22 May

Tonight I worked at the restaurant had 6,000 in sales and nobody in my section paid a dime. How is that possible you might ask? Well, it’s basically a game of “biggest-dickus;” the owners want to impress the blue money investors and fifteen-minute-famers who attract business.

America is a backwards nation: the people who truly need food go hungry, while the people who have bought of half of New York eat for free, and throw away untouched food in the trash. It really devastates me to leave the restaurant and see people begging for food in the streets, literally asking for left overs from severs like myself, while the morally depraved drink twenty-five dollar tequila shots, that they don’t even pay for (That 25 dollar cocktail is paid for by people who wait in line to get a table to eat among the glitterati — it’s middle school social anxiety at it’s best; and if you wanna eat with the cool kids, you are going to pay for it).

Today after work I tried to give away two perfectly cooked untouched 40 dollar entrees in the streets, silverware and all. Alas, the homeless didn’t eat Fluke tonight. And this Robin Hood is going to bed without his kharma kick. I do have an extra stolen fork now.



21 May

I always have waiter nightmares after a hard shift. Usually it involves having an influx of people in the restaurant and being ill equipped to serve them. The patrons in the dreams are usually some sort of “difficult” type: a bus load of obese Midwesterners who have come for BBQ-ribs; a Medieval banquet hall full of fabulously bejeweled black ladies requesting all types of unknown hot sauces; Spaniards. 

Once I dreamt there was a whole football field full of white linen tables, awaiting a mass service. Every ten yard line was an individual sever “section” with Micros point-of-sale terminals at the ends of each ten yard line. The servers would spint up an down the ten yard lines, taking orders and entering them into the terminals. It was endless. There was a lone Asian man in the corner of the field, waving at me. I decided that he was just going to have to wait, maybe forever if necessary.

When I used to work at a fancy french place in midtown, I had a specific reoccurring dream that involved retrieving wine. It was always stressful retrieving wine in that restaurant because the wine cellar was so far away from the main floor, several floors underground in a dark, unorganized den of bottles, all piled on top of each other. I would always dream that a guest had ordered a glass of wine, and I would go downstairs to get the wine, but the stairs wouldn’t end. The stairs just kept going. And I would keep walking until it was doubtful whether I would have the strength to climb back up to the top where I entered. I kept telling myself I was getting closer to the wine cellar, but it never appeared. And all I could imagine was the guest upstairs, waiting for his wine, and yelling about being late for the curtain at Mama Mia!

My most recent dream last night involved George Bush Senior. For some reason, George Bush was part of a team of waiters who were all being shipped in trains to a sort of waiter concentration camp (I don’t mean to make light of the Holocaust, it’s just that, my imagination very clearly was invoking images from WWII movies). It was all very attractive waiters, and George Bush, leading us barefoot waiters, through the snow, and mud. We all were sprinting with trays full of cocktails and glassware to some unknown Master guest, who was situated on top of a mountain. Go figure. 

Inevitably all the dreams have a sense of frantic, helpless urgency. And also a comic sense of epic failure. 

“Don’t Pee for Me Argentina!”

23 Jan

I find myself really losing my “censor” at the table.

Tonight I had a PPX (that’s super important for you civilians) 12-top of asses. One of the guests, let’s call him Ken, was particularly successful at making my shit-list, and raising my heart-rate.

Ken prides himself on being an investor for a worth-less-than-piss South American wine. His wine is so bad that it is our designated freebee; we just give it away to people. He insisted on ordering liters upon liters of said Third-World Kool-Aid for his table, and taking the opportunity to make of photo-op of the dinner, thumbs-up and all, holding his wine as if to say, “Look mom, I made a wine.” Did I mention that he didn’t know what a Malbec was, and he makes wines south of the border. Hmmmmm.

Ken was an alcoholic. How do I know? Well, he was as nicely dumb as could be, until he got five drinks in him and became something larger than life, a reality TV show caricature of someone playing “incensed.”

The table was flawless, but, as usual, there had to be drama surrounding the birthday. Always drama around a birthday; I need to write a whole separate post about birthday dramas. Anyways, I was slammed at the moment the 12-top needed dessert. I managed to get six orders from the drunken idiots, but then needed to great a table, and come back to them. I honestly didn’t think anybody would notice I was gone for one minute, considering I had to literally clap my hands to get them to see me.

