Saturday, April 05, 2008

Out for dinner

As a waiter, it is rare that I get a chance to go out for dinner with friends and/or family. My schedule is the opposite of most of the rest of the world, and often when I have a day off the last thing I want to do is to impose myself upon my fellow service staffs. After hours bar times not withstanding.

So I recently had a day off and took the rare trek into a nearby restaurant. Not one I would consider competition of any sort - a classic pizza joint. As blue collar as they come. Everyone drinking beer, nearly everyone smokes, and the cars in the lot are more likely to have body putty than a BMW badge.

The pizza was good, the service horrible, but overall a tolerable experience. It amazes me how attuned I am to things that other non-service people are oblivious to. I can see that our waitress while old and haggard is nonetheless inefficient and incompetent. And this is before she serves us. The people with me marvel at my observations, especially after my prophetic prediction of her inability to keep up with her section. The fact that her getting a smoke break was more important than us getting our pie did nothing to add to her tip.

My wife watches me when we do go out. She knows I can't turn the server off. It is part of who I am after this many years. It's hard to not be critical.

We finish up, box up our left overs, and I strategically pile the used dishes and utensils so the bus boys can quickly turn the table. I leave 15%, but she could've had so much more, a little effort goes a long way.


Suz said...

I'm like you, overly scrutinizing the waitstaff when I go out. I'm also like you in that I won't tip poorly, but good service will net a huge tip.

Know what I find odd though? Servers who don't tip well when they are out with friends. It doesn't happen often, but I've had tables tell me they are servers, then leave a crap tip. (And no, the service didn't suck)! :p

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

How exactly did you know that her smoke break was the reason you didn't get your pizza? I bet you are one of those servers that are hyper-critical of other servers when they eat out, yet complain when they get under-tipped for something that is not their fault. Last time I checked yelling at the kitchen staff doesn't change how much faster things are cooked. You sound like a jerk in this post, straight up.

Lobster Boy said...

Ms. Sue Ellen Mishkey,
I might be a jerk, I won't argue that point. But I will argue the idiocy of your comment and the presumptions contained within. I know she went for her smoke break because:

A) I watched her walk past me, smokes and lighter in hand, and saw her light up just beyond the threshold of the door.

B) Every time said door opened (frequently, the place was jumpin') I could see her standing outside the building smoking away, our booth being located near said door.

C) As she re-entered the building, the distinctive stench of cigarette smoke was billowing off her when she walked by.

D) Her breath when she came and checked on our meal made it clear she had just burned down a heater or two.

Am I hyper-critical of other servers? Very likely, I've only trained a few hundred servers myself, so maybe, just maybe I know something or two of which I speak. I've only spent the majority of my adult life making sure that the screw ups and misfits of this world that land their sorry asses in one of my restaurants and think they can serve actually learn how to serve.

I am Lobster Boy, and I endorse this comment.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

That's grand and all, and she should have had a mint or something, but how do you KNOW that her smoke break(s) are/is the reason you didn't get your pizza? I find that very presumptuous on your part.

Lobster Boy said...

That would be the part where the non-descript low-level manager himself delivered our pizza and apologized and offered to buy our drinks (I refused, I already paid at the bar while waiting for a table).

So again, I do really know what I'm talking about here. The manager handled it well, the waitress apologized, I made a judgment call that it wasn't relevant to the story, but since you insist there it all is.

For the record I washed my hands before the meal, stopped and took a piss on the way into the restaurant and again before leaving, again washing my hands, and I left $5.25 on a $27 and change bill (so technically over the 15% I claimed I left).

Any other details you'd care to know about?

Lobster Boy

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

Don't get snippy with me cause your post was a giant incomplete thought.

Suz said...

Ooh. Ooh. I have a question! Did you leave anything else out??


Just fuckin' with ya...cuz, like, I know exactly the waitress you're talking about. ;)

I have to say this, and don't mean to alienate anyone who doesn't work foodservice...servers KNOW wtf is what when they are dining. We scrutinize, but we also tip well because we've been there, done that. LB tipped decently because he understands that the woman may have been having a bad day. Thing is, we tip REALLY well when you actually DO your job.

The woman didn't earn any part of what he left her, but he left it anyway. Get off of his ass, unless you have some innate knowledge about this woman that we should know.

I understood the post.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

Thanks for the info, Suze, but I am server too. I believe in tipping Karma, and unless you cuss at me or really mess things up I leave a standard 20%. And that story sure was incomplete.

smile4ufrme said...

sue ellen were you that server that lobster boy was talking about??? kind of sounds like it