Thursday, October 30, 2008
Hey Big Spender!
My dearest customers,
I used to have a job where I earned a nice paycheck, had a company car and cell phone, health insurance, a retirement plan, you name it. I got paid to golf three times a week and I got paid to wine and dine people. In spite of the fact that I’m a woman (we’ll get to that later) I always tipped at least 20%. Now, in a great social experiment, I am waiting tables in an Irish Pub. I love it….most of the time. There are a few “tips” I’d like to give a handful of you.
1. FOREIGN EXCHANGE: I don’t care if you are from another country. You’re in “America” now, and when I say that, I mean The United States of America. Get a guide book if you’re going to live, visit or have a lay-over in our country. Just because people don’t tip in YOUR country doesn’t mean that you get a discount in ours. That $5 you left me on your $95 bill covered what I had to pay the bartender for the privilege of bringing you four pints of Harp, five glasses of the house pinot grigio, and an Irish coffee, not to mention the filet your girlfriend ordered with ten substitutions and the fact that I had to talk to the kitchen on her behalf to make sure that it came out bleeding and mooing. Oh, and Happy Birthday!!! I hope you liked your free Apple Tart. The ice cream and candle were my idea.
2. THANKS FOR PICKING UP THE CHECK! I know you’re the Big Guy; the one at the head of the table encouraging your comrades to order rack of lamb and drink endless shots of Jameson. All I can do is pray that your group is splitting the bill because if you pick it up I know you’re going to take this expense out on me. You and your four friends have managed to get that check up around $355, which would normally mean a $70 tip. That all sounds ridiculous, but you’ve been taking up two four-tops for three hours and I’ll have to tip out at least $25 of that to bus boys, food runners, and bartenders. I can’t add 18% because there are only five of you. My heart is pounding as I realize you’re the one picking up the tab. Nice! Oh yeah,… $45 because it was just easier for you to make it a nice even $400, right?. Thanks Big Guy. I wonder if your friends know that in spite of your generosity, you’re a cheapskate when it comes to the person who didn’t spit in your food.
3. “I DON’T TIP ON WINE!” Whatever. Whosoever came up with that ridiculous notion has never been a server, my friend. Regardless of whether or not you are tipping on those three bottles of wine, I am still going to have to pay the bartenders for having the opportunity to serve them to you. Wine is a hassle. With beer I just pick it up at the bar, lay down a coaster, and set it on your table. To serve you your wine I have to go through several steps. Polish glasses, follow five minute wine pouring protocol, expel the cork from the bottle and pour a little in your glass, waiting anxiously while you swirl, smell, chat and finally wave your hand at me. I pour a little in everyone’s glass, making sure that there is enough left for everyone to get a little more when I come back to pour it again in a few minutes. …but you, ”don’t tip on wine. “ Those three bottles came out to around $150. I’ll be paying the bar roughly $6 for handing me the bottles. Thanks!
4. LADIES’ NIGHT! Oh, my personal favorite. There you are with your gorgeous store-bought breasts, your gleaming white teeth and your $400 hair extensions. I love that top. Did you get it at Bloomingdales? They had a huge sale last weekend. Oh, don’t mind me; I’m just standing here waiting for your drink order since your friend waved me over. Do you mind if I come back in a few hours when you’re ready? Oh, you are ready! Okay, I’ll just stand here some more while you continue to talk about your new Escalade and how you can’t believe how much you had to put on your husband’s Amex Black Card to fill it. Thanks for the 10%. I was having a sale today.
