Health Insurance

As of 36 minutes ago I have health insurance.  For the first time in two years.  You have no idea how that makes me feel.  I know longer have to worry about running for the train, falling down the stairs, breaking my leg and owing ten million dollars at the hospital.  Or having my appendix burst, again, and owing 20 million dollars.  It also means that I will no longer spend 500+ dollars a month on prescriptions.  In fact they’ll cost me about 70 bucks.  Yippeeeeeee!

Seriously.  I have appointments already with everyone.

I have an appointment on Friday to see a podiatrist.  You guys already know what my feet look like but in case you forgot here’s a reminder.

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I see my Primary Care Physician the week I get back from Iowa.  Cholesterol and prostate exam here I come.

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And I have a dentist appointment for the middle of May.

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I’m hoping to get a new eye exam from a REAL doctor in May as well.

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By the time I leave for Oklahoma in June I’ll be just like new.  I feel like Dorothy, the Lion, the

Tinman, and Scarecrow getting spruced up to see the Wizard.  Maybe I can get my eyes dyed to match my gown.

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Subways Are For Sleeping…

I got to the subway station about 2:45 tonight. About two minutes later a couple of cute young guys walk up and sit down behind me on the bench that faces the other direction. A minute or so later I look over and they are holding hands and one of the guys has his head on the other one’s shoulder. They were a very cute couple. And so I sit there and wait and wait. And wait and wait. And wait and wait. The train took almost thirty minutes from the time I got there till it rolled into the station. So I picked up my book bag and moved toward the side of the platform the train was on. As I moved there, I realized that boy the boys were asleep. My guess is that they had had a little too much to drink. And so before I got on the train, I went over and shook them awake and told them to come on, the train was here. The less drunk (and cuter) guy thanked me profusely and they boarded the train. At the next stop they changed to the express train. If they had stayed on I was going to tell them to go ahead and sleep and I would wake them when they were at their stop.

Hop On The Bus, Gus!

I had a post that I wrote last night all ready to go so that I could get to bed faster, but I’m so annoyed now I don’t think I would be able to sleep anyway.

And why am I annoyed you might ask?

The subway fucking sucks!!!

That’s why.

As many of you know I deal with the public on an almost nightly basis.  I do so without pissing them off, without yelling at them, without raising my voice, or even annoying them.  I understand the want to do these things some time, but I’m paid to deal with the public.  It’s my job and so I try to be as nice and as accommodating as possible.  It seems not everyone subscribes to this idea.

I live on the “A” line in New York.  It’s the blue line and I take it at least twice a day nearly every day.  For the most part it’s fast and efficient and sometimes it’s even on time.  I have better luck with that than my roommate does because I’m usually not traveling during rush hour.  The thing that sucks about the “A” train is that for the past million years the transit people have been doing maintenance on the tracks.  This translates to interrupted service at night and on the weekends.  During the week it usually means that I have to transfer to a shuttle train that will take me home.  9 out of 10 times this is fine.  The shuttle train is waiting for us, and it adds about three or four minutes to the commute.  Unfortunately the 1 time means waiting for the shuttle another 20 minutes before I go home.  If you had the 20 minutes I waited for the train in the first place, the 20 minutes I waited for the train in the second place and the 40 minutes it takes to get home.  It makes for a very long trip and very cranky maddog.

On the weekends it’s even more fun.  From 168th Street to 207th Street, there are shuttle buses that run that take you to the subway stops.  So when I want to go to work, I walk to the bus stop and a bus comes along and picks me up and takes me to the 168 subway stop.  It’s the reverse coming home.  And in theory this should only add about 7 or 8 minutes to the trip.  Going to work today that was not the case.  The shuttle bus came as soon as I was there and took me to 168.  And then I went down to the platform and waited almost 30 minutes for the train to arrive.  I got to work almost 45 minutes later than I normally do.  I go in early so I’m not in danger of being late, but it meant swallowing my food whole before my shift.

Needless to say I’m already cranky about the subway.

So tonight I get on the train after waiting almost 15 minutes.  This because the train was almost 10 minutes late.  Yes, there is a schedule that they are supposed to keep.  I get on the train and go to 168.  I get off the train and head upstairs to the bus stop.  As I come around the corner I’m directed by a very friendly man who says “Anyone going to Fort Washington Way stand here, anyone going to 207 via Broadway stand back there.”  So I do as I’m told and go to my assigned place.  And in about 30 seconds a bus pulls up to my area.  I should mention that it’s 26 degrees outside right now.  So the bus pulls up and we all start piling on.  As I make my way on I hear the driver mention that it’s the Fort Washington Way bus, NOT the Broadway bus.  So I get off.  At the same exact time another bus pulls up.  And the very friendly guy directs us to that bus to get to 207.  So the doors open and we all pile on only to be told that this bus is ALSO going to Fort Washington Way.  So I get off the bus and am somewhat confused.  It completely baffles me that there would be two buses going to one place and no buses going to the other.

