Thursday, May 31, 2012

Famous Person Dines and Dashes

I have a moral dilemma. Lots of things happen at work that I take notes about and share on this blog. It's what has gotten me to where I am today which is almost exactly where I was when I started this blog over three years ago. Sometimes things happen that I question whether or not to write about it and if I do decide to post it, how specific should I be? Is it wrong to "out" people who leave crappy tips? It's not really slander if I know for certain that someone did something, right? Recently, I had a walk-out. For those of you not in the restaurant business, first off, let me congratulate you on that, but secondly, let me explain what a "walk-out" is. It's when someone simply leaves the restaurant without paying their check, be it knowingly or unknowingly. There was a news story just this week about four people who committed a "dine and dash" at a restaurant in Sylvan Beach, NY. They were charged with theft of services and issued appearance tickets. Depending on the restaurant, it can really hurt the server because very often the cost of that check comes out of the server's apron. It's probably illegal to do that, but it happens all the time. It's happened to me. I had a walk-out last night.

The audience at the club are all very wealthy people who came out to support their equally wealthy friend who fancies herself a singer. I use the term "singer" lightly. Very very lightly. Like, if the term was any lighter, it would float away. The room is full of people who come from money and they are all entitled elitists pricks who want what they want and they want it now. The problem is they don't know how to ask for anything, they only know how to demand.

"Give me a vodka martini," barks out the Lady With Dyed Black Hair.

"Yes, ma'am. Is there any particular vodka you'd like?"

"What? I dunno." She looks around for a friend, a butler or a maid to make the decision for her. Clearly, someone else usually makes this call. "Just bring me a martini," she spits out.

"Very good. One Belvedere martini, coming right up," I say, choosing the most expensive vodka on the list.

Five minutes later, I am sliding past a table while holding a tray of nine beverages. It's crowded, dark and the tray is very precarious. Just as I reach my table, I feel someone tapping me on my back. I turn my head to see what kind of medical emergency must be happening that would cause someone to need my attention at that precise moment and a woman tells me, "Vodka tonic."  Yeah, these are the people I am dealing with.

At booth three, I am waiting on a very famous 89 year old gossip columnist. She's crotchety and obviously does not want to be at the show. Seated with her, but on her own check, is the widow of a very well-known actor who died earlier this year. She's pretty and relatively friendly, especially compared to the royal pains in the asses filling the rest of my section.

"I'll have a margarita, frozen," she says.

"I'm sorry," I reply. "We can't do frozen because the blender makes too much noise during the show. Is on the rocks alright?"

"Too much noise? Oh.." She laughs a bit as if she doesn't quite understand why a blender crushing ice during a musical performance would be any problem at all. "Okay, I guess that's fine."

I return with her cocktail and she never needs anything else. As soon as the show is over, The Grand Dame of Dish and the Widow get up to make their way out of the room. The gossip monger's check has already been taken care of but the widow's has not.

"Ma'am, I have your check. Do you want it now or would you like me to leave it on the table?"

"Just leave it on the table," she tells me.

Famous last words. She never reappears. I go to the host and ask if she saw them leave. "Yes, they both left. I told them that there was an encore but the really old one said she didn't care."

"So the blond lady left too?" I ask.

"Yeah, why?"

"She didn't pay her check. It was for $45. I just fucking told her I had it."

"Yeah, she's gone."

And now I reach the moral dilemma. I know the woman's name. I want to out her as a "dine and dasher" but is it ethically okay to do that? Luckily for me, I work in a place where the managers know that these things happen on occasion and the money does not come out of my pocket. But she should know that what she did wasn't right. Maybe it was accident and if that's the case, then she would want to know, right? And if it wasn't an accident, then I should tell the world so that if you see her in your station, you know to acquire a credit card as soon as she puts her privileged butt in the seat. What I should do, is send this blind item to Page Six and let them publish it. Then I can wash my hands of the whole thing. But I like dirty hands.

Her name is Elke Krivat, widow to Ben Gazzara. If you have a Google Alert for yourself, Elke, you owe the club $45 and you owe me $9. What's wrong with you?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Open Letter to The Ladies Who Left Me The Crappy Tip

Dear Two Ladies Who Sat at Booth #7,

Since I don't know your names, I want to make sure you know that this letter is about you and for you. Let me describe you: two middle-aged women. The one on my left had hair that was in desperate need of a hot creatine oil injection while the one to my right looked like she had just used the last of her gift certificate to Casual Corner. You drank a Grey Goose and Tonic and a Desert Sunrise and then you ordered another round. You shared an an arugula salad, curry mussels and the penne pasta special. Recognize yourselves? Okay, good.

We open at 5:00 so yes, it was absolutely alright that you knocked on the door at 5:01 to point at your watches and remind us that we were one whole minute late from unlocking our doors. I apologize for that. You see, it was just that the kitchen staff was a little bit behind that day so they didn't make our shift meal until 4:52. When you knocked on the front door one minute after we opened, we were still sitting down eating our dinner. But don't worry. I finished eatin in the side stand while standing up. It was our fault for waiting so late to eat.

I am also sorry that I was unable to accommodate your request to seat you on the patio. You see, it's just that it had been raining all day and it had only stopped raining about 15 minutes before you arrived. I simply hadn't had time to go wipe down all eight tables and all 16 chairs with a dry cloth so that it would be ready for seating. Since the weather forecast had predicted continuous rain all evening, it seemed unlikely that anyone would want to sit there as rain water dripped from the tress and the tables sat in puddles of water. Again, my fault.

It was nice talking to you about Coney Island. Remember how we talked about that? Dry-Hair-Lady, you mentioned that you were thinking of going to ride the Cyclone and I told you that I was pretty sure it didn't open until after Memorial day so don't go all the way out there unless you know for sure. You thanked me for that. After all, we both know how long of a subway ride it is, right? I shared that story about the time my friend and I went out there and it was closed and how disappointed we were. Casual-Corner-Lady, you seemed like you were too busy to talk because you were investing all of your energy into your cocktail and your cell phone. I thought the three of us had a good thing going. We chatted and laughed and you loved everything.