5. CHILDREN FOR SALE! I can’t figure this one out. Is there something that comes in all of those baby packets that you get from the hospital that says that once you become a parent you suddenly only have to tip 15%? Just because children are smaller, it doesn’t mean that serving them is any easier. Let’s see. I got your kids individual crayon packets because they “don’t like to share.” Apparently the paper placemats weren’t good enough, so I’ll be scrubbing that blue wax off of the table after you leave. That’s a real Pablo Picasso you’ve got there. Your children want lasagna? Did you mean to go to the Italian restaurant next door? You look disappointed. Aren’t you so grateful for those non spill kid cups I put together for you? I hate it when you order chocolate milk. I’ve got ten other tables right now, but you’re sucking up all of my time. I had to run to dry storage in the back of the basement to find more chocolate syrup which I painstakingly stirred into your monster’s milk in the searing hot kitchen. What? NOW the other one wants some too? Oh! My! God! Do you think you could have told me this before? You said that she wanted that Kiddie Cocktail I just made. I guess I’ll drink it myself. It would taste great with vodka. …and wasn’t that nice of me to take your kids (and I mean that as in “baby goats”) on a tour of the place so you could have a second to finish your Cobb salad, no apples, no bacon, no blue cheese, extra chicken, add strawberries, balsamic dressing on the side? I love babysitting, that’s why I work in a restaurant.
6. DON’T JUST SIT THERE. You just cost me $60 because that eight-top reserved in my section had to be moved somewhere else because you’ve been sitting there for two and a half hours now. You paid your bill forty-five minutes ago, yet you continue to take up space. That’s what the bar is for. I think you’ve all probably seen enough of each other anyway. There’s another restaurant next door. Why don’t you go over and sit at one of their tables for a while? Shake things up a little. Try a different environment.
7. I LOVE GIVING YOU FREE STUFF! What? You ladies just want some hot water with lemon? Let me get right on that. I’ll be back in the kitchen putting those together for you. Also, please make your own lemonade at home. I know exactly what you’re doing with those six lemon wedges you demanded and that Sweet-N-Low. We have lemonade here. It’s delicious. I’ll bring you some, but then I’ll have to charge you $2.25. Yikes! Oh, good, you just want two cups of Split Pea soup. Of course I’ll bring you bread. More bread? Sure! More? Okay. You need more free hot water too? Here’s my cell phone number if you need anything else. I’ll be in the kitchen getting your free water and more bread. That $2 tip is going to make this all worthwhile.
8. LEAVE THE DOG AT HOME! You’re sitting in the library when the guest sitting at the table next to you corners me in the service bar and reports to me that there is a Toy Yorkie in a Coach dog carrier sitting on the bench next to their table and it’s staring at them. How did you make it past the door? I love dogs. I spend at least two hours a day at the dog park with mine. It’s where responsible people take their pets to play with other dogs, chase balls, swim and smell each other. If you want to spend time with your pet, don’t do it in my restaurant. This isn’t France.
9. “BUY THAT TABLE A ROUND ON THE HOUSE!” How I dread those words. That round means that I have to take $40 off your bill, for which I’d normally get tipped $8. You were going to order it anyway. I still put in the order, served it and found a manager to void it off of your bill. What? You and the owner are old coworkers? Oh, terrific. Your $400 bill just got cut down to $200. It was a lot of work, $400 worth of work, however, now, rather than $80, I’ll get $40. I’ll tip out $20 of that, based on $400. Here’s some news for you, and this is going to hurt a little. If you take a look at the bottom of your bill, where it says, “Courtesy Discount -$240” add that to your bill total and then tip off of the total amount, unless of course I gave you half the service, which is highly doubtful.
10. WE DON’T HAVE A MICHELIN STAR. Please don’t roll your eyes at me when I inform you that we do not have Dom Perignon or a nice Côte du Rhône. Why are you shaking your head that we don’t have Tsingtao or Bintang? Drink a Heineken, it’s the same thing. I love it when you ask me what we have on tap while you’re staring at the beer menu. Please don’t pronounce the “w” in Smithwicks. Yes, our Kobe beef is flown in every day from Japan. The jet also stops in Alaska every morning to pick up our organic farm-raised salmon. I’ll try to get the chef out here to visit your table, but he’s kind of busy right now butchering the free range chickens we have out back. Nope! We don’t have iced chai lattes, double decaffeinated half-cafs or caramel cappuccinos. I know, shocking!
OH, and by the way, YOU CAN’T PAY ME ENOUGH…to pinch me, slap me, stare at my breasts, put your arm around my waist, pat me on the head or “set me up with your friend.” I’m not a hooker, but if I was, I assure you it would cost a heck of a lot more than 20% of your $35 tab.