UnderCover Waitress: April 2011

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Great Tips for Customers

Enjoying a rather amusing blog titled: "F*** My Table."

This blogging waitress is me in 20 years if I am still waiting tables. I got in touch with my inner bitch on the dining room floor. And writing "Under Cover Waitress" is a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy for me.

If I am waiting tables in 20 years, please let the lame horse live and shoot me instead.

Great advice for those of you who eat out:
F*** My Table

Friday, April 29, 2011

Take the Poll

According to the Ventura County Star, the average age of waitresses working at the Vagabond Inn is about 60. Based upon the information in the article, The Human Cost of Raising the Retirement Age, that average could go up.

Republican Senators are unveiling plans to raise the retirement age to 69 or 70 for those born in 1960 or later. They claim that they are doing this for economic reasons, but in reality they must hate old people.
The article points out the various and sundry costs of raising the retirement age -- human costs. It is well worth the read.

So, in the next few years when Granny can't pick up your food in a timely manner, it may have something to do with the hip replacement surgery. And she is going to have to walk back and forth quite a few times, because the arthritis makes it difficult to carry many plates at once. All of this is, of course, assuming that she remembers that you placed an order to begin with.

For the record, I do not hate and do hope I have not offended elderly people. I sincerely believe that they should be allowed to retire and enjoy their winter years, not work themselves into the grave.



Do You Want to Wait Tables at Age 70?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Off Topic: My Visit to the Emergency Room

This post is off-topic, but I learned something important yesterday. If just one person reading this post learns the same thing, this post may literally save a life one day.

For the record, I have always had an iron stomach. Was at the elementary school yesterday making school lunch which I often do once per week. I started to experience something new: heartburn. Debilitating, extremely painful heartburn.

They sat me down and gave me milk, tums, and some bread because I thought it would help soak up the acids. Instead of getting better, the waves of pain got progressively worse and rose all of the way into my neck. Somebody offered to call my husband and I stumbled into the bathroom because I was now nauseous and dizzy.

Husband arrived and took me strait to the ER. Next thing I know, they are putting stickies on me and hooking me up to an EKG. Seemed like an odd response to indigestion, no? Last I checked, the heart and the stomach were two different organs serving different purposes, but what do I know? I didn't go to med. school. Have you ever read those stories about hospital employees getting patient charts mixed up and doing the wrong things to patients? Yeah, me too.

Signs of Heart Attack in a Woman: Heartburn, Nausea, Dizziness, Radiating Chest Pain, and more:
Understanding Female Heart Attacks
Heart Attacks in Women are Different from Men

The good news is that I had heartburn.

So, if you are ever serving a table and woman starts to suffer from heartburn, remember that it might not be heartburn.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Confessions of an Overly-Sensitive Prude

This is actually a good event. A Cinco De Mayo celebration that benefits an organization called "Green Acres." Food, libations, and table service complete with "celebrity" waiters and waitresses. Knowing nothing about Green Acres, on principle I sincerely say that I hope the event is a success.

BUT --- and maybe I am being an overly sensitive prude. A trophy will be awarded to the waiter/waitress who earns the most tips (which I assume are being donated.) Quote from the Huntington News:

"A six foot trophy has been ordered for the waiter/waitress who gets the most tips. The Celebrity waiters and waitresses have been instructed to do almost anything to get tips! I can't wait to see what they wear!!!!"

Meaning what? Skimpy clothing? Unless you work in a strip joint you don't earn tips by flaunting your sexuality. And those of us who work as professional waitresses are tired of sots staring at our cleavage while we recite specials and our asses as we walk away.

What's that? Hooters? If you want a boner that's not on your plate, don't go to a nice restaurant. Our boners have marrow inside. I would gladly bomb each and every Hooters on the face of the planet if I knew how. (And when the FBI comes knocking on my door, I'll know why.)

The news is reporting quite a bit of harassment of waitresses recently. I can't imagine but that living in a culture that continues to see food servers as sex toys for boys contributes to the expectations that result in waitresses being mistreated. Here are a couple of examples of touching waitresses. Whether you are fondling or attempting to give bruises, DO NOT TOUCH WAIT STAFF.

