Tag Archives: restaurant

“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.”

Xenophobia

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.

“I’m Swipin’ Sexy Back”

22 Sep

Despite previous Socialist musings, I would like to take a moment to lust over the Amex “Black-Card,” officially marketed as the Centurian Card.  Does anyone else suffer from a class hard-on, every time you swipe that sleek,  Titanium? I do. 

With “no personal spending limit,” the Black-Card is something fantastical, the consumer equivalent of  Willy Wonka’s “Golden Ticket.” You could probably kill someone with its Titanium edge to the jugular, and still get a Personal Concierge to clean up the blood (full benefits listed here, *notice Carnage Privileges).

For those of you who do not handle thirty credit cards a day, the first thing you’ll notice about the credit card is its weight, a heft worthy of the $250,000 requisite.   One of my co-workers Anika, who is from New Zealand, encountered her first  Black Card, tonight.  Her response, was much like mine: sensual.

“Oh my god, feeeeeel this,” she said.  

Anika then began to smell the card, as if inhaling its metallic scent, might transfer the cardholder’s funds into her personal checking account. And she didn’t stop there. Anika kinda started to kiss it, like a young bride-to-be might kiss an engagement ring (or other things).

It’s no surprise that men flash them about like an expendable penis –a black one, nonetheless–.  If the nebbish cardholder at table 32 had seen Anika’s response, he just might have been able to swipe his way into some Elite Status Kiwi.

Later in the evening I opened a check presenter to find my own Golden Ticket.  I wondered what would happen if I swiped my ass with it? What would happen… Might I turn to gold? And so I tried –just between the pants, not the flesh mind you–. No luck. I guess not even Midas could afford the $5,000 joiner fee.

War with a Butterfly

20 Sep

Tonight’s drama centered around a “butterflied” steak.

Certain assumptions must –and should– be made about a person who orders a $50 filet mignon,  “butterflied, extra well-done.”  Such a person, who would ruin a divine piece of meat, by requesting to have it sliced down the center, with the intention of grilling all the juices out of it, until it is a charred, tasteless, brown nugget of nothing, surely hates himself, and life.

Mr. Butterfly was no exception.  When I served the first  filet to Mr. Butterfly, he reacted as if I had just served his first-born, rare, on a platter. Without even prodding the steak he exclaimed:

-“This is… You people are… you have got to be kidding me… (no words). ”

-“Oh, I’m sorry. So you didn’t want it butterflied? Or, is it too grilled?”

-“It’s not even charred on both sides. It’s just… it’s cooked on one side.”

-“So you want it charred on both sides?”

-“That’s butterflied, yes!”

-“Oh, okay. I’m sorry.  I’ll talk to Chef. ”

-“Okay? No, it’s not O-K. Are you people sure you know what you’re doing?”

I wanted to say, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Sir?”  I had a feeling that nothing short of inviting the guest’s masochistic Mother, to personally butterfly grill his steak, was going to make him happy. Unfortunately she wasn’t in Midtown tonight. Too bad, because two filets later, we still couldn’t get it right. And by the third filet, Chef told me to, “Educate the fuck.” 

Four manager visits, and $300 worth of free wine and food later, Mr. Butterfly still refused to touch his filet. Of course, I removed it. And he was content to be a martyr, sitting in a silent rage while the other guests ate their meals.  

Every time I came over he seemed to get more mad. Mad that I graciously conceded to his requests without question, mad that I didn’t flinch at his threats to “handle this with the owners,”  mad that I could even look him straight in the eye and ask him questions like, “Would you like an espresso?”

My new mission was to make him internally combust.  And I’ve found that the most affective way to throw an ego- possessed New Yorker into a violent rage, is to be truly kind to them.

Now, to generate unaffected kindness after being subjected to cruelty is a difficult feat. Indeed, it’s damn near impossible to generate the quality of kindness I am talking about, considering the previous circumstances. One might be taken for being “fresh.” However, such sincere kindness is absolutely essential to make the guest lose themselves in a fit of rage.

But how can one possibly achieve such an emotional effect?