Your check was $66.41. You left $68.00 which meant I got a tip for $1.59. What the fuck is your problem? I was totally nice to you, I got your food and drinks out so fucking fast, I apologized for not having the front door unlocked on time and you loved your food. Is 2.4% your idea of a good tip? Well, I got news for you ladies: it's not. Had I known that you were going to leave me a completely crap tip, maybe I would have left the door locked and finished my shift meal in peace. Don't bother coming back to the restaurant again unless you are showing up with an apology and $11.59 to cover the rest of what you should have left me. It's people like you who give dry fly-away hair and the good customers of Casual Corner a bad name. I don't like you. If you come back in, I will not be nice. You suck and you wasted my time.

The Bitchy Waiter

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Birthdays, The Facts of Life, Great Tips and Shitty Ones

May 29th is one of the most special and reverent days of all 365 days of the year. It was on this day, a certain number of years ago before cell phones, iPads and the discovery of fire, that my mother pushed out 7 pounds and 11 ounces of bitch and ended up with a curly haired moppet destined for a life of average. Rumor has it, when the doctor slapped my ass after birth, I slapped him right back and then asked him how he'd like his burger cooked. He handed me to a nurse who wrapped me up in an apron and placed me in a bread warmer. She gave me a piece of paper that had my sidework on it and the rest is history.

I get a lot of photos from people who want to share little bits of their jobs with me. I got these two photos on the same day showing how vastly different tips can be from customer to customer. As fellow birthday girl Lisa "Blair Warner" Welchel says, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have: the facts of life."

Anyway, back to me. May 29th is a great day to be born.  Don't believe me? Just ask these other people who share my birthday:
  • John Hinckley, Jr.-the guy who tried to kill Ronald Reagan
  • Annette Benning- cool lady with an old husband
  • LaToya Jackson- my dream prom date
  • Bob Hope- legendary comedian (Pull out your Ouija board to ask him, because his ass is way dead)
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr.- (Ask Bob Hope to ask JFK how he likes his birthday.)
  • Melissa Etheridge- lesbian
  • Melanie Brown- Spice Girl
As you go through your day today, please take a moment to send out good thoughts to me and my special lady, Lisa Welchel. If you want to give me something for my birthday,  you already have just by reading this. And if you want to give me something else, just share this blog post by clicking "Like."

Thank you for being so awesome.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Kid Gets Drunk at a Restaurant

I always considered my childhood a good one. I had two loving parents and two younger brothers and I remember being a happy child. It turns out my youth was not as idyllic as I thought, because not once was I ever given booze by a waitress who wasn't paying attention. Man, my childhood sucked. Well, everything old is new again, because we have reports of yet another child getting drunk on the sweet nectar. If it's not a drunk ass baby The Olive Garden then it's a drunk ass baby at Applebee's.

A restaurant in Clearwater, Florida is the latest establishment to be all trendy by serving liquor to a child. Two moms took their kids on a Mother's day outing to a place called Frenchy's South Beach Cafe. The kids had earned a "special treat" so the moms ordered them each a virgin strawberry daiquiri. The waitress hit the wrong button on the computer and the next thing they knew, two four year olds were partying like rock stars at Club Med. One of them drank the whole daiquiri in ten minutes which says two things: number one, frozen daiquiris are the bomb and number two, this kid a has a real future as a lush. The other child did not drink his which says one of two things: either the kid was holding out for a Guinness or the moms only ordered one strawberry daiquiri and they are saying that both kids drank them so the story sounds all that much more dramatical. Looking at the receipt, I only see one strawberry daiquiri, so "I'll go with 'moms being all dramatical,' for a thousand Alex."

Shortly after though, one kid "started acting a little strange, falling asleep, stumbling over things … then he started vomiting." Damn four year olds, can't ever hold their liquor. The child was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where the doctors were probably like, "Yes a four year old should not be drinking daiquiris. I would suggest starting out with something like a wine cooler or maybe a gin and tonic. Also, it helps if they drink plenty of water as they go on their alcohol binge and always follow it up with a banana and an aspirin."

No charges are expected to be filed against the restaurant or the waitress since it was pretty clear that this was an accident and there was no intention to get a kid trashed on Mother's Day. The moms, understandably, want some kind of system in place so this doesn't "happen to another child, where they die," said one overly dramatic mom. It's called "plastic cups," people. That way you know that nothing alcoholic ever goes into plastic, kids never have a glass that might have alcohol in it and it also means when the kid knocks that shit over (and they will) the glass won't break.

It does seem to be happening a lot lately or maybe it happened all the time and thanks to videos and stories "going viral" we just hear about it more often now. Either way, it's my cue to go to Party City and buy myself a baby costume and head right over to my nearest Olive Garden, Applebee's or Frenchy's South Beach cafe and order a smoothie and keep my fingers crossed that it will show up as  a cocktail but they will only charge me the non-alcoholic beverage price.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is a Cheap Ass

Something I don't understand is why rich people always feel like they are entitled to free stuff even though they are in that certain percentage of people who can actually afford to pay for things. I see it all the time at my job. "Table 3 is a VIP. He's a very famous actor who works on Broadway all the time, has a Tony award and just started shooting his own television series. Bring me his check so I can comp it." Meanwhile, table 4 is a struggling singer who took the night off from her restaurant job to come see her friend's show and she has to buy bottled water because she can't afford a cocktail. It's not right. The bubble that rich people have around them is very often a bubble that was created by others.

I recently got an email from a server in Yuma, Arizona who wanted to let me know that his state senator, Jon Kyl came into the restaurant a few weeks ago. I won't say the name of the restaurant because I don't want the server to get fired. Senator Kyl came in with three other men and they proceeded to order about $100 worth of food; a couple of fish sandwiches, a double hamburger, a philly cheese steak, four orders of fries and four large drinks. The men told the server the food was great and the service was great but you know what they left for a tip? A big fat pile of nothing. Really, Jon Kyl? Isn't enough that Jon Stewart hates you? But now you want to make sure that servers across the country think you are a total asswipe too? I did a quick Google search for the annual salaries of state senators and I think you are making about $174,000 a year. That means that you probably could have cobbled together the fifteen fucking percent that you should have left for your server since he is probably making the minimum wage for tipped employees in Arizona which  is $4.65 an hour. That's about the cost of one of the orders of french fries your table had.