Athlete fondles waitress breast

Caracter has no character

My point in all this is my offense taken at the insinuation that the celebrity servers will behave inappropriately in the guise of "that's how we earn tips." Thirty years ago, an overly-sensitive prude would have had a problem with working women being subjected to public weigh-ins and comments about how they looked in their work uniforms. Today, that is considered sexual harassment. Perhaps in another thirty years, it will be considered grossly inappropriate to encourage a waitress to wear a low cut shirt and lean over the table while pouring water in an attempt to get tips. Today, however, I am an overly-sensitive prude.

Here is the Cinco de Mayo event article:

News Event

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Brunch Blues

This is me dancing a happy jig because I no longer work the Easter Brunch shift:


Not everyone, however, is so lucky. Spoke with one who toiled on the big day and listened to her tales of woe.

Unlike most meals served in the restaurant, Easter Brunch is set up like a buffet. People pay a set price to come in and enjoy "all you can eat" of the best food in the area -- literally. And ever so lovingly prepared and displayed.

Servers fetch drinks, bus tables, and do whatever else is needed for customers. Customers are free to pile their plates sky-high as many times as they can in roughly two hours or so.

So, where do these people get off asking, "Do I have to tip on this? I had to get up and serve myself food." My friend spent the morning squeezing oranges for their fresh-squeezed orange juice and has a family that celebrates Easter. But no, she wanted to spend the morning sticky up to her elbows in your beverage instead of enjoying her grand daughter. And she lives for carting around your dirty dishes. Of course you don't have to tip. Bloody ingrates.

Must admit, am also perturbed about the fact that tip wasn't included in the bill. For the holiday brunch buffets, it really should be.








Monday, April 25, 2011

Cell Phones

Whatever happened to paying attention to the people in one's presence? Cell phones are now deemed more worthy of our attention than life sustenance.

Four top of ladies dining together. After delivering their meals, one either made or more likely received a cell phone call. She was still chatting away when I went to check on the table. As a matter of fact, the bussers cleared three empty plates while this woman talked on the phone with a plate full of food in front of her.

Not seeing any point in making the three ladies who had been visiting with each other wait, I delivered dessert menus while the fourth started eating her entree. Her food was cold, she missed all of the lively conversation which is often the whole point of going out with other people, and for what? Because she chose to 1) answer the phone, and 2) not tell the person on the other end of the line that she would call back later.

I have no idea who she was talking to or what about. I guess it could have been life or death, but the rest of the table was relaxed and enjoying each other. I would think if their friend was talking somebody out of committing suicide, the energy at the table would have been a bit more tense. But I could be wrong.

Another thing that got me was that she chose to sit at the table for the duration of her long cell phone conversation. Sometimes when people take a call, they go outside and have a brief conversation. Perhaps the other person is a bully, and she was afraid of putting him off. Very sad, very strange.

Not as strange, however, as the late night party of three. Mom, Dad, and a grown daughter.

Dinner service is 5 to 9. It was 9 p.m. and we were empty. Three seemingly polite people wondered if we wouldn't mind accommodating them; of course we welcomed them in. At first, they seemed thankful for our offer of hospitality.

After approaching the table with a smile, I launch into the list of specials. Mom takes out a cell phone. Irritated, I decided to finish telling the specials to Dad and daughter. I guess this was disruptive, as Mom stayed glued in her seat but started yelling over me into the phone.

Bad move. Years of theatrical training have left me with the ability to project my voice over the best of them. I finished the specials and walked away.

Upon returning to take their order, Mom informed me that she had missed the specials because she had been on the phone. As if I hadn't noticed. Silly me, I thought she had been yelling into her coat sleeve.

I replied that her companions could fill her in regarding the specials. Yeah, not a good tip on that table, but it was worth it.
Cell Phone Manners in a Restaurant

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Would You Do?

Remembering a time quite awhile back that a pregnant woman came in by herself and was seated in my section.

Approaching with a smile, I greeted her and she politely requested seeing the wine list. This did not phase me; lots of people want to peruse our wine list for fun. We have a relatively eclectic collection of fine wines from France and California, as well as local wines and less expensive, table wines. Being a small establishment, we cannot stock a wide variety at once, so the wine list changes often. Also, we have a little grocery down the street in which you can purchase bottles, and the wine list indicates what is kept in stock down there. Lots of people want to look at the wine list for lots of reasons.

