How to Handle Hecklers

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They come in all different shapes and sizes. There’s the guy who finishes the entire meal before deciding it needs to go back to the kitchen. What about the woman who insists on asking, “How hard is your job?” The group of new-licensed teens who ask you to divide the check 9 ways, then forget about tax…and tip. There are some woes that you can only understand if you’ve carried a 10-entree tray in your hands. Since this is a blog about a server’s silver lining, however, here are a few ways to show ’em who’s boss:

Remember IT’S NOT YOU.
You just met these people. You’ve done nothing but smile at them. You’re literally serving them. I know it sucks, but don’t get hard on yourself. Nothing makes a busy night harder than wondering what you’ve done wrong. Keep telling yourself that it’s just another table, just another tab, and it’ll be just another few minutes until they get the hell outta your way.

Feel sorry for them.
Honestly. Think about it: something in their life is SO AWFUL that they are willing to pay money to have someone to yell at. I’ve served enough martinis to enough divorcees to know that when it really hits the fan, people just need to leave the house. If someone is being exceptionally rotten, try asking them what’s wrong. Sure, it’s ballsy, but I’ve tried it and actually helped somebody out. Or, if you think the customer is just total douchebag to the core, keep in mind that the greatest way to say F*!# YOU…is silently, with a smile on your face.

VENT.
You gotta let it out, people! Talk to somebody who’s willing to listen, who works the same job..hell, talk to me! I know everybody in the food and booze industry is trained in letting things roll of their shoulders, but sometimes people just get to you. Letting things bottle up can (and will) ruin your shift, and probably will continue to spoil things as long as you keep it in. I promise, saying things out loud can make a total bummer into a funny story.

So the next time someone asks you how hard your job is, just smile at them and think…well, you know. 😉

When You Make Enough Over the Weekend to Pay Rent On Time.

When You Make Enough Over the Weekend to Pay Rent On Time.

 

When You Make Enough Over the Weekend to Pay Rent On Time.

Waitress Wars: Words From A Veteran

Sorrysorrysorry for slacking! This entry should make up for the absence. I finally got to sit down and interview a fellow waitress — none other than the toughest broad I know: my grandma (I figure I’ll take this one opportunity to call her by her first name, Maryanne).

Maryanne has been a waitress since the mid-1960s and has worked everywhere from the 24-hour diner to the overpriced steakhouse. To say the least, she knows her stuff when it comes to serving. Here’s what she had to say:

Why did you start waitressing?
“Because I had to. Had two kids by 19 years old and had to support them myself. I don’t really think anybody should start working this [serving] job unless they need to.”

Is there anything you like about it?
“I’ve met some interesting people ’cause of it.That guy Busta Rhymes came in once–shi*#y tipper. And that band Paramore came in a couple years ago. They were pretty nice. The best acquaintance I’ve made is Mr. Sanzari, who pretty much owns Hackensack hospital. Being able to name drop has helped out a few times.”

What do you hate about it?
“What don’t I hate about it? I guess the worst is usually the bosses. Serving is a rough gig by itself, especially at a snooty place like the restaurant I work at. But for whatever reason, my manager feels the need to give me as much trouble as the customers, and that makes the shift a million times harder. It’s been like that in most of the places I work.

The obvious answer also is not making what I should’ve earned. I don’t know which is worse: if people think I did a bad job, or if they just don’t care. It’s rough when you really try and get your work thrown back in your face.”

Advice for servers?
“Get out while you still can! Seriously though, in college, it makes sense because you don’t have a lot of time and need cash fast. My advice would be don’t get used to having the cash in your hand. It should be a job, not a career. Keep your focus on finishing school instead of making a couple bucks.”

And there you have it! Some legit advice from my favorite waitress. Who will I interview next?

 

What Your Waitress Wants You To Know

After Saturday’s double shift, I’ve decided it’s time for some real talk. There are some honest accidents that customers can’t help, but other times…

So here’s a quick list of dos and don’ts that all patrons should know:

DO: Ask questions! It’s our job to serve you the stuff that you want, and it’s MUCH easier for us to leave every condiment on the side than it is for us to get another burger made.

DO: Discuss the tip if your group is splitting a big bill.
For example: This weekend, I had a group of five who racked up a $92 tab. They gave me $80 cash, and a woman asked me to put the remaining $12 on a card.

She tipped me on the 12 bucks.

DO: Let us know how we’re doing. If we forgot to bring you a water with your beer, speak up. If I’m the funniest waitress you’ve ever had, let me know! We’re not perfect–if your server screws up, don’t let it change your opinion of the restaurant. More importantly, please don’t be nasty. I don’t know how rough your day was, but you will not get better service by asking your server,
How hard is your job?”

DON’T: Come in 20 minutes before close. We know we’re open, but really? You couldn’t possibly need half price apps so urgently that you can’t wait until tomorrow. If you INSIST on being that guy, know that your server deserves (and might be expecting) a pretty legit tip.

DON’T: Forget about tax. Particularly with big groups, if one or two people leave early and forget to give money for tax, it essentially comes out of your server’s pocket. Just sayin’.

DON’T: Worry about being the worst customer we’ve ever had. Chances are, if you’re a decent enough human being that you’re concerned about annoying us, you’re the least of our worries.

Above everything else, please remember that we are just trying to help — we’re literally serving you. If our service is terrible, if we never get anything right, if you were disappointed the last four times you came to our restaurant,

make the damn food and drinks yourself.

Did I forget anything? Leave me a comment!

Sometimes…

If I had a dollar for every time I thought, “I can’t take it anymore. I’m quitting tonight,” I wouldn’t have to be a waitress. 

We’ve all had those nights: it’s a half hour past closing time, and your table asks for a dessert menu, or right at last call, the birthday-drunk customer asks for 15 flaming Dr. Pepper shots. You think of responding with a laugh (or maybe flipping the table over), but you don’t. You plaster a smile on your face, ask if they’d like whipped cream on it, and tell them to enjoy the rest of their evening.

…but what about the good nights?

All too often, us servers forget about the times we don’t care how bad our feet hurt because we’re counting the cash in our hands. Every now and again, we get lucky, and customers actually give us what we bust our asses to earn. For example:

About a year ago, this cute couple came in for dinner. She was a nurse, and he was a writer – I guess opposites DO attract. Sometime during my usual schmoozy-small talk, I mentioned that I was an English major and very much into creative writing. When I handed them their check, WriterGuy started telling me about this old typewriter they had: no idea how old it is, but totally beautiful. It was just collecting dust in their attic.

(Side note: I’m obsessed with old typewriters.)

I spent about five minutes drooling over the details they gave me and fangirling over how cool it must be. Then NiceNurse said, “You want it?”

Uh…what?

They didn’t want it to go to some antiques road show. Said it should be with someone that will really cherish it. They didn’t know how much it was worth and didn’t care to.

A month later, they brought me the most beautiful machine I’ve ever seen: a 1936 Royal portable typewriter in almost mint condition, traveling case still totally intact.

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Like I said — sometimes, it’s worth it.