We’re In the Money!

It’s 5:10 a.m. I haven’t even been home for an hour yet. I didn’t even get to the subway station till a little after 3:00. And I’d just missed the train, so I had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. And it was HOT!!! And STICKY!!!! And the obnoxious people were out. And so were the police. They arrested two guys about two feet in front of me about ten minutes after I got to the platform. I was listening to my I-pod so I don’t know what happened. And the train took forever. And finally it came. And I was on my way.

After after about 12 hours I got off the train and headed down the tunnel toward my exit. And just as I reached the bottom of the ramp someone yelled my name. I turned around and it was Leslie a girl from work. She’d been out drinking and closed the bar and we were both getting home at the same time. If you ask me there’s something wrong about this. We stood on the sidewalk and talked for about 15 minutes and then I walked home.

I got home around 4:15. A.M. My ankle is killing me. The other foot is just as bad. It was a very long night.

We were on an hour wait when my shift started and we didn’t go off the wait until almost 12:30. It was insane. I was supposed to be in Section 13 tonight. I picked up the shift and it was a regular shift, so I tried to just give up the shift for the evening. Unfortunately there were five call outs and so I couldn’t leave. What I did do, was manage to switch into my favorite section. Section 12. It’s a cocktail section, the easiest to work and it’s by far my favorite in the restaurant.

And at 4:59 someone fired the starter’s pistol and I was off. I ran my ass off all night. I’ve told this story before, but the way the way the cocktails section works is that it’s first come first serve. So anyone can sit there at any time. To just drink. Or to drink and eat, the full menu is available. So if my table sits empty for more than three or four minutes I run to the lobby, grab the first group that I come to that looks nice and I lead them to my table. So unlike a regular section, I seat myself. This is bad because it takes time to go to the lobby to find people. This is over shadowed by the fact that my tables never sit empty for more than three or four minutes before I fill them with bodies. To make money, I run my ass off. It’s larger than a regular section, people drink more in this section and it’s in my best interest to make them happy and get them out as soon as possible. Most of the servers in my restaurant would rather get a root canal than work cocktails. It’s too much work, they are in the weeds (really busy, so much so that you start to give bad service) and can’t handle the business. I thrive on it. I try not to work anywhere except cocktails. I usually make about 100 bucks more a night than everyone else. I do admit that I have to work for. But I’m there to make money so I’m not complaining.

I’ll tell you about the bad news first. I’ve been waiting tables since 1982. My first restaurant job was in Georgetown, Kentucky working as a waiter at Day’s Inn restaurant. I was horrible at it, had to wear a bow tie and hated every minute of it. I’ve done it off and on since then. And until last spring I’d never had anyone walk out on their tab without paying. Tonight was occasion number two. A couple very similar to Charise sat down and ordered two Platinum Margarita. On the rocks. No salt. The drinks cost about 13.50 each. I dropped the drinks off and they ordered a brownie for dessert. And I brought that. And then they asked for the check. And I dropped it off. And then they called me over to ask for another margarita. So I brought that. About five minutes later I notice that the man was gone. His girlfriend was still there. And so I stopped by every so often to make sure she was okay. And she was. And then I came out of the kitchen and she was gone. Her margarita was half finished. And there was no sign of her.

I was not upset at all. Our restaurant is far to big and far to busy to keep track of everyone you are waiting on. I surprised it doesn’t happen more often than it does. When I told the manager, he said, don’t worry about it. It happens. This surprised me to, because often they are complete dicks about all this.

And for the good news.

I worked at my restaurant in 1998 when I first moved to NYC. It was very different then. Much slower and the management team sucked. I worked on and off there, until about 2002. And then I went off to grad school. There are still a number of people that still work there, from the old days. One such person is Jeff. He’s a host, and has been a host there since 1902. He’s great, older than me, and very laid back about his job. And he likes me. And so he helps me keep my section full.