According to Senator Kyl's website, he is serving his third and final term in the U.S. Senate. In 2008, he was elected to serve as Republican Whip which is exactly what the server wanted to do to his cheap ass when he saw the 0% tip waiting for him. It is inexcusable.

Politicians are always seen in little diners across the country when they are pandering to the voters. I guess they think that surrounding themselves with salt of the earth people in humble little watering holes makes them seem more approachable and more like regular people. You're not regular people, politicians. Most of you have money and a lot of it which automatically makes you unlike anyone I know. No one is buying that you just happened to stop by the little diner on Main Street to have a burger and a beer. We all know you are there to get some press.

"I'm a regular person."

"I'm a regular person."

"I'm a regular douchebag."
Well, here is some press for you, Jon Kyl: servers depend on tips. Our pay checks are next to nothing. Those dimes and quarters that people toss on the table are what goes into our pockets to pay for rent, food and clothing. We need it. It's our salary. Most of us don't have insurance benefits from our jobs and even fewer of us get any kind of retirement plan from waiting tables so every time you stiff one of us, it puts us deeper into the hole. I hope this blog gets shared by everyone who reads it so that eventually it will float over to your office in Arizona. Maybe then you will do the right thing and have your ass chauffeured back over to Yuma where you can find you server and say, 'I'm really sorry I forgot to tip you when I was here last week. I know you work hard and it's tough to make ends meet when you are depending on tips. Here's $20.00. Thank you so much for the great job you did. I really appreciated it."

I challenge Jon Kyl to even acknowledge that this happened. Please share this and let's see if he ever hears about it. Or you can email him here and ask him about it. He'd like that.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Can You Wrap This Up?"

Sometimes it would be easier for the customer to just take one more bite of food rather than finding a to-go container.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Served By Whitney

I knew I was going to like my server when she introduced herself as "Whitney. Just like Houston, but without the crack." This is for Whitney.

It had been a long day for me and I was in desperate need of a burger and a beer at my local watering hole, the name of which shall remain anonymous in an effort to protect Whitney from the throngs of fans who would want to sit in her station if they knew where she worked. I slid into a banquette and was greeted by the shining face of an angel. Whitney recited the specials but I knew that nothing was going to change my mind because the burger already had my name on it. However, when she described the special cocktail of the day, I was convinced that beer was no longer a priority. Muddled lemons, citrus vodka, triple sec and topped with champagne. When I took the first sip, I knew I had found The Greatest Love of All. It was sweet and sour at the same time with just the right amount of bubbly to make it tickle my nose and slide down my throat with ease. (If I had a  dollar for every time I've typed those words...) I took a second sip. "You Give Good Love," I whispered to it. I told Whitney that I wasn't quite ready to order, for now that I had found this drink, I needed some time alone with it. "No problem," Whitney said. "You just let me know when you're ready."

I spent the next ten minutes or so taking lewd pictures of my cocktail (if I had a  dollar for every time I've taken lewd pictures of cocktails) and sending them to Facebook and Twitter because that's what I do. In the meantime, I struck up a conversation with Whitney. She explained to me that she was not supposed to work that night because she had tickets to a Mets game (I think that's baseball) but someone called out and they told her she had to come to work. I guess when they called her, she was all "I'm Your Baby Tonight"and she came right in. My ass wouldn't have even picked up the phone if I saw that it was from the restaurant and it was my day off. The only time they call you on your day off is when they need you to come in. But she picked up and came to work. "I was in such a bad mood when I got here, but you are making my night worth it." Maybe she was just buttering me up for a tip, but I kinda believed that we were clicking and I got So Emotional that I ordered another martini. I also ordered my burger.

Whitney and I kept talking and I learned that she was from Arkansas, or the "forgotten state" as she called it. "Close to Texarkana." I suddenly remembered that Arkansas borders Texas so I had found another reason to like this girl: we had both escaped the clutches of small southern towns and made it to the Big Apple where we waited tables. We were soul mates. "My Love is Your Love," I thought. As I sipped my second martini, we soon discovered that I had once been her server at the restaurant I work at which was right down the street. See? We were destined to cross paths. My burger came out and after she did her two-minute check-back, I knew that this girl knew what she was doing. She kept my water filled and when my cocktail was down to its last sip, she appeared bearing gifts. "I've had such a good time talking to you, so I brought us a shot. It's chocolate cake; vanilla vodka and Frangellico!" We clinked our shot glasses and swallowed it All at Once. (If I had a dollar for every time I've swallowed it all at once...) It was so good. I finished my burger and ordered a third martini. Feeling pretty buzzed at this point, I thought I Wanna Dance With Somebody but instead I took more pretty pictures of my drink as soon as it arrived.

Whitney told me she was done at 11:00 and seeing that it was now 10:45, I asked for the check so I could close it out. I thanked her for the night and told her that if she is ever so bored that she has absolutely nothing else to do, she could check out my blog because I was going to be writing something about her. She said she would, but who knows if she will? I paid my bill and told her how much I appreciated the One Moment in Time we had shared. I finished my drink and stumbled my drunk ass Step By Step out of the restaurant and back home. I Will Always Love You, Whitney. The next time I need a great martini and an even better server, I will Run To You. Thank you for a great evening. I wish you could have just sat down and had another drink with me; Didn't We Almost Have It All?

I woke up the next morning wondering Why Does It Hurt So Bad. Maybe I should not have had that third drink after the shot. How Will I Know when I have had too much to drink? Oh, well. It was worth it, Whitney . Three martinis and a shot? It's Not Right But It's Okay.  Thank you, Whitney. If you read this, give me a sign.

Addendum: Whitney saw the post. She said: "I will always love you! Thanks for making my night, the next day I was already following you on twitter and stalking you. I hope I see you again soon for drinks!! Thank you for everything!"

