MAY I HAVE EVERYONE'S ATTENTION the lady at table 43 is IN A HURRY so could we please focus solely on her? Imagine, having somewhere to go!!— Bitter Waiter (@bitterwaiter) April 20, 2017
4:45: While perched at the bar next door engaging in some pre-shift drinking, I rationalize that not only should I have another gin martini before work; my sanity demands it.
5:05: Arrive five minutes late because I rationalized yet another gin martini.
5:15: During our pre-shift meeting, we're treated to a visit from a tequila rep who offers everyone a "taste," which is essentially a full shot. Tequila + gin = heeeeey.
5:24: I'm seated with three tables at once: two cranky elderly old bats, a fussy family suffering from extreme entitlement, and a surly group of gays. I sober up and hate everyone. I tell the family I'll be with them shortly and start my other two parties with drinks.
5:26: "JOEY NEEDS HIS SIPPY FILLED WITH MILK," Entitled White Mommy screams at me in baby talk as I'm trying to tell the dinner specials to the gays. I glare daggers through her vacuous soul and continue ignoring her.
5:45: Finally, all food and drink orders are complete for my triple threats. I celebrate the down time by nursing more tequila in a kid's cup.
6:04: Every entree for every single person in my section goes out at the same time. And every single person needs something for his/her meal. Entitled White Mommy says her fish is "a little undercooked and a little overcooked"; the gays need more pita bread; the elderly old bats need a flashlight because they can't see their food. Seconds later, I erupt at the hostess and tell her to NOT seat me again until the escapees from Hell leave my section.
6:43: I got my wish; my first three parties left, and I was enjoying an empty section (even though the restaurant was on a wait, save for the five tables of mine that the terrified hostess wouldn't seat).
6:55: The manager asks the hostess why my section is empty. She tells the truth. I get in trouble via a tedious sit-down in the office.
7:03: I wash down the sit-down with something that's either gin or tequila or both.
7:10: Whereas earlier I was seated with three tables at once, I'm now given all five tables at the same time. I tell each of them that I'm slammed and I'll be with them shortly. I then immediately go check my hair and complexion in the mirror, post a fun selfie on Instagram, and take another swig of gin-quila.
7:47: One of my customers, a stuck-up twat with delusions of being a pop singer, asks why she hasn't received the drink she forgot to order from me. After a few minutes of back and forth, I offer up the manager.
7:55: Sit-down meeting in the manager's office, part deux.
8:30: We officially go off a wait, and I am cut for the evening. I do my sidework and cash-out quickly, and am almost tempted by another gin-quila. Instead, I opt for water, knowing I'll need the hydration for yet another impending day of the same old shit.
1. I'll have the vegan flatbread, but can they do that without any dairy?
2. Can they take the black beans out of the black bean stew?
3. Is this (points to wasabi) guacamole for the ahi tuna?
4. Don't I get a steak knife, too? (He ordered hummus and pita)
5. Which of your bread puddings is the most healthy?
Because of the restaurant's close proximity to UCLA, we receive a fair share of potential college students, as well as their proud parents. Bridget and her bitchy mother, Brenda, deigned to dine in my section one afternoon after touring the Westwood campus.
"Is this the full lunch menu?" Brenda asked with a snarl before I could even say "Hello."
"No," I responded, "I bring it out in installments."
"Not a lot of salads," she said, ignoring me. "At least not a lot of good salads."
I was ready to be a bitch to the daughter as well, until she turned out to be gracious and polite, no doubt used to compensating for mama.
"We'd both like waters with lemon to start, please," she said. "And Mom, didn't you want a glass of wine?"
"Not here," she replied.
(As a quick side note, our restaurant actually features an impressive, eclectic, and usually farm-to-table list of menu options. Our wines hail from some of the finest vineyards along the Western coast. The stick up Brenda's ass was without warrant.)
Brenda eventually settled on a quinoa and kale entree, while Bridget opted for the burger.
