UnderCover Waitress: 2011

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Must Wash Hands

Raccoons are clean animals. They wash their food before eating it. I knew some people who would leave out sugar cubes for raccoons as a cruel joke. The raccoons would go to the river to wash their food, and of course, it would dissolve. (Please don't do this.)

Isn't the raccoon cute? In the picture, I mean. I think he or she is washing in a bird bath. So, the birds most likely don't think this is cute. And raccoons are definitely not cute when they are picking through the garbage.

Anyway, people are not so clean, and we must be reminded to practice basic hygiene. We've all seen the signs in public restrooms:






You know, the kid in the picture has a good point.
















Well, that is more specific, but sticklers for accuracy will point out that it should say "their own hands" to be perfectly clear.












Now that's specific! I am less curious about one-handed washing and more intrigued at how to perform in the toilet only using one hand... And what if you only have one hand? Is this discrimination?














This is just plain threatening. I would think it is illegal to lock employees in a room until they wash their (own) hands. Or is it?


















Now we are "team members" instead of employees. If we are all a team, we don't need to worry about locking each other in the bathroom to force compliance.



This diagram is to help those who do not know how to wash their hands. Many people grow up and enter into employment without knowing how to wash their (own) hands.














This diagram looks like a foot. I wonder if that is what the quotation marks are all about in the next sign.













This may be my favorite only because it is exactly what I think about whenever I am in a restroom that reminds employees to wash hands. What about the rest of us?













Well, you can't get much more specific than that, can you? Which brings me to my inspiration for today's post.

Went out to eat the other night. Nice little hole in the wall with excellent food and reasonable prices. Nice waiter. Unpretentious yet lovely atmosphere. I really liked the place, until...

Before leaving, I wanted to "freshen up" so visited the rest room. It was one, single use half-bath used by all patrons and employees alike. Upon entering, I was greeted to dried fecal material on a filthy toilet with the seat up and a not-exactly clean-looking sink. Ew.

There was sign over the sink reminding employees to wash their hands before returning to work. Guess what was missing? Soap. I'm not kidding.

I left the bathroom and mentioned to a waitress that there was no soap in the bathroom. She laughed and said, "Oh, thank you, I know! Somebody left it here for some reason." 'Here' was a counter on which utensils and such were stored.

Bon apetit.




Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Hold a Tray

An excellent question has come my way:

This is embarrassing; I have worked in a total of 4 restaurants but honestly never really learned how to hold a heavy tray and then distribute the food! (a lot of the time I was working at a pub sort of place or somewhere I didn't have to do this-)
---Now that my seasonal job is probably ending soon, I'm thinking I will probably take up some form of waiting job. 
Do you have any tips for this semi-silly question of mine?  

Thanks a bunch :) 

There is nothing silly about the question, and please do not be embarrassed! Truth be told, I hate big trays with an unholy passion. One of these years, I am going to bring a bunch of restaurant trays to a Winter Solstice bonfire, and rid the world of their scourge.

Until then, however...

Ironically, it is easier to carry a tray with one hand underneath. It seems intuitive that using both hands would be more stable, but reality is one hand is best. You may already know this if you have carried bar trays full of drinks. The counter-intuitive physics remain the same when the tray gets wider and heavier.

The first rule to remember is to load the heaviest items in the middle of the tray, and put the lighter (well, less heavy) items closer to the edge of the tray. May sound like a no-brainer, but when servers are busy and feeling rushed they may end up not following this rule; results may be disastrous.

Best practice is to hold a tray balanced on your palm, wrist straight, and part of the tray over your forearm. This is easiest with bar trays full of drinks. The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety page has a good illustration depicting how to carry drink trays.

Larger trays filled with plates full of entrees must be carried higher. Best practice is to have your open palm under the center of the tray, and rest a side of the tray on your shoulder. You must bend your wrist so that the tray is on your flat hand; if you support the tray with the tips of fingers, you may hurt yourself. The Free Hotel Management Training Blog has a picture of a waiter holding a tray on his shoulder, but it is laughable. He is holding a bar tray with three beverages on it. If only life were so easy.

Regardless of the size, consider the tray an extension of your body. Move your body and the tray as a unit, meaning do not swing the tray around your body while you stand still. Instead, turn your entire body with the tray. Move as close as possible to the person you are serving, and transfer the plate from the tray to the guest.

Restaurants that require waitresses to carry the biggest trays also often provide little fold-out stands. The waitress carries the tray on one side of her body, and holds the little stand with her other hand. Smartest restaurant managers will stash the little fold-out stands in convenient spots in the dining room. This way, waitresses leave the kitchen with their "free" hands available to help hold the tray steady. When I had to carry these trays, I sometimes placed the fingers on my other hand on the edge of the tray. Anyway, the waitress grabs the little fold-out stand with her free hand, places the stand on the floor and rests the tray on the stand. Now, she is ready to serve the plates.

Most important when using this method is to bend at the knees. Do not bend over at the waist while lowering the tray onto the stand. Bending at the waist will cause back strain. Just like when lifting heavy stuff, bend at the knees.

Smaller restaurants may eschew the large trays altogether. In a smaller space, it is just as easy to make two trips. So, now we must consider the skill of carrying multiple plates at a time.

Had a manager once try to teach me how to carry two plates with one hand. It has to do with balance and where you place your fingers and thumb. I got quite annoyed, because she had huge hands and I have especially small ones. I figured out how to do this with appetizer plates. I still think I would drop heavy entree plates if I tried it with them, however.

I have colleagues who can balance plates on their arms, no tray. I find it quite impressive. They seem to think I'm silly for being so impressed, and they probably wonder what is wrong with me that I can't carry four entree plates on my arms. But I can't.

If carrying multiple plates, please do not rest them against your body. In all seriousness, it is unhygienic. I say that not because I am a germaphobe (which I am) but because it is bad form, and looked down upon in decent restaurants.

I sincerely hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck! Thank you so much for Asking the Waitress.



