Meet the perpetually peppy, unflappable optimist Marci! Well her sunny disposition withstand an angry customer?
Meet the perpetually peppy, unflappable optimist Marci! Well her sunny disposition withstand an angry customer?
If the rejection of others brings you pleasure, then I hope you live in Los Angeles. As a server in a high-traffic area, I've been privy to a few different break-ups, firings, roommates-on-the-outs, and other situations in which someone learns he or she isn't up to snuff.
It's often quite sad to behold, even for my dark heart.
However, on occasion it's also quite lovely to behold. In the case of "Handz," a woefully self-assured moron and aspiring singer, I was all but writhing in ecstasy watching him get his.
Earlier, he'd walked in alone through the front door like he was big shit. He ignored the hostess when she said "Hi how are you?" and breezed by to a large booth in my section.
He sat himself and motioned for me to come over like I was a medieval servant waiting in the wings to please my master. Instead, I walked in the opposite direction towards the bathroom, took a leak, checked my pores (washed my hands, yes), and eventually approached Handz's throne.
"Yep?" I announced myself.
"Listen," he told me. "My manager and I have big business so we won't need you to kiss up to us or nothing."
"You definitely won't have to worry about that," I replied. "What do you want to drink?"
"I'll letcha know when I want something," he replied with a dismissive waive, his eyes never veering from his phone. I'm not sure how he fielded so many text messages when his bulky, bargain bin, brand knock-off sunglasses shielded his sight. He wore a sweatsuit, large ball cap, and gold-painted tennis shoes that I promise you were not sold that way. I'm pretty sure he was just a misguided ginger from Georgia trying to emulate a number of outdated stereotypes.
I didn't return to the table until his companion, a hurried but polite woman dressed far sharper, called for me.
"May I please just have a vodka soda?" she said, handing me a credit card. "And whatever he wants. And go ahead and close it out, please."
Ouch, buddy. "Big business" doesn't usually come with one lone round and an immediately closed tab. Oh no, this can't be good!
"Oh! May I please have a vodka soda as well?" he said in a far friendlier, extremely insincere sing-song voice. I rolled my eyes.
I returned with the drinks. The manager was telling Handz that Hollywood is part talent, part luck, and the other part she labeled "people skills," then explained that as networking when he failed to grasp the concept. I wanted to hear this, believe me, but I couldn't justify sticking around. I overheard all the bits I could by pretending to sweep neighboring tables and taking their orders - even though they weren't in my section.
It appears Handz was ruining all of the meetings his manager took great effort to set up. She wished him luck, said she was sorry it took her so long to get back to him regarding drinks, sorry it didn't work out, and she hoped he would remain encouraged because he had a talent and yadda yadda zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
He stormed out. She stayed, sent a quick text message, then left with a smirk on her face.
One minute later, he popped his head back in to see if she was still there. I gave him a condescending frown and a thumbs down. He waived dismissively, then headed into the night, still waiting for the world to deliver all that it owes him.
I'm thrilled, devoted readers, to share this first glimpse of the upcoming "Bitter Waiter" web series! Thank you to everyone who's read this blog, from its incipient stages to its big debut on "20/20" and beyond. And thank you to all the horrible, entitled, heinous people who make a server's job an absolute nightmare - you are wonderful fodder (and will make for great kindle in Hell someday).
I was given a large, ever-growing party of Euro-trash one night this week. They arrived donned in all black, with contradictory outfits that said "Funeral up top, gang bang on the bottom." I couldn't tell exactly what was the cause of this gathering; I despised them for being in my section regardless.
DaVonka was the first to speak, ordering while she Instagram'd a photo of herself that featured both of us as this exchange took place. She looked like a "Lucky Star" era Madonna who'd been starved for months and stashed away from the sun.
"Dat drink I had layst time? I vant dat again," she told me.
"Not sure if you're aware, but I'm actually not the same server for every party that stumbles into this place," I told her. "What would you like to drink?"
"Red or white?"
"Tank you," she said, and then took a phone call. The other 10 members of the party were fine with water, but they were ready to order their food; more free chips and salsa, please!
I returned with a sweet blush that pleased DaVonka's classy tastes.
Soon a band of sable-clad hipsters arrived, each of them also wearing the sexy-mourning motif. The six new additions each ordered a hachtea (a hot tea).