What did phase me was when she ordered a glass of wine. I know that my shock registered because after a moment, while I was standing there dumbfounded, I noticed she was giving me a dirty look. I left table side and approached the manager who was standing next to one of my most seasoned and experienced colleagues.

I asked what I should do. I was told refusing to serve her based upon her pregnancy would constitute a violation of her civil rights. If, however, I was uncomfortable serving the table, it could be transferred to another waitress.

I decided to keep the table and brought the lady her glass of red wine.

Normally, I am a champion for women's rights. A uterus is not a disability, pregnancy is not a disease, and normal people have children. Families need to be accommodated in their places of employment. Breeding is normal. And I will add to all that: a woman't body is hers and hers alone. The choices a patient makes are between a doctor and her patient.

That being said, I was grossly uncomfortable with the situation, and remain conflicted to this day. Sometimes having a value means letting other people do things that seem wrong. Would be hypocritical of me to expect the law to prevent a woman from choosing what to eat and drink based upon her "condition."  Without the freedom to make choices for ourselves, we live in a dictatorship, and nobody wants that.

I hope her alcohol intake during pregnancy was minimal, and I hope the baby was not adversely affected. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Canvas Dansko Clogs

Can't resist writing about these shoes, even if it does seem like shameless advertising. Hey, if you wait tables (or are a nurse, or any other work in which you are on your feet all day) then you probably already know how superior Dansko professional clogs are. If not, here ya' go:

  • Famous "rocker-bottom" soles. The rocking motion when you walk prevents fatigue.
  • Firm arch support also prevents fatigue and takes care of your foot while walking.
  • Roomy toe box in a fashionable and nice-looking shoe. Toes are comfortable; you look great!
  • Superior shock absorption rivals athletic footwear. 
  • Leather shoes are anti-microbial. (Microbes = eewww.) 
Now take all those incredible points, and add these for canvas Dansko shoes: 
  • Lighter weight shoes than traditional Dansko professional clogs.
  • The rubber heels are slip-resistant (as are the professional heels.) 
  • Lower heel; professional clogs have a 2 inch heel; Volley Dansko clogs have a 1-1/4 inch heel.
  • Breathable canvas uppers. Can be spot-cleaned with mild soap and water. 
  • Less expensive than traditional professional Dansko clogs. (Buy two pairs?) 
If you know your Dansko size, then you know your size for the new canvas Dansko Volley. And they come in black! 



For those who must maintain a formal appearance, canvas may not be an acceptable choice. The good news is that you can get Dansko Volley professional clogs made with box leather. The features and soles of the new Dansko Volley are the same, but the shoe looks more mature.


Of course, I couldn't resist including these because the pattern is so cute! These are canvas Dansko Volley clogs to wear when you are not waitressing. Why would you feet want anything else?






Chili's Mudslides

Okay, looks like management's grousing that the child had been served punch, not a mudslide, is over with and the mom really was telling the truth. According to the Chicagoist:

Quote:

"Chili's management said the waitress had only been working for a week and didn't know that alcoholic beverages were served in different glassware, and offered to comp the meal, but Tyree Davis called police and took photographs of the two drinks."

So now it is the waitress' fault. She didn't recognize the difference between bar glassware and plastic kiddie cups. Really? Instead of offering to comp. the meal, perhaps Chili's should comp. the kid's visit to the emergency room.

Check you children's food and drink, diners. Check you children's food and drink, diners. Check your children's food and drink, diners. No, I am not blaming the victim; I am hoping to prevent future catastrophe.

Love the title of the post in the Chicagoist:
We Remember Our First Mudslide

Addendum: It seems from further reading that the waitress may have simply picked up the wrong drink at the bar that was intended for another table. Hence the mother photographing how different the two drinks looked. Another report claims waitress approached the table a second time with the correct beverage and an apology, a bit too late for the 4 year old. The child was diagnosed with over ingestion of alcohol, but was later doing fine. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

More Children Drinking in Restaurants

Well, this sounds familiar. A week ago it was Applebee's serving a toddler margarita mix instead of apple juice, today it is Chili's serving a 4 year old girl an alcoholic mudslide, complete with vodka, kahlua and rum.