So I go back to the first bus.

I step up and ask “Are both buses going to Fort Washington Way?”

Reply:  “I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”

“Yes, but are both buses going to Fort Washington Way?”

“That’s what I said, I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”

“I know you are going to Fort Washington Way, are both buses going to Fort Washington Way.”

Getting louder.

“I’ve already told you (louder still) I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”

“And I’ve already asked you, are BOTH buses going to Fort Washington Way.”

Yelling even louder.

“What don’t you understand, I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”

Trying not to be an ass, I say, “Stop yelling at me, I’m just trying to find out what’s going on.”

Yelling louder.

“And I’ve already told you I’M GOING TO FORT WASHINGTON WAY.”

I reply.

“You still haven’t answered the question and you don’t have to be an ass about it.”

Yelling even louder.

“You are an asshole.  Get off my bus.” 

So I kind of lost my temper and finally yelled back, which I regretted but you can only take so much being prodded at 3:30 in the morning after working (with the public) for ten hours.  My feet hurt, it’s cold as fuck and I just want to go home.

So I get off the bus and go to the very friendly man, whose now becoming agitated and I ask him which bus is going to take me home.  He replies that he’s trying to find this out.

At this moment both buses pull away from the curb at the same time.  Both going to Fort Washington Way.  One bus has about 20 people on it.  The other bus has 2 people on it.

So I move back up against the building along with everyone else and try to stay warm.  After about 6 or 7 minutes another bus pulls up.  And we all crowd around.

Anyone out there want to guess where this fucking bus is going.

Yep!  It’s going to Fort Washington Way.  After another three or four minutes it pulls away.  With guess how many passengers.  Exactly NONE.

At this time everyone is starting to get annoyed.

I have to wait almost 20 minutes from the time I got off the train to the time the “real”  bus pulls up.  And so now we are all on the bus.  And we sit there.  And sit.  And sit.  And by this time another train has arrived because there are more people coming out of the subway.  And we wait.  And we wait.

And FINALLY we leave the station.  I didn’t get home till 4:15.  I got to the subway station at 2:45.  After working a million hours, and not yelling at anyone.

And now I’m annoyed.  And I wished I had told the bus driver that if he was so angry and hated his job so much that he should really start combing the want-ads for a new one.  I also wish that I’d thought to get his ID number so that I could included it in the email that I’ve already sent to the MTA about it’s lousy service and rude employees.

Have a great Sunday.  Dammit.

Bitter Party Of One…

Someone actually accused me of being bitter in a comment today. Now I think this person was probably kidding but it made me realize that you guys might not know that 90% of what I say is just me being sarcastic. Of course the things I mention do annoy me, but I’d bet that it would take anyone who reads this blog about three seconds to come up with their own list of things that annoy them at work. The big difference is I get to deal with the public and it’s nothing but content for this here bloggy thing.

So really I’m not bitter…at least about work.

Now if we are talking about being 40+ and not having a boyfriend. Bitter.

If we are talking about being a million pounds overweight. Bitter.

If we are talking about not living downtown in my own brownstone bought for me by the boyfriend I don’t have. Bitter.

If you are talking about not making six figures this year. Bitter.

If you are talking about why I can’t win the lottery. Bitter.

If you are talking about having to take the subway instead of having a driver bring me home each night. Bitter.

If you are talking about not getting more than six hours of sleep tonight. Bitter.

If you are talking about owing twelve million dollars in student loans for my three degrees. Bitter.

If you are talking about not being more creative and inspiring on this blog. Bitter.

Okay so maybe I’m a little bitter. But not about work. I actually have fun most nights at work. Most nights. Including tonight. I had some of the most fun people ever tonight.

For example I had that table of four that gave me twenty bucks because I got them seated, fed, and out the door in less than thirty minutes.

There was the table of three sitting at my counter who got so pissed off at the way the two twit girls were treating me because I carded them and they didn’t have ID’s that they asked for the manager and requested the girls be moved, before they left to eat somewhere else. Not that they were going to, they were just defending me.

There was the family of four from Virginia who were just down home sweet and were not demanding at all and tipped 20%.