And for those of you who thought this was about the other Whitney, please enjoy this short but sweet video clip:

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Is This What Heaven Looks Like?

I have never submitted a blog post via my phone before but this could be interesting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Enough With the Fake Jesus Money

Someone sent me an email complaining about the fake money they got last week and I am reposting this blog. You know the fake money I am talking about? The kind that says "Your best tip is to let Jesus into your heart."

This has been discussed before, but can we talk about it again please? Servers want tips. We want cash money tips that we can put in our pockets and then carry to the bank to deposit so we can pay our bills. Am I right or am I right? What we do not want is any thing else. You don't need to tell me how fabulous I was to your kids (that never happens) or how friendly I was (again, that never happens) and you don't need to tell me how great my hair is (happens all the time.) What we really really so completely do not ever want is that tip that looks like a ten dollar bill and then when we pick it up we see that is some message from your church saying how our soul is worth more than a 15% tip. Bullshit. I have met Jesus and I know for a fact that He does not approve.

There was a story floating around on the Internet a few weeks ago about this and I am finally jumping on the bandwagon to also announce how wrong it is. Hey, Jesus people: stop it. How would you feel if the next time I was at church I tried something like that with the collection plate? (I will be at church as soon as they install an all-you-can-eat taco bar and a frozen margarita machine). Maybe when the collection plate came my way, I could drop in some Canadian coins and an expired Groupon. Or maybe I could slip it a homemade coupon promising Jesus a 15-minute back massage. Or how about if I drop in a handful of ticket dupes from the bar printer? All of those things have as much financial value as that stupid-ass Jesus money you have been pawning off onto servers for twenty years. It's wrong and unfair. And we all know that they know it's crappy because they always do it when we aren't looking and then they skidaddle their ass out of there before we see it. If they are so sure it's a good idea, then why don't they just tell us to our face how valuable our souls are?

I am pretty certain that when they show up at the Pearly Gates, Saint Peter is going to have words with them about their behavior. You see, Saint Peter wasn't always a saint. He used to wait tables with me at Pizzeria Uno at South Street Seaport so he knows how important tips are. When we worked together, we just called him Peter and he was hilarious. He was there when we accidentally served a Muslim family an appetizer with bacon and he was laughing the loudest. I guess he wasn't too worried about because he was friends with Jesus and knew that Christianity was the only religion that mattered so whatever with the bacon-eating Muslims. Anyhoo, if you are one of those people who have left the fake money for a tip, be prepared to 'fess up when you get to Heaven. There is a special place reserved for you up there and it's called the dishroom of the Heavenly Cafeteria. It's open twenty-four hours a day and the dirty dishes are non-stop. It won't be fun but it won't be as bad as Hell. The dishroom in Heaven is air conditioned and you get a fifteen minute break every four hours where you get to eat all the Ambrosia salad you want. You'll love it.

Just to make it clear: servers do not want tips that only look like money. If you leave that Jesus money, your server will curse you and be on the lookout for you to return to their station at which time your food will take longer to get to you and your water glasses will remain unfilled. We hate that kind of tip. We want cash. What would Jesus do? He'd leave 20%, that's what He'd do. Think about it.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Comment on Comments

This blog gets a lot of comments. The Bitchy Waiter Facebook page gets a lot of them too. I love comments. I find them to be inspiring and it really makes me feel good to know that people are taking time out of their busy lives to tap out a few words about something I wrote. I read every single comment and if it was possible to respond to all of them, life would be grand. But there isn't time which is why we have the beauty of "A Comment on Comments." Here is a recent comment that deserves response:

Harry C. says: I can't stand your constant bitching. You need to get a fucking clue and be thankful for one fucking minute.

Harry obviously thought he was on another website called The Non-Bitchy Waiter because complaining is what I do. I went to college to major in Musical Theater with an emphasis on education and a minor in complaining. They didn't call me part of the Oh-Hi Lo-Hi School for Scandal Sophomore Rags for nothing. If Harry doesn't like complaining, he needs to take his hairy ass to a blog that is all about unicorns and rainbows frolicking in parks as they share cotton candy and whisper secrets in each other's ears. That is his kind of blog. This blog is about me bitching about the people who sit in my station and piss me off with their stupidity.

Like the lady who rolled her eyes at me last week when I told her we don't take American Express. Hey, lady, not my problem. I'm sorry you aren't gonna get your stupid ass frequent flier miles for your plate of tilapia but get over it. I don't make the decisions so put your eyeballs back in your head because they practically rolled right out the door.

Or like the man who told me "so far so good" when I asked him how his meal was but he said it in a way that implied that any minute he was going to find something that wasn't right and then ask to have a manager take it off his check.

Or maybe the mom who told me that her kid could drink out of a "big boy glass" and then five minutes later I am cleaning up milk because the kid is not a big boy. He's a kid and they spill shit so take the fucking cup that has a lid on it.

Yes, Harry, this is The Bitchy Waiter. I suggest you start your own blog and it can be about how there are so many websites that you don't like. You can complain about the Wal-Mart website being so lame because it only shows stuff from Wal-Mart. Or how shitty The Food Network website is for only talking about food. You suggest that I "be thankful for one fucking minute." Just last week I wrote a whole post about how grateful I was for seeing Linda Lavin in person. Did you not read that? That is called being "thankful for one fucking minute." Pull your head out of your ass, Harry and wise up. You don't like the blog? Move on.

