Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Campers - the bane of the server's existence

Every server has to deal with this to a degree, it is part of the territory. Campers. People who sit in your section for exceptionally long periods of time, costing you money.

If you want to finish your drink, enjoy your cheese cake, or tell one last story, that's fine. But then go. Go home. Go outside. Go to $tarbuck$. Go elsewhere.

I understand you want a nice, relaxed pace. You want to enjoy yourself and your company. I'm here to facilitate that. But after 90 minutes, you are costing me money unless you are tipping heavily. After 2 hours, I'll begin wondering which car tires to slash. After 3 hours I might begin praying you die slowly in a fiery crash on the way home. In front of your children. And the only thing to put out your smoldering corpses will be an elephant with incontinence.

I'm here to serve you, but when you start taking away my livelihood, my ability to make ends meet, and to put food on my table, there is a problem. Think of that booth where your wide ass appears to have planted itself and sprouted roots in as a rented parcel of real estate. Rent increases every half hour after the first hour.

I don't care if your long lost friend just came out of a coma and has the the map to Atlantis to share with you. I have bills to pay. Your 15% does not cover me for 3 hours of you sitting in my section unless you are tipping 15% on $400.

Worse are you assclowns who are conducting business in restaurants. Here's a hint - if your mortgage broker/wedding photographer/wedding planner/insurance agent/pimp asks to meet you at a restaurant, and then sits there with you for 2 hours, and leaves only 15% on the appetizer and 3 drinks you ordered, they aren't going to give you good service down the road either. If they'll screw their waiter that blatantly, they won't bat an eye when the time comes to bend you over too. Don't sign any contracts. Run, don't walk away from this inconsiderate prick.

Certainly corporate monkeys at Red Lobster play a part in all of this. Some high level numbnutz thought that limiting every server to only having 3 tables at a time was a great idea. Perhaps a great idea for them, but a sucktastic one for servers across the land. If granny and her best pal Betty want to sit in my section for 4 hours playing cards, sharing pictures of inbred grandchildren, and swapping recipes for shit nobody in their right mind would ever eat, that means I get to wait on 2 paying tables for 3 of those 4 hours. Unless granny is rolling large and drops a $30-40 tip, the likelihood is that night's earning potential just went down the toilet like all the fiber she eats. And the local managers can't help. They can't look and see that Joe's table has been sitting there for 2 hours and no longer requires service. Oh they can "see" it, but there is nothing they can do about it. The managers can (and have) literally LOST THEIR JOBS for letting a server take a 4th table. Even if one of those tables is people in a coma who have been sitting there for 6 hours without so much a twitch to indicate they are alive. That table counts against the server's 3 tables. And what really hurts is when two tables of camping asshats are sitting in your section simultaneously.

I've seen servers contemplating how much time they would do for punching out old ladies playing cards at one of their tables. I suspect that time would go faster than the time spent waiting for these people to leave our restaurants.

13 comments:

6th Floor blog said...

the question is, What's the threshold when it becomes worth it to try to force them to leave, trying to sacrifice the little money they'd give for the chances at 2 or 3 more sittings at that table?


I understand don't overstay your welcome, what bugs me is unhelpful servers who do a horrible job at pacing the actual food portion, and then try to hurry me out of the table at the end.

The other thing that seems to happen to me too often that I don't understand, is servers who drop off the meal and are a chore to find again to get the check AND after that to pick up the credit card for the check and process it. Aren't these servers that let me sit for 25 minutes between end of meal and getting the credit card slip to sign losing out on tips through turnover not to mention that the slow service at the end is what i'm going to remember most when tipping.

Lobster Boy said...

If your server disappears for 25 minutes and you didn't ask them to do so, I'd suggest they don't want to be tipped that night. That is not acceptable without question.

