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Monday, January 7, 2013

Complaining of the Sake of Complaining

When I first see the man sitting at table 12 (why is always table 12?), my mind flashes back to an old ZZ Top video from the 80's. He has a long grey beard that hangs to his chest and his eyes look possessed like he is the evil brother of old St. Nick. When I see his wife reading the menu to him, I remember that I have waited on them before and that the man is blind. I take back the part about his eyes looking all possessed but there is no excuse for a beard like that. It looks like grey pubes on steroids. I recall that they are difficult and that the last time they were here, the woman sent her burger back for being overcooked, which is pretty normal for Juan who seems to think that well done and medium rare are the same thing. I also recall they are pains in the ass.

"Hello, folks, how are you tonight?" I ask. "Can I get you something to drink yet?"

She orders an Old Fashion and he looks in my general direction to place his drink order.

"I will have a Bombay Sapphire martini. Very dry. Up."

"Yes, sir," I say all the while thinking that martinis are always "up" aren't they? "Would you like an  olive or a twist?"

"Yes," he says and he waits for a laugh from me that never comes. "I also want an onion. I like a salad in my martini." Again he waits for a laugh that ain't coming.

"Alright, so one Old Fashion and a Sapphire martini with a salad, coming right up."

Minutes later, I place the drinks onto the table and I watch the man stick his finger in his to gauge how full it is. They have me recite the specials and then do what most people do which is decide they don't want a special.

As the man licks his gin-soaked fingers, the woman tells me she is ready to order.

"I'm gonna be bad and order a hamburger," she says as if this is the first time in her life she has ordered something that isn't the epitome of health. Her ass tells a different story and it's an autobiography about about fried foods, gravy and donuts. "I want it medium rare. Will they know what that is?"

"And here we go," I think.

"Well, I know that sometimes they have a tendency to overcook burgers, so I will ring it in as rare so we can can cook it more if we need to. Would you like cheese on it?"

"What kind of cheese do you?"

"We have American and cheddar."

"Oh, I didn't know you differentiated between the two here."

To me, that sounded rude. Am I crazy or did that sound rude?

"Cheddar." Her ass quivers with excitement about the additional calories. "And it comes with fries, right?" Her ass yelps with anticipation.

ZZ Top informs me he will have the same thing but he would like bacon on his.

The woman interjects. "Really? You want bacon on it? It was hardly bacon last time."

Now, I know she's being rude so I question her.

"Hardly bacon? What do you mean? Was there not enough of it? Or you didn't like the taste of it?"

"Oh, never mind," she says into her Old Fashion.

I ring in their order, being sure to ask for the burgers rare and about thirteen minutes later, their food is ready. I take the burgers and fries to them and the woman immediately takes a bite of it and discovers it is too done.

"No. They did it again. This is not medium rare." She thrusts the burger towards me so I can get an eagle's eye view of the burger that definitely looks more on the medium side.

I am not pleased. I ordered it rare and here it is way too done and now I have to deal with this bitch. I agree with her that it is not medium rare and offer to make it again.

"No, I'll eat it, but look at it!" She again shows me the burger. "You look disgusted by it. You must not eat meat. Is that why you have that look of disgust on your face?"

I lie and tell her that I very rarely eat meat because I don't want her to know that the look of disgust on my face is because my peripheral vision has caught her husband sucking ketchup out of his beard.

"I'm so sorry. I can have them remake it."

"No, I'll eat it, but it's massacred."

"I'm so sorry, I can have them make remake it."

"So my fries can get cold?"

Her ass makes a sad face."

"I can bring you new fries. I'm so sorry. I can have them make remake it."

"No, I'll eat it. But look at it! This is not medium rare!!"

"I'm so sorry. I can have them make remake it."

"No, I'll eat it, but it's not cooked right."

Yes, bitch this has been established. You have two choices: eat it or let me get you another one. All I can do is punch in the "rare" key on the computer and hope they do it right. Eat it or let me get you another one. She decides to eat it. And eat it she does. Every last bit of burger and fries is gone from both her plate and her husband's although I am not certain he ate all of his. It is quite possible that a good deal of it was lost in that Bermuda Triangle he calls a beard. I swear to god I see a pickle in there and we don't even serve pickles.

They do not want dessert so I give them their check. "Have a good night," I tell them. "I'll pick that up whenver you're ready."

"Well, I wish my burger would have been medium rare."

Again with this?

"I'm so sorry. I could have had them make remake it. I told you that."

"No, it's okay, I just wanted you to know."