There was the table of four that came in at the end of the night. Two girls and two guys. The two girls were friends from Seattle and had met the two guys online. They had met in the city ten days ago and were getting to know each other. One of the girls was a hoot. And they tipped 30%.

And there were many more. But it’s hard to be sarcastic about nice people. And sarcasm is what I do best. Well maybe not what I do best but since this is a family blog I won’t get into that. But really, I do like my job.

Dining Out 101

Ten things to do to annoy the waiter.

1. Tell the waiter you are ready to order then sit and giggle while you try and figure out whether you want the Cobb Salad, the Chicken Fajitas, or the Club Sandwich. If you are still deciding you are NOT ready. And contrary to popular belief you are not the only person that I’m waiting on. If fact if I’M waiting on you I probably have about 25 other people that need something right now.

2. Ask for the check. And receive the check. And then tell me you have a coupon, or AAA discount, or military discount or any other kind of bullshit discount. If you know you have this, the time to tell me is before you get the check. If you wait until after, then I just have to print another check after the manager issues the discount. Think of how many trees you kill being stupid.

3. After you receive your discount, tip less than the amount that was deducted from the check. In most cases the discount is 10% so lets say your check is 88.88. So that would make your total discount 8.88. Leaving me 5.00 is not acceptable. It’s not even 10% and the thing that pisses me off even more is you fucking saved almost 9.00 would it really hurt to tip me at least 15%. Everyone I work with knows that the minute someone whips out their AAA card the tip just went out the window.

4. Ask for separate checks. Are you really so stupid that you can’t figure out how much you owe. If you are then I suggest you sue the state, city and school district that you attended elementary school in, because everyone I know (even in KY where the education sucks) learned division in like 2nd grade. So hears what you do. If your Cheeseburger cost 9.50, then you round up to 10.00. If your Chicken Nachos cost 12. 75 then you round up to 13.00. If you your Diet Pepsi (and god knows you need Diet Pepsi) costs 2.76 then you round up to 3.00. So then you add all that together so let me see, 10.00+13.00+3.00=26.00. So then you add a couple of more dollars on for the tax. Let’s say 3.00. That makes 29.00. And then you add 6.00 for the tip. So when the waiter comes by you tell him you need 29.00 put on your credit card. Now really how difficult was that.

5. Ask for water for the table. I have been doing this for a long time. And I have never seen a party of six where everyone actually wants water. In fact it’s probably only the person who orders it that wants it. And if you/they aren’t going to drink it, don’t ask for it. It’s a waste of my time and it’s a waste of resources. Think of all the money spent on wasted water, the straws and then cleaning the glasses.

6. Ask for thing one at a time. If you know you need mayonnaise AND ketchup don’t wait till I’m back from the kitchen with the ketchup to ask for the mayonnaise. Don’t wait till I’ve gotten your friend another beer to get one for yourself. It’s a pain in my ass and causes me to work twice as hard for my tips as I need to. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly get you that beer, but one trip is always better than three.

7. Wait till you are finished with dinner to tell me that you didn’t like the food. Or that your burger was too rare. Or that your sandwich had mayonnaise on it. If you don’t tell me when you get it, I can’t fix it. And don’t think just because you tell me at the end, you are getting it for free. If I have my way you’ll pay double for being a pain in my ass. I think I’ve said this before on here, but here’s my analogy of getting what you pay for. If you go to the Gap and buy a pair of jeans and they don’t fit, or they have a hole in them, you take them back and you exchange them. And if the second pair is also ripped or doesn’t fit you take those back and exchange them. And finally they fit. But you DIDN’T get them for free. Why should you get your food free. I’ll gladly have them recook the burger. Or make you a sandwich without mayonnaise. And if you didn’t like it and wait till you’ve eaten every bite to tell me, at that point I won’t care if you tip or not, but you WILL NOT get the food for free.

8. Sit down for dinner at 7:25 when you have theatre tickets for 8:00. I can guarantee you that you WILL NOT make the curtain. In fact I can almost guarantee that you won’t even have your food by 8:00. Especially since you thought it was cute to let your five year old take 20 minutes to decided whether he wanted chicken tenders or the New York Strip. If you really want to be out in 30 minutes or less, I have two options for you. I can get you french fries. But even better, try McDonald’s on 42nd Street. It’s called fast food for a reason.