"Careful," Brenda said, "You don't want to get those Freshman 15 early."
"Oh, get what you want," I scoffed. "Better to have a burger now than try to justify one in your 30s."
"You would know?" Brenda said with sass.
"Yes," I laughed. "And if that's the standard, I can't imagine how long ago you must have given up burgers."
As I refilled their waters, I overheard Brenda bitching about everything - the weather in L.A., the weather back home, the traffic in L.A., the traffic back home, their friends, their family, even life itself. She wasn't even witty or bitchy about it; just dour and miserable.
Finally I cleared the plates. Whereas Bridget ate about 3/4 of her burger, Brenda licked her plate clean.
"Oh, I see someone liked her meal," I said patronizingly.
"Well, I was hungry," she said quite defensively. How dare I insinuate she enjoyed something! I can only imagine the pre-coitus pep talk her husband must give himself before sex.
They skipped dessert and Brenda paid. She left a 12 percent tip.
I don't know where Brenda and Bridget are originally from, but I gather it's far from California. I hope Bridget elects to attend UCLA so she can put some distance between her and that miserable mom of hers.
Once my shift was finally over, I decided to treat myself to dinner at the restaurant bar. I ordered a burger, and I loved every damn bite of it.
Oh sure, everyone looooves waiting on gay men. Of all the minorities and their restaurant-related stereotypes, we seem to be a favorite.
But not with all servers...
I have a history of not getting along with most other gay men. Maybe I'm not as gregarious or social; could be I'm too good-looking; perhaps sometimes I can be a wee bit bitchy. For what ever reason, there's rarely been an immediate bond whenever I meet a fellow gay. Especially in the context of server/patron.
Three gays around my age (i.e., anywhere from 21 to 3_ ) sauntered into my section recently. I don't immediately strive to be a monster, so I was friendly at first.
"Hello, how are you?" I asked. They were staring at a shirtless pic on Grindr, not one of them bothering to look up at me.
"Fine..." one of them said dismissively.
Oh, me? I'm fine as well, thank you for asking!
"To drink?" I inquired.
They continued staring at the phone and did not respond, so I walked off. Moments later they flagged me down, arms flailing frantically.
"Mmm?" I purred with raised eyebrows as I approached.
"Uhm, yeah?" the least cute of the three said, "You walked off? Right as we? Were about to order drinks?"
"Actually I walked off because you were staring at your phone and didn't answer when I tried to take your drink order," I said. "So. To drink?"
"We want a pitcher of margaritas," the second least cute said.
"We don't have pitchers of margaritas," I said.
"Then what DO you have pitchers of?" asked the third least cute.
"Water," I said.
They each settled on our house margarita. I explained the evening's dinner specials, knowing full well they weren't paying attention. I returned with the drinks and asked if they were ready to order.
"I don't see pasta on the menu," the second least cute hissed. "Don't you have anything with pasta???"
"Yes, we have the bolognese special I just told you about," I said.
"Oh, well, SORRY I wasn't listening," he replied. "I need a minute."
"Do you want me to wait?" I asked. "I just don't want to give the wrong impression if I walk away while you decide."
"Oh you can definitely walk away," the least cute said, mostly with head gestures.
They shared a cackle. I helped myself to a margarita much nicer and stronger than the ones I'd served them. By that point our manager had cut the floor down to closing servers, meaning I could either keep the three boys, or transfer them.
"We're ready to order," the third least cute said when I eventually returned. "And we've been ready to order for at least..."
"That's nice," I interrupted. "So sorry to say this, but we've cut down to closing servers, so Chad will be taking over shortly. Have the greatest night!"
With that, I let Chad deal with the gays. As a good-looking straight man, he was confident he could turn the tide and make lemonade out of gay lemons. I even observed him turning on the charm and eliciting a few laughs from the fellas.
However, I'm rarely wrong about my gut instinct regarding customers. So when Chad later told me they'd tipped him 10 percent, I wasn't surprised. The silver lining of the night?
