UnderCover Waitress: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twin Peaks Must Be White

Yesterday, we talked about breastaurants. I notice a similarity when I browse news items about Hooters, Twin Peaks, Tilted Kilt and whatever other "eatery" requires waitstaff to be female, young, and barely dressed. Over 90% of the waitresses in the photographs are white.

To see what I mean, check out the Babes of America's Biggest Breastaurants. (Warning: this may be borderline safe for work.)

Which makes this news item from the Orange County Register all the more interesting. Under most circumstance, I would applaud a community that puts its foot down and does not allow a restaurant to use our daughters as "bait." When the "bait" is a non-white waitresses serving non-white men, suddenly Orange County agrees with me.

Little Saigon has Vietnamese cafes that serve coffees and teas. They are places in which men come to smoke, visit, and drink coffee and tea. The female wait staff are reported as dressing in lingerie, which is somehow deemed offensive but the Hooters tank top is not? I've seen underwear that covers more than the orange Hooters shorts.

The police are cracking down on illegal gambling and gang activity associated with the cafes. They are also cracking down on smoking (which is illegal in indoor public places in California) and waitress attire.

Perhaps they will crack down on waitress attire issues in any and all restaurants, even when the waitresses are mostly white.



Tell Your Waitresses to Get Dressed

Hooters Meets Starbucks

Monday, May 30, 2011

Restaurants Spelled With a "B"

"Breastaurants" is the term for the type of restaurant. No kidding.

Used to be daddys were worried about their little girls growing up to make porn movies or walk the streets. Today, daddy needs to worry that she might work as a waitress.

Oh, no! I have to wait on
my chemistry professor!
The Tilted Kilt, which claims to be an eatery, was written about in Entreprenuer Magazine online. The CEO claims that men come into the restaurant for more than just watching women. Supposedly, they have great food, beer, and a television screens showing sports. I don't see the guys in the picture (in the article) watching sports, and I highly suspect that if they had been served Gorton's fish sticks from the freezer section they would still be sitting there with the same stupid grins on their faces.

Why do I care? Because our sisters and daughters are not objects to be "eye-fondled" by men who are willing to pay for the privilege. We have gone from stewardesses fighting to not be publicly ridiculed at weigh-ins (such as in "The Managed Heart",) from women fighting to be given the same chance at education and work as men, from women fighting to be respected as working adults with dignity, to younger women encouraged to flaunt their bodies to make money.

The CEO says:

We sell on sex appeal, but we are sexy classy, sexy smart or sexy cute. Not sexy stupid or sexy trashy.

Excuse me? The uniforms are the very essence of trashy.

If it were really about being classy she would be clothed. If it were really about a smart "girl" (she is a woman) working her way through college she would be clothed. If it were really about the waitress service she would be clothed.

In closing, am reminded of an old "Seinfeld" episode in which Elaine notices that all of the waitresses at the local coffee shop are big-busted. She decides to expose the discrimination by applying to work as waitress while wearing a big shirt that makes her look rather small-busted. When she does not get the job, she is ready to file lawsuits until she learns that the waitresses are the daughters of the coffee shop owner which is why they all look alike. And he really does not need to hire additional help.

Am wondering what would happen if a bunch of professional waitresses who are older and have some meat on their bones all applied en masse to "breastaurants." Might be a great protest to put together.

Am also wondering if the CEO of Tilted Kilt would let his own daughter work there. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Red Onions

And we close this week of posting with one of my fondest memories waitressing. It is a small thing, but so often the small things are the most important.

Blech!
First, let me be clear: I hate eating raw, red onions. Things are bloody disgusting. Slip a few pieces into my salad and I suffer horribly with a vile aftertaste that twenty minutes of vigorous tooth-brushing cannot erase. Okay, I exaggerate a little bit. But I really don't like them.

Am work-friends with the sous chef. He is a joy; a true professional with a great sense of humor and highly skilled. My favorite shifts are the shifts during which he is in charge.

Being human, I made a mistake one night (okay, I have made mistakes on more than one night over the past six or seven years.) But this night, I made a boo-boo that rather inconvenienced the sous chef, and he was understandably not happy.

He made a nice dinner for me later that night, as they do in the kitchen every night for staff. On top of my mound of mashed potatoes were strings of delicately laid out red onions. I got a great laugh out of it. I said, "I didn't know you were passive-aggressive!" He smiled and said he liked to keep people guessing.