Like I didn't already know. Everyone knew. You made sure that I knew and that the tables next to you knew and you'll probably go home and write a Yelp review about it too. Do not complain for the sake of complaining. If you don't want me to fix the problem, then there is no need to tell me over and over again. I want to solve the problem. It will only make my tip better if you leave happy. But if you don't want me to resolvethe issue, then your continual complaining is serving no need other than for you to voice your displeasure. Shut up.

They finally go, leaving their table looking like a a bomb exploded at it with crumbs and burger juices all over the tabletop, chair and floor. I pick up the cash and count the tip. It is slightly more than 20%. You can never tell what you're going to get. Sometimes nice people leave you crap tips and sometimes people with big asses and blind husbands leave you good ones. What a world, what a world.

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Anonymous said...

That table sounds like one I had at my restaurant. So creepy how similar they sound...

Chris said...

I see where you are trying to find the humor in this; however, a manager should have visited the table immediately after she received her order incorrectly and showed you what was wrong. That way you would not have put her in to a tight spot. She would have felt vindicated and like she was heard, whether or not she received a new order. If you took her food away her husband would have either had to wait for hers to arrive and his would be cold, or for her to sit there and watch him eat. Either choice is uncomfortable. Why make fun of the patrons who not only did nothing wrong in this case (and tipped you ABOVE 20% DESPITE the incorrect order and uncomfortable situation) - just because they are not Ken and Barbie? Because they are handicapped? How rude of you.

The Bitchy Waiter said...

Chris, did I make fun of his handicap? I don't think so. And I was never once rude to them. Thanks.

Winnipeg Girl said...

I think Chris has never worked in the service industry, just a hunch - as someone who has I have lived that story many times! Condensed version of my favourites:

Customer: These ribs are too fatty
Me: I'm so sorry, may I bring you some different ones?
Customer: No, they're just really fatty and I thought you should know
*The back and forth continues a few more times*
Me: (at an attempt at a little humour as his friends look uncomfortable with his complaining for the sake of complaining) I'm sorry the pig didn't exercise enough?
Customer: (as his friends are howling with laughter) Do you think that's funny?
Me: I suppose I did
Me: (to manager) Just a heads up, I don't think the dude at table 6 is my biggest fan...

Anonymous said...

Sorry man. 35 plus years doing this--but you were a little mean and you judged this book by it's cover. Mgt should have gone over, Juan should've had his ass watched by the chef or whoever especially since you remembered this issue. Snarky remarks and arguing with a table isn't worth it. Neither is the " you never waited tables line" . I'm a lifer, and make quite a nice living in fine dining. At the top of my game...seen and done it all. Maybe. It is annoying when they want 10 drink garnishes but go with it. I can bitch with the best but the name of the business is hospitality. I usually agree with you but not this time.

Chris said...

I have indeed worked in the industry (not currently, but in the past). Not only have I worked in, but I also frequent and audit restaurants. And while I don't mean that you were rude to them at the time, you are here. The first two paragraphs of description along with all of the "ass" comments about the wife were what was rude to me. Not everyone looks "perfect".

I do 'get' the humor that is trying to come across. I just felt it was in poor taste and blame laid in the wrong place.

Unknown said...

Wow, I think this blog is called The Bitchy Waiter. Poor taste, snarky and rude "ass" comments are the name of the game.

allerictostupid said...

I would like to say that I deal with this problem many times every week (because our clientele is mostly crotchety senior citizens), and if either of the two commenters above have worked in the industry, you both must be saints not to ever be agitated by people who complain and don't want the problem fixed. BW, I agree completely. Let me fix the problem, or shut the hell up.
And sorry if this is mean, but yes, an obese woman telling the server she's about to order something "bad" is ALWAYS funny. Especially if they want a diet coke with it.

Anonymous said...

I think he was making fun of them not because of how they looked, but because the lady kept complaining over and over again and didn't want a new burger, which is like being a martyr. "This is disgusting, just telling ya, oh no no I don't want a new one I'm just going to let you know I am going to eat this disgusting thing. " "sure you don't want a new one" "no no, I'm just going to eat this disgusting one" ......the point of this post was if you're going to bitch about something at least let your server fix it. Also, BW is a very experienced server and professionals do not run to the manager for every little issue because they prioritize and solve problems effectively. So yeah, manager grabbing was unnecessary just like your comment!

The Bitchy Waiter said...

Point taken, anon. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My clientele is primarily old seniors. They definitely complain and are demanding. But-they are old white seniors with money and lots of it, here in sunny Venice, fl.....I like when they give me their money. So they can complain all they want and I'll just keep smiling and kiss their asses. Btw I do understand this is the bitchy waiter blog-but-he likes opinions and feedback. That's why he does this. The snark was from the poster with the usual "never been in the business" line. It's kinda tired, don't you think?