Friday, December 23, 2011

Work and FaceBook Do Not Mix


This is hysterical, and much too poignant:  

Found this funny on Live, Laugh, Breathe. Deeply o_O on FB.
 









































Well, okay, working and blogging don't necessarily mix, either, but here goes:

We have all heard about the kid who got fired from the pizza joint for posting about a bad tip. The "next generation" of FB users post pictures of their receipts with bad tips. And Victoria Liss disgraced herself by using FB to round up troops of stalkers to attack the wrong guy. Heh.

But, way back in the day when FB was young and people were stupid, employees discussed inter-office politics online.

I remember arriving to work and being greeted by a sign announcing that the next employee who discussed the restaurant on FB would be immediately fired. One of the many things I liked about that particular manager: you knew exactly where she stood.

It started with one waitress baiting the rest of us by posting publicly about how, "as usual," she got the short end of the stick that night. Like a bass to the worm on the end of a hook, other employees starting responding...

The real bummer, in my opinion, is that those involved took the argument where it belonged: into private messages. Which means I never got to read all the juicy details. All I got was whatever people said about it later. Darn. There is nothing like the heat of the moment.

It gets better. In a highly misguided attempt to save face, the original poster claimed that she wasn't posting about work. Rather, she was upset about something else at home. My jaw hit the floor when I heard that.

Word to the wise: Don't lie. The rest of us know when you are lying.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tip of the Iceberg

Oh, my... the theme of today's Let's Blog Off is, "If you can't afford the tip, you can't afford the meal." Heh. There is so much that I have to say about this, it is impossible to do the subject justice in on one post.

But first, a show of hands. How many of you thought of iceberg lettuce when you read the title? Just curious.

Yes, it is understood in the American restaurant industry that some percentage of the bill is the tip, and that a tip is part of the cost of eating out. Servers in most states make $2 or $3 per hour with the expectation that they will earn at least minimum wage with tips. While this begs the question, "how much to tip?" this post is not about numbers.

Waitressing is the only profession in the states in which the consumer gets to decide how much we get paid. Workers in other occupations are salaried, or hourly, but all of them know they will receive $X for Y work.

Even salesmen, who work on commission, know exactly what commission they will receive for so many sales. Telemarketers, who are lowest type of salesmen, push people to pay with a credit card for many reasons, only one of which is that their commission is higher if consumers pay with plastic. Insist on writing a check, and the telemarketer receives a smaller commission when the check clears. Waitresses don't know what the tip is until after the meal.

Eating out is about so much more than getting fed. It is also about power.

Had a bad day? Find fault with the waitress and punish her with a small tip. Did your boss yell at you today? Yell at the waitress; it will make you feel better. Feeling helpless and small? Come to the restaurant so you can feel bigger than the people fetching for you and cleaning up after you. Then, reward them with a small tip to feel even more superior. Maybe you had a great day and are not out to get anybody, but when you sit in a restaurant, you get to be the judge and jury. And you decide whether the waitress gets a good tip for her efforts.

Some decent tippers are still a pain to wait on. We have regulars who come in to show off how important they are. Take the doctor who should know better than to waltz into the kitchen to say "hi" to his good friend, the chef. What, you didn't know they were good friends? You do now.

Some tables want a dog and pony show. The chef is expected to come out on the floor and make conversation while all of the "little people" at the other tables gawk and whisper.

Then there is the Captain and Tenille. They always sit at the same table which is front, center, and the best table in the restaurant. They always have the wine chilling on said table before they arrive, and a floral centerpiece on the table that they ordered from the local flower shop. The florist delivers to us, and we set up the table.

Then, the Captain and Tenille waltz in late so that the table has been set up for all to see for a long time. Everybody in the restaurant knows the people who will sit there must be important to have such a nice table waiting for them. When the Captain and Tenille arrive with their friends, they promenade slowly through the restaurant to their table, looking around to ensure that everybody sees their royal presence. It makes me want to vomit.

Money is power. People go to restaurants to enjoy food, service, and entertainment. They go to see and be seen. And before they leave, they exert their power over the waitress.

Of course, the restaurant industry is set up with the expectation that a tip will be paid to the server. Those who feel entitled to leave no tip are cheating; a low tip may be a reflection on the service, but no tip is a reflection on the customer.

I have received low tips that I thought were unfair. For example, had a table that spent something like $150. Two things went wrong: while I was taking their order, the kitchen ran out of a special. I had to go back, apologize, and take a different order. If that weren't bad enough, they sent a cut of meat back that they felt was not cooked correctly. Hard for me to control either of these things. She tipped me $5. *itch.

I've made mistakes on tables that were my fault, but not been punished with a dock in pay. I once completely forgot about an outside table. Eventually, they came inside to inquire about paying their bill. (Oops...) They tipped me $20 on $100 because I had a good rapport with them and they had an enjoyable evening. Therefore, my faux pas was forgiven.

The $5 tip was a statement about the service, although I beg to differ about what I can be held responsible for. The $20 tip was because they liked me. How much to tip is up to the customer.

Tip nothing? There is something wrong with YOU. In all my years of waitressing, I have been tipped $0 all of three times. Each and every time, the table was full of obnoxious, entitled, and self-important cretins long before it came time to pay. Each and every time, I did my job. And all three times, they exerted their power with a display of their true colors. Cheaters.

Those who are tired of trying to figure out what to tip suggest that we raise the price of menu items and pay waitresses a decent hourly wage. Whether you enjoy the games or not, doing this would change the entire dynamic. And for some, it would take the fun out of eating out.





Spit in Food?

Ask the Waitress!

Message sent to me:

I have a question. Do female waitresses really spit into food or drinks when they have to serve a lousy tipper? I had a waitress. I gave her only 10% tip the one time because i had no more cash. Next time i was there i had white foam in my coke and a slimy piece of anything. Looked like a loogy and loads of spit but i could not believe it. 
Let me know what you think.