Guess were even after that.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Psychology: Restaurant Patrons Prefer Blondes

2011 finance graduate Melissa Galm studied waitress tip earnings with the only variable in the study being hair color. Waitress tips were recorded over a long period of time, they dyed their hair, and tips continued to be recorded.


Psychology article at the Holy Family University website describes the study and the results. Guess what? Restaurant diners prefer blondes.

In my ebook, How to Make Money and Bigger Tips as a Waitress, I discuss the importance of appearance and how waitresses must present themselves in order to make bigger tips from customers. If might not seem fair, but colorful tattoos on arms should be covered to earn the best tips. I never thought, however, to tell people to dye their hair blonde.

Anyone for some blonde highlights?

              Diners Prefer Blondes

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Walk a Shift in My Danskos

At great risk of giving this more attention than it deserves, found a (for lack of a better word) offensive comparison of waitress work and pizza delivery work. Parents are advised to not compare their children, and teachers are advised to not compare their students. The restaurant industry is well-advised to not compare different jobs. However, Pizza Writer has compiled a comparison of waitress duties and pizza delivery duties that belittles the waitress, whether that was the intention or not. The chart is grossly inaccurate and unfair.

The point is to get people to tip pizza delivery guys the same as they would tip a waitress in a full-service restaurant. He claims that the two jobs are essentially the same, which is hogwash.

So, decided to put together my responses to Pizza Writer's description of my job. I do not claim that the job of the pizza delivery person is easy, but I do claim that it is not comparable to waitressing. Am willing to bet that anybody who had performed both jobs at different times in life would agree with me. The two jobs are different.

The words after each "Waitress" are my own.

First, General Duties.

Waitress: Must greet all walk-ins and expected customers with a smile. She must be willing to answer questions and be gracious regardless of how busy she is. When the hostess is busy, she may have to stop and seat people. 
According to Pizza Writer, Delivery Guy: Finds the customer's house, finds a place to park, and knocks on the door. The customer is usually not ready, so you must knock again and wait a few minutes in any kind of weather. 

Am wondering if the pizza delivery guy is wearing appropriate clothing for the "any kind of weather?"  

Waitress: Budgets her time carefully to explain the specials to each table, answer questions, and be gracious no matter how busy she is. She takes a drink order then either fills it herself or gives the order to a bartender. If working with a bartender, she will return to the bar to pick up the order. When returning to the table, the customer is usually not ready to order so she must approach numerous times. 
According to Pizza Writer, Delivery Guy: Takes the customer's order over the phone and describes current specials.

Waitress: While waiting on numerous tables at one time, the waitress must respond to the kitchen's call to pick up the order and serve the table. For larger parties, she will either walk back and forth many times, or balance six plates on her hands and arms. 
According to Pizza Writer, Delivery Guy: Serves the order at the customer's door. Gives customers their drinks, although fewer delivery customers order drinks. Asks the customer at the door if things are okay with the order. Delivery customers order greater quantities, so refills are not necessary.

1) I have never had a delivery person ask me if the order was satisfactory. I have had to call the pizza joint because the wrong pizza was delivered; the delivery guys tend to leave quickly. 
2) Refills are not necessary with delivery orders not because customers order more, but rather because the pizza guy's job does not include sticking around to offer refills. 

Waitress: Must approach table again to find out if they want anything else, then politely leave the bill if they decline to order more. 
According to Pizza Writer, Delivery Guy: Gives customer the bill. 

It goes on and on like this. 

As a waitress, I do more than just vacuum a carpet at the end of the shift. We vacuum a large dining room, sweep and mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, clean and restock the bar, polish silverware and glassware, clean the coffee area and restock coffee and teas, clean the bread area... Pizza Writer seems to feel that my sidework is limited to vacuuming and wiping and resetting tables if I don't have a busser doing it for me. What a cush job that would be. 

Let's move on to his second part: Dynamics. 

I did not know until I read Pizza Writer's comparison chart that I get to walk all of 40 feet and on a carpet, no less. In reality, I walk around a full dining room all night long, on both carpet, floor, tile, etc. I walk on the wet, slippery floor in the dish room. I walk in the kitchen and in the dining room. We waitresses tend to invest in $120 Dansko shoes that maybe we can't afford, but they are slip-proof and orthopedic and worth every penny. 

Yes, I keep my "pens and shoes in working order." I also keep my car in working order; most people drive or take the bus to work. 

