Last night I had the misfortune of waiting on a "self-seater," a customer who walks straight past the host stand and seats him or herself without regard for the restaurant staff.
Our place clearly has a hostess who stands at the very front of the restaurant in front of the front door. There is no sign saying "Please seat yourselves" (thought I often wish there were a sign instructing people to do other four-letter verbs to themselves). Nevertheless, we deal with self-seaters on a frequent nightly basis.
This particular gentleman (term used loosely) looked like an extra from a Color Me Badd video, what with his freshly frosted blond hair, tucked-in tropical T-shirt and high-waist jeans. The ensemble was accentuated with a long brown leather belt (tied in a knot at the end, natch) and cheap white Keds.
Because he sat himself, neither the hostess nor I was about to greet him, clean off the table or offer him menus. I stood directly in his eyeline, responding to text messages, pretending to laugh at the other server's stupid jokes and making sure the day's tan was even in the nearby mirror.
When I simply couldn't convey any more indifference, I approached his table. Before I could rattle off one of a million insincere greetings, he said:
"This table is dirty."
"You're right! That's because you sat yourself at a dirty table. The hostess normally greets people...here and at pretty much every other restaurant in the world. Drink?"
"I'll take a happy hour margarita."
"Sorry, happy hour is only available at the bar."
"Then I'll order it from the bar."
"Then you'll sit at the bar."
(Just so you know -- happy hour is $1 off house margaritas. One dollar. House margaritas.)
Eventually his lady friend joined him and ordered a dirty martini. After three rounds and 30 minutes, I checked to see if they were ready to order their meals. He said:
"We're just having drinks. Couldn't you tell?"
"No, I couldn't. I guess the presence of menus and silverware on your table threw me for a loop. And these tables are reserved for dining, so if we go on a wait, you'll have to move to the bar."
"But we come here all the time."
"Me too. Tables are for dining only. Thanks."
With that, Color Me Badd asked for the check. Fortunately his lady insisted on treating him, and treated me to a 10% tip. They informed me, with great attitude, that they'd be sitting at the bar from now on. I said the first word that came to my mind.