"What does have cheesecake?" one of them asked. I smiled and walked off.
Minutes later, after I downed a G&T in a kid's cup and made right with myself, I returned to find the party gone. They'd stepped outside for a smoke, but the table had already been cleared. They'd told the busy boy they were done.
I found DaVonka and said she needed to pay the bill.
"Buht we didn't hayve any-ting?" she countered.
"The glass of wine and the six teas?"
The total of the bill came to $21.52. DaVonka coughed a phlegm-filled cough and handed me a twenty then took another phone call. After pained effort, I was able to extract an additional three dollars.
And with that, a giant Ford E450 party bus pulled up and whisked away the guests into the night.
Needy, loud, attention-starved people terrify me. If they sense for one second that your sole focus is not on them and their current, fleeting state of joy or misery, they'll call you on it.
"Oh, do you have some other table that needs something right away? You seem disinterested now."
"Oh, are you all on a wait? Is there a reason you brought the bill? I'd love some more ice water."
"Oh, that actually wasn't even the main part of my story, I haven't even told you what it was like the second time we broke up, but, yeah....uhm. fine, go take your break I guess. Can I join you?"
Well. Imagine a needy couple, together, on a date. Late 30s, awkward, loud, inappropriate. That sounds fun, right?
It wasn't so much needy like "validate poor me while I complain," but more like "validate me, tell me how funny I am, pay attention only to me, I must believe that everyone loves me as much as I wish I loved myself or I will steer this plane into a mountain!"
I asked if they'd like anything to drink. Going in a different direction with the conversation, the stud - Jeremy - set the night off with some interesting, appropriate dinner talk.
"I don't know which restaurant it was," he said with a proud grin, "but they had this salsa that turned my stomach inside out. I thought it was going to be that scene from The Alien where an alien pops out of Sigourney Weaver's stomach!"
His date, Bethany, was ON! She was LOUD and IN-YOUR-FACE. She wore COOL GLASSES and DIRTY VINTAGE T-SHIRTS and had a few CHEAP TATTOOS. She probably CUTS HAIR. She did not miss a beat to heighten the JOKE.
"BWHAHAHAHA!!! What if that salsa, like, brought about the end of the universe because this colony of aliens came out of your stomach and obliterated everything? Oh, my gosh, you and I are so crazy, everyone must think we're in-saaaaannne...!!!!!"
They both laughed and looked around as if everyone in the restaurant had heard and applauded. As they wiped tears from their eyes, they looked at me, their audience for the night.
"Well you can take that stick out of your ass," Jeremy smiled, noting my tight-lipped expression of resistance. "I'm just kidding, we can be a lot. You'll learn all about us, we always become best friends with our server. But yeah, drinks."
They ordered a pitcher and some "house guacamole" (as opposed to the more expensive version, made with top shelf tequila). As they drank more, their exchanges with me became more and more prolonged, filled with aimless stories meant to endear them to me. They could tell I wasn't having it, and with each pitcher came another attempt to win me over.
(Or at least that's how it came across, because we all think everything is about us, but seriously, they wanted me to like them, I am not just saying that because of ego, promise, kisses.)
Jeremy went to the pisser. I came by to clear glasses.
"How long have you worked here?" Bethany asked me in a fake-drunk voice, which lets people know that she's fun to be around.
"Yeeeeears," I replied.
"Oh really? You seem new. Are you happy here?" she asked with a premature frown.
"Sure," I said, not trying to encourage follow-up.
"Interesting............." she said with a squinted stare, having arrived at some conclusion about me. I said nothing and continued clearing.
"I just...I can pretty much read, like...everyone?" she said, "but you're hard to read. That's interesting. But seriously, people tell me, 'Bethany, whoa, you totally knew what was going on without knowing what was going on.' Does that makes sense?"
"Yeah I think I get what you're saying," I said. "I need to do some side work in the back, I'll be out of pocket for about 10 minutes. May I bring you anything to tide you over?"
"Nope," Bethany said.
Ten minutes and two gin and tonics later, I was mentally lubricated enough to again deal with Jeremy, Bethany, their idiotic blather, and their pleas for validation.
But alas, no such fortitude was needed. Upon my return, they'd made their way to the bar and were now set up with the pitcher I'd just delivered. Jeremy waived me over.
"Don't hate us...," he said his hand oddly in the air for a high five (?), "but we want to watch the game."