Well, today on the train, I was listening to a Deepak Chopra’s daily affirmations on empathy. In the back server station I began my affirmation, “this is someone’s son; a mother loves this lost child,” and then proceeded to imagine Mr. Butterfly as a child, a six year old, lost in a shopping mall, crying for his mother (I don’t know, that’s what came to me in the moment, and I just went with it). I g0t lost in a daydream for a few minutes, until I was fully related to the horrifying pain of this child, crying for his mother, and then I entered the dining room, completely immersed in the daydream, forgetting my past hour of hell with Butterfly the Elder.

-“Your check, Sir. Of course, my manager took off the filet. And she also wanted to send you the Barolo. Again I’m, so, sooo sorry we weren’t able to get that right. Have a wonderful night.”

(Pause.)

-“Let me talk to your manager.”

-“Oh, you’d like to speak with Sonia again?”

-“I DIDN’T ASK TO SPEAK WITH HER THE FIRST TIME! AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO HER… I WANT TO TALK TO THE GUY IN THE SUIT!”

Dare I say, “Mission accomplished!” Butterfly started a yelling match with Sonia, who he claimed, “Didn’t look like a manager,” (Yes, she has incredible breasts).  Butterfly became so heated that Sonia flagged security for back-up.  Unfortunately for Butterfly, the six-foot-four, two-hundred-and-fifty-pound, former center tackle from Florida State University, was not “the man in the suit” that Butterfly had requested.

The Devil Under Table “4”

12 Sep

Call me superstitious, but sometimes tables just can’t shake-off the bad energy, of the last pair who sat there. 

Certain  tables, on the right nights, that are just plain liabilities. In my restaurant for example, table “25”  is called “The Devil’s Lair,” some call it “The Arm Pit.” And on Satuday nights, “25”  is infamous for unruly parties (i.e. A group of projectile vomiting women, and most recently, Spaniards.)

This evening I’m in section 5, which is three deuces, a five top and an eight top.  It’s an easy section, but I’m concerned about  Table “4.”  You see, I’ve noticed that  Table “4”  is turning into one of those tables like “25,” that seems to  attract one shipwreck of New Yorker negativity after another.

Enter my first couple, Bitch Number One and her little balding-dog-of-a-man (We’ll call him Roni).  Bitch Number One had every idea, but no idea, about what she wanted to drink. She had similar ideas about what to wear. Roni had no idea, at all.

Let the scene begin:

“A cocktail, but I hate bubbles, the fizz you know. And I like sweet, but not too sweet… (She asks Roni  what she should drink in her native tongue -perhaps Russian-, he suggests something, and she, happy that he falls for this trap of confidence, belittles him for even thinking she might drink such a liqueur.) I don’t know. What do you think?”

Now, I wish I didn’t have to fall for the trap like Roni, because I know she’s not going to pick anything I mention; she will undoubtedly remember some drink she used to order in the nineties, but still, I must play, for it is my job. I must wait.

-Perhaps a vodka gimlet up?

-What’s that?

-Lime juice, vodka…

-No vodka. Ew!

Ah yes, so it begins, the long road to nothing. Time is of the essence. There are drinks to be run, orders to be taken, and I cannot forget the candle on that birthday cake, table thirty-four, seat three, the underage girl with unruly hair. And here comes the hostess , scouting out new territory. She spies my empty section, with hungry eyes to report back to the Maitre D’. It’s just a matter of time before she will navigate a school of people through the dining room, to colonize my entire section. One table at a time.

Bitch Number One must decide. Decide Bitch, decide. But no, it’s not about her decision. It’s about the charade of deciding.  She has no other profession or joy in life, but to decide; and she decides like a pro: the scalloped edge or the smooth… the turquoise or the teal… Cherry Hill or Upstate?  There must be a satisfactory number of options offered before the game can end.

And so I desperately throw suggestions in the air, until the quota is met.

-Uhm. What about a mojito without soda water?

-What is that?

-It’s mint, lime, lite rum shaken…

-No mint. I can’t tolerate mint.

-A light glass of reisling, perhaps a pinot grigio?

-Nooooo. Nooooo. A red. Something good.

-I have a beautiful pinot noir by the glass from Oregon.

-Not california?

-Not by the glass, no.

-Welllll.