9. Order your drink/food, let me put it into the computer and then tell me you want to change it. If you didn’t know what you wanted you should have taken a little more time to figure it out. Especially with alcohol. When I put my drinks into the computer it takes the bartender about 20 seconds till he starts to make my drinks. This is because they like me and I tip a lot. So by the time I run by your table 45 seconds later your White Russian is sitting on the bar waiting for me. So yes, it’s too late to change it to a Long Island Tea. Sorry.

10. Let your precocious children take 45 minutes to order. I spent 10 minutes at a table today explaining to a six year old which drinks got free refills. Yes,  Mt. Dew gets a free refill. No milk does not get a free refill. Yes, Diet Pepsi refills are free. Yes, you WILL have to pay for refills of Apple Juice. Yes, Sierra Mist gets free refills. No you will not get a new straw every time. I’ve already told you that you don’t get free refills on milk. If you ask me one more question I’m going to drop kick you into the kitchen where I’ll stab you with a steak knife. And yes, that will be free.

I wrote this post last night.

Here are five more things that annoyed me tonight.

11. Ask for separate checks. And then pay with your company’s corporate card. And then tip me 10%. What the fuck. How does it cost you to tip at least 15%. Your company’s paying. How would you like it if your boss told you he was only paying you 10% of your bonus, well because he wanted to. I’m tempted the next time this happens to write down the company name, the names of the offenders and then write a scathing letter to the CEO.

12. Ask for something free. Where else in the regular world do you think it’s okay to ask for things for free.  For example:  the “flair” on my shirt, the glasses that we serve, the apron that I’m wearing,  free shots,  free refills of your beer, free ice cream,  free sandwiches,  free…you get my point. It annoys your waiter when you do this. I’ll fucking sell you my apron, for fifty dollars. You want it– you pay. You want one of the buttons on my shirt, I’ll give it to you for twenty. Those free shots, sorry dude. See my Gap analogy above. You wouldn’t walk into Home Depot and ask for a free box of nails.

13. Get pissed at me because of something completely out of my control. For example. The fifty trillion million dollar computer system goes down and you have to wait an extra ten minutes for your check. Don’t yell at me. Don’t ask me to take the gratuity off your check. And don’t say mean things about me when I’m gone but my fellow servers can hear. It’s not nice. And it’s not my fault. I hate the fucking computer system as much as you do. But don’t not tip me because of it.

14. Sit at a dirty table and then get pissed because I don’t rush over to clean it. It was your choice to sit there. You could have waited. You could have left your ass on the waiting list and been sat an hour from now. But no, you’re anxious to get in and get some food. Well that’s just fine, but your going to have to wait till I get to the table. And then, when I get there, I’m not going to be interested in talking to you just yet. I’ll be too busy trying not to dump ranch dressing in your lap as I pick up the dishes.

15. Be Canadian. Ugh!!! I have yet to be tipped even 15% from a Canadian table. Tonight I carded three guys and the minute they pulled out their ID’s I knew I was fucked. But as per my post several nights ago, I committed myself to giving them the best service I could. So I joked around with them, kept their drinks full and what do you know. I got seven bucks on my ninety-eight dollar check. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. In case you didn’t hear me. Fuck you.

Fuck you!

Guess who…

Guess who got fired today.

Go on.  Guess.

I’ll give you three guesses.

NO, it wasn’t me!

No it wasn’t ______________.

That’s right.  It was our resident bitch Gina.  Yes, the very same one who yelled at me weeks ago.  The very same one who got a great schedule even though she didn’t show up for the meeting.  The very same one who’s been scamming the restaurant.

Yep.  She’s gone.

I was going to blog about this over the weekend, but I wanted to make sure it was official.  Nothing like telling everyone she’s gone only to have to print a retraction later.  Of course everyone in the restaurant knew she was being fired since Friday.  Actually, it seems everyone knew but her.  I didn’t know this till today, but she called in sick over the weekend and so management didn’t get to tell her.  It also meant that she didn’t get to see the wonderful schedule that was going to come her way.  So she finally shows up to work today and she’s marched back to the  GM’s office and he has the honor of telling her she no longer works there.

I’d love to say that I’m going to miss her.  But in fact I’m not.  She was a complete pain in the ass to work with.  And because she refused to follow the rules she caused all the cocktail servers to be looked on as if we were doing something wrong.  Now we can start to breathe easy again.

I’m not sure exactly what got her fired.  There are two rumors, either of which would have been more than enough to cause her to lose her job.

1.    I was told that she went to the office got a handful of pennies then followed a couple of guests in the lobby and threw the money at them telling them that they clearly needed their change more than she did.  Whoops.
2.    She was telling people that sat in her cocktail section that we didn’t serve tap water.  If they wanted a glass of water than they would have to purchase the three dollar bottle of water.  Whoops.