"YOU WERE GREAT," Bethany said, convinced I'd be inconsolible.
I smiled and walked off. They transferred their entire bill to the bar. They didn't think to tip me for my time or pay their portion of the bill with me.
For two people who claimed I'd become best friends with them, they sure can go fuck themselves.
2. "Is the tip also charged to my credit card, or just a charge for the total bill?"
No we garnish your wages for the tip.
3. "Don't you have valet parking???"
Did you see a man out front with a box of car keys and a hand full of ones? Oh you didn't? And yet you still found our giant, free parking lot right outside and made do? Will miracles never cease?
4. "If I don't order something can I get it to go?"
Yes but only if you don't order it. Promise me.
5. "Are you all open today?"
That question might make sense, I suppose, at the hostess stand. But you've been sat, the four of you have your menus open, and I am standing at attention with a sloppy apron and a shred of a notepad. These are vague clues, I know.
A group of white, uptight, pony tail soccer moms and their well-trained vegan children descended upon my section recently for lunch.
I almost set a side of salsa on the table, but Bridget, clad in Lululemon, swatted my hand.
"Wait," she said, pausing for a few seconds to sort out the chaos my gesture carried. "Is that salsa spicy?"
"Nope," I replied as I set it down.
"Wait WAIT," she said before I could set down the accompanying chips. "Are those chips spicy?"
"Not unless you find corn, vegetable oil, salt and water to be spicy" I replied as I set down the chips.
After establishing that, no, my shitty Mexican restaurant doesn't carry rice, almond, or soy milk, the children were then instructed to order their own drinks. The moms - Bridget, Carlee, McKenna and Sasha - gave me patronizing smiles as if the children were about to perform for me.
"I would like a lemonade, please," Anissa said while coloring on her menu.
"No no, honey, I want you to say that to our server in sign language," Carlee said.
"But I don't understand sign language," I countered.
"You...don't speak sign language?" she asked.
"Speak it? Yes. Sign it? No."
Eventually the children ordered lemonades and waters via various forms of communication, none of them simple. After ordering a bland feast of rice, beans, and CORN tortillas ("Can you confirm they're gluten free?"), McKenna suggested I take the children on a "tour" of the restaurant.
"Kids wouldn't it be FUN to watch the workers make the tortillas???" she said.
Sure, "the workers." And I'll bet your ancestors said things like "Kids, wanna poke the slaves with sticks, doesn't that sound fun?"
"Sorry, we don't have any place for customers to watch our workers warm up the pre-packaged tortillas," I said.
"Bummer, they do at Don Pablo's," she told me.
"Oh neat gotcha," I replied while walking away.
Eventually they asked for the bill after the children were denied the kid's meal ice cream sundae. "We can have rice cakes and almond butter at home!" Carlee sang.
They exited shortly thereafter. Because they don't appear on the bill, I ordered all four of the kid's sundaes and savored them. Someone was going to have ice cream that day, dammit, and it might as well have been me.
Bob, an evenly average, boring, cold man with less-than-average social skills, brought his girlfriend, Linda, into the restaurant to celebrate their one-year anniversary (dating, not marriage). He warned me of this by arriving one hour before their reservation and asking me to "set aside and then decorate" a booth that I was to hold for him.
"The Hell I will," I said, until Bob unexpectedly slipped me $20. It might be a small amount to you but it's the difference between buying vodka or putting gas in the car vs. buying vodka and putting gas in the car).
I did my lackadaisical best with the streamer and lone yellow balloon he gave me.
Linda arrived, unequipped for such an outlandish gesture in such a brothel-like bar, and smiled politely while offering faint praise. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't give a convincing performance of happy. He could tell something was up.
"Nothing!" she smiled when he asked, almost hysterical. "Let's drink!!" Her smile terrified me. She was not into him. She honed in on me like her escape plan from this night of charades.
He ordered a pitcher of our finest margaritas and some "guaco dip," for class and style.
They sipped awkwardly on their drinks. I wasn't there for, nor able to stand close enough to eavesdrop upon, much of the ensuing conversation. But it all seemed like very minimal interaction save the desperate "THANK YOU"s to me for my chip and water refills.