The Bitchy Waiter

addendum: Two minutes after posting this, Harry replied, proving that no matter how much he claims to dislike this blog, he reads it a mere 120 seconds after it gets posted. And his comeback of "you need to move on" is almost as good as "I know you are but what am I." Thanks for reading, Harry!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day (Brunch)

It's Mother's Day. If you are working a brunch, I wish you good luck and good tips. It's gonna be crazy busy with lot of people trying to make the day special for their mom. Just remember this: no matter how difficult the day is for you, it will never be harder than it was for your mother to push your fat head through her tiny little lady part on the day of your birth. Suck it up, smile and do your best. And always have a mimosa in a coffee cup somewhere nearby.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Final Word on That Other Blogger

Over the years, I have had my haters. How can we ever forget the upheaval at The-Restaurant-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named? To this day, when I walk past that place I get a cold sweat and worry that Holly Hobbie is going to stick her bonneted head out the door and shoot a lemon at me from her lady parts. Yes, I was fired from there, but the beauty of anonymous writing is that when my book is published, the whole world will read about what a nut she was and only she will know it's about her. And then I had the run in with a waiter at a Mexican restaurant that I may or may not have gotten fired. I still believe he wasn't fired but even if he was, it wasn't because of the complaint they got about his experience with me. My complaint was just the box of straws that broke the waiter's back. And now I learn there is another blogger who hates me and I have decided this about it: I don't care.

There are other blogs out there doing their thing and writing about the same kinds of things we all write about. We are restaurant blogs. It kind of goes with the territory that we write about customers. If this was a banker blog, I would write about customers and if this was a retail blog I would write about customers. In my three and a half years of blogging, I have written a lot of negative stuff but I also have written positive things too. I try to balance out the bitchy with some funny and some sentimental every once in a while. I have also been known to write about great severs I have come across or a new blog that I think is good. What I have never done is put down someone else's blog. If I see a blog that I think is poorly written I don't see the need in bashing it. Maybe it comes from my years of writing theater reviews where I was taught when reviewing a small no-budget theater, if you can't find anything good to say, don't say anything at all. If a Broadway show has a $10 million dollar budget and the show sucks, sure, tell the world. But if it's a theater in a basement in Queens with a $100 budget, what good does it do to say the costumes look cheap? They are cheap. No need to tear something down that isn't even completely built yet.

The other blogger has said some negative things about me and my writing. (I agree. My writing can be poor, sometimes. Real poor.) The thing is though, I kind of liked the other blog. It was well-written and it's designed better than mine, that's for sure. (Seriously, I need an update. Anyone out there good at that?) As of late, it's gotten a little hairy on his Facebook page and blog with my readers defending me. I appreciate that, readers, I really do. But I understand what he is dong. He is pushing buttons to get a reaction that will in turn get him more traffic. I've been there and done that. (Hello, breast feeding post?) I was going to reach out to this blogger and try to smooth things out, but then I read his latest post. He sorta compliments me but then calls my blog "tired" and writes that all I do is complain about customers and how much smarter I am than them. I don't think that's all I do. The Bitchy Waiter blog has changed over the last couple of years and I try to give it much more sustenance. I try to write things that will make people think about their own lives. While it is true that the most popular posts are the ones where I bitch about how dumb some lady was, my favorite ones to write are the ones that are heartfelt and meaningful.

Had the road been different, I am certain I would have linked the other blog to this one because that is the only way to increase readership; sharing, cross-promoting and teamwork. However, I think I will pass. Not once did I say anything negative about the other blogger. Plenty of other people did, but not me. People accused him of things and it got personal. I was not involved in that. Believe it or not, I am taking the high road.

Consider the matter closed.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bitchy Waiter ♥'s Linda Lavin

I was at my place of employment this week, but as a patron, not an employee. As you know, I work at a music venue where singers perform as I serve drinks during their show. Sometimes the show is good, sometimes the show is bad and sometimes the show reaches deep into my soul and finds my tiny hardened heart and makes it break a little. I went to see Linda Lavin perform and it really felt like a surreal moment.

Linda Lavin is most known for her iconic role of Alice Hyatt from CBS's Alice that ran from 1976-1985. Of course I loved the show. Most people don't know that she is an accomplished singer and Broadway actress with a Tony award and many nominations including one for her current Broadway role in The Lyons. I knew she was a singer because I loved how she sang the opening theme song to her own television show. Ms. Lavin had done a show at my club  years before I worked there and every time I saw the poster of it that hangs in the lobby, it hurt that I had missed it. When I learned that she was doing another show, I was thrilled. Could it be that I was going to get to see this woman in person? The same woman who’s show I watched every week through junior high and high school?  How can this be?

I got to the club and was surrounded by famous people who came to see the show just like I did; Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Stockard Channing, Tommy Tune, Sheldon Harnick were all sitting next to me and if I had been at work that night, I would be serving them, but that night I was there to see the show. The lights dimmed and a voice came over the speaker. “Ladies and gentleman...Linda Lavin!” There she was, not five feet from me, smiling and tossing her hair and scanning the crowd to see her friends. “Oh, look at me!” I thought. “I’m right here. Make eye contact with me. Please, no one wants to be here more than I do. Look at me!” She started to sing her first song and then the night began melting away into a fog of sense memory. Her mannerisms were the same as they were when she made a smart remark to Mel. Her smile was as warm as it seemed when she had a scene with her son Tommy. But this wasn’t Alice Hyatt. This was Linda Lavin. And then she sang the theme song to Alice. I know it’s silly, but I started to cry. All of a sudden I was 12 years old again and laughing at Vera with an exploding box of straws and thinking that Alice was such a cool mom and that Flo was so funny. My husband reached under the table and held my hand and it was one of those “I am so grateful” moments that don’t come often enough.  Well, honestly, those moments probably come plenty of times, it’s just that we don’t take the time to acknowledge them.

The next song she sang was one I had never heard of called “The Song Remembers When.”

I was standin' at the counter
I was waitin' for the change
When I heard that old familiar music start
It was like a lighted match
Had been tossed into my soul
It was like a dam had broken in my heart.

She was singing about what I was just thinking; that music has the power to transport you to another time. To this day, whenever I hear the song "I Melt With You" I float back to 1986 when I was in Judith's living room watching a slide show that my best friends in college put together. I can't hear that song without feeling nostalgic, happy, and incredibly sad all at the same time. When she was finished with the song, she verified what I already knew; music can move you. That is "the good of music," she said. It can do that for you and she had just done it for me. She had a lot of wonderful things to say. "Fear is your friend," she said when talking about the nervousness that we all face on occasion and how we have to use that to our advantage. "I love my life," she said. "My life is a big surprise to me." She was so grateful to be there and to be working and she wanted to remind us to all be thankful for the moments that we receive on a daily basis. It was like she was reading my mind. I know she only played a waitress on television, but it was like we were wearing the same apron.

