UnderCover Waitress: November 2011

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:


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.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Hills That Moles Make

One of the skills children must learn in life is how to survive when things don't go their way. Children learn to wait for others while taking turns. They learn that they must share space in the sand box and sometimes even share the toys in the sand box.

Sometimes, children even get told, "no." The younger the child, the more likely this will be cause for tears, but as the child ages and matures she is able to hear "no" without breaking down and ceasing to function. She learns to remain calm, accept that she can't have everything her way, and develops appropriate negotiating skills.

Learning to negotiate means learning to compromise and to give and take. Good negotiating skills include recognizing that other people have needs, respecting the needs of others, and using words to express thoughts (as opposed to hitting people.)

People communicate in many ways: body language, tone of voice, displays of  emotions such as anger, sadness, or joy. The more mature the child becomes the better he becomes at using words as his main tool of communication.

That being said, sometimes we all break down. Sometimes things are so bad or our disappointments so intense that we exclaim, we cry, we get angry. People lose their houses to greedy bankers. People lose their jobs when the company uproots and sets up shop overseas. Children and adults alike perish in irrational wars. There is time for rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.

Needing to ask for more salad dressing is not one of these times.

Being told we have run out of a popular dish is not one of these times.

Waiting a few minutes for a second glass of wine is not one of these times.

Being waited on by a new waitress who does not know all of your idiosyncrasies is not one of these times.

Food that touches other food on the plate is not one of these times.

Dinner service starting at 5 and another menu available at 4:30 is not one of these times.

Having to wait to be seated in a busy restaurant is not one of these times.

You get my drift.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Got Wine?

Great little article on Huffington Post about practical uses for bad wine. Of course, old wine turns into vinegar and I guess can be used as such. I think many people have heard that white wine takes red wine stains out of the white tablecloth that your drunk guest spilled it on. But there were some other uses that were more, say, "outside of the box." 

I have never thought to use wine on my skin, but I guess the high acidity makes it a good facial toner. The article claims old wine may be used as a skin softener. While the practice of dabbing a cloth soaked with red wine onto bruises was mentioned, no one at the Post went so far as to recommend it or even to make the claim that rubbing wine on bruises does any good whatsoever. (Thankfully, nobody claimed bathing in wine cures cancer.) 

You can also use wine, or so I have learned, to disinfect your kitchen counter tops and wash your windows. If you want to. 

Seriously, it is an entertaining read and a good reminder that there are uses for things that we often throw away. Waste not, want not, right? 

Some of us may prefer to try to keep our wine at a temperature designed to prevent spoilage. If that is the case, consider the following: 

Thermoelectric cooling system
in a compact storage
design maintains the ideal temperature
to retain signature bouquet, flavor and body of
wine and champagne. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dine and Dash

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Interesting question on Avvo from a waitress in California:

I lose roughly $100 a week due to diners that do not pay. Can she legally charge me for their meals?

This happens at the little restaurant every now and then. The first time it happened to me the loss came out of my tips, the second time I think the manager came to my defense.

My colleague complained about this practice during the summer. She had numerous outside tables and was very busy. The owner still blamed her for not getting back outside quickly enough to take payment from a couple who slipped out, and she got to pay for their meal.

Seems grossly unfair, doesn't it? Add "security guard" to the long list of waitress job descriptions.

The lawyers on Avvo that answered the question said that an employer may not take business losses out of an employee's base wage, but they didn't say "tips." So, I wonder if that means the practice is legal as long as the employee still goes home with at least minimum wage for hours worked.

Another lawyer said something about the employer needed to prove that the loss was the employee's fault. Unless "security" is in our job descriptions, this is a bit much. It is our job to give good service, and leaving a person waiting to pay for too long is not the best service. However, that is no excuse for the diner to simply leave. Most people, if the waitress does not return quickly enough, walk up to the register to pay. It's a better choice.

But what really got me was the claim that she loses $100 a week due to theft?!? What crime-ridden slum is she working in? I wonder if she is safe walking a few feet from the door to her car at night?

Seriously, am I living in some "safe and happy bubble" if I don't think this degree of customer stealing is normal? Anybody?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Take On The Rocks' Poll

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How Do You Feel About Banning Children in Restaurants?

Fellow blogger has a poll about restaurants banning children. Do take a look and vote. I am looking forward to seeing the results.