I walked by her right after she found out, and I didn’t even know what to say to her.  I wanted to tell her she brought it on herself.  I also wanted to tell her that I was glad and that she shouldn’t let the door hit her in the ass on the way out.  But instead I offered my condolences and wished her well.

But when I got to the wait station I was jumping up and down.;

Dinner With Friends…

We are still having issues with the Internet.  And I didn’t have the energy or the strength last night to fight with it to post an entry.  I do know that the new modem is here and it’s out of the box, but my roommate was in bed when I got home so I don’t know if it’s working or what needs to be done to make it work.  I know that I can’t wait till we can tell Time Warner to go fuck themselves.

I still have a bunch of things to blog about, but I thought I would go with what’s fresh.

I had dinner with my friend Ryan and his girlfriend tonight.  Ryan is a friend from grad school.  We hit it off because I teased him constantly about coming to happy hour and drinking and he almost never said yes.  And then the four or five times he did come we would talk to the wee hours of the morning.  We chatted mostly about the state of the theatre and we both agreed that we really didn’t have any urge to be a part of the mainstream.  He more so than me.   These conversations lent themselves to talking about the kind of projects that we would like to work on, who we would like to work with etc.

I graduated a year ahead of him but we emailed occasionally and stayed in touch.  When he graduated last year he moved to NYC.  Since then we have a hung out a few times.  At first it was mostly drinks here and there and coffee.  He’s an actor/temp and I’m a designer/waiter so our schedules are hard to coincide but we manage every couple of months.  And in the meantime we leave voice mails keeping the other abreast of what’s going on.  For example I got a text last week letting me know that the Law and Order episode he filmed last fall was finally being broadcast so I knew to DVR it.  (That’s why I DVR’d every episode of L&O last Wednesday because I wasn’t sure which one it was.)

And so tonight I had dinner with Ryan and his girlfriend.  I might also mention at this point that Ryan wants me to get him hired at the restaurant that I work at because he makes such lousy money temping.

So here’s the problem:

They tip like Canadians.

Every single time we have gone out I have had to leave the tip for all of us.  That’s if they put enough money in for the bill at all.  That’s the other thing that rubs me the wrong way.  The divide the bill down to the penny and then calculate how much they owe.  Tonight our bill for three came to ninety-one dollars and some change.  I did the math in my head rounding up and figured out that I owed 47.00 plus tax and tip.  I had two margaritas and that’s why my bill was so expensive.  They then figured out between them that their total was 40.00 plus tax and tip.  I’d be okay with this if it was true.  But it wasn’t.  My entrée was 18.00 so I counted it as 20.00.  My two margaritas were 16.00 so I counted it as 20.00.  My Diet Coke was 1.50 so I counted it as 2.00.  And my third of the nachos was three dollars so I counted it as 5.00.  That total coming to 47.00.  Now in case you weren’t paying attention on all four occasions I counted my total as at least fifty cents more than I owed and some times four dollars more than I owed.  So I was a little stunned when they decided what their total was going to be.   I was even more stunned when they handed me 45.00  to cover their share of the bill.  That barely covers the tax let alone the tip.  And this guy wants to be a waiter.  I don’t know where.

I didn’t say anything.  I pocketed the money they gave me, whipped out my debit card and paid the tab.  I left more than 20% because although the service wasn’t personal they were very attentive.

The first time Ryan and I went out to eat we split the 40.00 check in half.  He gave me 20.00 and got up to go to the bathroom.  I of course paid the check and included the tip.  The last time we went out to eat he and his girlfriend decided that a 10% tip was okay since it was just Indian food and they didn’t like the service or the food.

So I’m left trying to decide how to deal with this.  I like Ryan, and I like hanging out with him, but I don’t like having to pick up the slack and I like even less the idea that he’s not tipping across the board.  Any one who’s read my blog for more than ten minutes knows how I feel about people who don’t tip.  On the train ride home tonight I was completely ready to just tell him to go fuck himself.  But that’s probably not the answer.  I’m probably going to have to have dinner with him again and point out that he’s not paying his share and explain to him that if he’s not willing to do so, then I can’t hang out with him anymore.

But that seems to adult like.  And you know that I don’t like being an adult.  No really.  I don’t

Alas I do have a roommate.

I discovered the most amazing thing this evening morning.  I DO have a roommate.  I knew there was someone who helped pay the rent but I had not seen him in more than a week.  There were tell, tell signs that he existed though.  The light on the bookshelf would mysteriously be left on when I came home from work.  There would be more Diet Coke in the fridge when I got home then when I left.  The dishes in the sink would be washed.  There would be mail ont he table for me.