Obviously, Pizza Writer has not been exposed to restaurants that offer al fresco dining. This must be why he thinks we stay inside during the shift. And don't start on the "inclement weather" stuff. I've broken down many an outside dining area in the rain. I've run downstairs (which involves walking down an outside path) in the snow to get ice or other items from storage. 

I also don't know where he gets the idea that 45 minutes is an "average customer visit." When people go out for a nice dinner, they usually take a minimum of two hours. I had a 12 top the other night who sat around the table for 4 hours. 

I recognize that Pizza Writer believes it is "no problem" for me to walk one pizza 40 feet. If that were what I was doing all night, I might agree with him. I am more likely to walk four plates at a time, back and forth for three courses. 

Third: Rate of Pay

When we waitresses are cleaning the bathroom and everything else in the restaurant at the end of the shift, we are still making our tipped employee wage. I notice that Pizza Writer states that when the delivery people are not driving, they get bumped up to minimum wage. And their driving wage is higher than my tipped employee wage. 

Pizza Writer asks, "What's wrong with this picture?" A lot, starting with the ridiculous belittling of the waitress job duties. Pizza delivery and waitressing are not similar jobs as the writer claims. They are not comparable. 

Traditional Wood Clogs
To his credit, Pizza Writer says he does not intend to insult waitresses. Unfortunately, he has failed in his attempt to not be insulting. Perhaps he should walk a shift in my Danskos before passing judgment on how easy or similar to delivering take-out pizza my job is. 

Word to the wise: everything is not always what it looks to you on the surface. If you would like to be paid as a waitress or waiter, try working as one.

Take a poll and tell us what you think:


Is the Tip the Pizza Guy Comparison Chart Fair?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You're Fired!

Hopefully, I can title my blog post this way. To the best of my knowledge, Donald Trump has not trademarked the phrase...

Remember Megan Humphrey, the waitress who takes pictures of receipts with bad tips and posts them on Facebook? As far as I know, she has not been fired. Therefore, she would have no reason to join the little gem I found on Facebook, a group you join after you post an opinion about your workplace on Facebook and then get fired for bad-mouthing the company, or for not maintaining appropriate confidentiality.

The fun irony here is first they bad-mouth their employers on Facebook. Then when they get fired, they go back to Facebook, join this group and openly brag about getting fired for saying "X." I wonder if then they go looking for another job?

The poster-child for losing your job due to Facebook postings is Ashley Johnson, the Brixx Pizza ex-employee who posted her irritation with a couple who stayed late and tipped her $5. Hey, part of the job of waitressing is staying until your customers are ready to leave. Customers do not come into a restaurant to accommodate the staff, then pay us for the privilege.

There is a mariner saying, "Loose lips sink ships."

Check this out soon because Facebook is going to archive old groups.
Have You Been Fired Because of Facebook?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Here's Your Coat, Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry?

Location, location, location. Service, service, service.

Having a decent restaurant walking distance from a nice hotel in an area that attracts tourists could equal success. As always in the restaurant industry, bad service can reverse that success.

Been on an intensive grade-school field trip these past few days. The first night those of us who were staying in a hotel walked en masse across the lot to the restaurant. Now, I've been known to catch my breath when a large party with no reservation walks in. I tend to get over it quickly and get down to business -- making them happy and making money. My job wouldn't be very lucrative if people didn't walk in the front door.

The waitress was efficient but still a bit out of her league. She was stiff and looked overwhelmed the whole time; I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I gave her a good tip.

Went back the next night as a party of four, me, my husband and our two children. Not sure it is possible for a restaurant staff to make any more clear that they want you to hurry up and leave so they can turn the table.


We are in the middle of eating and a grossly untrained busser comes by asking if he can take anything for us. He is nervously tripping over his tongue the whole time. In an attempt to be civilized, I refrained from saying "go away" and gave him a simple "no." Many restaurant employees and managers need to be told that it is the mark of good service to let everyone at the table finish before clearing the course. This place, however, needs to be told to let at least one person at the table finish eating before attempting to clear. What did he expect us to do? Give him our half-eaten meals while we are busy chewing?

The next time somebody wanted to clear our table, my husband had put down his utensils but was (can you guess?) still chewing. Even harder to tell somebody you are not finished with food still in your mouth. Can't they at least wait until we are not actively eating?

The final straw for me was when I arrived back to the table from taking my daughter to the restroom, and my water glass had been removed. In my restaurant, water glasses that are near empty get refilled. In the Boathouse, they get removed in the hopes that the customer will take the hint.