Throw me a bone bitchThrow me a bone. After seven minutes of performing “What Drink Am I?,” Bitch Number One settles on a Bellini, despite her vow against “the fizz.”

And Roni, gets a Heineken Light. I pour the Heineken Light table-side for Roni. He lets me pour it; he drinks it, and then tells me he would prefer it in the bottle.

-No problem.

I bring a new Heineken, and Bitch Number One asks if she can “move the table.”

-Can I move the table?

-Uhm, like, move it over?

-Can I move the table up there (she points to the second floor seating)?

-Oh. Unfortunately, no.

I say this with enough confidence that the issue is properly dropped. And I go without incident for the whole meal, order, apps and check back, until Roni gets to the last three bits of his filet-MediumWell. He flags me over, points to three small, cuts of filet on his plate, and asks if I can add some more heat to them. Well, what am I going to say?

No, sir. It’s impossible to grill three pieces of meat this small, as they will fall through the cracks on the grill, and if I bring these three pieces of meat back to the chef, in the heat of service at 9pm, when he is trying to push out two hundred covers,  he is going to tell me to go fuck myself.

-No problem.

Fortunately chef said, “Fuck me! Fuck me!,” when he saw the three pieces of meat, and not, “Fuck you.” After the morsels were burnished brown, with a hand held blow torch from the pastry department, I ran them back to Roni, but neglected to bring him his original steak sauce.

-Where is the sauce? There is a sauce, no?

Roni found it highly amusing that I didn’t bring his sauce, it was as if I had poured wine on the table, without there being a glass to pour it into.

Hang on here. We both know the reason you are laughing at my alleged stupidity right now, is because you are uncomfortable that you just had me refire your dainty scraps of meat, and the bussers are looking at you for the fool that you are.

-Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me get that for you.

End scene.

Needless to say, there is difficulty turning this table –deliberations over desert, sent back espressos, and continued requests to “move the table–; but, I make sure that within twelve minutes of Roni finishing his meat-morsels, the only hint of this man and his Bitch is a signed check, on table “4.”

Within seconds, the table is reset and the newly seated pair –two women– situate themselves.  I approach the thirty-somethings, who appear to be  dressed for a rehearsal of Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Not the human part, the monster part.) And my deep suspicions about table “4” becoming a problem table are confirmed.

-Hello, ladies. How are you?

-Not so good, considering we waited half an hour for this shitty table.

“Fashion” Night Out

11 Sep
Even before I got to the restaurant, I knew that desperate people were out: every store on Fifth Ave. had strobe lights, a doorman, and European tourists snapping photos outside.  Girls unaccustomed to heals were falling into  intersections. The whole energy of the street secretly whispered, “Somebody, look at me.”
    
Apparently it was “Fashion Night Out,” a city-wide event for Fall Fashion week, sponsored by Vogue. Nobody had warned me. I had seen a fashion show being set up earlier in the day at Lincoln Center, but I didn’t realize there was a singular night designated for the faux fashonistas to prove their worth in consumption.
 
After I clocked in, and entered the service alley, I noticed that not only were the patrons overdressed for 6pm, September the 10th, 2010,  but so were the front of house girls. The hostesses looked and smelled like they were off to some Christian-Dior-80’s-whore-bath, and happily modeled their costume of choice for the occasion.
 
     -“Fashion night out is Halloween,” I observed.
    
 I was relieved when I realized that all the real models were actually going to be working tonight, and I wouldn’t have to contend with the Aliens this evening (Aliens, def: women from the Netherlands: inexplicably tall, over-featured, and demanding) . Incredibly, there are several evenings a year, where the Aliens must hit their angles, and trot about, for that yearlong supply of sugar-free RedBulls.
    
 With the Aliens off at work, there was a lot of freed up table space for the common folk, the pilgrims from Jersey, and Long Island.   And so the typical patron profile of the night included  1) Consumer women in their thirties who wished they were models, and are still trying to be models, despite living in a city where there are several thousand Aliens ; and 2) The insecure men who fund aforementioned women, for sex, and marriage, and constant emasculation. The evening was table after table of socially programmed pairs, still in awe that they scored a corner-booth downstairs.