Rogue Wino said...

Well, I think in these cases people are often "bitching to bitch" in order to get the item comped off their bill- hence the reminder when Bitchy presented the check to the woman. We get frustrated when people want free stuff, instead of letting us fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a place where every stupid complaint had to be brought to the mgrs. attention no matter how bullshit it was. God for fucking bid you didn't and the person went home and called or emailed. When you work at that level and make that kind of money you play the game which means watch your ass, play by the book, get the best shifts and stations. In a restaurant where you walk out the door with $300 in your book at the end of every night? it's just smart. Get a mgr. It's sound advice. I always blame corporate for that bad customer behavior because they always comp something, and there are career complainers.

^_^ said...

I honestly don't know what kind of restaurant BW works in, but I have worked for people in the past who expect the servers to handle 99% of customer complaints. Not all management is good management. Some places don't even have real "managers." Independently owned joints sometimes just have the owners and the servers, with nothing in between.

Anonymous said...

sweet mother of pearl, has springs1 been shitting all over this comment section tonight?

listen, most people suck ass and are bloody stupid. if you don't like TBW's blog, DON'T FUCKING READ IT! go jump off a cliff or something and leave those of us with a sense of humor alone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh. If people don't understand your blog they don't need to read it. I totally understand where you are coming from. So many a holes out there and most of these shitty customers could never handle being a waiter it waitress. I got fired because I could not take shit from pieces of shit people who have no respect for other people. The first time I got a 2 dollar tip on a hundred dollar table I worked my ass off on with the best service I tracked them down before they hit the door and gave them a life lesson in front of everyone and then got fired. On to a different line of work for me!

Maddie said...

Funny post Bitchy!
I can see where Chris and Anon. are coming from, but I don't think Bitchy was being unreasonable posting this one. I think it is really rude to make snide under-your-breath comments about something on the menu (the cheese, the bacon.
And then repeatedly complaining yet refusing to have your waiter fix it is immature and pointless.
And this isn't coming from a waiter, this is coming from a customer.
Eg, on the weekend I went out to lunch with my husband. For our mains I ordered a steak (rare) with pepper sauce. When it arrived the steak was medium. Now I eat there all the time, and the waitress that took our order serves us regularly, so I know that it probably was a kitchen mistake. I considered complaining, but I didn't feel like waiting for another to be cooked and decided I could live with it. When she came and asked about our meal I did tell her it was a little over-done but not to worry because it was still really delicious and I enjoyed it any way (which I did). Of course I would have prefered it to be how I ordered it, but since I wasn't willing to have my order fixed there was no point in making a huge deal out of it. That would have only made the waitress uncomfortable and ruined my date with my husband. It isn't hard to be civilised. The world does not revolve around me.

Workingdan said...

For a minute I thought they were just trying to get a free meal. I certainly didn't expect them to tip!

Anonymous said...

Who said "I don't like the blog"? You wasted a perfectly good flounce.

Anonymous said...

One of the Anon's beat me to it -- I call these kind of customers "food martyrs." Complain and complain, yet when you offer to fix it, they refuse, and decide to SUFFER through eating the incorrect meal, but make it loud and clear that they are not happy to be doing so. Uhhh, we offered you a solution, duh...

The most frustrating thing about this, as you mentioned, is that sometimes, their meal DID in fact come out incorrectly (as opposed to people who are being irrational and making up things to whine about). In that case, the customer should realize that we totally have their back, and we actually WANT to have their food re-made. This is why food martyrs are extra annoying.

Sam said...

You never hear stories from someone who has visited a restaurant which go. "The morons at the restaurant overcooked my burger! I couldn't believe it! Then they got me another one which was cooked fine and the waiter-guy apologised and it was ok". No, the only stories which you hear are "My burger was burnt. BURNT!! The guy said he'd get me another one but the incompetent fools would take, like an hour to cook it so I didn't bother. How hard is it to cook a burger?" And everyone in the vicinity nods sympathetically at another poor innocent victim of the evil restaurant trade.

I've had internet review complaints about food I have offered to replace only to be told 'no, it's fine'. That's damn rude if you ask me.

A common one I get is (when paying) "just so you know, my coffee was cold. I just wanted you to know" Me "Cold, as in, not heated at all?" No, I mean it wasn't hot enough, I just thought you should know so it will save someone else" Me, "Ok, well this is espresso coffee and the barista tries not to burn the milk otherwise it will taste nasty. If you like your coffee hotter, please just ask, as all the others who want their coffee blisteringly hot do (with thought only of themselves and no regard to 'saving' others) and we can arrange that. Also, we're happy to remake a coffee that isn't hot enough, just ask!" BIG SMILE!! "umm, well, I just thought you should know"

But I do know. Telling me again doesn't make a difference dear customer as I do and always will, know more than you!!

