Oct 27, 2016

Inconsequential Restaurant Things

I'm twisting this prompt a little.  A while ago I posted about memories I can't seem to shake, which are mostly things I regret.  This is in the same vein, but instead of examples of me being an awful person, it's mostly awful customers I had when I worked in the restaurant world.  Although I don't feature particularly well in the last one.

It might be because restaurants were the first jobs I ever had, or it might be because they happened at a time in my life when I was at my most vulnerable and insecure, but my bad restaurant memories just don't go away.  I had waitress nightmares for years after quitting my last restaurant job.  (You know, where you have too many tables and you can't remember what everyone ordered and you slowly lose control of it all until everyone is enraged with you.)

So here goes...

The Takeout Trash Talk

Before I moved all the way up to waiting tables, I worked the takeout counter.  Takeout was exciting because we had a tip jar (unlike being a hostess, which is where new employees would usually start) and occasionally people would drop a dollar or two in there.

I had a customer come up and place his order.  He handed me some cash and I was starting to get his change, when he said, "Wait" and handed me another dollar.  I wasn't sure what to make of this, and was trying to figure out how to politely ask if it was a tip, when he, impatient with the few second lapse in the exchange, did the math for me and told me how much change to give him.  Ah, not a tip.

Then he asked, "Where do you go to high school?"  I answered, confused by this seeming shift in topic and he asked, in this ridiculous, exasperated-with-the-stupidity-of-everyone-but-me tone, "Don't they teach math there?"

I could not think of a response and let it go and it will always, always infuriate me thinking back on it.

"I Used to Be a Waitress and I Know..."

Shortly after beginning to wait tables (with minimal training because this was a cheap burger place), I had a pretty normal table of ladies.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries and they seemed happy enough with their order.  What made them unique was that they were the first table I'd had who counted out exact change for their bill.

I took the check and their payment and then, stuck because in my scrip that's the part where I always said, "I'll be right back with your change" I stammered and said, "Uhhh... I guess you don't need any change.  Have a nice day!"

Then I forgot all about them and continued on my day until the end of my shift when my manager took me to the side and said, "A customer complained about you today."  Being my first complaint, I was in tears before she even finished explaining.  Apparently, said customer had waited tables before and she knew when people were being facetious and my comment about them not needing change had been rude and unnecessary.

Yep.  17-year-olds are always aware of every possible implication of their words and think things through thoroughly to give subtle insults.  She totally had me pegged.  (Seriously, though, if you get bad service at a fast food place or a restaurant and your cashier/server is a child, cut 'em some slack.  For fuck's sake, people.  We're not born automatically knowing the best way to handle every situation.)

The Entitled Youths and the Waitress Mistake

After waiting tables a couple years, and perhaps starting to head into burnout zone when you lose respect for all customers, and, indeed, most of humanity, I had a table of young 20-somethings.  They had needs.  No mayonnaise on his burger or he'd throw up all over the table.  No fruit on her plate, anywhere close to it.

They pissed me off.  It seems stupid now, but they were just so obnoxious with their order and they were loud and rowdy and I really didn't want to have be in the same room with these people.  So I was ready for some revenge.

Now, if restaurants were really like the movie Waiting, I'd have simply spit in the guy's drink and called it a day.  But I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I mixed some sprite and raspberry tea in with his coke to "make it taste gross" and decided that this tame revenge was good enough.

Unsurprisingly, he noticed, and, you might have already figured out where this is going, but the fruit-hater actually had a food allergy.  (Side note: if you have an allergy, TELL YOUR SERVER!  Not wanting fruit on the plate is not the same thing and I could very easy just remove it after the cooks garnish as usual without even realizing I might kill you.)  She hadn't consumed any of the tainted beverage, but, as they sternly lectured me, she could have and it would have been my fault if she died.

This story makes me squirm because, yes they were assholes, but I was too and it was so incredibly stupid.  What did I think was going to happen?  I didn't.  Because I was 19 and teenagers are dumb.

So yeah, those are the things I can't forget, as much as I wish I could and I know they're not important, to me, or to the world at large.

What are the inconsequential things that stick in your brain for no good reason?


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  1. I worked for a very short time in a restaurant (as a hostess) and then in a coffee shop. Honestly, people can be the absolute worst. (Especially the Sunday/church crowd! Like, what the heck?!) My rudest customer EVER was when I worked at Justice (the little girls clothing store). She was trying to get a credit card and the process can be long and drawn out if you're required to call the company- which I was. She asked my manager- who was standing right there because she knew this woman was a piece of work- why she hired idiots like me, as I'm on the phone with the company, trying to get her approved. Add to all that that it was Black Friday.
    After she left we walked into the back I started crying and my manager told me to go home because that woman was a fucking bitch to me and she (my manager) was very surprised I kept my cool. I'd stayed past my shift that day to help out and immediately regretted that decision.
    I HATED that woman.