I must admit, my first reaction is to the "female waitresses." It is unclear whether the writer assumes that male waiters do or do not spit in food, but truly, gender has nothing to do with it. 

If any server were to behave in such an unprofessional manner, losing her job would be the least of it. Spitting in somebody else's food is a "tort." The Free Online Dictionary defines "tort" as a "wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another. Torts include all negligence cases as well as intentional wrongs which result in harm."

Torts may be civil or criminal or both. To be tried in a criminal court, a criminal law must have been broken. You may certainly claim Assault for having spit deposited in your food, and Battery if you ate or drank the spit. If she was sick and knowingly made you sick, it ups the ante.

Because the waitress is working under the aegis of the employer, the employer is responsible for her behavior while working. Therefore, you may sue the employer (who probably has more money than the waitress.) Employers do not want employees who are committing torts against customers. It's bad for business and can be extremely expensive. 

In civil courts, you sue the spitter for damages. If you did not eat or drink the spit, then damages may be limited to the cost of the meal and emotional distress. If the waitress were sick and infected you (and you can reasonably prove it,) you may sue her for your medical costs. (She probably won't have the money, so you would go after her employer.) 

So you see, spitting in food is extremely serious. If a customer really believes this has happened, he should immediately show the manager. If he is convinced and the manager is unconcerned, he could wrap the offending food (or "loogy") in a paper napkin and pay a lab to test it... if he wanted to. 

My personal take on the whole thing is that horror stories of spitting in food have become an urban legend. It may be much more rare than assumed. I know of one incident that a friend told me about a long time ago. Their place of business had to remain open to accommodate a bunch of twenty-somethings that sat around drinking free water. Let me be perfectly clear: they ordered nothing the entire time. They required the waitress to constantly come back with more free water, but ordered absolutely nothing. As they finally left, they were informed that the waitress had spat in their glasses. To the best of my knowledge, nothing ever came of it. 

The other impression I have gotten over the years is that this type of crime is more likely to happen, if at all, in fast food establishments. 


Any chef running his own restaurant would likely draw and quarter an employee who defiled the food. 

I found two other missives written on this subject that readers may find of interest. The first agrees with me that there is a bit of paranoia out there, and waitresses and waiters are not retaliating against obnoxious customers with bodily fluid. The second writer is not so sure. I will leave it to all of you to decide what you think. 



In closing, if you truly believe somebody has tampered with your food, talk to the manager. And don't eat there -- yuck. 


Edited to remove reference to HIV. 



  


Friday, December 16, 2011

Blast From the Past





The Deja Vu Blogfest is today, December 16! Participating bloggers are reposting some of their best work. You can access a list of links to all of the entries at Cruising Altitude 2.0

I did not become serious about blogging until January, 2011. Since then, Under Cover Waitress seems to have taken off with over 52,000 page views to date. However, there is one, lone post from way back when in April of 2010. At the time, I was toying with starting a blog, and wrote about my memory of starting at the little restaurant.

Please enjoy "An Unlikely Waitress."

***

I have always done things my own way. I turned vegetarian at 16 years of age and my omnivorous parents accommodated me. I attended a highly respected university and majored in theater arts. I earned a professional license by presenting a portfolio to a review board (most people study in school for it). 

Unlike many parents today, I refused to put my babies in daycare. I budgeted to the penny and we went without a lot of luxuries that other people call "necessities." That was my way.

When pennies got too tight even for us, my way of going back to work was to work opposite hours as my husband so that one of us was always home with the children. What better place to do that than in a restaurant? A restaurant is busiest when "normal" people are not at work; for example, dinnertime and weekends. 

With my two young children in tow, I wandered into the nicest, most expensive restaurant in my small, New England town. It was a warm Spring day, late enough to be after the lunch rush with plenty of time left before the dinner shift. I smiled at the two ladies at the front who greeted me; they turned out to be the manager and the hostess. I asked if by any chance they were hiring for weekends only. The manager looked me over for a quick second, then said "Yes." 

I didn't start at the bottom, and I didn't work in a series of dives or chain restaurants. I got a waitress job my way.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Gift Idea: Waitress Wine Key

Silly of me not to think of this before. Every waitress needs a good quality wine key.

Wine keys must have a sharp knife for removing paper and foil from around the top, a strong screw with a sharp tip, and double hinges for the easiest and quickest bottle openings table side. The worst thing on a busy night is to struggle with a wine bottle while customers watch... and judge. We can literally hear our tips getting flushed as we fumble around with glass bottle and an old wine key.

Opening a bottle seemingly effortlessly table side is an art. One must hold the bottle by the neck with one hand and maneuver with the wine key in the other hand. No putting the bottle on the table. No jamming it under your armpit. And absolutely no holding it between your legs. I did that once; fortunately, I made light of it and the guy laughed. I got a good tip on that table.

While slicing the foil around the top of a wine bottle with the dulled knife in an old wine key, I noticed the lady at the table shift away from me. She was afraid I was going to slip and slice her. Oops. (I didn't.) Sharp knives in the wine key are important.

I've worked with people who didn't bother to bring their own wine keys. And the restaurant's wine keys are forever getting misplaced. So, what does the wine keyless waitress do? Ask to borrow mine. Again and again and again. Until I have to ask her to borrow it back because I needed it and she stopped bothering returning it to me. I was nice about it on the shift that this happened.

However, the next day she pulled the same stunt. I couldn't believe it; after all we went through the day before, she still didn't bother to remember to bring or to purchase a wine key. I told her I wouldn't share mine with her today; she needed to be responsible and bring her own. She didn't seem to care, guess that's professionalism for ya'.

If you love the waitress in your life, get her a new, great-quality wine key for Christmas.

  


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tip on Discounted Meal

Question and Answer:


What is an appropriate tip on a discounted meal?


There is understandable confusion regarding what to tip on a discounted meal. Industry standard is that diners tip based on the pre-discount amount.

