UnderCover Waitress: Calculators

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


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Busy weekend brunch shift with the place full of tables, inside and out. In addition to diners, we also get people who are walking around, enjoying the weather, and just want a pastry or cappuccino to go. The hostess can only be so many places at once, so we waitresses help out as much as we can.

My tables tip me. A little extra from somebody who wanders in and asks me to bag up a pastry is nice, but not as expected and I certainly can't live on spare change. I need to wait on my tables. Funny how those quick customers can manage to make themselves the most difficult.

One guy came in and asked if he could have a mocha to go. I stopped in my tracks and lied, "I'd be happy to make you one."

As I am turning around to get an espresso pod, he calls out to me, "How are you going to make it?" The same way I make every other mocha: with espresso and hot chocolate. "Wait, what kind of chocolate are you going to use? Not that Hershey's syrup are you?" For you, dude, I'd love to, but I showed him the Ghirardelli cocoa powder that we use in our mochas. By this time, I could have made the thing already and been on my merry way.

A colleague and friend sidled up to me -- I think she noticed the consternation in my eyes. I asked her if she would like to show this gentleman how we make our mochas. She smiled, lied and said she'd love to.

Mocha man was nice, just needy at a busy time. Still, it makes for a funny story.

Not all noteworthy customers are nice and funny.

The guy who really stuck in my craw came in when we were so busy we let people form an extra line just for to go coffees and pastries. I could help this guy with his order, but I could not get to the register so I used my own bank. He handed me cash and I quickly punched the numbers into a calculator to make correct change. The son of a gun had the audacity to make a snarky comment about my inability to perform simple math calculations.

How is this wrong? Let me count the ways on my calculator:

1-- Anyone can see how busy we are. I have enough on my mind with a full section and people at the counter; I don't want to worry about your change.

2-- I could just as easily let you wait forever in a very long line instead of serving you. Technically, in our restaurant helping you is not my job. We staff members tend to help each other; you benefit from this.

3-- If you had any class, you would not have required change.

4-- If you had any class, you would have said, "Thank you." Instead, you find it necessary to insult me.

5-- If I ever see you again, I will deliberately give you incorrect change. Even if it's only off by a penny.

Of course, it takes a big man to come in and insult people who cannot give a real response or risk losing our jobs. And that is fodder for many, many, many restaurant stories.

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