For the rest of the show, I relished every second of it. I was taking in every moment because I knew I never wanted to forget how perfect the evening was. And it all happened because she was performing at where I work. Because I am a server, I knew about this show and got to come see it. Thank God I am a waiter at this club. After the show was over, my cheeks hurt from smiling. I rubbed the tears out of my eyes and went to the lobby. There she was, greeting her guests under the poster of her show from three years before; the same poster that had taunted me. I was scared to talk to her. I had already forgotten her advice that fear was my friend and I walked past her afraid to shake her hand and thank her for the evening. Why didn't I do that? Several days have passed and I wish would have swallowed my fear and said this to her:

Ms. Lavin, I know you hear this all the time, but I loved Alice. I'm a waiter and you gave the character of Alice such realness. She was never ashamed of her job because she knew that it was just a job and not her life. Alice was a singer who waited tables. I am a writer who waits tables. Thank you. Your show tonight moved me more than you could ever know. I will never forget how happy I felt tonight when you were were talking about how grateful you are for your life and your husband and your career, because I feel the exact same way. Thank you.

It was a very good night indeed. Please "like" this so maybe someday it will make it all the way to Linda Lavin and she'll know what I was too scared to tell her. Thanks.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Open Letter to Table 19

Dear Table 19,

Thank you for the umbrella. Although I never would have chosen a brown umbrella for myself, it was a most welcome gift when I left work and saw that the heavens had opened and it was raining cats and dogs. Thanks to you, I had a very expensive umbrella to keep me dry. It's much nicer than the umbrellas I normally buy from the men on the corner who are peddling them out of grocery carts and are of the three dollar variety.  I felt privileged. Thank you very much, table 19.

I would also like to take this time to apologize for the confusing check issue. There were five of you and I did not add the gratuity, although I suppose, I could have. You seemed nice enough so I didn't worry about getting stiffed. When I put your check down, I could see that you were somewhat irritated that I had put everything on one check. However, since you had a reservation for five people, you all sat down at the same time, you all ordered together and no one informed me that separate checks would be preferred, I assumed that one check would be fine. My mistake. You all seemed so perplexed by the bill and it made me rather uncomfortable watching you try to figure out how to divide by five. Most phones have an application that can help you with that; it's called a calculator.

I hope you enjoyed all that extra time you stayed at your table as I hovered around trying to close my station. It sure seemed like you were having fun in those twenty minutes that you sat and talked while a couple of you refused to put your portion of payment into the pile of money so I could count it and get ready to go home. Don't worry about me. As you told stories to each other and shot the breeze, I had plenty to occupy my time. I twiddled my thumbs, seethed in the corner and played my turns on Words With Friends. No big deal.

When you finally decided it was time to go, I gave a you a pleasant "have a good night" and bid you on your merry way. I picked up the stack of bills on the table and looked down at your check which was for $180. I began counting the money you had so neatly placed on the table, the bills all facing the same direction. Also at this time, my co-worker noticed that you had left a very nice brown umbrella under one of the chairs.

"I'll go see if I can catch them," she said.

"Hold up," I said. "Lemme count this again, this seems all fucked up."

I counted the money a second time and confirmed that there was $190 meaning you had left me ten  dollars, or about a 5% tip.

"Fuck them. Leave the umbrella. It's mine."

Again, thank you so much for the brown umbrella. It's really nice.

The Bitchy Waiter

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's Cinco de Mayo. Where's My Margarita?

Today is the one day a year I can justify the tequila on my Cheerios and the fact that my hair looks like a piñata, for today is Cinco de Mayo! It is not Mexican Independence Day, but it is the day that the Mexican state of Puebla commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Then the United States took over the holiday as an excuse to drink two-for-one margaritas and act like they really give a shit about any country other than their own. "No shit," says every Irish person who wishes that St. Patrick's Day was not all about Shamrock Shakes and getting trashed on Guinness at a pub called Maggie O'Donnell's. As a half-Mexican, I want to acknowledge this day and look back at my history and family heritage. I think about my great-great-great-great grandfather who was a busboy at a little taquería in a border town of Mexico and got too drunk one night on his shift drinks and woke up on the wrong side of the border. "Ay, chihuahua, dios mio. I guess I am a Texan now." He got another job as a dishwasher and so it all began.

Not too long ago, one of my regulars, who we all know at work as pretty much crazy, was in my station. She is a performer and quite well known but that night she was there as a patron of the arts instead of standing on the stage and screeching out notes that were in her range about a decade ago, but now not so much. She wanted me to know that she had just enjoyed dinner at a Mexican restaurant and she had already sucked down two margaritas. In my attempt to make small talk, I told her that I love Mexican food. She seemed surprised. Like Mexican food was her little secret in the culinary world and she couldn't believe that anyone else had ever heard of the exotic treat "taco." "Sure, I love Mexican food," I told her. "After all, I'm from Texas and I am half Mexican." This comment too seemed to take her by surprise. I wasn't sure which part of the statement was so interesting. I certainly don't appear to be your average Texan since I do not have a drawl nor do I have a gun rack on the back window of my pick-up truck. "You're half Mexican?" She said this after sucking in her breath at an alarming rate. "I had no idea." Now if you knew me, you wouldn't necessarily think I was half Mexican either because I have fair skin and light eyes, but my last name is definitely of Mexican descent. That, and my clinical addiction to tortillas and tequila should quell any questions about my heritage. Crazy Lady continued. "I can't believe you're half Mexican. You don't seem Mexican at all. You seem all regular." Hold the phone, did this bitch just use the word "regular" to describe my race? Regular in the same way that "nude" pantyhose are flesh colored for white people and the way that Crayons used to have a color called "flesh" that was the color of white people flesh? Awww, hell no. I was about to reach into my pocket, pull out a handful of pinto beans and rub them all up in her gringo face. Do not make me add another tear tattoo under my eye because I may have to kill a bitch. (I will do the tattoo myself with a Bic pen, a needle and lighter.) As I walked away, I heard her say to the table next to her, "Can you believe he is half Mexican?" So now my race is a topic of conversation amongst my whole station.