For example, let's say you go out to dinner with a friend. You order two salads, $5 each. Two entrees are $15 each, and you order a bottle of wine for $10. Your bill is $50 and the service was great so you tip $10 (which is 20%.)

But wait! When you were sat, you showed the hostess your 2-for-1 entree coupon. So, one $15 entree is taken off your bill. Your bill is $35. 20% of $35 is only $6.50.

Why tip $10 if the bill was only $35?

* The waitress still did the work that would normally earn her $10.

* The waitress did not offer a discount for the service; the restaurant offered a discount on food.

* The customer still saved money with the coupon. The total, including tip, was $45 with coupon or $60 without.

* If waitresses had to take a hit every time the owner offered a coupon, nobody would want to work shifts during the time coupons were valid.

Some restaurant owners protect the servers by adding an automatic gratuity to the bill when a coupon is used. An "auto-grat," as it is called, is often 18% or 15% of the pre-discount meal. Customers may provide additional tip for the server if they so choose.

The auto-grat is added to coupon bills to protect the server's income. Auto-grats should not be confused with service charges. Service charges go to the restaurant owner; auto-grats are paid to the waitress.

Hope my explanation clarifies the situation. Happy dining!

And remember: Don't forget to Ask the Waitress! :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gifts for Waitresses

Note: This question and answer gave me the idea to open the Under Cover Waitress Shop. Online shopping gift store with apparel and other gift items; some with waitress themes and some without. 

Ask the Waitress!

What would be a neat gift for a new waitress? What would make a great gift for somebody who just recently began her very first waitressing job?

Great question! Of course, I want to answer, "Dansko clogs!" but I recognize that people usually buy their own shoes. So, instead let's look at appropriate gifts for new waitresses.


Organizer


Many waitresses, including myself, stay organized by keeping what looks like a billfold or check presenter in our apron pocket. This necessary piece of equipment holds our tables' orders, pens, checks, tips, and anything else we want to put in it. Most of us keep pictures of our family inside the organizer. I have always preferred having my own because I can personalize it and keep it just the way I want it.  I highly recommend owning one to all new waitresses, and this would make a thoughtful and useful gift.
  In all seriousness, consider including a couple of packages of Bic pens and extra notepaper with this present. Waitresses are always looking for pens!



Books


If she likes to read, she may find herself addicted to waitress books, at least for awhile. One of the best is Phoebe Damrosch's Service Included. It is full of industry insider information as well as humor and honesty. It is a great read and would make a lovely gift.


Hope these suggestions were helpful, and happy holidays to all!











Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Question and Answer Underwear

Good morning, dear readers. Today's post is not for the faint of heart.

I like to look at the keywords that bring people to my blog. I have noticed a rather disturbing search request, of late. It seems people are asking Google if Tilted Kilt waitresses wear underpants. I'm not kidding.

That question in itself is enough of a punch-line to end the post right there. However, I want to add, for the record:

I DON'T KNOW. Nor do I particularly want to, but I hope so.

Just in case I haven't freaked anybody out enough yet, I found the following in Amazon. Again, I'm not kidding.

For those of you looking for a truly unique Christmas gift, or have a Tilted Kilt waitress on your shopping list this year:



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taking a Second Look

This #letsblogoff theme gave me pause. What have I, in the course of my life, taken a second look at and, as a result, come to a completely different conclusion? Perhaps... everything.

One of the interesting things about human memory is how inaccurate it is. Even the court system in the states has started to acknowledge what psychologists have known for a long time: that eyewitness testimony is not reliable.

Regarding testimony in court, it seems that the more time that passes between the crime and the testimony, the more certain the witness is of what he saw. This normal tendency to think "I remember" is counter-intuitive. It makes more sense to recognize that as time goes by, memory does erode.

I remember watching a documentary/news show on television that told the story of a rape victim and the man convicted of the crime. The victim was positive, absolutely certain, when she saw the accused's face that this was the man. She recognized him beyond any doubt. After he had languished in prison for a number of years, DNA testing became more commonplace, and the evidence in this case was tested for his DNA. Based upon the DNA results, the man in prison could not have committed the crime. He was exonerated and set free.

Talk about taking a second look. This was a good example to air on television because of the way it resolved. The woman was sick with shock and a sense of guilt that the wrong man was convicted. She had been so sure! She apologized to him and the two remained in contact. Maybe they really did become friends.

The above is a stark example of an everyday truth that memory is not reliable. The above example shows that we may come to believe "memories" that are inaccurate. It is also true that memory is affected by perspective.

I remember having a disagreement with a co-worker many years ago. Our boss sat down with the two of us to brainstorm the problem. We each described "what had happened." As our boss noted, we seemed to be describing two completely different events. Neither one of us was lying, but we had completely different perspectives on the event. Once the validity of both viewpoints was acknowledged, we were able to problem-solve.

What is memory worth if our memories are so unreliable? I think memory helps us script our stories to define our lives and give our lives meaning. When I sit down to blog, the flood of waitressing memories from a moment ago to years ago come to mind full force and take precedence. My memories come together to form my identity as waitress.

When I am in class, however, waitressing is the furthest thing from my mind. Other aspects of my life come to the front of my memories and, in a way, form a different identity.

How we remember things may actually shape who we are, and as we change and learn and grow, I wonder that our memories change with us. Or, at least our perspective on our memories and, therefore, which aspects we things we remember clearly, and assign importance.




Monday, December 5, 2011

Government Spending


Interesting leaked video shows the spin Republicans are putting on their desire to not tax the rich. They have a series of of Talking Points, and they must be discussed.  Following are two: 

The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: "I get it." 

My parents taught me not to lie. My religious leaders and educators taught me not to lie. I went to college, and they told me not to lie (cheating and plagiarism = lying) or I would be expelled. 

The Republicans, however, are teaching each other to tell a massive fib to 99% of the nation.

Don't say "government spending." Call it "waste."