Ken didn’t like my plan. When he noticed I didn’t get the rest of the table’s dessert order in one sweep, he got up, came over to me, and while I was greeting my new table, grabs me by the arm and he starts to lambast me, “You didn’t take half the table’s dessert order. Where’s my wine I ordered? It’s her birthday and you didn’t even offer her anything for dessert!”

I waived down another server to pick up the greet where I left off, and then returned to Ken’s table. Ken pointed to the birthday girl and started yelling, “It’s her birthday… don’t you know! And we ordered a bottle of wine twenty minutes ago, where is it?” He’s yelling at this point.

“Sir,” I said. “You’re wine is right here, I’ve been maintaining the glasses all the time. Now, can you see anyone else who needs a glass? No. And yes, I know that half the table has yet to order dessert. My apologies. I was just about to finish that, if you would be so kind as to let me complete the order?” And yes, I do speak with people in this kinda stilted British over-the-top way, just to shame the fuck-faces.

He looked a little dumbfounded and commanded me, as if he was a silly little Dauphin, who had a Whipping Boy his whole life, “I need a glass of wine! And she needs DESSERT!”

At this point, the censor was gone.

“Just sit down, and lemme’ do my job, okay? Thanks,” I said.

That shut him up. Poor Ken. Drunk on his own Argentinian produced piss. He tried to apologize in his own popped-collar manner, after I had brought out the bday girl’s cake. I wasn’t accepting apologies tonight. When he asked where his wine was, I just put some coffee down in front of him and said, “Drink this. It’s better for you, at this moment, Sir.”


30 Dec

I am a masochist when it comes to foreigners: no matter how many times I’ve been stiffed, I just keep smiling.

Last night I had a section of Aussies, Italians, Brits, Indians, and Norwegians (in that order.) I didn’t have a single American table. First the Aussies left nothing after holding my table for three hours, then the Italians profusely thanked me by leaving $20 on $556 (“Grazie?”), and the Brits left their traditional Medieval tithe of 5%.

At my old place, I could just ask management to slap 20% on the bill. Unfortunately at my current establishment, you have to wait for the table to slight you, then you can ask for a manager to “talk” with them. As you can imagine, this policy is just embarrassing and ineffective.

As a waiter, I am not motivated by tips. I don’t do a better job if I think there is going to be a “fat tip” at the end of the night. I do a good job because I am just wired that way; I take pride in my work. I think most of us in the industry share this attitude. Waiters don’t walk around thinking, “Oh, I better get her drink now, or they aren’t going to tip me.” If we did, we’d all go crazy. Now, that said, when you realize you’ve been working all night and you’ve contributed twenty-two dollars to the tip-pool, reality sets in and you realize that indeed, you need some Goddamn tips or you’re not gonna’ be able to pay the rent.

Enter the Indian kids who turned me into something out of the French Revolution. Indians, (Yes, “Indians,” I’m just gonna’ start making mass sweeping statements about nationalities, so brace yourself ((I earned it)). No, let me qualify this statement a little further before I’m accused of being Xenophobic, rich Indians.) Rich Indians are even worse than the most loathsome, offensive group of international diners that the world has ever produced: Spaniards. Spaniards are simply insane, but rich Indians are not only insane, they’re emboldened. You would be emboldened too if you grew up in a country where more than 160 million people are rendered “Untouchables,” by an ancient caste system.

Well Mr. Kunadharaju, this is Manhattan, and while you might be able to get your government friends to kill me and get away with it in Bangalore; while you are here, you cannot hiss at my Bengali busser like that, and you certainly cannot leave us twelve bucks in cash on a five hundred-dollar tab. Oh the rage, the rage.

And you wanna’ know what I did? I went New York on him. I smacked that check presenter with his twelve singles in it back on his table, and said, “Keep it.” He seemed confused, and insisted, “This is for you!” I then gestured grandly to the twenty front of house staffers working the floor, as if he was a child visiting the zoo for the first time. I pointed to all the animals by name, listing about thirteen servers, bussers and runners in total, “You see [insert server name here], and —-, and —-, and this is my friend —. We all work here for fun. Please, keep this!” And you know what he did? He took the twelve bucks! Took it!

I just laughed, and moved on to the Norwegians.

Better Than Reality TV

11 Dec

I have worked five shifts since my last post. The restaurant during this holiday season has been totally exhausting, and as you can see, I’ve been getting home at 3:30am, with little time to write.