It became so awkwardly obvious to me that she wanted nothing to do with him, yet he clung on as if she were his plan b life raft. I kept wondering if tonight would be her night to tell him it was over, but she kept going through the motions, and the tequila, which led to a slightly more convincing evince of warmth, manufactured as it still seemed.
Soon they were both sloppy drunk, and I saw this was just a normal episode among their pattern.
Eventually they paid, tipped just fine, and left. Together. And she was as unconvincing physically as she was emotionally when he not so subtly suggested to me that they'd be "in beeeeeeeeed" soon. Gross, oh my God. She walked out like a nun in winter whereas he had his boner leading the way to their Uber.
I consumed the generous remnants of their most recently ordered pitcher, cleared off the table, and popped that stupid yellow balloon.
4:58 p.m. - I emerge from my car and head to the restaurant. Before I can open the door, a woman exits in a huff. "Do you work here!?" she asks. No I wear this huge salsa-stained apron to contain my enormous erection, you intellectual trailblazer. I nod. She tells me that no one ever took her order, so she left, and that I'm to pass that on to management. Bored, I speak in a fake Australian accent and assure her I will.
5:00 p.m. - Head straight to the bar and prepare myself a vodka and vodka in a kid's cup. At no point will I inform anyone of the woman's complaint from earlier.
5:25 p.m. - After a misleadingly slow shift start, the place fills up for happy hour. Hookers, thugs, rednecks, Persian pricks, and series regulars from every late 80's failed sit-com demand cheap drinks. I fill my tank with a bit more vodka and persevere.
5:40 p.m. - Someone I'm supposed to know from one of those tapeworms-of-humanity Kardashian series keeps name-dropping D.J.s, back-up dancers, and other people who scrape their nails as they hang on the edge of forgettably talentless. I give myself those weird stars in your peripheral from rolling my eyes so much.
5:45 p.m. - Time for another drink and a quick puff!
6:00 p.m. - I return from the Dumpster area in a muuuuuch better mood. The Kardashian Krew are, like, ready for their checks (to be separated by me clearly, that goes without saying). For fun, I inform them that a "check" is a form of payment, and that a bill is for goods and services received. I also tell them I can't split parties. Their tip is automatically added so I am fresh out of fucks to give.
6:05 p.m. - Time for another drink break and a quick puff!!
6:10: - A man who loves to tell stories is wasting so many minutes of my life boasting about his heyday in the agency mailrooms in the 1970s. I'm interested at first, ready to think about ISIS shortly thereafter.
6:15 p.m. - Time for another drinl break an d q uick pufff.
6:20 p.m. - Coffee, the shitty restaurant kind. I'm awake.
6:30 p.m. - I'm focused, and dealing with three pleasant, polite, well-spaced-out parties of eight. No stress. All is seamless and peaceful. Too peaceful.
6:45 p.m. - We're officially on a wait.
7:00 p.m. - All three of my large parties are long finished with dessert and coffee and rounds of drinks. All three credit card bills lie signed and ready for return. I keep dropping them off and picking them up again to drop subtle hints. Nothing. I am screwed, save my one constantly revolving two-top, which is mostly dining space to older men and their hookers. Just drinks, no food of course.
7:20 p.m. - Hallelujah! One of my large parties leaves. And drops a glass under the table. Which must be swept up. By the broom that the bus boy, who no one can find, had last.
7:25 p.m. - The bus boy emerges from the Dumpster high as fuuuuuuuck.
7:30 p.m. - After several attempts and help from people, including the customers at the neighboring table, the bus boy finally contains the glass spill.
7:32 p.m. - I am sat with a party of two. We're still on a wait, my tables are better-suited to large parties, and I get sat with two?! I run, bitch-faced, to find the host and dig my finger nails into his neck.
7:34 p.m. - Minutes later we're laughing. We're so bitchy to each other.
7:35 p.m. - The new two top is in a hurry, which I'm into. We have a nice few minutes together, they tip 20%, and I wish them well. They leave soon after. They get it.
8:40 p.m. - We go off a wait pretty quickly. After about two more turns, in an effort to split the labor as thinly as possible, the manager tells me I can do my sidework and head home.
9:05 p.m. - I remain at the bar because it's empty and shoot the breeze with the new bartender, who's not a shithead. I pretend to be interested in the football sports on T.V. Tired, I send for a Lyft - BECAUSE YOU SHOULD NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE - and leave mercifully with $52, my dignity, and more salsa stains.