In my restaurant, entrees are cleared and dessert is offered. Not at this place. I got coffee elsewhere.

I complained to the hostess on my way out. I pointed out that the "service" was inhospitable and asked her if there were any other ways they could come up with to get customers to leave. The perky twenty-something assured me that she would let the appropriate people know about my complaint. Not sure exactly what the chances of that happening are. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hotels

Been out of town, sorry to not post Thursday morning! Will say one thing and be back on Monday, bright and early.

Hotels can be wonderful, pampering places. Ours had a fridge and a microwave in the room, which was rather luxurious. What could possibly inspire people in this day and age to set up a coffee service in the bathroom? Has anyone, ever, taught hotel management about basic hygiene?

Raccoons won't eat near ammonia because they think it means someone or something has been peeing in the area. Raccoons are clean animals. Humans, on the other hand, seem to think next to the toilet is an appropriate place to set up beverage service. Have a seat while the coffee brews!

Oy. Am tired. See you Monday! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shoosh! Don't Say "Tip"

Working as a waitress is like being in a play. We love serving you. We'd do it for free 'cuz we love it so much, and when you leave a tip it's a nice "thank you" thrown our way. We certainly don't expect it.

Yeah, right.

Quiet evening, had a six-top of ladies enjoying food and friendship. Was glad to have them, especially considering it was not busy. Easy to give them good service and they seemed to have a lovely time.

When it was time to pay the bill, I was handed a couple of credit cards and some cash by the leader of the group. She gave me clear instructions how to take payment. Her instructions did not include tip, but at that point I was not worried. I followed her instructions and returned all of the change to her.

As they were leaving, the receipt on the table said "cash" on the tip line. There was no cash in the bill folder. So, yeah, I started to worry. I needed to say something but did not want to be rude, so I approached the leader of the group and gently stated that I wanted to make sure that I took her payment correctly. I clearly made it sound like I thought I had made a mistake and wanted to make sure I had followed her instructions correctly.

She yelled at me. "Did I not write 'cash' on the receipt?" I was standing there holding an empty bill folder with the receipt inside. "I left it on the table! Oh, I'll go get it."

She rushed over to the table so she could pocket some of the tip that they had hidden under the sugar caddy, which explains why I didn't see it. Most people just leave it in the bill folder with the receipt.

After docking my pay because I dared to voice my confusion, she went and told the hostess that "we had big problems with our waitress!" Fortunately, the hostess was well aware that the table had been quite happy until just before they left, and wanted to hear my side of what happened. (It also helps to work with the same people for a long time; they get to know your strengths and weaknesses.)

The bottom line was that one never mentions or even alludes to the tip. We all are supposed to pretend that we are not being paid for providing service. So, I could have made $3 an hour waiting on a six-top over a miscommunication instead of asking for clarification. The customers found my confusion highly offensive. What baloney. I'll bet if her paycheck was ever incorrect, she went strait to her boss for 'clarification.'

Not only is restaurant theater, it's dysfunctional. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mini, Kids, Small, Medium, Large, Grande, Mammoth

Nice list of suggested tip amounts on the "I Got Stiffed" blog. A good one to print out and keep in the wallet. But that's not what this post is about.

This is a gem from the published list:

     Drive-Thru– $0. And check your bag. Your order is probably wrong.

Got a good giggle out of that. It brought back memories of other issues I have had with drive thru food joints.

Am not a fan of fast food, but back when the kids took dance lessons we would swing by Wendy's for chicken nuggets to nosh on the way home. Wendy's thinks it is Starbucks. They have developed their own fancy language that if you don't learn, you can't order. I shouldn't need a translator so I can give my kids junk and tell myself "it's protein."

End of the day, rush hour traffic, and I have two tired, hungry kids in the back seat. Am staring at the big "this is what we have" display desperately looking for a dollar menu or something. The voice coming out of the box wants me to order, as do the line of cars of behind me.

So I tell her what we want: "May we please have two orders of the smallest chicken nuggets you have?"

I get corrected: "We don't have chicken nuggets. We have chicken tenders." Silence.

Me: "Okay, so can I have two orders of the smallest chicken tenders?" As if that weren't bloody obvious.


Driving to the window, I am handed a bag and charged something ridiculously close to $10, if memory serves. Planning on spending $3, I am a little miffed and confused. The 20-something with the nose ring starts jabbering on and on about how if I had wanted the junior size I should have said junior, but this was the small size which is bigger than the junior but it's still the small size and if you want the junior then you have to say the word "junior" ... I drove off.