The rich quotes have been building up though, and I can’t keep them all on my waiter pad any longer.  From guests, to front of house staff, here are some of the gems that must be shared:

1) “Please, please, can we order? We’re starving. We’ve been shopping up and down 5th Avenue all day. My arms are about to fall right off!”

-Life’s a bitch when you’re rich, isn’t it? The girl who said this was certainly younger than twenty-two. Her date, and benefactor, was certainly over fifty.  His last name on his coporate black card was “de Gaudi.” Yes, insert verbal irony -“gaudy”- here.

2) “Done? You’re done? You guys suck. I’m going to a strip bar.”

-Apparently the night is not over till you spend a few thousand more on Patron shots. This i-banker wanted more meat than just a 10oz. filet.

3) The Prince’s Table

Manager:-Do you have the Prince’s table?

Server: -Prince is here? Oh my God, he’s like, at the top of people I’d like to fuck list.

Manager: -Uhm, not like the artist.

Server: -Damn.

Manager: -Like, the prince of Saudi Arabia or something.

Server: -Oh, Is he cute?

Manager: -No.

Server: -Damn.

4) “Twenty-five years ago I’d be doing an ‘eight-ball.’ Tonight I do a shot of tequila.”

-This was said by a true high-roller. Twenty-five years ago, he would have been twenty-five. Is cocaine ever going to make a come back? You bet it will, however, at the moment an eight-ball is  –well– it’s just gauche.

5) “Who’s on table ‘1’? They are fat, loud, n’ ugly. Get them out. Now. Like do whatever it takes. Take their water. Take their chairs. I don’t care. OUT!”

-We have a very sensitive Maitre d’. 

6) Irregular Moles

Guest: “So you’re going to help me out. You see that chick behind me, don’t look now, like right behind me? Not the old one, not the mom, but the young blonde. Yeah, you see her? Well, I think her name’s Dr. Reynard. I think she’s my dermatologist, and she just like, checked out a mole on my dick. So, tell you what. Can you like, you know, go over and say, “someone in the bar asked if you are Dr. Reynard.” Don’t be stupid, be subtle like, but find out if it’s Reynard. And if it is, can you send her a round on me?”

Me: So… you’re saying you want a second opinion about this mole, tonight.

Guest: Exactly.

Me: Let me see what I can do.

It’s 3:48. Not too shabby for a late night post. Tomorrow I’m going to write about all the guests who insist on touching me. It’s driving me nuts.


I want a cosmo, but not a cosmo.

28 Nov

Sometimes I’m not sure people realize how stupid their comments sound out loud. Tonight I kept getting the most asinine requests that I didn’t know how to respond to, or execute for that matter. They just kept coming, one after another. In this post I’ve listed: a) the guest’s request; b) what I wanted to say in that moment; c) what I really said, and then finally; d) how I solved the problem.

I hope you enjoy these little gems.

1) “I want a cosmo, but not a cosmo.”

What I’d like to say: “Of course.”

What I really say: “Of course.” 

Solution: I bring her a cosmo.

2) I’m supposed to meet my girlfriend here? She’s blonde? She’s really tall, ughhhh, she’s a model?

What I’d like to say: I’m sorry sir, but nobody here matches that description.

What I really say: Ooooooh, gosh, is she you’re girlfriend?

Solution: I point to the model at my table.

3) “I want it medium, but still have some redness in the steak.”

What I want to say: So you want me to change the laws of physics and cook a steak to 150 degrees but still have blood in the steak?

What I really say: No problem.

Solution: Start at rare, and if he wants more heat, give it to him.

4) “I want an extra-extra dirty martini up, but not too salty, you know… too dirty.”

What I want to say: Well, why don’t you take a trip with me to the bar, and you can tell me when it’s too salty.

What I really say: Of course.

Solution: Tell the bartender to make the saltiest martini he can conjure.

5) “I want the grilled chicken, grilled.”

What I want to say: First of all, you want the grilled chicken, why? And secondly, the last time you had the “grilled chicken” was it poached?

What I really say: I’ll make sure they grill it.

Solution: Not applicable.

6) “This Monkfish tastes too much like fish.”

What I want to say: Oh dear, well, don’t tell the fish that.

What I really say: I’m sorry to hear that. Monkfish can taste fishy.