"Man, those three?" Chad said. "They did NOT like you."
Despite my normally nasty tone, I'm a softy for friendly people from the Midwest. But even that levity has a limit, as I learned one recent busy Friday night.
Around 6:30 p.m., Trish and Tom, a cheery, middle-aged Minnesotan couple, asked if they could sit at one of my bigger booths, promising they were only stopping by for a quick bite. The restaurant was empty, I was fueled by three shots of mescal, they seemed nice. Sure.
I soon learned that Tom and especially Trish had the gift of gab.
"We just landed at LAX," she said in a tone usually reserved for congratulating someone on the birth of a child. "Our hotel is nearby. We could almost walk here! But we decided not to. We didn't know it would be so dang hot in L.A. in September!!! We looked up the Yelp reviews for this place. We're not all that hungry, but just so you know, we're definitely saving room for that sticky toffee cake!!! We're in town because my husband is visiting cousins he hasn't seen in nearly 30 years! We flew on Delta!!!!"
"Oh how nice," I tried. "Would you like anything to drink?"
"Yes," Tom said. I waited for him to complete that thought. But no.
"...and what would that be?" I asked.
"Water of course!!!!" he said.
When I returned with the waters, Trish and Tom were still perusing the menus.
"What's GOOD?" Trish asked me. Before I could answer, she continued, "I see you have lobster. Do you know if it's as good as the lobster at [restaurant I've never heard of] on the Cape? We had fresh lobster there last summer. Oh boy, it was..." [Trish pantomimes dying and going to Heaven] "....Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, you have to try it sometime if you're ever out there. We'd never been to the Cape before, but let me tell ya, we're big fans now. Some of my family recently moved out there and it was our first time visiting them and..."
I started to tune out Trish, losing a little of the good will I initially felt. Unless you are Henry Cavill on bended knee about to put a ring on it, I can't fathom listening to more than 10 syllables from you at a time.
Eventually they ordered, opting to split a sirloin steak. Their tab wasn't going to break the bank, but I was counting on her promise to be gone soon. After they ordered, Trish kept babbling on about Cape Cod, or warm weather, or quilts or some shit I couldn't have given two wet fucks about. The table next to them was seated, and I was eager to leave this chat to greet my new guests. I tried stepping away, using all manner of body language to imply that I needed to trot off, but she and Tom both kept yapping. I all but waived my arms in the air as if on a sinking ship, and they still didn't pick up on the cues.
"Excuse me..." I interrupted, "but I have to greet this table, I'll be right back." Trish kept talking as I walked off.
After their lone steak arrived, the food runner told me Trish requested me.
"Is everything great over here?" I asked.
Mouth full of meat, Trish replied, "Oh yes...this steak is great! I had the bus boy send you over because I forgot to tell you, our son is a server!!!!"
"Oh how nice..." I started.
"Yeah he's in college," she continued, "and he works three shifts a week at an Italian restaurant. Wait. Was it three shifts, Tom? Or four shifts? Anyway, he loves it, yeah. He really likes those tips!!!!"
"So glad," I said. "If you'll excuse me," I said as I sprinted away, desperately in search of more mescal.
Cut to long after the steak was devoured (around 8 p.m.), and the restaurant was on a wait. Six-top after six-top and five-top after five-top went to someone else's section. Tom and Trish sat like bumps on a log, not ordering anything else - except more water.
Finally, about an hour after that, our wait died down and the manager cut down to closing servers. I was done for the night. I told Trish and Tom I'd need to transfer them, as I was ready to leave, but they insisted on paying me.
"No one else is getting this tip for such great service!!!!!" Tom said. "We'll settle up with you."
They paid in cash. I had to recount it four times to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me - they left me a 10 percent tip. If I could have found a way to tell on them to their son, believe, I would.