  2. oh my gosh what a rude ass about the tip. i would never understand people who are rude to people like that, does it really make you feel better to yell at a teenager or make them feel like an idiot?
    i would have done the same thing with your tame revenge. because 19. i also agree about people telling your server about an allergy. and on the other side, people who used to lie and say they had an allergy, like when i worked at mcdonalds people would ask for no pickles because 'they were allergic but could they have extra big mac sauce?' which has pickles in it. OH LORDY i loved telling them that and getting them to admit they were lying. assbutts.

  3. I have so much respect for anyone who works in food service or other customer service. I sort of work in customer service, but it's all via phone or email. I'm always super nice to anyone who works in a restaurant, retail store, whatever. Anyway, I worked for like a month as a cashier at Michaels, the craft store, and this lady comes to check out and goes on a rant like, "I'm disappointed that you don't have more products made in America! I know my friends and I would shop here more if you had more." And I was like, right, crazy lady, a 20-something year old cashier is going to be able to do anything about that. I hesitated and said, "I'll pass that on to my manager" even though, duh, my manager isn't going to be able to do anything about that either! And another time there was a lady who spoke like zero English and had 79 coupons and you're not allowed to use multiple of this one type of coupon... At least she wasn't rude or anything, but it was a pain.

  4. Ugh the people who count exact change and don't leave tips at restaurants deserve a special place in hell! And the first story dude didn't need to be a total dick. I always over tip my servers because people suck ass and even if the server isn't particularly attentive or great at my table I assume it is because someone else has made their day awful and I don't take it personally and still leave a more generous tip than most. Dealing with the public and their food is not for the faint of hearts. Because people suck.

  5. What the hell with #2? You handled it the same way I would at 41. It has to be extremely rare to get the exact amount so habit would be to say "I'll get your change". My response would have been the same and you weren't rude about it. She was definitely the one with her bug up her butt. And boo to your boss. He should have been smart enough to see that too. It's fine being apologetic to the customer (they are always right) but it was unnecessary to talk to you about it. You hadn't done anything wrong. My first job was in fast food and there were some definite characters. And when I find myself get irritated today, I try to remember how difficult it could be on the other side of the counter and cut them some slack.

  6. I could never be a waitress, I loathe people too much. I served drinks at a pool at a country club, that was as close as I ever got, and they literally only had 3 options (water, lemonade, iced tea.)
    I always try to tip my servers really well. The only time that sticks out in my mind that I didn't was at a Toby Keith's (which since closed, SHOCK) because we were there mid week, mid day - literally the only people in the place. And the waitresses were too busy chatting and texting to serve us at all, even after I got their attention. We finally got our beers and left an extra 3 cents on the table and split. I'm kind to most wait staff, even if they're slow because it's busy, but not serving your only customers because you're busy gossiping and texting is totally unacceptable.
    I did learn the allergy thing - I hate cherries. Like if anything touches a cherry, I can taste it and I will spit it out or throw it up. Once I started saying allergy instead of no cherries, I haven't had an issue!

  7. Twist away! Tons of room for interpretation on all prompts.

    The guy in the takeout counter story is a jerk. That kind of response is so unnecessary.

    Those ladies are also absolutely terrible. Honestly, about half the people who dine out are absolutely terribly, actually.

    You might find some interest (or maybe PTSD, I’m not sure which) in r/TalesFromYourServer…

    The last one, yeah you don’t come off great. But literally no one has done the right thing 100% of the time; I’ll give you a pass. Bottom line is there is just no need or reason to be an asshole to your server. I firmly believe every person should work at least 6 months, including a major holiday/busy season, in food service or retail. A lot of people would reconsider the way they treat people, I think.

  8. I think you were creative with this prompt, and I'm thinking Alyssa is all for encouraging creativity.
    Many people in the general public shouldn't be let out of their own houses. For those ladies to think that they needed to seek out a manager and complain tells me they have too much time on their hands.

  9. I had a similar experience to #1 when I worked at the movie theatre. The register has buttons for the various bills someone could hand you. It was my first day and the woman's total was $11. She handed me a $20 so I hit the $20 button and the register opened and displayed that I should give her $9 of change. She said "oh wait I have a $1 as well" and handed me that.

    I hesitated because in my head I was like "does the register know that she gave me $21 and I'm giving her $10 instead of her giving me $20 and me giving her $9? I already typed $20, do I need to correct it?" In hindsight I have no idea how the register would possibly know that, but I was 16 and had never worked with a cash register before.

    The woman did this very exaggerated sigh + eye roll to her friend, then turned back to me and said very slowly said "niiine plus one equalsss tennnn" like I was somehow incapable of basic math and also of english comprehension. I was too flustered to say anything and just gave her the $10 but afterwards I was furious.

    1. People are such assholes! Why is that necessary? Does it make her feel better about herself because she can put someone else down? I just don't get the reason behind it.

  10. Some of these made me so angry! I worked in retail for a while and had people say the most ridiculous and insulting things as well. The change thing sounds like someone who was looking for anything to complain about-- when giving most change don't most people just say, we're all set, or something along those lines? Also, I hope they were planning to leave a tip on the table separate!


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