Okay. Anything that the government spends money on is equivalent to the very waste product we flush every day. Which only begs the question, "What sh*t does the government spend money on, anyway?"

Libraries.

Public libraries are sh*t and not worthy of government funds. We should all be like rich people, and lock ourselves into our gated mansions and puchase books online. Kindle or Nook, defintely, because then you don't have to let the greasy UPS driver near the estate.

Nobody wants to go share a library computer with a poor person; the rich have their own computers. And the rich can afford their own subscriptions to print newspapers and magazines, so they don't have to go read a paper after some poor person separated the sections.

Children's story hour and other community events at the library are sh*t and should not be funded by the government. Why are all those young children at home and not at daycare? Because their lazy mothers would rather go to the library than get a job!

Public Transportation and Roads

Who needs buses? Rich people drive themselves everywhere. Go buy a car, poor person.

I honestly don't know how somebody who drives everywhere could justify calling government spending on roads "waste." Potholes and other problems on the roads would cause damage to their tricked-out vehicles. And driving through a pothole might cause the alarm system to go off. And nobody knows how to turn those darn things off.

Environmental Protection

I completely understand why this one is "waste." Those pesky environmentalists are always telling us we shouldn't be driving our massive, gas-guzzling SUVs and other cars.

Prisons

Do the rich really, I mean really, want to let all those angry inmates out?

Police and the Courts

Police protect and serve! And as long as the police are protecting and serving the interests of the very rich... nah, it's still waste. It's easier to buy a gun, shoot people who "trespass" (the girl scout with the cookies wasn't wearing her uniform; that wasn't my fault) and not have to deal with pesky cops and courts.

Public Education

Yeah, I saved this one for the end for a reason. It is an afterthought for the rich, too. Your children's education and futures are sh*t. Rich kids go to private school, and for good reason. Have you checked out the quality of a public education, lately?

Funding teachers, updated curricula, field trips and valuable experiences for public school students is extremely wasteful. If we educate more people well, there will be less people available to hire for "unskilled" labor serving the rich. When seen from this perspective, public education is counter-productive. 

Military

I get it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Congress and the Tax Hikes

I am always flabbergasted when I meet someone who struggles financially and votes Republican.

Instead of the letting the small section of society that is the upper class pull the marionette strings, Democrats and Progressives are attempting to communicate. Thank goodness.

If you struggle, or if you believe the conservative agenda will help the middle class, please, please, please visit the Payroll Tax Calculator. Yes, it is by the Obama 2012 campaign. No, that doesn't mean it is tainted in lies. Regardless of which party you belong to, you need to read what both sides are saying. Uninformed opinions are completely worthless.

The Payroll Tax Calculator will show you how certain tax cuts will affect your income, whichever tax bracket you belong to. And if you don't want to believe the results because we liberals are just a bunch of "tax and spend" liars, there is not a damn thing I can do about it. However, you might try reading up on how the calculator figures tax breaks and hikes on the website.

http://www.barackobama.com/tax-calculator?source=20111202_jk_act&utm_medium=email&utm_source=obama&utm_campaign=20111202_jk_act

Friday, December 2, 2011

Made My Day

A student contacted me via Ask the Waitress a few days ago. She had some thought-provoking questions about Hooters and the like, working conditions, and some of the recent lawsuits.

So, I compiled some information complete with more places for her to look and things to read that deal with the very issues she is studying. Checked my email last night and what greeted me made my day.

She had written a thank you to me which started with my favorite compliment: "You rock!"

To the student: I'm so glad I sent you useful information. Hope the class goes well!

To everyone else: If you have a question, feel free to Ask the Waitress. :-) 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Outing Bad Tippers Advice

With all the brouhaha about Victoria Liss outing the wrong Andrew Meyer, you'd think the nastiness of posting people's names online next to the bad tips they left would be over with. And you'd be wrong.

I'm not going to link to everything; you will have to take my word for it. The Lousy Tipper Database lets servers and other tipped employees post as much information as they dare, including names, restaurant, city and state, amount of bill and tip, and anything else you want to type in, such as personal insults. This database comes complete with a search function so you can hunt out every other John Doe who tipped poorly and assume they are all one person. Grand fun if you have an excessive amount of bile to spew.

If, like Andrew Meyer of Dallas, Texas, you have been wrongly accused of leaving a small to no tip, you can argue about it on the Lousy Tipper Database.

Oh, and they have rules. No complaining about old people leaving bad tips. However, I could not find the birthday cut-off date.

The 15% site is not so bad. While people can post pictures, the names are not in the pictures of the receipts. As a matter of fact, there are postings about tipping advice that you may find useful. I don't agree necessarily agree with all of them; just noting that the site owner offers his own advice.

People need a place to air their grievances and to complain. For waitresses, that place is not usually at work. On the floor we perform emotional labor. That means you get to be rude and we have to smile and be nice and accommodating. Eating out is an abuser's dream come true. Waitresses have managed hearts. 

I think we should visit forums, go out with friends, and complain to our heart's content. Names or the name of a customer's employer, however, are off-limits. Especially online.

From a diner's point of view, it's hard to enjoy a nice evening out for dinner when you are terrified of the waitress calling the dogs on you the next day because you didn't reward her generously enough for her exceptional service.

My advice to those who wish to relax and enjoy good food and good service: Dine incognito and pay cash. If the service is good, tip 20%. Please.




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bad Tippers Beware Part Deux

This is getting ridiculous.

I know, I know, I wrote appreciatively about Megan Humphrey posting receipts with bad tips on Facebook. When I first heard about these shenanigans, I admit I was amused. It must be noted that Humphrey, at least back then, did not post her stingier customers' names, credit card numbers, or other identifying information.

Others, however, are more bold. Or stupid, take your pick. You may have heard about Seattle waitress Victoria Liss who who was stiffed and insulted by a rude customer back in October. She posted the receipt, along with his name, on her Facebook page. Shortly afterward, some innocent guy with the same name living all the way in Texas started receiving hate mail.

