they never let pass their lips.

We don't live in a country where there is very often a water shortage so people feel free to waste water in the same way they waste their breath by telling me how they want their burger cooked or what they're allergic to.

I go to a six-top to see what they would like for their two-drink minimum while watching the show. We are not a restaurant, so we don't have pitchers of water at side stands that we fill glasses with every two minutes.

"Hello, folks, how are you tonight? Can I get you anything to drink yet or would you like a few minutes to look over the cocktail menu?"

Silence ensues.

"I can come back in a few minutes if you need some more time. I do realize our cocktail menu is quite extensive and it can take some time to decide which one of our delicious libations you would like to enjoy this evening."

More silence. And then those dreaded words from one woman:

"I don't know what I want, so can you just bring me a glass of water while I decide? Just bring everyone a glass of water."

What if everyone doesn't want a glass of water, lady? Did you ever think of that? Are the other five people going to drink that water or am I just using up valuable time to bring glasses of water that will never be touched? Her five friends don't even acknowledge that she has just asked for water on their behalf which tells me that I am going to be doing this for nothing. We have a total of 75 people seeing this show. If I bring a glass of water to every single person, that is three extra racks of glasses that have to be cleared, carried down the stairs and sent through the dishwasher. That is 75 glasses that we will go through and maybe make us run out of them for important things like vodka tonics and my wine.

I return to the bar to ask the bartender for six glasses of water. He is up to his ass-less chaps in chits trying to keep up with the demand for real drinks like martinis and Manhattans but now has to put the brakes on productivity to get water for six people, five of which didn't even ask for it.

"It's so fucking irritating when someone orders water for the whole table. Ain't nobody got time for that," I bitch.

"I'm sure you've blogged about it before, right?" asks Tom.

I realize I have not.

"But then again," he continues, "it's not like it would be a whole blog. Probably just a paragraph."

"Oh, I can make it a whole blog post," I counter. "Just wait."

I return to the table with the six glasses of water and, surprise, surprise, they still aren't ready to order. I place the six glasses on the table and notice that four of the customers don't even notice that it happened. Meanwhile, the lady at the table next to them sees the waters and decides that she too is parched.

"That looks good. Can I have a glass of water?"

"Me too," says another man.

It's as contagious as yawning. Everyone who sees a glass of water now thinks they need one too. It's maddening. I feel myself falling into the weeds as I fetch additional glasses of water for people who moments before did not even know they wanted one.

After the show, I go to clear the room and head back to the table that started The Great Water Demand of 2013. Of the original six glasses of water I had brought to the table, five of them still have the paper on the straw meaning they were never touched. As I suspected, it was all for naught.

Look, I don't mind getting water, I really don't. I understand that water is a basic need and can be quite delicious when mixed with a cup of sugar and a packet of Kool-Aid. What I ask is that people think about it first before requesting "water for everyone." Let people make theor own decisions about their water intake. Don't assume they want it and certainly don't assume that I will be happy to do it. Rest assured, if you ever find yourself saying 'just bring water for everyone," your server is muttering under his breath how irritated he is.

Let me end this post by quoting the last paragraph of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and showing you how it relates to the above water situation:

He went like one who hath been stunn'd,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.

What that means in present day speak is this:

The customer was like, "oh my God,"
I feel so bad for asking for water for everyone when I didn't even know if they wanted it:
I know now it can be annoying and wasteful
And starting tomorrow I won't do that anymore.

(See Tom? I told you I could write a whole blog post about it.)

Click here to follow The Bitchy Waiter on Twitter.
Click here to find The Bitchy Waiter on Facebook.


omcdurham said...

At least the water lady didn't ask for a plate of lemons and several sugar caddies, or 6 hot teas!

Guy Malone said...

Once on a gratted table when someone asked me that, I replied "Put that on your tab?" He of course thought I was being cute and agreed. He didn't think it was so funny after I started asking the rest of them one by one "Panna Still, or San Pellegrino Sparkling?" They all said "just tap" but at least I struck back and totally amused myself.

Anonymous said...

I, too, hate when someone orders water for the whole table. But not as much as I hate when one person orders a water and a glass of wine or something, and the rest of the table just orders their non-water drinks. THEN, when they see the person get a glass of water at their table, two more say, "oh, I'd like a glass of water, too." And after returning with those, the last person doesn't want to be left out, so they also order a water. Ugh.

JoeinVegas said...

Sorry BW, I always order tap water, and then drink three or four glasses of it. (on top of the iced tea I usually get so at least the restaurant makes something off of my thirst). But I don't order it for others.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has a boss like this who pays for the meal and therefore wants all to drink water. This from a professional man treating a professional woman and support staff to lunch. (all 3 of them) Robyn Qld AU

Melissa Mitchell said...

