Tuesday, May 02, 2006

One of the worst nights in many years

After a nice but rainy weekend in the town that houses the hapless Twins (Minneapolis for you slower readers) I came back to work to one of the worst nights in many years. All the possible bad tables came to my section like moths to light. I have bad tips here and there, but nothing like tonight. It was crappy table after crappy table, and then of course the worst of all to end the night on. I waited on a punk band on tour. Bands SUCK (unless they are big time, and then don't come to Red Lobster). Punk bands suck worse. Especially when you card them and they conveniently forgot their ID in the hotel down the street. Sorry pal, no booze for you. That Long Island Tea was just going to run out of your piercings anyhow. So while they ate well, and were actually pretty nice as far as bands go, the pricks need to learn how to tip. 5% is a sucky tip whether you are John Bon Jovi or Bon Ron Novi. Spend less on ink and holes in your body, and more on showers, shampoo, and your service staff.

Then to close the night I had a table come in, clearly looking a bit shady. The two men ordered two expensive dinners, and then an extra "big ass" lobster tail to boot. $83 worth of food. 10 minutes after close, the first guy gets up and goes to the bathroom. Never comes back. I'm keeping my eyes on the second one. I've seen this play out way to many times in my career, and I'm not about to let this guy walk on his check. I cleaned every table in the area 3 or 4 times. He kept trying to get me to run to the kitchen for things, but I was onto his game. I was going to wait him out. He boxed up his food, and sat there, with one arm in his jacket and one on his food box for 15 minutes. Then he picked at his salad. Then he pretended to be on his cell phone (the guy with him earlier had 2 cell phones that never stopped ringing). I actually saw him dial and then whisper into the phone. I know the other guy was waiting in the parking lot. He fidgeted. Picked some more at his salad. I closed out all my other checks. He was getting nervous. The more jumpy he got, the more I stayed in his section. I kept cleaning tables between him and the door, and I could see him glancing at me from time to time. He'd ask for a box for something, not realizing I had them stored in his section. He would ask for a new drink, and I'd get it from the beverage station where I could see him, and he could see me. I would close out other table's checks without turning my back to him. The game was on, and I wasn't about to loose. After an hour of messing around with his salad, rearranging his food in his to-go container, after 2 extra glasses of ice, and at least 5 faked phone calls I could see he resigned himself to paying. People trying to walk on a check get really nervous, and this guy was sweating bullets. He was looking like a greyhound on meth he wanted to run so bad. 3 times I saw his pal pull up to the front door in his hoopty with spinners. The doors were long locked, and I knew I was going to out wait him. Eventually he pulled out some cash, $85. He kept his eyes down, he was ashamed, I could tell, and he knew I was watching him. The check was $83.12 and the prick wanted change. So I worked the last hour for free, because you know he wasn't asking for change back so he could add money for a tip. The guy got great service, especially before I caught on that he was going to try to skip the check. I did special requests for him, and even saved him some money by knowing how to get him what he wanted in a way cheaper than he had in mind when ordering.

Stereotypes exist for a reason. It's too bad the good people of this guy's race get categorized because of his trashy ass. There's nothing more that I would like than to erase racism, but this guy is setting the cause back 40 years. Before I waited tables, I was aware of stereotypes, but I didn't have much of an understanding for why they existed. Oh to be so naive again.

Related Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 comments:

a.boheme said...

Wow... I truly feel for you, man.
And right on about the 30 shrimp promo. The ONLY member not harmed in THAT process is the customer. Everyone in our restaurant is praying for the end date XD

Backup is swamped with scampi, Line is swamped with casseroles, and of course, Utility has the blessing of scrubbing those damned things all night.

Sadly, as I work in dish half the time, I see many plates come back with like 25 shrimp still intact. Why do people like this even exist?

If you dont have the stomach for 30 shrimp, dont order them... children are starving, or didnt your mothers teach you that?

Keep it up, you're beautiful!

Barbara Fisher said...

People skipping checks piss me off. Too bad you had to wait him out yourself--I caught a guy up to that once in a non-corporate restaurant, and went right to the manager, and -he- who was on salary, watched him.

And the guy got no chance to skip out--like you it was the last table of the night, so the manager just had the hostess do the register closing out he usually did, then had her join him at a table in my section right next to this guy, with our door closed, so they could watch him, while they did the nightly reports.

Finally, the manager looked up at him, and said, "I need to close out the last register--your check is there, do you intend to pay it?"

He paid it on a credit card, which the manager went to great lengths, including the credit card company and asking for picture id, to make certain it hadn't been stolen.

The guy who was trying to skip out, btw, was white, and the manager was black.

A nice reversal.

mrclm said...

The last walk out that I witnessed were two white guys who were either coked out or on meth. They weren't my table, but I did see the second guy run out the door. A fellow co-worker "Hank" had asked me to watch them with him, but it was mid evening rush so it was hard to keep an eye on them and work. They were also seated at the table closest to the doors, which in our store (Roseville, MN) is about 6 paces from the parking lot. I was watching them, and so was Hank. The first guy went to the parking lot, and the second guy (facing us) picked at his meal and looked very nervous and twitchy. Hank had his back turned taking an order at a table 15 feet away, and I glanced down to put some ice in a glass (while still facing the guy), and by the time I looked up I could see his leg exiting the first of our two enterance doors. I took off after them (as did Hank when he saw me head for the door) but to no avail. I couldn't just run through the dining room and lobby (there were lots of guests). The first guy must've had the car running around the side of the building, and they were out the lot and a half block away before we made it outside. With all the cars coming and going that time of night it was impossible to tell which vehicle it was. I don't think Hank got written up, but I did have to fill some stuff on the forms where we track this kind of thing. Our store has gotten better by not seating the booths closest to the doors late at night.

I did have a table of two young girls (a pair of sisters, probably 15 and 8) last week who didn't have enough to pay for thier meals. It was one of those cases where it was clear by the young woman's embarassment/distress that this was genuine. We comped part of a meal, and charged a bit back on to get it to the amount of money she had with her. Not much else you can do with a young person in that situation.

Nice blog btw.

Big Chris

Reciprocity said...

White or black, ghetto is ghetto man.

Who teaches their children that it's okay to steal???? This goes for ridiculous complaints in attempts to get freebies, all scammers, and any person who walks out on a check.

Temp Whore said...

You have posted it yourself that you get tons of customers that are shady and disgusting. Don't let race be your reasoning. The biggest thieves are WASPs.

Janis said...

Back in my waitressing days, we had an elderly couple that came in a few times a month and walked out without paying.

After a few months of their stealing meals I finally asked my boss why he continued to let them come in and eat, leave without paying. I could not fathom it as my boss was so damn tight he'd scrape mold off of strawberries in order to be able to serve them for a few more days.

He knew they were stealing. They knew they were stealing. And yet it continued month after month after month.

It seems the tightwad had a soft spot for the couple. He knew they only came in at the end of the month after all their social security benefits had run out. They had some health issues that ate up a huge chunk of money as medicaid did not cover them.

The boss wanted them to have a meal when they needed it. He knew they would not have done it just because they could.

Very different situation from yours, though.

I hated being stiffed too. Or worse the smart ass college kids who put the "tip" (read a quarter and other small change) into a half filled glass. Better to not tip than to be a prick about it.