We switched to Burger King.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Show-Me's

Remember Michael Lynn, psychologist and professor at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration? He is the guy who ran some studies on how various waitress behaviors effect tips. The next time you are at a family restaurant and the waitress squats like her knees just gave out, or worse sits down as if she is going to join you for lunch, you have Lynn to thank.

Which is why I love this quote:

Lovelace said he was “disturbed” when a waitress sat down at his table. He said he later called
       the mayor’s office to complain.

Priceless.

Truth be told, however, it's much more complicated than that. Lovelace is the president of the Copperfield Village Town Homes Association, and was dining at the Show-Me's restaurant in Naperville near his home.

Show Me's is a Hooters-esque establishment in which waitresses are slightly covered with spandex shorts and tops that expose their bellies. Naperville imposes it's own restrictions on the local eatery, including that waitress attire must be cuffed shorts, no spandex, and t-shirts long enough to be tucked in.

It seems there is a bit of a battle waging between the Copperfield Village Town Homes Association and Show-Me's your belly-button. Methinks that the Homes Association is not thrilled with Naperville's acceptance of a pseudo-Hooters in its neighborhood, which would explain the president of the association calling the mayor to complain. Officially, Lovelace alleged that the waitress was out of uniform -- she was wearing spandex shorts.

The Naperville Show-Me's spokespeople are more than happy to defend themselves. Why, of course they are running a good restaurant that benefits the community. Guess what? According toVice President Joel Hon, they even sell more food than alcohol. Good for them. That just about says it all.


Bottom line (no pun intended) is that professional servers wear more than just their skivvies, and do not cuddle up to diners sitting in booths or help themselves to an extra chair while taking a food order.

Naperville Drops Some Restrictions on Show-Me's


Friday, May 13, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy Friday

And we prepare to end the posting week this Friday morning with an "Aawwwwwwee" type of story. Sort of like when you are watching the news and they stop talking about recent murders and do a story on some kid's cat having kittens.

Big family eating out at a restaurant gets a surprise when they try to pay their bill: it's been paid by a stranger. Could be a random act of kindness. (Could also be a sociopathic stalker, but I'm a cynic.) The article is a nice thank you note.

The author rather spoils it by musing about things that make her family so wonderful as to cause another person to want to pay her bills. They thank Jesus for food and adopt kids that don't look like them. So, my family with children who came to be via vile, filthy, unholy (and enjoyable!) sex acts is inferior.

Of course, my first thought while reading this missive was, "Did they tip?" Sometimes, when one person pays another's bill, he tells the waitress to add on X percent for tip. (If you are ever so lucky as to have your dinner paid for by a stalker stranger, it is good form to leave some cash on the table for the waitress.) I can't resist asking, What Would Jesus Tip?


How Touching

Blogger was down for quite awhile these past few days. Have attempted to get the posts up, now that Blogger is back. Have a great weekend and see you Monday morning! 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Soup Shower

I'm speechless.



Almost.

This is hysterical. A guy goes out to eat and a clumsy waitress spills more than one bowl of soup all over him. Her response? "It's okay because it's just miso soup. No oils."

No, it's not okay. It is definitely not okay. And it's not okay that they guy proceeded to sit in his cold, wet, squishy clothing (complete with tofu and seaweed; very good for the skin when applied topically) and finish his meal as if it was okay. Not to blame the victim, however. Just imagining the scene and it does have a surreal quality.

It's also not okay that the non-oily soup had to be dry cleaned out of the guy's jacket. He claims he is not trying to get the restaurant to pay, just to apologize. I think they should apologize by paying. Yes, accidents happen. Yes, people apologize for causing said accidents. Yes, gracious people accept apologies. You can't accept an apology that isn't offered.

If this scene were in a movie, we'd all be falling out of our seats laughing at the slapstick and deadpan humor.

At least say you're sorry.

Blogger was down for awhile and now that it is back I seem to have lost two comments on this post. I can't seem to get the originals back, but did paste the copies from my email. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hygiene

Hi, my name is Under --

Hi, Under.

-- and I am a germ-a-phobe.

Imagine my disgust at this news tidbit that a friend forwarded me. Actually, "disgust" does not begin to describe my reaction to the bit about the lemon wedges. Having ordered drinks with bar fruit in restaurants, I am now suffering with full-blown PTSD.  