Management is disputing the chain of events; they seem to feel that the child ordered a kid's punch drink and the adult was served the mudslide. Perhaps everyone deserves their day in court, but I would be surprised if the mother is not telling the truth.


Quote from the article by the child's mother:

          "I want it to never happen again. My goal is, I don't want this to happen to another child," 
           said Davis.  

Problem is, it already has happened to another child. 


I wonder if they carded the kid first.

Chili's Serves a 4 Year Old a Mudslide Instead of a Chocolate Shake

Clarification

Many hearty thanks to The Only Slightly Cranky Waitress for this clarification. While there is a time and place for everything, an appropriate response in one situation may fall flat in another situation.

Not wishing to allow confused customers to embarrass themselves, Purple Girl has ever so kindly written this helpful missive. Do not eat out without reviewing!

Let's Review

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'll Have the To/MAH/to Soup

Now that we have ascertained in my Dear Abby post that separate checks are for cheapskates (what? we didn't ascertain that?), the following is the best argument for why parties should request separate checks.

Had a very large party one night that was comical in far too many ways... They had a reservation for ten, but they just kept coming in the door like an avalanche. We were grabbing empty tables and walking them over to the big party in a relatively full restaurant. It's no easy task to not knock a diner upside the head with the feet of a table, which has something to do with why we like to have tables for large parties set up ahead of time. The tables didn't fit together but the customers just sat down and said they didn't mind.

These were all travelers from England staying at local bed and breakfasts. They were ready to enjoy themselves. Bottles of wine were bought and passed around, both reds and whites. Salads, appetizers to share, and entrees. Had some gentlemen at the table most interested in our small selection of artisan (and rather expensive) bottled beers.

Except one woman. When I asked for her order, she said "I'll have the to-MAH-to soup."

When she said nothing else, I asked politely: "Would you like the soup with the entree course?"

Her heated response, "It IS my entree!" End of discussion.

I watched the table closely. This woman drank water and ate only the soup with the bread that comes to the table for free. She did not share food that others ordered, although there was sharing at the table. I watched her place a piece of bread in her bowl, and cut it up with her fork and knife. She got every last drop of soup that way. She did not order dessert.

Her bowl of soup should have cost her about $6 before tip.

I was floored at how these people wanted to pay. They wanted the bill split evenly amongst them, rather than have me separate out what everyone had ordered. Done this way, each person owed about $34.

She paid $34 for a bowl of tomato soup. I hope it was good. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dear Abby

This is great -- all the way back to December 14, 1965 in the Pittsburgh Press. Waitresses writing to Dear Abby, the famous advice columnist, about how customers seem to think they are stupid because they can't read minds.

Perhaps back then the rules had not yet been cemented. Today, if you want separate checks you ask for them. Don't ask, don't receive. These waitresses in the 60's were dealing with ambiguity. Some people thought that it was silly to bring one bill to one person when lots of people were dining at the table. Others expected one single check. What is a waitress to do?

Separate checks these days will cost you. In our little restaurant, when a table asks for separate checks the manager sticks an 18% tip on the pre-tax bill. This is for two reasons: 1) the extra time and work for the waitress maintaining separate checks, and 2) the fact that many people who want separate checks are penny pinchers. It comes down to if "I don't want to pay for your drink when I drank water," then "I probably don't want to tip, either."

Three cheers for Abigail Van Buren's words of wisdom: "Waitresses are not mind-readers." Word to the wise today: ask politely for what you want.
Dear Abby

Friday, April 15, 2011

Waitresses Happy to Learn They Will be Serving Nixon, Too

Score a point for Women's Lib. Found this old article about waitresses who took exception to being displaced by waiters for a presidential function. The producers of a black tie dinner planned on replacing the professional waitresses with waiters because "protocol traditionally has men serving at formal state affairs."

The women, alongside other women for equal rights, demanded being allowed to do their jobs and serve the president. Good for them!

Funny how times change. This article from 1970 sounds ludicrous by today's standards, and yet we haven't come as far as we need to. Today, we have cocktail waitresses fighting being terminated not for being female, but rather for aging and having a healthy body weight. We've come a long way, but not long enough.