It seems rather poetic that Liss works at a joint called "Bimbo's." Wonder if you have to flunk an IQ test to get hired there.

It gets even better. Texas resident Andrew Meyer is a long-time restaurant industry professional. Of all of the crazy things he could have been accused of, this is one he never expected. And as he lived and worked in Seattle over three years ago, he received hate mail from people he used to manage. People who knew him.

Litigation much? Actually, while Meyer has considered a defamation suit, I have not yet found any news that he has filed. Maybe Liss got lucky. This time.




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Q&A: Gift Cards and Tipping

The question:

Can you tip at a restaurant off of a gift card?


And the answer is... it really depends upon the restaurant's policy.

When we first started selling gift cards, the answer was "no." However, so many people wanted to use the "change" on the gift card for the tip that management reconsidered.

When we process gift card payments, we use a similar system as with credit cards. If there is $50 on the card, and somebody spends a grand total of $41, then we can add the remaining $9 as tip at the customer's request.

Not all restaurants are set up this way, however. The absolute best thing you can do is ask at the beginning of the evening, or even when you make the reservation. If you don't know the restaurant's policy ahead of time, please don't just show up without any cash for tip. Management cannot simply change how things are done on a lark to accommodate you, and you end up just screwing the server.

If you ever do find yourself in a bind, however, consider this creative solution: ask the server to please add X% tip to your bill. (This is usually called an automatic gratuity.) This way, your total will include the tip and you may simply pay with the gift card.

Happy dining! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Tooled Dansko Professional Clogs

I am certain I have embarrassed myself plenty of times while looking at Dansko clogs in the stores. My drool doesn't wipe off of some surfaces as well as others. I love Dansko clogs. 

The makers of Dansko and Sanita have come up with so many designs, patterns and colors for the tops that I am often tempted to rival Imelda herself. And as different as they all are, they all have same comfortable, rocker-bottom soles and anti-yucky-microbial inner linings. I love Dansko clogs. 

Some of us, however, are required to wear black shoes or black Dansko clogs when waiting tables. Talk about boring! If I need -- I mean really need -- a new pair, I drool all over the cute plaids and florals, then shell out the money for the same ole' black... oiled... leather... plain... boring... pair of shoes that I wouldn't dream of walking the floor without.

Until I found these! Black leather Dansko professional clogs that totally meet my "uniform" requirements, but check it out! Tooled leather!!! 

Am I really this excited about a pair of shoes? Yes. Do I have a fetish? No. No, really I don't. Stop it. 

I love the intricate design tooled into the leather. And I especially love the fact that while they are cute and fancy, I can wear them while working! Also, stop by undercoverwaitressforums.com and leave a comment in the Dansko Lovers Corner!






Saturday, November 26, 2011

Under Cover Waitress on Bloggers

Under Cover Waitress on Bloggers

I found a new (okay, new to me) community of bloggers.

They say writing a good title is an art form. (No, I don't know who "they" are.) Anyway, a good title should tell the reader exactly what is in the article / blog post / news entry / whatever. So, while it may seem unimaginative, "Bloggers" is actually a great title for this website that I recently happened upon.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Best Turkey Advice

Of all of the recipes and advice tidbits I have heard over the years in the restaurant industry, I think Mary Risley offers the absolute best.

Just put the fucking turkey in the oven. It doesn't taste good, anyway. Pour yourself a glass of wine and go hang out with your guests. Heck, they came for your company, not your cooking.

If anyone is not familiar, this woman if for realz. And she is hysterical. And she makes some good points!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pepper Spray, Thanksgiving, and Hope

A quick note today, dear readers.

I am proud to be a graduate of UC Davis. I have been unable to write about the atrocities perpetrated upon current students for taking part in civil disobedience. I think Katehi must resign or be fired, and I think the officer who sprayed students so cavalierly should be both sued both in civil court by the students, and in criminal court for gross violation of police practice that constitutes criminal assault and battery, among other things.

My anger and dismay has served, to some extent, as a writer's block and I hope I am able to express myself more in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, a loved one sent a link my way that brought tears of humor and tears of frustration to my eyes:

http://www.amazon.com/Defense-Technology-56895-Stream-Pepper/product-reviews/B0058EOAUE/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

This is a strange note to end on, but I hope the students are thankful that so many of us in this nation are behind them. And I hope, if you are reading this, that you have much to be thankful for this weekend. I am thankful for hope. Hope gives us the courage and the energy to continue to do what is right, even in the face of adversity, stupidity, and cruelty.

My wish for you is that your life is filled with hope. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Update to Hooters Waitress is Guest Speaker at School

Many, many thanks to Erin Gloria Ryan writing for Jezebel.

I can't tell you how much I wish I had written what Ms. Ryan wrote. Her article is the best and most insightful commentary yet about the ridiculousness of encouraging young teens to aspire to be "ogled at" for a living. Here is a short excerpt, go read the article on Jezebel.

The parent who complained claims that she personally knows at least ten non-waitresses who would have gladly volunteered to speak on career day. The kids claim the waitress was wearing dirty shoes. And the Hooters waitress claims she's not really a waitress at all, but rather an aspiring somethingelse.


Hooters Waitress Visits Career Day

Hooters Waitress is Guest Speaker at School

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Not sure which is worse. A Hooters waitress being a guest speaker for the Great American Teach-In at an elementary school for kids with behavioral problems and emotional disabilities, or the fact that the big, purple elephant in the middle of the room is being ignored.

One mother, Ashley Dominicci, was furious about the choice of speaker and has been vocal about it. She is quoted as saying,

I feel like we're telling them (the students) that you're the bad kids and this is all you'll be in life.


Truly, I understand her outrage. When we inspire children to follow their dreams, we seldom point them in the direction of service positions.

Service positions represent honest employment that responsible adults perform every day. Some people use service positions to support themselves and their families. Others work their way through school in service positions. Doesn't matter either way; as long as workers do their best while working, they deserve respect and to be treated with dignity.