And so tonight around 7:30 he put three kind of attractive guys at one of my tables. And I did my thing, and since they looked young I carded them. I don’t remember how old they were, I just remember they were from Canada. And I got them their drinks and I got ordered their food. And we were off. They had a couple of drinks before dinner. Then their food came and they ordered another round. And then they finished dinner and ordered another round and this time they ordered a round for the three cute girls sitting at the bar. So I got everyone their drinks. And then they ordered another round for themselves and another round for the girls. And then the girls joined them at the table. And they ordered some more. And some more. And some more.

Before anyone gets excited they were sat at my table around 7:30 and they left at 11:00. So their drinks were some what spread out. They were not falling down or anything. I was worried because the tab kept creeping higher and higher, and to try and be nice about it, Canadians are not always the best tippers. So I was concerned that these guys were sitting at my table and were going to leave me ten bucks. But then the three girls joined the three guys. And what would you know. It was now a six top. That gets the gratuity added automatically. I hater when that happens.

So they continue to drink and drink and I stop by and we laugh. The guys told the girls that I broke my ankle trying to keep some guy from mugging this girl. I broke my ankle when I kicked the gun out of his hand and punched him. They had decided it should be more dramatic than tripping over a chair. And the girls thought I was cute because the bartender had told them I was gay. Of course I told them he was my boyfriend and that he was the bottom so he was one to talk. And this went on for a long time.

They finally asked for their check. With the gratuity it was 515.00. The largest check I’ve ever had at my restaurant. I walked over to the table with it and told the cutest of the three guys that I was just going to drp the check and run. And he very calmly told me not to worry about it, he knew that it was a lot. And he gave me his credit card without even looking at the bill. (You’d be surprised how many people drink for two hours and then seem surprised that their check is 200 bucks). When the gratuity is included in the bill the credit card receipt says that it’s included and does not give you a place to tip. (They changed this a couple of years ago. It used to be that it the credit card slip didn’t mention the tip and many people doubled tip. Whoops).

And so I brought the credit card slip. Said my thank you’s. Gave them pen and walked away.

When I came out of the kitchen my favorite busser Angel called me over. He pointed to the credit card slip and asked me what that meant. I looked and I about fell over. They tipped me an extra 135.00 dollars on top of what was included. The check was 515.00 and they signed the slip and totaled it at 650.00. YIPPPPPEE!!!! When it was all said and done I got about 250 bucks off the table. It was by far the largest tip I’ve ever received. It also very much made my night. It took about three minutes before every server in the building knew about it. I didn’t care. I was TOOOO excited.

Long story short. I had a VERY good night. Of course I’d have made more if I hadn’t spread the wealth around. I gave the food runners, the bartender and the bussers each an extra 20 bucks more than I needed to tonight. I didn’t have to. But I was able to make the money because of their help. Needless to say I was quite popular when I tipped out tonight.

When it was all said and done. It was not the best night I’ve ever had there. But it’s a very close second. And who’s complaining. From what I could tell I made double what anyone else in the building made tonight.

No wonder management is glad to have me back.



6 thoughts on “We’re In the Money!

  1. Peter August 2, 2008 / 05:15

    Gold Digger of 2008! Where’s Mr. Ziegfeld when you need him most!

  2. Lemuel August 2, 2008 / 06:34

    I think I had better stop programming and start waiting tables!

  3. "Joe" August 2, 2008 / 11:12

    I’ve worked food service but never actually waited tables. I know how hard food service work is. blessings on your ankle!

    Hey, I’m ready for a career change. Maybe . . . .

  4. javabear August 2, 2008 / 18:26

    That’s fantastic! Even though it was long and late, the night was a good one. 🙂

  5. Kelly Stern August 3, 2008 / 10:21

    Gotta love that… 3 cute Canadians and a big tip… nice job… hope all is well… trying to catch up on some blogs before diving back into unpacking…

  6. Mike G August 13, 2008 / 14:38

    Your stories of life in a busy restaurant are great. It’s always interesting to read about who tips big and who doesn’t. Sounds like this group was younger, which surprises me, I would have thought they’re usually the ones to stiff the waiter.

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