Eugene Register Guard, September 2, 1970

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Celebration of Thirty Years of Waitressing

Vicki Richards, an energetic 64 year old, was recently honored by her employers and co-workers. She has been waitressing at Sargent's Restaurant in Hayden, North Idaho for thirty years.

Ms. Richards says she is in love with many of her customers, some of whom have been dining in the restaurant for the thirty years that she has been working there. To quote Ms. Richards: "You can't find many restaurants like this left," she said. "We're the old-fashioned kind. We love to spoil you, and take care of you."

There are still great waitresses out there. If I am ever in the area, this restaurant is a "must-visit."

Waitress Keeping Order for 30 Years

Monday, April 11, 2011

Toddler Served Margarita

Odd how I just posted about alcohol stings this morning. Then this shows up in the news.

A toddler was served margarita mix instead of apple juice. While this was an accident, it was a potentially deadly one. Had the child finished his drink, he would have died.

Word to the wise who learn from this incident: always, always, always check your child's food. Check for heat, check for fresh, check for appropriate and correct.

Also worth avoiding big chain restaurants with high turnover; mistakes like this are more likely to happen when employees are transient, unprofessional and careless.

Addendum: Have been told (see comments) that corporate policy at Applebee's is to use these same jugs for different beverages and mark them with a different colored tape. This must be a cost-cutting measure that almost cost a toddler his life. It seems to me that corporate is ethically responsible for spending the money to hold beverages in the bar in appropriate and different containers. 

In mixup, toddler served alcohol at Applebee's restaurant, police say - CNN.com

Alcohol Non-Compliance, or Why We Card

Alcohol stings are not uncommon. An adult who is an undercover police officer and at least one minor will enter a restaurant. The minor orders a beer (or any alcoholic beverage.) When he does not get carded but does get served, the restaurant gets cited for breaking the law.

Serving alcoholic beverages is a great profit-maker for the owners and the servers alike. Amazing how much some people will spend for a cocktail. Once the booze affects the brain, they are more likely to order more, racking up their bill. And when it comes time to tip, the server is happy (unless you are a cheapskate.)

General wisdom is to card anybody who looks under 30 years of age. Being a terrible judge of age, I have carded people who turned out to be in their 40s. I actually had a rather youthful-seeming woman stand up and hug me when I carded her. At least the women feel its a compliment; men get annoyed.

Because booze is such a good source of profit, getting cited and having the license to serve alcohol taken away from the restaurant, even if temporary, hits an owner where it hurts most. The law is the law, and we are all required to obey it whether we agree with it or not. In addition, one would have to be a complete idiot to not know that minors cannot drink in restaurants.

Police officers have every right to eat in restaurants. They come in with their families when off-duty; I have also served officers in uniform.

I had a table let the teenager drink out of Mom's wine glass and act like they didn't know it wasn't okay. I was ready to string them up. The hostess felt I should have been nicer about their lies. Baloney. Had an off-duty or undercover cop been at the next table, we, the restaurant, could have gotten in trouble for not enforcing the laws which we are required to uphold.

Some people who don't agree with laws lobby to change them in appropriate ways. Others pretend they didn't understand why their minor children were not served wine glasses. Give me a break.

Feeling The Sting of Alcohol Non-Compliance

Friday, April 8, 2011

How Not to Make a Sale

This restaurant review is serious and its not a bad review -- sounds like the place is popular. The waitress, however, could use to learn a thing or two about salesmanship. Her foilbles made me laugh so hard I almost fell out of my chair. 


Remember, waitresses theoretically make a percentage on what diners order. So to make money, sell. How do you sell stuff? 

  • Be a professional. Know the prices, and if you don't know something, go find out.
  • Give the bad news -- the prices -- quickly and quietly, then
  • launch into what is wonderful about the thing the customer is considering.
  • When the customers talks, bite your tongue and listen. Make eye contact. Respond intelligently. 
When the customer trusts you know of what you speak, he will spend money on what you suggest. 



