When I filled out my schedule request for this week I let my manager know that if I had to be in station 11 this week then I’d rather have a regular station. She gave me the worst section in the restaurant. Section 14. Okay, maybe it’s not as bad as 28 and 29 but it’s pretty damn bad.
On a typical night in cocktails I have three four-top tables and five-two tops. Occasionally I will get in the weeds. (When a waiter is really, really, really busy. Usually to the point of frenzy and things can quickly start to fall apart). Actually I never get in the weeds. I started my first restaurant gig in 1987 at Bennigan’s in Atlanta. I will never forget the training I received there. A wonderful man named Jimmie (he died about three years later from an aneurism) led the training. Every afternoon for a week, we’d gather in station three and have classroom training. We spent most of that time learning about how Bennigan’s did things. But a good part of that time was spent on how to be a waiter. What the term 86 means. (For you non-restaurant types it means to be out of something. The salmon is 86’d). At the time I thought it was called 86 because it was 1987 and clearly that meant it was last year so we didn’t have it. In truth no one seems to know where it came from. There are about a 100 theories. I digress. I learned to be a waiter. And the three most important things I learned was: 1. Be assertive. People will tip you more if they think you are in charge. I still find that to be true. 2. You don’t have four tables you have one big table. If you treat it as such then you’ll never be in the weeds. 3. Being in the weeds is a frame of mind. Stop and take a second to figure out exactly who needs what first. Do that and you’ll be right back on track. I NEVER get in the weeds.
Back to the story at hand.
I usually have three four-tops. Five two-tops. In the old days when section 11 was being cut my station would grow to five four-tops and five-two tops. I never got in the weeds.
Is three two-tops and one four-top. 10 Chairs. 10. I can wait on 10 people at one time from home. I could just call it in. Needless to say I was a little bored tonight. I was also pissed off. In fact for the first two hours of my shift I plotted and planned my revenge on everyone. This really doesn’t get you anywhere. It just makes you angry. I also decided early on that I was not going to help run food (going to the kitchen, picking up food, and delivering it to the tables waiting for it). I had clearly spent the last two+ years doing a good job and that was rewarded with a cut in pay. Surely if I performed as most of my co-workers performed then I will get a good schedule and great sections. I also learned a long time ago how to look busy when you aren’t wanting to play nice. Almost everyone restaurant I’ve ever worked in has a loop/circle to it. You start toward the kitchen, pass through it as if you are getting a drink, pass right on through, out the other side and back to your station. If you do this once or twice every fifteen minutes or so, you can get away without doing much of anything. Of course every once in a while you should be seen going in to the kitchen with dirty plates or out of the kitchen with food, which is usually yours. I did a lot of that tonight.
After an hour or two, even that became boring.
So I decided to play nice to the people I liked that were near me. Jessica was in section 1, Kristina was in section 15, and Jill was in section 12. I cleared their tables, filled their tables drinks, got their tables things they needed. It was much more fun helping people I liked than it was doing what I was supposed to do. I even volunteered to take two tables from servers who were sat at the last minute so they could get out early. The first time I cleared plates for Jill she followed me into the kitchen demanding to know why I was helping her. She suggested that it was because the plates I picked up belonged to cute guys. I told her it was actually because I was a nice guy and if she’d go look at her table that just because they were young did not make them cute.
My head waiter tonight was little miss “A” from last night’s post. This fact was one of the reasons I picked up those last two tables. She was the person who had to check me out tonight to make sure that all my work was done when my shift was over. She was in section 4 which is an early out section. Section 14 CAN be an early out section it just wasn’t tonight. In theory I would start my side work early and have it finished even though I still had tables so section 4 could leave. I didn’t do it. I waited until the very end to do my work. If she’s nice enough to wine about how much money I’m making then I’ll be nice enough to make her stay as long as I can. And stay she did.
Now some of you out there might be thinking that all this devious planning takes a lot of unnecessary energy. You are absolutely right. It does. It’s also very negative energy that’s being thrown around. You are absolutely right. It’s also a lot of work to be this bitchy. You are right.
And so why do I do it.
Because I can.
Because right now I’m pissed.
Because I’m very worried about how I’m going to take a week off to go to Texas to spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s family and still have money to pay rent when I get home.
Because I feel that two years I’ve done the right thing, played the game and somewhere along the way someone said that’s not enough.
Sometimes it’s just fun.
I’m sure in week I’ll be bitching about something new and have moved on to something else.
To the very nice couple from Pennsylvania who was in town for the evening. You know who you are. The husband works in Long Island and commutes four hours to and from home. He drives down on Monday, stays for the week and drives home on Friday. You know, the mother who has raised two lovely sons both of whom are now in college, one of which is a senior.. The same senior who attends Penn State. The same senior who joined you in NYC to watch the Thanksgiving day parade. You remember, when you were staying at the Marriot Marquis and you walked out the front door and out on to the parade route. You know the couple who wanted to know all about living in NYC, especially Manhattan. That wanted to know what brought me to NYC from Kentucky. The couple that has never been to Kentucky.
The couple who paid for the 50 dollar check with a gift certificate.
The couple who used their frequent flyer card to get money toward their next visit.
The couple who told me how wonderful I was and that they’d ask for me the next time they came in.
The couple who fucking tipped me four fucking dollars.
I HOPE YOUR FUCKING OTHER SON LOSES HIS SCHOLARSHIP AND HAS TO WAIT TABLES TO PAY HIS TUITION AND GETS STUCK WAITING ON FUCK UPS LIKE HIS PARENTS, THAT DON’T TIP AND FORCE HIM TO QUIT SCHOOL AND SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE HOMELESS LIVING ON THE “A” TRAIN PLATFORM AT 207TH STREET WITH THE WEIRD PEOPLE THAT HAVE SIGNS SAYING THAT CHRISTMAS IS A SATANIC HOLIDAY!!!