Thursday, 23 April 2009

There are many things we would love to do but don't, for obvious reasons

It was Wednesday morning and I was at my local coffee shop enjoying my usual Americano and chocolate muffin when I became very aware that there were two guys standing beside my table. This was not what I needed nor wanted. I wasn't really enjoying the whole coffee experience as it was, due in part, to the disappointingly stale muffin that the emo man child had served me. I would have returned it but he bore the look of an emo man child who no longer cared for the freshness of his own underwear let alone my muffin. And as the place was busy I was forced to sit at a large table beside the counter and not my favoured small table beside the window. Everything was all wrong and my sunny disposition was floundering .

oh the injustice
the humanity!


And then there were these two dudes, for they no doubt considered themselves to be dudes, loitering beside my large table. I did not want to share, Manuel is not the sharing sort. I was not in the mood to have my morning routine disturbed, any more than it currently was, by a brace of bronzed douches. Alas my attempts to avoid eye contact and the spreading out of the various flotsam and jetsam across the table, notepad, phone, niquitin/farting tablets etc did not put them off. So there I was in the wrong seat, eating a sorry excuse for a muffin, whilst doing the booth seat shuffle to make it clear to all and sundry that I was not with Douche A and his chum Douche B.

My chagrin was complete.

And what did I do about this whole sorry situation? Nothing, that's what. I did nothing. I just sat there trying to read Robin Cooper's, "The Timewaster Diaries" and block out the Tommy Hilfiger clad "delights" in front of me. But it was difficult what with their constant yapping, chortling, loud guffawing and over use of the word, "faaaan-tastic". But I just sat there and took it all. Even when Douche A knocked the table thus spilling my coffee a little as he tried to cross his massive tree sized legs, I just smiled. Leg crossing? In a booth? DOUCHE! But I just sat there politely smiling and accepting it all. My morning routine, one that I hold in high esteem and reverence, had been ruined. It will be many days before I get to right this wrong. But I just smiled and sucked it all up.

I put this ability to take injustice, and you cant call bad muffinry and bad company anything less than injustice, down to my training as a waiter. We are constantly at the receiving end of injustice. I mean there are tables you want to run after and ask them what there problem is. There are nights when I would pay someone just to get the opportunity to question the punters. I mean you whore yourself for them, you bend over backwards, you are charming and witty and they leave you nothing. You wanna confront them, you wonder what was it that you did wrong (even though you know it was them and not you).

But you don't do it. You cant do it, no matter how much you want to, you just cant confront the guest apres stiffing. I assumed no waiter would do it until I read this blog post on Serious Eats.com. I was flabbergasted to say the least. The waiter, feeling unhappy with her tip from a table, confronted the diners and even corrected the guest's maths. Seriously what? Not a fucking chance would you get way with that where I work and at a guess in many places. Not cool, not cool at all.

Getting stiffed by a guest is all part of the game. You win some, you lose some that's just the way it is. Don't get me wrong I get really freaking angry when I get stiffed by a table I know I did a good job on but you just have to let it go, or blog about them. Heh.

The guest from the story accepted that they had made a mistake and changed her tip amount. But for an extra $8 was it really necessary to embarrass the guest and leave yourself open to some major grief from the management. I'm all for waiters getting what we are due but not like that....

So what would you do if confronted by a waiter doing an Oliver Twist and asking for more? Personally I would just walk away shaking my head and never, ever, dine there again. And then blog about it, obviously.

Hat tip, Fork it Over.

29 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

ninetyninewords said...

I'm with you. Probably with a punch thrown in for good measure though.
Times I haven't had enough spare cash in pocket to leave the tip I wanted made up by the times I've left too big a note by mistake or was in too much of a rush to wait for change.
I'm pretty good at embarrassing myself but I really don't take kindly to someone doing it for me.

Manuel said...

99 words: I try, not saying I always do, to take each tip as I get it. A fiver from an "ordinary working" Joe or Billy (for balance) means more to me than a fiver from some well heeled dude but I appreciate both.....bad craic....worse karma too

wendy said...

You know what I'd do. I'd take what I gave them to begin with and smile as I walked out leaving them with nothing.

I was a waiter/bartender for EVER and never had I done anything like that.

not cool.

Manuel said...

wendy: damn right.....I've been doing this for nearly 20 years and I don't know a soul who has done it.....

Kathy said...

The only thing I've ever done that is remotely close to this was when a customer made an obvious math error on their credit card receipt. I brought it to the customer and said, politely, Sir, excuse me, but I noticed an addition error on your receipt. Could you please correct it and initial? And I did it while the rest of his party was occupied with something else, so as not to cause embarrassment. What she did was tantamount to tip solicitation, a huge no-no everywhere I've ever worked!

Manuel said...

kathy: damn right....tip solicitation - good phrase......but then again that's what we do! hahaha! but not like that....

sassysundry said...

I am a champion over-tipper (too many friends in food service not to be), but if anyone ever tried to correct me for mistakenly leaving too little for a tip would walk away with nothing at all.

Manuel said...

sassy: aye me too.....

Medbh said...

I can't imagine being asked for more money. I'd probably apologize and toss in more cash.

Only once in my life have I left nothing for a waiter. That was a few months ago here. Starters were wrong and our pasta entrees were served ice cold. I kept hearing the bell ring in the kitchen which he ignored. The place was empty, too.
My head was about to explode.

Manuel said...

medbh: gotta be honest Medbh I dont see that happening.....!

ellie said...

I'd probably hand over my purse, handbag, jewellery and children whilst bowing and making small but determined steps towards the door. I don't handle confrontation very well. Oh the shame!

Penelope_CA said...

Some nerve!!