Numerous papers have covered the story. The debate focuses on whether or not a waitress job is a worthy career to aspire to. Nobody mentions the fact that the waitress chosen to come speak to the school is required to wait tables nearly naked.

Maybe the message we are sending "the bad kids" is not that they must work in service positions, but that since nobody likes them, they must remove their clothes to make a living. Hey, if you are too stupid to go to law school, but you have big boobs, just take your shirt off. You'll be fine.

Some who report on the incident like to include an news of elementary school in California getting flak for letting a former porn star read to students as part of Read Across America. Nobody mentions why this is relevant. It seems the only people who recognize that Hooters waitresses are paid for their eroticism, not their ability to suggest wine pairings, are their customers.

Working as a waitress is a perfectly honorable profession, but only when the waitress is fully clothed. Shame on the Calvin A. Hunsinger School. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free Thanksgiving Day Recipes

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Free Thanksgiving Recipes at CHEFS Catalog!

Very cool and yummy sounding recipes on the Chef's Catalogue website. I am especially intrigued with the idea of using apple cider when roasting the turkey.

Or try wowing your family and friends with mini pumpkin cheesecakes topped with cinnamon whipped cream. I love pumpkin anything.

If you like baked cheeses, you can get the recipe for baked camembert with pears and cranberries, and baked brie with spiced fruit chutney. Hot artichoke dip is another favorite appetizer.

Chef's Catalogue is offering a variety of free recipes for appetizers, main courses, sides, sauces and desserts. They also have free recipes for fresh baked breads, including herbed biscuits and pull-apart rolls.

Happy cooking!

Free Thanksgiving Recipes at CHEFS Catalog!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Outback Steakhouse Responds to Tea Party Accusers

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I received a comment from Joe Kadow at Outback Steakhouse about the Megan Geller Tea Party bracelet debacle. I felt it was worthy of more attention and so am reprinting it as today's post:

Thank you for your interest in Outback Steakhouse.


The employee was not let go because of her Tea Party bracelet. On the night in question two separate tables complained about her lack of attention – one flagging down the manager to pay their bill as they could not find her and another going to the bar because they received the wrong drink and could not find her.


When the manager spoke to the employee about this she responded by yelling at him with a hostile attitude. This is why she was fired.


She was not fired because a customer complained about her bracelet. That would have simply been handled by asking her to take off the bracelet.


As to the Illinois Department of Employment Security letter stating she was fired for wearing the bracelet - this simply reflects what the employee told them. No hearing was held that we participated in, nor did we submit any information regarding her claim.


I would also point out this bracelet is not a Marine Corps bracelet nor is it a bracelet supporting our troops. The bracelet has only the motto “Don’t Tread on Me” followed by “November 6, 2012”. November 6, 2012 is the next Presidential election. The bracelet does not have any Marine Corps insignia. When the customer asked the employee about the bracelet, she said it was a Tea Party bracelet.


You can find information on what our company does to honor our military and support our veterans on our website www.outback.com – click Company Info then click Operation Feeding Freedom and Thanks for Giving.


Thank you.


Joe Kadow
Outback Steakhouse

My response: 



Hi, Joe

Thank you for coming to comment and state the position of Outback Steakhouse. I did mention in my post that Outback's stated reason for the firing of Megan Geller was inattention to tables and rudeness toward the manager. 

I do think the media outlets that have picked up the story are enjoying the frenzy over the tea party bracelet. The point of my blog post was not to find fault with your restaurants, but rather to point out some inconsistencies in the tea party "agenda." First, those quoted in news articles have a complete and total lack of understanding of what are First Amendment rights. Second, since they don't like the government, I sincerely wonder who they think is going to enforce these supposed rights. Police officers are government employees. The courts are a government institution. If they choose to boycott your restaurant based on misinformation, I dare say you are better off. 

Thank you again for writing to clarify Outback Steakhouse's position. I wish you a busy weekend.

***

For those of you who would like to pay attention to your tables, speak politely to the manager and make bigger tips, read this book: 



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tea Party Movements Gets It Wrong on Civil Rights

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In general, I think being offended by somebody's political bracelet is too much. We live in a country whose system is based upon compromises and contests among groups with differing political views. We all are entitled to our opinions, even if said opinions are bloody stupid.

I have also worked in restaurants that "reigned in" the personal expression of wait staff while on the floor. Make-up was minimal, facial jewelry was not allowed, and earrings were limited one stud in each lobe. Wedding rings were acceptable, but wristwatches were not. Nothing. Nada. Clean. Private employers may do this.

Sure, we waitresses would "forget" and wear jewelry or make-up. And management would "remind" us.

So, the Northwest Herald reports that Tea Party members are rallying in support of a waitress whom they claim was fired from an Outback Steakhouse for wearing a "Don't Tread On Me" bracelet that bothered customers. Outback Steakhouse spokespeople claim the waitress was fired for being inattentive to tables and yelling at the manager when confronted about customer complaints.

The aspect of this story that is most interesting is the inconsistency and lack of comprehension of their own agenda on the part of Tea Party members.

Tea Party leader Rand Paul criticized the Civil Rights Movement because the government, according to his agenda, has no business telling private businesses what to do. Rachel Maddow questioned him in what is now a famous interview. Therefore, if a privately-owned restaurant, such as Outback Steakhouse, does not want to serve black customers then the government is wrong to enforce civil rights. By the same logic, if a privately-owned restaurant, such as Outback Steakhouse, wants to fire an employee, the government may not step in and defend her "rights." This is because, according to the Tea Party agenda, the worker does not have any rights. The private business does.

You can't have it both ways. Just because the waitress was a white girl wearing a bracelet with a Tea Party sentiment on it does not mean that the government (the enemy of the Tea Party) is supposed to step in and defend her "freedom of speech." Freedom of Speech limits the government's ability to stop citizens from speaking. A private employer can tell you to shut up, and based upon the Tea Party agenda, this is a good thing.