I don't sit on public restroom toilet seats. I perform all sorts of calisthetics with a wet paper towel in order to avoid touching the door handle after scrubbing my hands. I could probably perform surgery after my usual hand hygiene routine; I'm clean enough by the time I'm finished.

All of my precautions are for naught, as now I must ask, how in this world do fecal bacteria get on BAR FRUIT?!? Quote:    

"When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria."

It's bad enough that restaurants are being lumped in with public bathrooms as being full of unfriendly bacteria and communicable disease. The idea that the menu is a petri dish is gross but quasi-understandable. Maybe I should make my kids wash hands after ordering instead of before. But fruit that gets put on people's drinks? "Don't touch that food! It's covered with E Coli!" 

Ignorance being bliss, perhaps I should simply stop reading. Or better yet, I'll start wearing a haz-mat suit when I eat out. 






Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Job Discrimination or Company Policy?

Wow. Just posted a blurb yesterday about Freedom of Speech, then I stumble upon this. See, this is the gray area around private employers requiring behavior/speech/dress. Religion is a protected status, as are sexuality, gender, age and disability.*

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees and cannot discriminate against them based upon the above categories. For example, many businesses have wheelchair ramps and elevators to accommodate those who are confined to wheelchairs.

So this story is about a staged series of job interviews put on by actors. Diners in the restaurant don't know they are actors. The actor playing the restaurant manager interviews a Jewish actor wearing a yarmulke, a Muslim actress wearing her traditional head scarf, and a Sikh actor wearing a turban. Each interviewee is told s/he can have the job under one condition: strict adherence to the dress code. The dress code does not allow for any religious clothing or head covering.
Me doing my
lunch shift dance.

Illegal? I think so. A good case could be made for the illegality of not accommodating an employee who wishes to wear a religious head covering that does not interfere with his or her ability to perform the job well. Now, if I belonged to a religion in which I was required to dance naked around a bonfire from noon to 12:30 every day, argument could be made that I should avoid the lunch shift. But wearing a yarmulke? Get real.

The sad thing is that the experiment displayed many prejudiced people who sided with the manager. Any bets on if a waitress was told she was not allowed to wear her gold confirmation cross, the same people would think the manager was being too harsh? Bear in mind the Christian religion does not require the jewelry; other religions require head covering.

This story resonated with me on a deep, personal level. I am a Jew. Remember one year, many years back, a manager announced that anybody who worked Christmas Eve would work on New Year's Eve. See, everybody wanted to work New Year's Eve for the tips, but most employees wanted Christmas Eve off with their families. I worked Christmas Eve. Guess what? Found out last minute that I wasn't working New Year's Eve, but the manager's friend who had not worked Christmas Eve was. That's so bloody illegal she should have been fired on the spot.

This was not the only stupid thing that --insert favorite expletive insult here-- did, and she ended up leaving in shame for many reasons. Good riddance.

Job Discrimination v. Company Policy

*I am not a lawyer, just a stupid waitress. ;-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bad Tippers Beware

Come back with my tip!!!
Megan Humphrey is probably her real name. And she works as a waitress in Memphis, TN. She says that for every one good customer she serves, she serves about six bad ones. Those are terrible odds.

Revenge is a dish best served on the Internet. Humphrey is taking pictures of the restaurant receipts with zero or bad tips, and posting them on her Facebook page. Incidentally, Humphrey's page is private so the general public can't see it -- or so I've been told.

Now, some of us, your truly included, get censored at some point in our writing careers for expressing our opinions. In general, there is nothing illegal about a private employer requesting that an employee refrain from some speech. Not very different from requiring that employees remove the nose ring while working. (No, Freedom of Speech does not apply here.*)

There is also nothing illegal about what Ms. Humphrey is doing. She is not posting credit card numbers, just names and proof of cheap behavior. She is embarrassing people (who are smart enough to know they should be embarrassed) for being cheapskates. No lies, no slander. I think I like this woman.

Facebook Revenge

*In short, Freedom of Speech prevents the government from stopping (peaceful) public assembly and expression. Hate speech has become an exception to this rule. Private employers may not discriminate. But I'm just a stupid waitress, so you should probably read the Constitution for yourself.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Waitressing is Dangerous Work

It's true, but who'da thunk it?