I personally don't see race. I really don't. I guess growing up as a child who never knew which circle to fill in on the race section of the SAT's and crap made it something of a non-issue for me. I never wanted to check Caucasian and dis my dad or classify myself as Mexican and ignore my Mom, so I always put "other" and moved on. The next time I see Crazy Lady though, I will put on my best Cheech and Chong accent and drive to her table in a low-rider while wearing a big fucking sombrero. I want to make sure she is real clear on the stereotypes of us rice and bean eaters just like she has made it clear for me that all 70 year old female jazz singers in New York City must be racists who have no problem insulting me right to my half-Mexican face.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! If you see a Mexican today, give him a hug. And a Corona. And a job.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Take Your Suggestion and Shove it Up Your Box

One of my favorites from last year:

Over the past year, some guy named Bruce has been dispensing rules of wisdom over at the New York Times. Of course I blogged about it here and here. And then he wrote about some of those rules and how he has reconsidered them seeing that they were so fucking stupid. Well now he has a list of suggestions that came from people who think they know how things should run in a restaurant. And boy oh boy, do I have something to say about their ideas. Shall we begin?

  • I think it’s permissible to stick a fork in the eye of a server who calls me “honey” or “sweetie” because I’m of a certain age. Rosemary Molloy Well, guess what, Rosemary. I think I have the right to stick a fork up a puss when someone of a certain age calls me "Hey You" or "Come Here" because it's a two-way street, sweetie.
  • Never, ever serve food over a baby/child. If you scald a newborn, there’s a chance the father will take your life. — Peter And what am I supposed to do when parents park their goddamn stroller right in front of the table and they don't have enough common sense or manners to move the bundle of joy out of my fucking way so I don't have to do that? Just happened to me two weeks ago.
  • Why is it that a pepper mill must be brought and administered? For a few hundred bucks, why can a restaurant not just set one out at each table? Ellen Is this lady serious? I have seen women cram 20 packets of Splenda in their purse just because it was there. How many goddamn pepper mills would we go through if we just left them on the table? Sorry, Ellen, that is one stupid idea. Game over, try again, dumb bitch.
  • If you happen to see guests saying grace before the meal, pause for them to finish. jiminboulder In all my years of working in restaurants, I have never seen a waiter interrupt someone saying grace. I can't imagine that ever happening. I think this person just wanted to get their name on the list so they came up with this non-existent issue. If it's a real problem, maybe they should pray about it.
  • WAIT STAFF PLEASE DON’T EVER EXTEND A HAND FOR A HANDSHAKE!! This falls under the category of never touch a customer but this issue needs to be specifically addressed. It suggests a level of familiarity that is inappropriate and I have zero interest in touching the hand that is exposed to all of the dirt, germs and yuckiness of dirty plates, food etc. michael What makes this asshat think I want to shake his fucking hand anyway? And I can guarantee that I wash my hands way more often than he does. I have zero interest in touching his hands either that may have just touched something really nasty like his face, his wife or his baby. Totally disgusting.
  • Do not bite your fingernails. 
Do not scratch your crotch. 
Do not run fingers through your hair. Major Slack Duh. No shit, Sherlock. But would it be alright if I pick my nose and wipe the booger underneath your table? Please advise because apparently you think we are total fucktards.
  • Don’t take the final sales slip or payment before the guests leave. I find it outraging when a server takes the completed bill (showing my tip) before I’ve left. Keith T. We do that because sometimes customers are too stupid to leave our copy and if they take our copy, then we won't get a tip. And in some cases, customers intentionally take both copies so they can dispute the charge knowing that we have no signed copy to show that they authorized the charge. So, yeah, that's why we do that.
  • I personally prefer it when a waiter writes down orders, because it makes me feel secure in getting the order I wanted, but I was wondering … Goran I personally prefer it when the customer just goes right up to the computer and orders the food themselves. Unfortunately, things don't always work out for us, do they? And sorry, but I don't need to write down "hamburger well done and a Coke," but I was wondering...
  • My biggest pet peeve of eating out — when the waiter asks you how everything is while your mouth is full. How can you possibly answer?! I can’t help but think they do it on purpose. ECA If that's your biggest pet peeve while dining out, you have it pretty good. And I do do it on purpose sometimes because it's fun.
  • Do not play recorded music in a restaurant. I would like to talk to my dinner companion(s), not listen to music. When did it become a rule to play music in restaurants? And why? Alex Greer Okay, Alex, just for you, no more recorded music. From now on, we will provide a live 50-piece orchestra. And for your information, it became a rule on October 21st, 1978 to play music in restaurants so that the people who work there didn't have to listen to your incessant talking to your dining companion.
  • I had a waiter who pointed at a customer with his pencil. 
‘And what will you have?’ 
I took his apron and pencil and threw him out. frank visakay Frank, take a chill pill. So a waiter pointed at you with a pencil and you threw something at him? And how did your waiter's saliva taste when it came back at you in your iced tea?
  • And please don’t say, “Are we ready to order?” I didn’t invite you to eat with us. Also, please don’t squat down to take our order. If you wanted to be a baseball catcher, you are in the wrong business. — Trudy R. Trudy, shut the fuck up. You're going to get your grandma panties in a twist over semantics? And the baseball catcher reference is hilarious. You should totally be a comedy writer or do stand up. That's fucking golden. Ladies and gentleman, I give to you the next Roseanne Barr, Trudy R!
Of course all of these suggestions probably come from people who have never tied on a apron and served some food. They all sound like persnickety bitches who always think their hot tea is cold and the bread is stale. They ask for extra butter and then don't use it and they always say they're in a hurry but never are. So to them, I say fuck you. And I can't wait for you to be in my station someday so I can pick my nose, interrupt your prayer, stuff a pepper grinder in your purse for you and then turn the music up so you can't hear your dining companions. It's what I do, for I am The Bitchy Waiter.