Maegan Bledsoe said...

I rarely send food back - first I don't really want to wait on it while my family eats, and then waits on ME to eat, too. Second...I have no guarantee that the second option will be any good if they managed to fuck up the first one. What I will do is fill out a comment card or let the manager know at the end of the meal. One place I visited consistently under cooked their mushrooms. It didn't seem to matter WHICH dish it was, it was like the mushrooms were always an afterthought. "Oh, this dish was supposed to have mushrooms, throw these on 2 seconds before it's finished cooking..." I stopped ordering dishes with mushrooms for a while & filled out the comment card at the table near the door. I think I just said something like, "Have tried several dishes with mushrooms in the last few weeks...mushrooms always seem under cooked, regardless of the meal." ...I tentatively tried a mushroom dish after several weeks and the mushrooms seemed to be cooked appropriate for the dish. Did they take my suggestion? I dunno...Maybe they just got a new chef or some extra help in the kitchen.

If Juan can't manage to cook a burger properly...maybe Juan shouldn't be cooking burgers. Or someone should provide him with a meat thermometer.

Anonymous said...

That's a whole 'nother blog. Juan will always be cooking the burgers. He works for peanuts and puts up with a lot of abuse. He never calls out and never complains, especially about the fact that he makes min. wage. Or maybe below because he may be illegal. Juans are carrying many restaurant lines. Doesn't mean they can cook to temp. Also-there's more than 1 anon posting. No need for the broadbrush:-)

JoeinVegas said...

The benefit of the beard, as you noticed, is so that he can continue to enjoy the meal as his night (and maybe next day) go on.

PDL said...

People here should lighten up - we all know what the blog is about, if you don't like it, don't read. I would frequently have people like this at my hotel. We would offer to move them to another room, but of course that's not what they wanted, they wanted money off the bill. And I would always have to get my manager, who would then bitch at me for not being able to satisfy them without taking money off the bill. Sigh.

Also, you have "right" and "write" mixed up in this posting.

Anonymous said...

I deal with this shit 20 times a week. If u think he's judging them an being mean, ur retarded. We get sick of this shit always happening and the truth is people complain alot just to complain and when they don't want us to fix the problem it just pisses us off when they keep bitching to us. Don't read this blog if u are so all knowing and wonderful, cuz the rest of us hate everyone after waiting tables for so long and this shit gets to us. Thanks for another great blog, bitchy. Ur fabulous

Headset Hellion said...

Some people really do like to complain just the hear the sound of their own voice. I offered a customer three separate options to fix a problem with his account. He turned down every one. "Never mind, it's fine. I'll just check my account online. Thanks." Wouldn't you know he's my one customer that day to get a survey, and claimed that I was "exasperated" and "unable to help" him. Some people are fucking assholes.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant writing. I could see her ass quiver in my mind so well. Keep it up and write a book!


Chelsea said...

Let me tell you something -
As a foodie who orders ALL of my beef/salmon/tuna extremely rare, I hate to try to cut into an overcooked piece of meat...

However, as a SERVER who deals with said dilemmas on a daily basis, I make it my responsibility to maintain a good rapport with my tables so that, if there is something that goes wrong, they understand that any error can be promptly eradicated. There are, unfortunately, guests who seek only the negative. They go in with the idea that nothing will impress them. They look for something to be unhappy with. They are too focused on the stress of eating out and look for something to bitch about. This is not the servers' faults, this is a common practice among uptight individuals who aren't necessarily socially comfortable enough to enjoy a meal as an experience without analyzing and ripping it apart. I can't tell you why, I can only tell you it happens day-in, day-out. It's true, you never know what's going to happen. I've had tables with disastrous mistakes on their dinners who end up tipping me far more than the customary 18-20% because of our willingness to correct the problem. I've also dealt with people who make complaints about the most trivial things, won't allow me to fix them, and then refuse to pay/tip at all. You simply cannot please someone who intentionally avoids the luxury of hospitality. I bend over backwards for people, but maybe for some, the joy of going out lies in having someone to demean and deem unhelpful and worthless. Who knows.

Anonymous said...

Maddie's reply is perfect!

I wonder why these people returned to a place that they obviously have low opinion of. She does anyway. Maybe he likes it? People are freakin weird!

Anonymous said...

Chris...I think it's safe to're one of "those" customers!

Anonymous said...

Chris...I think it's safe to assume you're one of "those" customers!