Check out these news items:

First, in Memphis TN, a waitress was punched in the face when she gave chase to a patron who smashed his plate on the floor and skipped out on the bill. I doubt I would have given chase, but she was probably trying to avoid having to pay the guy's bill out of her income. The diner, a real Einstein, ended up paying $250 in bail instead $5.95 plus tip.
Punched in Face

Next, in Colorado, another definite Einstein relative makes eye contact with the waitress and lets her see his face. After he takes his drink from her, he pulls a stocking over his head and makes like he has a gun. Next time I want a free drink, I'm gonna put my hand in my pocket and stick out my finger.
Wait! Let me cover my face first. 

This nice young man knew that his neighbor worked as a waitress and, therefore, was paid in cash. As any good neighbor, he broke into her place repeatedly to take the cash. I think he was trying to tell her she needs a bank account.
Friendly Neighbor

And we end in sunny California with same old, same old. A guy who gets drunk, grabs the waitress and hits people. Yawn.  Yeah, I heard that one   before.
Touchy-Feely

I think I am going to join a S.W.A.T. team. Or maybe the Marines. You know, something safer than waitressing. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pink Slips are Coming...

...perhaps.

Thanks to Sarah Kessler for reporting on a new technology that may (?) have a massive impact on the restaurant industry. It seems we are replaceable.

E la Carte is selling touchscreen tablets that go with a table. Instead of a waiter or waitress approaching to tell the specials and take the order, customers browse the menu via the tablet and place their order at their own convenience. Customers can go back and order more whenever they wish, so this may turn into a money-maker for restaurant owners.

The tablet also serves as a form of entertainment. Diners can play games on the device while they wait. (So they can ignore each other with the tablet instead of texting.)

To make the food service workers even more obsolete, customers can pay using the tablet then leave at their leisure.

Of course, somebody needs to walk the food, refill the water, and bus the table. So far, the tablet does not have legs. So, am wondering if customers really want to tip 20 percent for a little footwork. And if they don't, will owners and managers share the increased profits with the front of house staff in the form of a higher hourly wage?

Am reminded of Michael Scott from "The Office" insisting that Dunder Mifflin Paper Company will thrive in the face of competition from Staples and Office Supply. He believes that his more expensive paper will continue to sell because of the "excellent service" his company offers, for a price. How much do restaurant customers want the smiling banter and human contact that a full-service waitress or waiter provides? Would they rather forego the chit-chat and just play "B'loons" while they wait for their food?

So much remains to be seen.

Your next waiter or waitress may be a tablet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Utensils

The comment card left in a bill holder a few years ago said it all. Customer made the valid point that in an establishment such as ours (or any restaurant, in my opinion) wait staff should not remove eating utensils from plates and place them back on the table for the customer to use again.

Yeah, I think I know which waitress that was and she sure didn't last very long.

It's a restaurant. There are drawers filled with clean, polished eating utensils. Now, if people were eating during a survival type training camp experience, I would understand everyone being limited to a bowl, knife, and canteen. Drives me nuts, however, when in a nice restaurant wait staff and bussers expect dinner patrons to slurp the excess salad dressing off of their forks before digging into their entrees.

Had a rare evening out with my husband and we went to a spot we both enjoy: unpretentious, great food, great service. Our waitress was a tribute to the profession. The busser, on the hand, could use some more training. Busser expected my husband to hang on to his used fork and knife for when our entrees arrived. He is an easy going guy and would have shrugged it off; however, I am not an easy going gal. When our waitress came by, I politely requested clean utensils for my husband. Her eyes got big and she took care of it right away, for which we were grateful. We tipped especially well that night because she earned it.

Now for some funnies:

Somehow, it's the spoons that get lost first. Seasoned waitresses sometimes hoard a few spoons in their apron pockets because they know that by the time people are ordering dessert, all of the spoons will be gone.

In our little spot, the soup spoons were disappearing into thin air. I think I know why.

We had some dishes that included lots of mussels. These meals required an extra dish in which to deposit empty shells. Used to be in the habit of placing a soup spoon (and sometimes a fish fork) in the extra bowl and bringing this to the table just before bringing the food.

Once food arrived the unwashed masses dived for the mussels with their grubby hands and threw the shells in the other bowl, never noticing the utensils for which they seemed to have no need. Bussers come along and toss the empty shells into the garbage, also never noticing the buried soup spoon (and sometimes fish fork.) No wonder we kept running out of soup spoons.