I was starting to worry about how all of these things happened.

But it turns out I do have a roommate.  At 6:45 this morning he emerged from his room and said hello.  I was so shocked that I almost fell down.  It’s the first sign on life in the apartment that I’ve seen in six days.  What could I do but be in shock.

All of this would be funny if it weren’t 7:06 a.m. and I didn’t like Chuck.  I got home around 45 minutes ago and saw him for the first time in almost a week.  My schedule has been so insane that we haven’t seen each other.  The only reason I saw him this morning was because I went out drinking till about an hour ago.

So here I am drunk and happy to see the roommate that I haven’t seen all week.

And with that I’m going to bed.  It’s 7:09 and I’m drunk and tired and I don’t have to be up till at least 7:00 p.m. tomorrow.  All of you poor suckers who have to work.  Have a great time.  Just don’t call me cause I’ll be sleeping.

Saturday Night In The City…

Once again I have too much to blog about. How will I ever narrow it down to one subject and I’m already too longwinded to actually try and cover more than one topic.

So do I discuss the fact that I now live on tree-lined street?

Do I talk about the 80 bucks I found on the floor at work?

Do I discuss the fact that Gina has been fired?

Do I blog about the 40 black teenagers that were thrown out of our restaurant tonight?

Do I mention that I’ve made more in five days this week than I did in more than two weeks last month?

Do I complain about how tired I am after working five days straight and still having one more to go?

What to do? What to do?

I think I’ll discuss the kids that were thrown out of the restaurant.

I actually thought a lot about how to blog about this coming home on the train without sounding too racist. I figured the best thing to do would be to just tell the story and let you all come to your own conclusions.

And like all of my posts there has to be three pages of back-story to get us there.

And so…

I’ve mentioned before that there are certain people that come into our restaurant that don’t tip. For a while every Italian table that I waited on stiffed me. Then it was the Irish. Then it was the French. Recently it’s been the Canadians. Tonight I waited on four people from Canada, one of which was an incredibly HOT young man. They were perfectly nice and I joked around with them. And when they left the HOT guy made a point of telling me to keep the change. And it was three dollars. On a fifty dollar tab. I didn’t even know what to do with that.

And for years now I’ve kept a tally of the ways that I can tell if people are going to tip. People who order well done steaks don’t tip as well as people who order them medium rare. People who request thousand island dressing don’t tip as well as people who use balsamic vinagerette. People who smoke tip better than non smokers. People who drink tip better than non-drinkers. If you work in the restaurant business for more than three minutes you start to make these generalizations. Is it always true? Of course not. But across the board I bet you would find it to be true.

And black people don’t tip well.
I once heard a black comedian say “If you have a canoe, paint it black it won’t tip. I also used to work at a Bennigan’s in Atlanta and the black servers would come into the kitchen and ask “Who didn’t pay the electric bill this week. It’s black out there.”

I know it’s bad to make these generalizations. But work with the public for more than three minutes and you’ll start to do it too.

So when I first started back to waiting tables, I was telling my roommate about my list of people that don’t tip. And I included black people. He then told me about an article that he read. It basically said that the reason blacks don’t tip is because they don’t get the same service everyone else gets. If they got the attention to detail, and the niceness that everyone else got then they would tip like everyone else. And I had to stop and think. Do I treat them differently? I don’t know. But I told myself that if I did, it wouldn’t happen anymore. And since that conversation I go out of my way to give everyone the same service no matter who they are or what they look like.

And has it made a difference. I don’t think so. It’s kind of 50/50 for the most part. Tonight I waited on a table a family of four that were black and they left me seven bucks on $68.00. It’s ten percent but it didn’t come close to the fifteen refills of Pepsi that I got for them.

And yet I was nice and polite and thanked them profusely for coming in.

And what does all this have to do with the kids who were kicked out of the restaurant. Actually nothing and everything.

At 1:00 a.m. forty black teenagers appeared at the host stand. They were unruly, loud and boisterous. Just like all teenagers. Unfortunately, no one could determine if they were there to eat or to drink or get dessert or what. And so it took a few minutes to get them to tables. If you could call it that. They were all over the restaurant. They would sit at one table and then decide to go to another table. And then run to another table. It took almost fifteen minutes to get even half of them into seats. At this point all of my tables were done and I was just about to start my side work. And then Alex came out of the kitchen and discovered that he’d been sat a ten top with some of the kids. He was more than a little perplexed. First it was three minutes till closing. And then it was ten people. And then it was ten black people. And so I said I would take care of them. I did this for two reasons. It was 10 people so gratuity was included, and I knew that I could deal with their unruliness. I taught high school for three years, dealing with teenagers isn’t that hard if you get your “teacher” voice going.

