:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, June 01, 2006 ::

:: Server Tales: Part III ::
I'm a pretty good waiter and most of the time, I come home with pretty good tip money, relative to my sales but since I work in one of the two or three restaurants in South Beach that doesn't charge an automatic gratuity I still get my share (as do all the other servers) of cheap bastards almost every night.

You know (or should know) that proper protocol requires you to leave at least a %15 tip if you get good service and your meals served in a timely manner. There are instances where if the service is truly bad, you absolutely should leave less. But that's a different post. (Which I will do in the near future.)

So instead, I'll regale you with stories of horrible tippers I, and a few of the other servers at my restaurant, have had to deal with.
  • It's a slow Tuesday night. I get a tourist couple who walk in with big smiles on their faces after a nice, warm weekend in SoBe. They order a $34 bottle of wine after a couple of martinis each, as well as an appetizer, main course, and dessert. They're quite friendly, and I take good care of them. When they're done, they hand me the book and the guy shakes my hand while telling me I gave them "the best service in Miami all weekend." I wince and force a smile. I check the credit card slip: they spent a $159. They tipped me $15. There's a saying among servers: "beware the verbal tip." Compliments are nice but they don't pay my rent.
  • My buddy Chuck is working a Sunday lunch shift (lunch sucks to begin with). He has two tables that were very pleasant but when they leave, they leave prayers cards instead of tips. I try to be sympathetic. "Well, there's nothing with people wanting to pray for you." "Fuck that," he replies. "Their prayers don't pay my mortgage." He's right. Those customers are going to hell.
  • A six-top of Italians sit in my section (20 minutes before closing). They're loud, obnoxious, and very demanding (why don't have you have Alfredo sauce?!?! "Because this is a seafood restaurant?") At least I can tag them. (Most restaurants charge an automatic gratuity for parties of six of more.) One of them leaves early after finishing his meal. I fail to notice this since it happened while I was printing up their bill. They wave down the manager and argue their case - completely unbeknownst to me since I was off doing closing sidework - and since our manager had a very long night he tells me to remove the gratuity. I'm pissed. Their bill: $192 and they leave me two $100s. And they took the cannolis.
  • We have some handwritten menus hanging on our walls that describe the menu. They look nice but are a graphic designer's nightmare in that the prices don't always line up with their items. However, the paper menus we give each diner should (in theory) clear up any questions about price. A distinguished-looking older gentleman orders a lobster. He's quite pleased. I drop off his check. When I return he asks me "you told me the lobster was $29.95 right?" "Yes?" "Then why does that menu say '$19.95?'" I look up. The $19.95 is for the Fra Diavlo. The lobster is very clearly marked "Market Price." I look back at him with a wry smile; "Wishful thinking?" is my reply. He tips me $3. I guess he doesn't get my humor either.
  • A decent looking English girl dines by herself in my section. It's slow, she's charming and in a talky mood so I engage in conversation with her and do some flirting while she dines. She shakes my hand and gives me a peck on the cheek before she leaves. Her lips are soft and her hair smells like a forest fire. She tells me she left me something special. I pick up the book from her table: there's a slip of paper with her cell phone number on it. I figure I could tolerate her smoking for an evening. Then I look at her slip: she left me only $2 on $35. I suddenly remember just how much I hate smoking and I toss the paper. Although, if she was a little more attractive I probably would have tried to get my tip another way. (And before you start crying foul about whether or not I should be behaving this way when I have a girlfriend - especially The, uhh, Girlfriend - I should probably point out that this happened before we started dating.)
  • I wait on an older French couple. Considering they're on vacation, I wonder why he's so surly and she's so sullen. They're not much trouble but there's never a "please" or "thank you" though they at least seem pleased with their fish. He leaves me a $50 for a $47 dollar bill. Could have been worse. I say "thank you" after picking up the book and tend to my other tables. 15 minutes later, they're still there. Cranky, cheap, and now they're squatters. Five minutes later he yanks on my shirt (don't EVER do this to your waiter) and asks me where his change his. I look at him with my Server Stink Eye. It says right there in the book at gratuity isn't included. He looks away uncomfortably and says "my change, please." (At least he said "please.") Right there, I pull out my bank, peel away three singles, place them in a book, and toss the book on the table, never once taking my eyes off him. He grabs his change and walks out in a hurry, leaving his wife in a cloud of dust. The hostess, oblivious to what just happened, cheerfully tells him "have a nice evening," yet he barely acknowledges her. I think I know why the wife is so sullen.
That's the ones I can remember. It sounds bad but these types of customers are a very small minority. But like so many, they're a very vocal minority. At least they give me stuff to blog about.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 12:46 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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