If a server does a horrible job pacing your meal, again that is going to be reflected in their tip. Though do realize that about 90% of the time if your food is slow that is not a product of your server. Your server wants your food to come pretty quickly most of the time. A good server will have an idea of how long food takes, and will then adjust when they place your order. In my restaurant this does require some experience, as different cooks and different times of the day and different days of the week all impact length of ticket times.

Pacing is an important role we provide as a server. I generally want to turn my tables every 60 minutes, which allows for a comfortable pace for most people. If it takes up to 30 more minutes that's fine, and I really like it when we hit 45 minutes total. I understand some people want a cocktail or two before ordering. That's fine, enjoy, and let us know when you are ready. But if you are going to examine the architectural blue prints for your new office at my table don't be surprised when I "accidentally" spill your water glass across your table when you ask me 3 hours later to get you a refill.

Lobster Boy

Andrew Leonard said...

This is one of your best and most hilarious posts ever.

If Life Were Sane said...

I really do feel for you!!! We don't have a Red Lobster here (New Zealand), nor do the servers expect tips. I'm orignally from the US though and for expentional service I give (I just don't leave it on the table, as I want to make sure my server gets it) a tip to reflect how much I appreciate the server. LOL I don't know how many times we've been out to eat, gotten exepitional service and so I've quitly gone to the server to tip her/him and just get a totally shocked look. I explain that yes, I know tipping is not required, but in my eyes they deserve it! I really enjoy reading your blog and in my own way I miss Red Lobster, though personally I think the seafood is nicer here. Good luck and keep up the great work!

Melanie Marie said...

Wow... that really sucks. I can't believe that you are limited to 3 tables... thats just wrong.

briliantdonkey said...

Haven't been by in a while. Glad to see you are still posting. Some things I see, never change. Campers always have and always will suck.

BD

Melissa said...

So...if your table pays and then camps out, you're still not allowed a nother table?? I work at a Red Lobster in Canada...and the way it works, especially when we're busy is that once the table has been billed and has paid, you can take another table...even if that table camps out.

RLobster said...

At the RL I work at we're allowed to have more than three tables. Two servers share a section and when one gets cut the other server has that section and if it gets sat then they have to pick it up.

I had a table a few weeks ago sit for probably about 2 1/2 hours and even after they paid I filled up their drinks for them. They left me $5 on $50 :( Great service and everything, but you get the good with the bad I guess.

Trish said...

Hey lobster boy, tomorrow starts Never Ending Pasta Bowl for us OG'ers. Wish us luck...

mrclm said...

Never ending pasta sound better than endless Shrimp that we have coming soon in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Though I suppose your price point is lower at OG, so that might make it a draw. Endless whatever type of meal does not draw in the high class crowd, and we the servers suffer from it. At least for us at RL's hopefully they will pair our Endless shrimp with another large meal pictured in the promotional handout, as that seems to get some people to ignore the Endless and go for the quality meal.

Big Chris

Lobster Boy said...

Yep, as Big Chris mentioned, all All You Can eat promos are a disaster for servers. Red Lobster loves them though, because it does increase sales. Red Lobster makes its money on the bottom line, and honestly does not care what its servers make on tips. I learned a long time ago that they will sell their servers out every chance they gets because it pleases the stock holders. I understand why they do what they do, I just think it is poor business practice to punish your employees this way. Yearly. Regularly. Its one small step above sweatshop labor. And since each server is completely replaceable, there is nothing to hold them accountable. I'm tempted to suggest that Red Lobsters should begin unionizing. I'm not sure that I'm up for that long battle personally, but it really seems that if we had a union, at least they would have to listen to us before they screwed us.

Lobster Boy

Winchester said...

If you're complaining about having only 3 tables at a time, try going to the Sugar Land, TX location where I used to work at. During that period, some of the management was horrible and it got quite understaffed. Servers were expected to hold at least 4 tables but some held 5, 6, or even 7 tables at a time. I only held 3 since I made around $70 to $100 a night anyways and it was more of a punch in punch out job after the first 3 months there.

Jason said...

This blog is so great.