So I approached the table and used my teacher voice. I said hello. And then got down to business. First order of business — drinks. That took some doing. What do we have? Do you get free refills? Are the refills on juice free? I answered the questions and then said, that as much as I wanted them to have all the time they needed, the kitchen closes in two minutes so if you really plan to order food it has to be in the computer super quick. And this is true. The restaurant closes at 1:15 on Saturday nights and they want all the food orders in by 1:20. I had to say this about three times and finally just said, look if you going to order it do it. If you just want to sit here, that’s fine but you won’t get any food. They finally realized that I was being serious and they ordered. All told it took about six minutes to get their orders out of them and into the computer. Within ten minutes total I had their drinks on the table. Of course about two minutes later they announced that they are going to move to another table across the restaurant. I told them what I tell everyone who says this to me. That’s fine but your food is being delivered here and you’ll have to pay for it before you leave. Once again they realized that I was not kidding and took their seats.

Unbeknownst to me the situation across the restaurant was playing out very differently. First about 15 guys surrounded the two blond girls that were having dessert and started to harass them. They were finally ushered to their seats and then proceeded to tell my friend Suzette that she wasn’t sexy enough to wait on them. She would have to get them another girl to wait on them. So she did the same thing I would have done. She went to the manager and told them what had happened. Of course by this time all of the management staff is in the dining room because it’s quickly becoming complete chaos. I should also mention that our management team has a very strict no tolerance policy on people belittling or harassing the staff or other patrons. In the meantime there are people running around everywhere. No one will sit down and by this time the orders should have all been in the kitchen because it closed fifteen minutes ago.

And so the manager goes over to talk to the guys who didn’t like Suzette. He was there about two seconds when they started yelling at him and one guy told him to suck his dick. At which point Allan suggested they leave. And so half of them got up and head out. But the only sensible guy in the whole group calmed them down and they started back in. Unfortunately, the less sensible ones got the rest riled up and finally Allan had had enough and he told them all to get out. And get out they did. By overturning tables and chairs and cursing and basically making a scene.

And as the only black waiter on the floor tonight said, “They really aren’t doing a lot to help their cause. And it only reinforces the reason people as a whole react toward young black men the way they do.”

And the night ended. And I did my side work. And I clocked out as usual. And I changed my clothes. And I waited for Leslie because we were riding home on the subway together. And we walked out of the building and headed toward the deli when 45 black teens (mostly men) started running toward us, and then past us, all screaming run, run. And we realized at the exact same time they were the same teens we had had in the restaurant. Who knows what they are up to, or what they were running from. But I would bet they had been up to no good.

Update: 

I realized this morning that I should have wrapped the story up a little differently.

I will still strive not to make generalizations that effect the service that I give my guest.  I also know that it’s a minority of any group of people that ruins it for the rest.  And at the end of the day, it’s my job to make sure every guest has a great time in my restaurant and that there needs are taken care of as quickly as possible.

But I still think Canadians are lousy tippers.

I have a very specific routine that I follow coming home from work each night.

I clock out and head to the locker room to change.  This used to involve actually changing all of my clothes.  Now it’s just my shirt.  I can’t deal with lugging everything around any more.  Once I’m in my civilian clothes I’m out the door.

First stop.  The deli down the street.  At the deli I pick up three Diet Cokes.  Two for the train ride home, one for the trip back tomorrow.  If it’s a good night, they have Caffeine Free Diet Coke.  The guys at the deli now know me and always ask how my night was and how I’m doing.  If I vary from this routine they always question it.

Next stop, the subway.  The subway is about a block and a half from the deli.  I take the “A” train home.  I always love my customers who are astounded that I travel on the subway at night.  I always ask them if they have a different way that I don’t know of, to get home at the end of my shift.  If they are really timid tourists they are impressed that I travel on the subway at all, what with the drug dealers and prostitutes.  I have figured out since I started waiting tables that the “A” train comes at :18 after the hour, :38 after the hour, and :58 after the hour.  That is of course if it’s running on time.  Which is luckily the case most nights.  The reason it’s important to know this is because it tells me how much of a rush I should be in when doing all of the above things.  It’s funny because there are about seven or eight other employees who live near me and none of them know the train schedule.  They always treat me like I’m insane when I explain it to them.  So I get to the subway and if I’m lucky I don’t have to wait twenty minutes for the next train.