So, its a hot busy night and I've managed to hoard a couple of soup spoons in my pocket, but I know everyone is going to want the gazpacho. Are you sure you don't want salad? Salad is so refreshing...

Management, of course, told people to stop placing the soup spoons in the shells bowl. And they got the owners to spring for more soup spoons. Happy ending.

Clean utensils are a many splendored thing.    


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Out of Context

Picture this:

You call a week ahead of time and make a dentist appointment for 4:15. On the appointed day, you arrive at about 4:00 just a wee bit early. You walk up to the front desk and announce your name and that you are there for your 4:15 appointment.

The receptionist smiles politely and says to make yourself comfortable. So far so good.

A moment later, she approaches and lets you know that the dentist is running about 20 minutes late. He will be able to see you at close to 4:35 instead of 4:15. However, you are welcome to continue to make yourself comfortable in the waiting room, and can she bring you some water or coffee?

You throw down the magazine you've been looking at and start pacing. You yell at the receptionist "I have a 4:15 appointment! I called ahead! I'm here on time, what is wrong with you?"

"I'm sorry, but the dentist is running a little late, and will see you as soon as he can."

Your response: "I am never making an appointment here again! I can't believe how unprofessional you people are! You will never make it in the dentist industry!"

Embarrassed by this customer's behavior? Me, too. And the receptionist is probably thinking about calling security at this point. Nobody wants this uncivilized ingrate's business, anyway.

Unless, of course, this isn't a dentist's office and instead is a restaurant. Instead of calling security and getting a restraining order, the hostess is placating the fool by offering him free food and drink to make up for the egregious error on the restaurant's part.

Be real, people. Something is terribly wrong with a society that thinks behaving like a spoiled two year old is worth a free dessert. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'll Have What He's Having

No, you won't.

Relatively big party, about 6 or 8 people. The Dad is a very nice guy and a good tipper. I'm glad I get the table. Anyway, Dad orders a Cosmopolitan, and I make a good one. Cranberry juice and real lime juice; I squeeze a bar lime instead of using the bottled stuff. Yum!

Like I said, Dad is a good guy. He's got a good sense of humor, good taste in food, and leaves good tips for good service. My kinda' customer.

Too bad the apple sometimes does fall far from the tree. His 16-something daughter is an entitled little twit. She looks up at me and informs me that she will have what her father is having. Gee, can you guess what I said next?

"Do you have ID?"        

She seems flustered and asks in a tone intended to insinuate my stupidity: "What, can't you make a virgin?"

Sometimes I like being stupid. Playing along, I ask, "Oh, I thought you said you wanted the same thing. So, would you both like virgins?"

Dad has too much class to say "Not a snowball's chance in Hell" but I can tell that is what he is thinking.  His "no" is emphatic enough. Not wanting to upset the man, I suddenly have a brain again and offer to bring one Cosmo and one virgin.

That could have been enough fun for one night, but this kid was too much. She wants the $30 filet and it is a wonderful meal. The meat is grass-fed, no antibiotics, etc. This brat is concerned, however, that it is not a large enough cut of meat and thinks she needs to order two.

Heck, I'd bring her a dozen in a heartbeat if I thought they'd pack up the extra and tip 20% on them all, but my delusions of grandeur are soon shaken. It seems that the adults at the table are not going to let little miss "I get whatever I want" to get whatever she wants tonight. Good for them. The kid begrudgingly decides to 'settle for' this sub-standard, much too small gourmet cut of meat cooked to order and to perfection.

Did she think there would be nothing else on the plate? Even the menu indicates the sides and trimmings included in the dinner.

Still, I like Dad. He tipped me well.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

She's Got My Vote

Except for the fact that I am not Canadian, that is.

Premier Christy Clark spent a morning waiting tables and slinging coffee in an attempt to get in touch with every day British Columbians.

Clark does not want to stop with waiting tables. She wants to "walk in other people's shoes" in a variety of  jobs, including hospital work and stocking shelves.  I love the fact that a public representative, used to being in a position of power, is willing to take the service jobs that her constituents perform. It says a lot about why she is in politics -- not for the power, but for the opportunity to, well, to serve.

Of course, Canadian waitresses make minimum wage and do not rely on generous tips to pay bills. I believe Canadians do leave small tips, such as a dollar, but the waitress makes full minimum wage. In B.C., that wage has just gone up to a whopping $8.75, so hopefully diners are still leaving some sort of monetary "thank you."

Article in the The Province:
Cassidy Oliver on Clark