I'm a water drinker. It's actually the only cold drink I have. My sons are too (though that wouldn't apply I guess in a place like yours, as they're still too young to be going to shows).

I agree though, I can see how it would be annoying if they aren't all drinking it, or ordering at the same time.

S'A said...

When I waitressed (and yes, it was a lifetime ago) it was just a matter of course to take water to the table. I had noticed that that isn't a common practice any more. It still feels odd to me that I have to ask for water. But I would never ask for it for the whole table.

Anonymous said...

I just recently stated following you on Facebook and reading your blog. I finally signed up for your blog and I just love you!! Anyway, the thing about water; I encounter this all the time where I work. One person at the table ordering water for the entire table and no one but the one person touches it. Or I love it when someone orders a diet coke and a water....they never touch the water even though I end up refilling their diet coke like 6 times. Whats contagious at my restaurant is bread. We don't automatically bring out bread and our bread sucks, there is nothing great about it. Its just a filler before you get your food. But the second you bring it out for one table then everyone else in my section suddenly wants it too. Which is annoying because its not convenient we don't just have bread in a warmer.

Anonymous said...

I live in CA, so we do water conservation here. We're not suppose to bring water unless they ask. it really irks me when somebody orders it for the whole table. If they do, I usually look at everyone else, and ask if they want water, too. Generally, they say no, and the person that tried to get it "for everyone" looks annoyed that they look stupid, and getting called out for making assumptions...which I strongly prefer over wasting 6 glasses of water ;)

~ Serenity

Practical Parsimony said...

I drink lots of water with a meal and one unsweetened iced tea. But, I would never order water for the whole table. I really despise going out with someone who likes to order such stuff for me or others at the table.

I do not drink coffee but have had to argue with someone who insists I need coffee and insist the server pour it for me.

Are these people control freaks or just have poor manners?

Anonymous said...

I had someone do this just last week and of course only the one water got touched. But in my case, it was an incomplete party and the first to arrive requested water all around. Everyone else got coffee or a diet coke and didn't touch the water. Honestly I don't think I even refilled the water once for the people who ordered it. But all in all, it was a really nice six top so by the time they left I didn't really mind and was just happy to see a good tip from a larger group. I work at Cracker Barrel, land of $1 per person (or less) from large groups...

Leanna said...

After a week of unemployment (I wasn't "compatible" with the store a.k.a. I didn't suck or munch enough) I've made it through your whole blog! I've laughed and cried, loving every post like it was my own child (even though I'm childless). More importantly, you've inspired me to start my own blog! I just want to say thank you :) And even though my blog isn't about the restaurant industry, because I was just let go from it, I still hope you'll come by and check it out! Xoxo

Russkijim said...

Dear Bitchy,

You might like to comment on this fine article from Britain's most tolerant and fair minded tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail.

I'm sure you'll have an entertaining viewpoint on it!

Taz said...

You might enjoy waiting tables in Italy. If you order water there, it's assumed that you mean bottled water.

Usually I'd just go with it, but occasionally I'd specifically request tap water (because dammit, sometimes you get homesick for a big glass of ice water with a straw). The look the waiters would give me was priceless. There is no classy way to order tap water there. No matter how you translate it, it comes across like,

"Hi I'd like some water."

"Oh, we have several delicious varieties of bottled water, or sparkling if you prefer."

"Nope. I don't want them fancy drinks. Just fill my cup from the hose out back, and serve it in a dog bowl will ya?"

Nope, definitely not classy. I didn't care though. I might drink water like an American, but I also tipped like an American (a good tipping American, not a crappy Springs1ian), so the waiter didn't lose anything on the deal.

(For the record, the tap water in Italy is excellent quality. In fact, it's actually safe to drink the water coming from the public fountains. Some of the larger ones have an extra little spout a couple feet away that empties into a grate so people can get a drink or fill a bottle without climbing on the giant awesome sculptures).

Noelle said...

Ordering for others is obnoxious unless they're kids. Like "She'll have the Blah blah and I'll have this and that" I always want to look at he one ordered for and ask "Are you sure?" "Are you mute". I like it when ice cream drinks are as contagious as a yawn. That is a 9 dollar yawn.

Leslie said...

I am just the oppisite. My boyfriend usually orders water and a soda, drinks both and I order iced tea. I feel bad when they automatically bring me a water as well which I don't need if I am having tea already. I try to drink part of it just because they brought it.

Anonymous said...

last night the waitress topped up my water glass 7 times, sometimes by just a drop or was beyond annoying. let me say my friend and I were in no way trying to make her life difficult.we had ordered dinner and two drinks and were completely polite. the place was hardly slammed with other customers and I'm a great tipper.

Jordan said...

She might have just been bored. I find myself doing things like that just so I'm not standing around. Then of course, I'm always afraid I'm getting on my tables' nerves. :-/