On the subway/platform, I pop open a Diet Coke and I bring out my Ipod.  I’m always embarrassed when people ask me what I’m listening to on my Ipod.  It’s 99.9999 percent show tunes.  I am gay.  No REALLY I am.  So I stand on the platform and wait for my train.  When the train finally comes I run to get the seat next to the door.  I hate to be in the middle of any kind of seating situation.  Give me the aisle anytime.  I should also mention that while I’ve been waiting for the train, I’ve wandered down the platform so that I’m exactly where I need to be to get right off the train at my stop and exit.  And so I ride the train, humming along to whatever show I’m listening to that night.  Tonight happened to be The Children of Eden…in case you were wondering.

And then what seems like four hours later, I’m dumped at my stop.  The train goes local at night, so it stops at every stop.  During the day it skips from 125th Street to 59th Street.  At night, it’s every stop for me.  It really only adds about ten or so minutes to the trip, but when you’ve worked all night, it might as well be ten thousand.  And finally I get off the train.

I wander up the tunnel that I have to exit through to get out of the station, and head out into the night air.  Next stop, the deli down the street from my apartment.  When we moved in there was only the crappy place downstairs where my roommate nor I could get waited on.  They made us wait till everyone else was dealt with before they would ring us up.  Needless to say it didn’t take us long to realize that we weren’t welcome.  Last fall the nice, new all night deli opened up.  It’s a real deli too.  It’s not a bodega that sells everything from umbrellas, and hammers to sandwiches.  This place only serves sandwiches and desserts.  I walk in and the guy behind the counter always says, “What’s up boss.”  I have never learned his name.  I know he’s Muslim and if I come at the right/wrong time  he’s upstairs praying.  He’s very nice though and always asks about my night.  Next stop is Phillip.  He’s the Mexican guy who actually makes the sandwiches.  He always comes to the counter to say hello.  He asks about my night, if I made money.  If I can get him a job.  What’s going on.  We chat for a while and then he asks me what I want.  I tend to get the same thing every night for two or three weeks and then I change it up.  Right now it’s a roast beef sandwich.  Two weeks ago it was grilled chicken.  Phillip chats with me while he’s making the sandwich.  He knows that I’m from Kentucky and that they don’t like Mexicans there.  He once asked me if my family was part of the Ku Klux Klan.  I said no, but I really believe it’s because it would take too much effort  to join.  I get the sandwich, pay and I’m on my way.

Up the street, into the apartment building, up the two flights of stairs into my apartment.  One of the nice rituals that my roommate and I have fallen into is that he leaves a small lamp on for me at night.  As I walk down the street I look to see if the light is on.  It always bums me out when I come home and he isn’t here.  This weekend he’s out of town for Easter and that means that I’ll have to come home to a dark apartment.  So I open my door and begin the ritual of being home.

I head to my bedroom to dump my bag, take off my shoes (my feet are killing me) dump my phone, wallet, watch, dental floss, chapstick, ibuprofen, and gum on my bedside table.  This is all the stuff that I carry in my pocket at work.  I carry dental floss because I have two teeth that food always gets stuck in.  If I don’t have it, it drives me crazy all night.  You’d also be surprised at the number of customers I’ve given it to, who request toothpicks which we don’t have.  I carry ibuprofen because I pop it every four hours to deal with the pain in my feet.  I really am too old to wait tables.  I also dump my money from the shift on the bed.  I then head to the kitchen, drop the leftover Diet Coke in the fridge and then make coffee.  I have a full pot of coffee every morning/afternoon before I head to work.

Once all of this is done I head to my computer to check email, read my favorite blogs and to write my own post.

And this is the point of tonight’s post.  I have a routine.  I have specific things I do every night.  And I’m fucking annoyed right now, because it’s taken twelve minutes for one page to load.  At this rate I could have you mail me your posts, I could read them and mail you back a response in the time it will take our lovely Time Warner cable connection to work.  Ugh.  I’m annoyed.  So I guess I’ll skip this part of the routine, and will just ead to my bedroom, recount my earnings for the evening, enter the total into my calendar.  Eat my sandwich.  Brush my teeth.  Read a couple of chapters from my current book.  Water For Elephant’s is the current book of choice.  It’s really wonderful.

And sometime around 5:00 a.m. I turn off the lamp and go to sleep.

I just hope it will let me post this before I go to bed.