If Tea Party members want to limit the rights of private business owners, to whom shall they turn for enforcement of limited rights? The government? But "Don't Tread On Me" today refers to the very government that would step in to defend the "rights" of an employee fired for expressing her political views at work. Tea Party members seem to lack critical thinking skills.

For the record, Civil Rights protects citizens from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, disability, and in some cases, age. You can't be fired for being black, but you can be fired for being incompetent, you can be fired for yelling at the manager, and you can be fired for wearing political slogans while working. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christian Question Tilted Kilt

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Interesting question came my way. "Can a Christian man go into the Tilted Kilt?"

As much as I would encourage any person with this concern to speak to his religious leader, pastor, minister, or priest, I may add some answers to the mix.

The Chicago Tribune reported in May, 2011 that "Evanston's rejection of sexy sports bar reveals divide in local values." Mayor Tisdahl is quoted in the article as saying,

"The final straw was at the end of the liquor commission hearing," she said. "I was given a business card from the owner that shows a picture of one of the entertainers — that is what the waitresses are called. She had no head — it was just breasts, a shrug shirt, a bare midriff and the kilt, that little skirt." [emphasis added.]

Among other things, the quote brings up the issue of modesty.

Christian Modesty in Dress - What Does the Bible Teach?  is an address given at a fellowship meeting at Loughbrickland Reformed Presbyterian Church on 22nd February 2009. In this address, responsibilities of both men and women are discussed.

Both men and women are required by Christianity to dress modestly. While it is not the a woman's entire responsibility to control the lust of men, she may dress in ways that do not blatantly encourage lustful feelings and thoughts. The Tilted Kilt waitress uniform is designed to enhance and titillate men's lustfulness.

This address makes clear that men are responsible. Men are required to dress modestly. Wearing extremely tight jeans or appearing in public with no shirt (perhaps swimming is an exception) are discouraged.

As Christian women will cover their midriffs and wear longer skirts, a man who seeks out entertainment and company of sexy girls wearing immodest clothing is doing something decidedly not Christian.

So, my answer to the question is, "No." A Christian man should not patronize the Tilted Kilt. 

Please visit my "Ask the Waitress" page and let me know what you are wondering about!




Friday, November 11, 2011

Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Applebees

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Ouch. Last time I blogged about Applebees, I think a waitress almost killed a toddler by serving him or her an alcoholic beverage in place of apple juice.

This just hit the news. An African-American is suing her former employer, Applebees, for requiring that she only serve black patrons. This is happening in Towson, Maryland.

Edit:
Much more detailed description of the circumstances here below. Will write more Monday, have a great weekend, everyone!
Black Waitress v. Applebees

A Child Responds

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After writing about American attitudes towards children on airplanes and in restaurants, I came across this gem posted on Letters of Note.

An article appeared in the Economist back in 1998 in which it was suggested that public places enforce "child-free zones." Similar to sitting in a smoke-free section, restaurant patrons, airline travelers and movie goers would be able to free themselves from the annoying bother of youngsters.

Letters of Note reprints (with permission) the best response of the plethora of responses received by the Economist. It was written by a member of the discriminated against group: an actual child.

Everyone Has To Be A Child

Enjoy the read.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Springs1 Ranch Dressing

Many thanks for the shout-out from Hushdawg at Livejournal. He called attention to a little post I wrote about our good friend and infamous restaurant patron, Springs1.

Springs1 has made a name for herself on the Internet by posting seemingly rabid diatribes about the evils of restaurant waitresses who are obviously going out of our way to sabotage her dining experience. Among our most horrific abuses are things such as refilling her water glass without asking first. I'm not kidding.

People behave one way on the Internet and another way in person. I wouldn't give her the benefit of such doubt except for the fact that I have had private email interactions with Springs1. In private, she comes across positively human. I even started to feel a little guilty about calling her Spawn of Satan.

Of course, it is okay to have different opinions. But if you wish to be taken seriously, it behooves you to avoid repeatedly accusing all detractors of being "STUPID." And those who do feel it necessary to repeat themselves ad nauseum and at the top of their lungs while peppering their rants with insults might want to save themselves a trip to the mailbox. No skittle-pooping unicorn has arrived.

If you want to capture the essence of Springs1 in your own writing, I'm afraid there's no app. for that, at least not yet. However, there is The English to Springs1 Translator which I also discovered on my guest visit to Livejournal. You may type in your own, rational prose and have it come back complete with RANDOM CAPS, lots of !!!!!11!!!!1111!! and *@#$**. This translator is a real boon for anyone suffering from paranoid delusions who just can't quite get that across in writing.






Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meanwhile, In The Airline Industry

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On The Rocks' poll is now closed with 37 votes; see for yourself. The majority of people did not feel that restaurants should ban children, but rather, that the restaurant managers should reserve the right to warn patrons who were not paying attention to their unruly children, and then ask them to leave.

I am relieved that the majority of the small population sample did not indicate that an outright ban of children in restaurants is a good idea. I have certainly made my opinions on this issue known.

In the fifty states, domestic air travel is no better, and perhaps worse. In the Travel section of a recent New York Times article, a mother of 18 month old twins reported that Continental Airlines stewardesses refused their children a small cup of milk. The family had brought milk for the children but unexpectedly ran out. They were told, "Milk is for coffee, not children."

I recommend a thorough read of the above-referenced article for anyone who flies with children. It turns out that Americans are almost alone in their nasty disregard for travelling minors. Fly a foreign airline and you can expect kid's meals, parental controls on in-seat entertainment and -- this is good -- backpacks with crayons and other surprises and goodies! I want one!

If flying domestic, try to book with Virgin America. You will receive the opportunity to pre-board and kid's meals. You may check a stroller on the flight and there are age-appropriate entertainment options.

I'm guessing that Americans are pretty much alone in their hatred of children in restaurants, too.

Addendum: A Child Responds