1. Do you sing happy birthday? Or do we have to?
2. Has my mom been in yet?
3. The hostess said you don't serve brunch. Do you serve brunch?
4. Do you work here?
5. Can you tell how long I've been parked at my meter?
Don't ever tell me you're easy to wait on. I won't believe you. People who are easy to wait on don't have to advertise, just as people who aren't assholes don't have to constantly remind everyone they're not assholes. If you tell me you're easy to wait on, I know the next hour or so is going to have me reaching for my Midol martini (crushed Midol + Chopin vodka, it's divine, you should try it).
Recently, three polite people waited in my section for their fourth to arrive. They waited, and waited, and waited. They apologized for the delay. Finally, the tardy Matthew arrived with all the positive energy and warmth of Ann Coulter at a Black Lives Matter rally. Matthew was a studio executive of some sort, no doubt the kind who relishes telling 30-something actresses they're going to shrivel up and die alone without a single credit because of their old age.
"Could everyone please scoot over?" he asked in tone saturated in fake warmth. "Sorry...I just can't deal with sitting on the far right, the sun can shine directly into someone else's face."
"Oh boy," I said. "May I bring you anything to drink?"
"What's the sodium level of your sparkling water?" he asked.
"I have no idea," I said.
"Well can you go get an idea from a manager?" he asked.
"Oh sure," I said.
I walked back to the kitchen, grabbed a french fry, drank an Arnold Palmer, chatted up the hot pastry chef, posted something on Facebook, waited two minutes, didn't get any likes so I deleted the Facebook post, then circled back to Matthew and his poor captives.
"No one knows the sodium level," I said.
"What? Oh, I don't want sparkling water anymore anyway," he said. "I'll try your fresh-squeezed lemonade."
"Our lemonade isn't fresh-sq....I'll be right back with that fresh-squeezed lemonade," I said.
"Great, thanks," he said. "I promise I'm not fussy; I'm actually super easy to wait on!!!"
With my head cocked to the side and a non-smile on my lips, I stared at him then walked off to fetch the freshly squeezed lemonade from its container of concentrate.
I set the drink in front of him. He stared at it as if I'd just placed a racially insensitive figurine on the table.
"Could you try this again but with maybe just, like, two ice cubes?" he asked with disdain. "I want to be able to actually savor the lemonade..."
"Oh sure," I said."
I refilled the lemonade and added a scant two ice cubes with my bare hand. I returned to the table, dreading Matthew's lunch order. His colleagues' orders were easy and brief, which meant there'd be fresh Hell with his.
"I'm not really in love with your menu, this place was NOT my first choice," he said pointedly, "What I really want is four of your sides instead of an entree. But I'd like three of them on the same plate and one of them on a side dish. Oh, and I want the cauliflower prepared like the broccoli, and the broccoli prepared like the cauliflower. Are the sweet potato fries gluten free? And I know this isn't a Mexican restaurant but can you do a chicken quesadilla, preferably on a gluten free tortilla?"
My soul left my body, flames filled my face, my neck started to shake my head around maniacally. I just laughed, walked off, downed a shot of rubbing alcohol and turned in the complicated order.
The food arrived.
"This...isn't quite what I pictured," he said. "Like, these just look like four sides, not a meal."
CONGRATULATIONS, you've correctly identified exactly what you ordered! Your prize is a life of everyone hating you!
"So, do you want something else?" I asked.
"I don't know......." he said with great pause. His companions weren't certain whether or not they should dig in yet, so we were all at a stand-still. "I'll just grab a salad back at the commissary. It's......fine......." he said, not fine.
"Would you like to try my cobb salad?" one of his co-workers asked timidly. "You might like it!"
He took a bite, a slow, slow bite. He swayed his head side to side. He tapped his fingers. He was going to dissect, diagnose and deliberate on that small morsel.
"You know, I actually think I like this salad!!" he told me. "I'll take one as well."
"Oh sure," I said, and started to walk off.
"But wait," he said, "I need to modify it just a bit..."