This is hysterical: 


"...our waitress helpfully told us that she thinks the company doesn’t want you to think too much about drink prices; they just want you to order drinks. This did not make us want to order drinks, ... other drinks ranged  from "about $4 to about $7" but she wasn't sure and made no attempt to find out..."


Of course we just want you to order stuff, but some of us know we have to work to get you to do it. I do sincerely hope our inexperienced friend in the review was able to make her rent.  


Buffalo Wild Wings in Cranberry

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Life Imitates Art

Remember the movie in which the customer runs out of cash and can't tip the waitress. To make up for his faux-pas, he promises to split the winnings of his lottery ticket -- if it wins. The sweet little waitress knows she is being stiffed by a cheapskate.

Except his ticket is a winning lottery ticket. And he really does split the cash with the waitress, much to his jealous wife's dismay. In the end, the movie was crafted to be a cute, heartwarming and uplifting comedy.

Not that anybody ever expects that to really happen. Waitress Patricia Eisel's story isn't a word-for-word repeat of the movie, but I doubt she is complaining. Ms. Eisel claims that she will continue to serve as the restaurant in which she has been working in spite of her millions. I do sincerely hope that her customers continue to tip.

Lucky Waitress Patricia Eisel Thanks Winter Storms for $21.5 million Lottery Win

Monday, April 4, 2011

Waitresses Not Sexy Enough to Keep Jobs

Waitresses Not Sexy Enough to Keep Jobs 

Here we go again -- blast from the past that we should never revisit. A current event involving women losing their jobs and means of support for no other reason than getting older, fatter, and not being sexy enough to fit into new skimpy costumes.

The whole thing stinks of a misogynistic pig-fest. Waitresses were ordered to strip in front each other; they had to remove their bras. Costumes were strewn about the floor and waitresses had to crawl around looking for one that would fit. Sizes were not marked.

The ladies were under the impression that the photo-shoot was to evaluate the costumes. They were wrong. The photo-shoot was to evaluate nothing more than their bodies. And to fire those who didn't have "the look."

Long-time waitresses were fired for "uniform violations." Read that: not anorexic enough. Healthy women with enough meat on their bones to work a full shift on their feet need not apply.

What is a Waitress Job Description?

A waitress takes orders, remembers who ordered what at each of her many tables, bring various courses, communicates with the kitchen, walks around the restaurant all night, makes drinks, and manages to be gracious all evening. She uses her brain and performs emotional labor.

She also most likely cleans the place at the end of the shift. She had better be healthy and energetic.

She is often responsible for her cash-out, so she better be smart and good at math. Waitresses must be extremely organized in order to efficiently get every aspect of their job done and done well.

What a Waitress is Not

A waitress is not a prostitute. She should not be dressed like one. She should not be fired based upon her thigh circumference or bra size.

No wonder so few people show respect for hard working waitresses. They think we are there for their "entertainment." Even management seems to hold this view; how could an efficient, long-time waitress lose her job over her waistline while a young, untrained and still skinny girl gets to work?

Obviously, management at the casino does not understand what a waitress really does. And any manager who thinks some rich john out to cheat on his wife is going to tolerate Twiggy getting his order wrong may have another think coming.

I hope these women win their lawsuit, get the casino shut down, and retire in style on their settlements. Sexual discrimination is illegal, and these women have been discriminated against. 

Associated Press reports on this news item:
Fired Casino Waitresses Sue

Excellent book on emotional labor and the mistreatment of women in the workforce:




Labels: 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

RESTAURANTS 4 RELIEF

What a wonderful effort by California waitress Sora Matsunaga!

Ms. Matsunaga works as a waitress at Legacy Thai Cuisine restaurant in La Quinta, Palm Springs, California. She has partnered with the American Red Cross (Riverside County Chapter) to help her bring her idea to fruition. She thought of a way to offer relief efforts for Japan: RESTAURANTS 4 RELIEF. All participating restaurants, including Matsunaga's employer, will donate a portion of all meals purchased from April 22 through April 23, 2011 to the American Red Cross. Those funds will go toward relief for Japan.

Matsunaga continues to look for additional restaurants to participate in this fundraiser.

What a great idea! What a great waitress!

Local Waitress Launches Effort To Help Japan Earthquake Victims - Local News Story - KESQ Palm Springs