I'm with the consensus. I'd take my "inadequate" tip back and leave them nothing reminding them that there are many options when it comes to dining out so not only did they just lose the tip but all future business. Hope that whinging for an extra fiver was worth it...

Even if the small tip was due to a math error rather than for lousy service who wants to be called out publically for it?

Idiot.

Echo said...

I might not say anything to waiter after being confronted, but I'd be sure to let the management and/or corporate headquarters know what happened. I'm sure they would be interested in how I'd been treated.

I'll tolerate a lot from waiters, but that's just over the top - and not acceptable to me.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel I am with you. It is part of the job to just accept and take what tip someone leaves you. If a waiter is going to beg for more then he should just get into another profession.

sugarpie said...

Nothing makes me more bat-shit- crazy than tip time. Most of the places I eat are darker than midnight, and I always leave the tip in cash, and never CAN find my glasses...

Invariably I overtip, and still am paranoid; looking over my shoulder, afraid the waiter is bearing down on me with a meat clever. "Did I leave the enough? What? I know I left a ten-what's this still doing in my pocket! Oh Jaysus, I must have left a five spot... wait for me, I have to go back. Oh Jaysus the table's been cleared. RUN EVERYBODY! OUR WAITERS COMING AFTER US! OH GOD, RUN LIKE THE WIND!"

Flann O'Coonassa said...

I guess, if a waiter corrected me in that fashion, the only mature course of action would be to fake a heart attack. Especially if you live close to the local hospital, in which case you're not only stiffing the waiter, but also the taxi industry. And in today's economy, you really can't be stiffing enough.

MJ said...

I would overtip if the waiter let me fondle his sugarloaf.

White Rabbit said...

I'm sorry Manuel but I could barely the rest of the post for laughing at 'the emo man child' reference. That was excellent haha

Conan Drumm said...

Well here's the way I understand it, in other parts of the world a major part of the waiter's income is the tip. So if the system benefits management to the extent that they pay buttons then the waiting staff are every bit entitled to go to the customer and say, effectively, "Hey, you haven't paid me for my work."

That the customer may not feel inclined to give the accepted % tip may be down to the kitchen rather than the waiter, so why should the waiter suffer?

Karen said...

Yeah, I'd tell them to eff off as well....I'm probably going to get lambasted and absolutely roasted over the coals here...but tipping really annoys me! Don't get me wrong, I do tip and usually between 10-20 per cent standard whether it's a posh joint or a local burger bar because it's the 'done thing' but, I actually resent it a lot of the time! I know it's a hard job , the hours are long and the pay is a pittance, but I worked in a supermarket for years in college, mainly 12 hour shifts on the floor packing shelves and unloading trucks and it was bloody backbreaking minimum wage work and I was never once tipped, not once and in fact at Christmas time one year, one old codger tried to give me a quid cos I helped him around the store doing his shopping and management ripped it off me and ran after him to give it back.

So why should waiters be tipped? In my opinion it's the same sort of work, it's hard, it's back breaking, it's long..so why not tip supermarket shelf packers? Why not?

I was being paid by the supermarket to work there, you're being paid by your restaurant to work there - what's the difference? Why tip one and not the other? I waited on my customers just as much as you wait on yours - I brought elderly people around to do their shopping, I showed them where things were, I ran half way around the shop from my til to pick them up something they'd forgotten, I packed their bags, I frequently brought stuff to their cars for them, I rounded trolleys, I packed shelves, I unpacked trucks, I helped with home deliveries and I got not a penny more than the company paid me.

Right, that was a bit of a rant! It's just something that's always bugged me and I know I'm opening myself up to be slagged off as a desperate oul witch, but there ya go!

Pickyknitter said...

A man who knows what a brace is *swoon*. LMM, don't let him get away!

AnaPerenna said...

*makes some popcorn, sits back and watches...*

Manuel said...

okay folks......I have made contact with both the owner of the restaurant and the waiter involved......soo I ain't saying anything more until I have a chance to talk to the waiter myself....and by talk I mean twitter.....

Manuel said...

AnaPerenna: bite me.....

daisy mae said...

i once worked with a guy, who after picking up the check and realizing the table had left him $1, ran after them and said "here you go - you left a dollar on the table".

when they looked at him, confused, he said "i think you need this more than i do", turned around, and walked inside.

Anonymous said...

When in college we would go to this restaurant/bar for happy hour gorge ourselves upon free nachos, mini-burritos, etc. whilst downing countless $1.50 margaritas (they've since closed down). One night, after having also had dinner post-happy hour, we were talking in the parking lot when our waitress came running out and said "I thought I did a pretty good job, I can't believe you stiffed me!"

We said we hadn't and she counted it out in front of us. Turns out two of the checks we'd written were stuck together and she hadn't seen that we had tipped her over $30 on a $100 bill. She instantly turned beet red and apologized profusely.

We had quite a few free drinks next time we went in.

napplegate said...

As a career bartender I'm on the receiving end of bad tips and I've learned to deal with it. The only situation where i enact revenge is walk-offs after I've stored their card information in the POS (in which case 20% gratuity is applied) or if they leave a vapid tip on a credit card when I've given exceptional and time involved service. Although not very kosher I've adjusted tips to suit the level of service they were given. Sometimes people need to realise that if they can't afford to dine or drink out without leaving a reasonable tip, they can't afford to go out. These are the same people who count their dollar bills before leaving the house to see how many drinks they can buy.

TachaƩ said...

More patience than I, I would have thrown the rest of my coffee on his crotch and gone "faaaantastic now fucker"

Annie said...

Ok, I thought the waiter in the original post was bad enough - but napplegate - you 'adjust tips' from people's credit cards without their knowledge?? Is that not called stealing? Would you slip a note from their coat pocket if you didn't think they'd see it too?