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Family Locked in Restaurant For Not Paying Tip

I wrote about this already, but now all of a sudden the story has gone viral. Uh, hello? I wrote about it yesterday, but Huffington Post and Yahoo writes about it and now suddenly it's big news? So, yeah, I am reposting this shit because I broke this news story, bitches.

Almost any restaurant you go into is going to have a policy set up that will automatically include gratuity to a check if the party is over a certain number. This is to protect the server from getting totally stiffed on a huge check because we pay taxes on what the government assumes we will get tipped based on our sales, whether we get the tip or not. A lot of servers look at the automatic gratuity as an excuse to give shitty service because they know the tip is going to get added no matter what. Believe it or not, I am not one of those servers. When I know the gratuity is going to be added, I feel an increased responsibility to do a better job so that the customers have no reason to object to the tip being included. At a restaurant in Houston this week, the tip was added to a check and it did not go over well.

According to reports, La Fisherman, a fancy sounding but probably not fancy at all seafood restaurant, added a 17% gratuity to a party of five. This policy is stated on the menu. A family was not pleased with the service claiming they did not get everything they ordered, no one ever refilled their drinks and the staff was rude. They did not want to pay the 17% tip and asked that it be removed so they could tip what they wanted to tip based on the service they received. So far, I agree. If you didn't get what you ordered and it's still on the bill, that is a problem. Well, the manager was all "Umm, we cain't do that cuz it's policy to add 17% to a party of five or more so umm...yeah. No." The family balked and the next thing they knew, the restaurant doors had been locked with them stuck inside and the police had been called. Okay, even the bitchiest of waiters would think that the restaurant went way past the line.The police showed up and eventually the family decided to pay the 17% tip, get the fuck out of the situation and forget the whole thing. Well, forget the whole thing after they call the local news crew and stir up some trouble. I like that family. Mark this day in Bitchy Waiter history because I am on the customers' side. That restaurant needed to just accept that they gave some crap service and let it go. I did a little research on La Fisherman and there are plenty of other people not happy with the service. From Yelp and Google:
  • The manager was rude and said she was refusing us service because of our seating request. I have never been treated this badly at a restaurant in my entire life,
  • The place is a dump, restrooms are disgusting, staff is appallingly condescending, lazy and slow.
  • Billing for water and sides of mayo, butter, etc.... Greedy!
Yes, they charge twenty-five cents for water. And they charge fifty cents for butter. This restaurant sounds like a real winner. If the manager was smart (we all know she isn't...) she would have let that family pay what they wanted and leave rather than letting the story get to the media. Now, every half-ass news station and food blogger is going to be writing about what it's like when you eat at La Fisherman. In Houston, Texas. On Highway 6. Not good business, La Fisherman.

To be clear, I think a restaurant certainly has a right to add the gratuity to a party, although adding it to five or more seems a bit greedy. However, when the service charge is added, the server must make sure they are earning that tip, Yes, sometimes there will be people who demand the gratuity be removed even when the service was exemplary and there will be servers who take advantage of the added gratuity and do as little as possible. However, in this case, it does seem that the restaurant went too far.

Whose side are you on? The customer or the restaurant?

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Happy Birthday, Ann B. Davis. Make Me a Meatloaf.

Well, I was going to write about one of the performers who sang at the club recently and what a total bitch she was. I mean, can you say Pepé le Pew? Sacre bleu! First, she kicked the other performer out of the one dressing room even though the other performer was singing two and a half hours sooner than Diva Bitch. Her excuse? "But I must put on my face." Bitch, somebody already put your face on you and it was a doctor at Park and 73rd. And he put it on too tight. I was going to write about how she made us rearrange the whole entire showroom and remove seven tables and fourteen chairs, carrying them downstairs just so she had room "to move around." I was going to tell you how she was doing her sound check and got upset that the curtains to the showroom were open allowing the people in the lobby to see her before she was ready and how she yelled at me to close the curtain and I yelled back at her that I can't move tables out of the room if the curtain is closed so if she wants the tables gone then the curtains will have to remain open and how she didn't understand so I told her two more times and she finally shrugged her shoulders as if to say, "Je ne sais pas. Je suis une fucking bitch hat." But I don't have to write about that now because I woke up knowing that today was a very special day. Happy birthday, Ann B. Davis who turns 86 years young today!

How do I love Ann B. Davis? Let me count the ways. She played the best housekeeper in the history of television. I mean it. Her uniform was about the same as Hazel's but Hazel was a busy body who was always getting up in Mr. Baxter's business. Alice never did that. Rosie the Robot was a pretty good maid, but she often needed repairing and replacement parts that George Jetson was responsible for. The only time Alice ever needed anything cleaned out, her boyfriend Sam the butcher took care of that. Florence Johnston was a horrible housekeeper and all she ever did was give Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson sass and attitude up on the East Side. Would Alice ever give lip to Mike or Carol? No, she would not. She would only give lip to Sam and he in turn would give her a piece of tube steak. Mrs. Garrett was the maid for the Drummond family but she had no loyalty and as soon as she was offered a job at the Eastland School for Girls she left Arnold, Willis and Kimberly at the drop of a hat leaving them with Adelaide who was then followed by Pearl. Alice would never leave the Brady house. (Well, she did one time but it was brief and a total mistake.) Alice had class, smarts, humor, patience and she made the best damn meatloaf on Clinton Way. The only meatloaf she liked better than her own was Sam's. She even wrote a cookbook, and yes, I have it. The one recipe I use most often is on page 38 and I want to share it with you.  It is a real recipe, but it's much better if you add Stoli Blueberry Vodka to it. My drink of choice.

Lovely Lady Lemonade

1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
7 1/2 cups water

Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and allow to cool. Pour the lemon juice, water and sugar mix into a pitcher and stir. Add ice for the best drink on a hot summer day. Makes 8 servings.

Happy birthday, Ann B. Davis.You're 86! And I love you.

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