Solution: Send out desserts.

7) [Whispered] “It’s his birthday, so can you like, do something… like not a big deal, or a candle or anything, but like a candle. You know?”

What I want to say: Fuck you.

What I really say: Yeah, I know.

 Solution: “Happy Birthday” written on the plate in chocolate.

Attack of the Clingers

27 Nov

Tonight I could not get the married, middle-aged, British woman at table 48 to stop hugging me. She was holding on to me drunk, tight, and desperate.

 “You’re sooooo fabulous. I’m going to have to introduce you to George Clark. You know George? Oh, you know him don’t you? He used to dance with what’s her name Margot, at ABT. Fontayne. Yes! You know George? Yes! He’s my friend. What are you doing for brunch Sunday? I’m going out with my designer friends. You know Zeda Ramir? The Zeda. You don’t know Zeda? Oh, she’s a sensation; she’ll love you. After brunch we can go shopping and then… then… do you go to the Boom Boom Room? My fashion friends will lo-o-o-ve you. You look so European. Oh,  you’re just like my son, except he’s not gay.” (If her son is anything like me, he is most certainly gay).

When I was a younger waiter, I used to like this type of attention from a table.  Back then, I had inserted myself into a narrative of victimhood: educated young artist waits tables to survive. “Poor me!” And every now and then, a gushing guest would come by, reminding me that indeed, I was truly fabulous.

Waiting tables is less personal these days. I’m quite grateful for my job, and the money I make.  And tonight, I wanted nothing more than to get the British “clinger” off my arm. She simpy would not let go, and her big-ass diamond ring was literally grating into my underarm.

A “clinger” is an insecure, unstable restaurant guest, whose singular intention is to make you -the server- their best friend, but just for the night. 

Clingers are usually very wealthy people, who like to make friends with the hired help, immediately endearing themselves to us, through any means necessary, and assuming a false sense of familiarity -calling us by our first names, insisting we sit down with them, and touching us like animals in a petting zoo-.  Clingers have a fetish for YFBWs (young, fabulous, broke-waiters); they have romantic notions about poverty, and what it means to be “real.” Clingers love to take on charity cases, dangling empty promises (connections, jobs, financial backing, trips to their time shares, hot dates with their celebrity friends) in order to win us over.

My British clinger insisted that I give her “my card,” like I had a professional waiter card that I handed out to people. “Give me your number then, we must meet up,” she insisted.  Quite frankly, I didn’t want to spend my afternoon with a washed up trophy-wife, as she strolled her four kids down fifth avenue. It didn’t matter how many drinks she was buying. And besides, I knew very well that she had no intention of calling in the morning; she just wanted to collect numbers, like a Chelsea chorus-boy on a bender at Barracuda.  

If I was a younger lad, this British lady would have certainly fooled me. I would have sent out dessert wine to their table, and removed the mandatory 20% gratuity on their party, in order to not insult them. Whatever.

Now I know better.  Five years ago, in another city, I had a real stage-one clinger: the Heir to the Virgin Records empire. He was a total Playboy, with all his bunnies seated around him. And for some reason he loved me. He wanted to add me to his entourage, inviting me on his personal jet to cross the pond, that very night.  It would be the Heir, me, and a lot of titties. Atleast, that’s what he was promising. 

At one point he offered to pay my rent for six months, if I could answer a riddle. In return I was to comp the entire meal, if I could not answer the riddle. Of course, I declined the offer. Regardless, he buddied up to me, and was so determined to invert the master/servant relationship, that he insisted that I “ride” him piggy-back style, around the restaurant. I definitely did not think it was a good idea, but, seeing as his bill was over $8,000, my manager also insisted that I ride on his back, atleast until another bottle of Dom was sold.

By the end of the night my manager was perfectly fine with me giving up my post, and sitting down with him at the table to drink that bottle of Dom. Little did I know, that the night would end with me running out the restaurant door with an unsigned check in my hand, sprinting down a limousine through one, two, three lights, pounding on the limo door, and demanding a signature. How fabulous am I now?

No, no, no. Tonight I would not be fooled. Once the clinger had relinquished my arm, and I was able to deflect her drunken gaze, I added the twenty-percent gratuity. When I returned with the check and she demanded that I give her my number for our Sunday brunch date, I simply said, “Oh, I’d love to see you Sunday. Come in. I’ll be here. Working.”