It's 10:45 and the 11:30 show has just been given "a go." In other words, we have enough reservations to justify the performance so like it or not, my ass is going to be at work until at least 1:30 AM. The reservations seem to be all promotional deals such as Groupon and the like meaning the probability for shitty tips is pretty high. My mood is deflated knowing that my shift drink has been pushed back by at least two hours. We open the doors and in comes "the crowd." Every single person there has a coupon and instantly complains about the price and the two-drink minimum.
I approach table three.
"Hello and welcome. May I get you something to drink this evening?"
As soon as I ask , I realize that this girl may be under 21 years old and I will have to card her. At the club, we don't normally get 21 year-olds. We cater to a more mature crowd who do not require carding because most of them had their birth certificates delivered via Pony Express and their drivers licenses were given to them for horse and buggies.
The young girl looks at the menu overwhelmed by either the selection or the $15 martini prices.
"Um, I dunno yet. Can I just start out with a chocolate mouse?"
"Okay, one chocolate mousse," I say.
"Oh my god, I meant mousse, not mouse. Oh my god." She giggles with her friend. "I want a Red Bull and vodka'" she decides.
"Do you have i.d. for me?"
She reaches into her bag which may or may not have had Dora the Explorer on it and hands me her license which confirms that she has been twenty-one years old for all of three months. I hand it back to her. "Thank you. I'm sorry but we don't have Red Bull."
"Oh, bummer. Well, any kind of energy drink is fine then." she tells me.
If she didn't see my eye roll then she must be blind because an epic eye roll it is.
"I'm sorry, but we don't have any energy drinks. Is there something else I can get for you?"
She seems to not quite comprehend what kind of place doesn't have Red Bull. Typically, I serve Manhattans, dry martinis and or an Old-Fashioned. We do not have energy drinks, nor do we have cotton candy flavored vodka or body shots. She finally decides on a Long Island Iced Tea because that's what all 21 year-olds drink since it's the best bang for your buck. Vodka, gin, tequila and rum? Perfect. The other girl orders a Coke since she now knows I will card her ass if she tries to order anything else.
The two girls continue to annoy me during the show because they don't want a second drink since they "are so broke." They have to get something though so I order them each a $5.50 bottle of water. They are talking during the show, taking pictures of each other, texting friends and checking their Facebook. Not only am I at work later than I want to be, I am stuck serving kids who I know are going to leave shit for tips. I try my hardest to disguise my disdain for them. My smile is phony, my politeness is forced and I am developing "the shakes" because my shift drink is eluding me. At long last, the show is over and I pass out my checks. Everyone pays quickly with the exception of the two girls who, because they have a Groupon, owe nothing except the tip which is not included. It turns out they know someone in the show who joins them at the table and begin to chat for another twenty minutes. I can see my tip sitting on the table- a wad of singles. I stand in the corner looking back and forth between them and the bottle of Chardonnay that I am not allowed to touch until the last customer has left. Finally, they leave.
"Good night, you guys. Thank you for coming in tonight." Even I am surprised at how genuine it sounds. Seconds after they leave the club, I pour myself my shift drink and go pick up my tip: four dollars. It is now 1:40 AM and I made a total of $28 for the show. I would rather have left two and a half hours earlier without the money.
But now for the surprising part. So many people email me telling me what a horrible waiter I must be. They tell me I am rude and mean and always drunk. They tell me to get a real job and that they would hate to ever be in my station. But this is how good of a waiter I am. I looked at Yelp a few days ago and saw a review for the night I just told you about. It reads:
We came here with a Groupon deal for admission to one of the late night (post 11:30pm) shows. Dessert was tasty, service was friendly and attentive (even after he knew we had pre-purchased), and the show provided the sort of random and entertaining night that I love about NYC. I would definitely come back, but probably not at full price.
Even though I hated being there, hated my customer because I knew they were going to shaft me, I still gave them good service. That's what makes a good server. Doing everything you can for your customer and never letting them know that you hate them with a passion. Am I a bitchy waiter? Damn right, I am. Do my customers know it? Not at all.
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