Chronicles of trading in Corporate America for a waitress's apron during my very own quarter-life crisis.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Twilight Zone

The whole "showing off the engagement ring to people" thing is getting awkward.  My hands are covered in more and more burns and abrasions with each day from kitchen work, so while my ring finger looks like I took a BeDazzler kit to it, the rest of my hand could get me mistaken for a leper.

So anyway, I had a weird night.

We have this regular customer that kind of sucks.  His name is Tim -- yes, he comes in so often that all the servers know his name.  His full name, actually.  Sometimes he's there twice a day.

Unfortunately for him, some servers dislike him so much that they'll refuse to wait on him.  I've seen how, occasionally, all servers in the sections adjacent to his table will refuse, and the general manager (who schmoozes with the guy all the time) will be stuck doing it.

I've waited on Tim a few times now, and really, he isn't that bad.  He tries to get free stuff, he has very specific food orders, he's a bit condescending, he's a racist, he's reportedly wealthy (a quick Google search told me that), and he's a poor tipper (we're talking, like, he leaves pennies).  He's also a bit idiosyncratic:  On his way to his table, he grabs a huge stack of beverage napkins, spreads them over his tabletop, and polishes all his silverware.

He reminds me a lot of Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets.  A lot.  But Tim would never be able to make it with Helen Hunt. 

The first time I waited on him, one of the other servers said to me, "Don't put up with his crap.  Seriously.  Just go up to him and say, 'What do you want?'  The guy's an asshole.  Don't bother being nice or anything."  And, well, I didn't do that.  I was nice to the guy at least, and I got a 10% tip, which I was actually excited about, based on things I'd heard.  I told that server about it, and he said, "Wow!  You must've impressed him.  I usually get like fifteen cents."  Well, I wonder why.

One thing during that first encounter, though, is that Tim requested a free item one of the managers had promised him, and I said, "No problem, I'll just have to talk to a manager about that."  He asked which manager was on.  I told him, and he scrunched up his nose and said, "The colored man?  No, ask another one."  I was shocked at what he said, so I told my "colored" manager about it, expecting fisticuffs, but he just laughed hysterically.

So I waited on Tim tonight.  I braced myself as I went to greet him, and I ignored the voices of the other servers ("oh god, you have to serve that jerk," "give him shitty service," etc.).  I did what I always do and treated him like any other customer, just as I did the first time.  His order came out correctly, the general manager came over to schmooze per usual, the food was complimented, etc.  The only thing I did differently this time:  He always requests real butter with his entrée instead of what we usually use, so I went ahead and brought a bit of real butter for the bread basket as well.  He said, "Oh, that's a good idea," and seemed pleased, as if no one had thought to do that before.  Huh.

He paid with a credit card, and after he left, I went to clear the table, lifting the cover of the check presenter slightly to discreetly peek at the credit card slip.  Sweet, another 10% tip on the original bill.  No sarcasm there -- I was satisfied with the two dollars, considering what it could have been.  I went back to the kitchen to close out the table on the computer and grabbed the credit card slip, this time opening the check presenter fully.

And a $5 bill fell out.  What the... that's a 33% tip, even more considering he had a coupon for a free appetizer, which brought the bill to around $12, so I then held in my hands a 58% tip.

I stood in the middle of the kitchen, staring at the check presenter with my mouth open, and the "to-go" gal asked me what was wrong.  "Tim just left me a $7 tip!"  I shit you not, about six people stopped what they were doing.  Their reaction was a little like this:
"Get OUT!"
I'm still shaking my head about it.  If he makes a habit of this, I hope he requests me.  I'd be happy to get him the real butter for his bread basket.  But don't expect me to "Helen Hunt" him.

A text with my friend and co-worker, who had the night off tonight.  He's a friendly person who's rarely sarcastic, so you can kind of get the reputation Tim has.  (Friend's name and Tim's last name blacked out.)

Then, however, I got stuck with a table outside my section because the customers requested a different server, saying she was rude and ignored them.  That server?  Yeah, she's one of the most positive people I've ever met and a great waitress.  As customers, they were demanding, messy, and certifiably insane.  For example, this happened:

Husband customer:  "Could I get the pecan pie for dessert?"
Me:  "Sure, coming right up."  I bring the pie to him.
Wife customer with Crazy Eyes:  "We didn't want that.  Don't you remember when we changed our minds and said we didn't want that?"

... What?

Oh, and then they tipped me 89 cents.  Looks like Tim evened things out for me -- thanks, bro.


  1. Aww this is great! See what a little kindness can do! I'm sorry about your second family, but at least you had one positive experience!

    1. Bad customers are just entertainment and blog material at this point, so no biggie. ;)

  2. I have had to serve many "Tims" in my life and you definitely got the right attitude for this profession. Treat them like anyone else, see them as a challenge, and pat yourself on the back when they actually tip well. I have turned around many Tims and made them into bread and butter customers because now they only want to be served by me, and will wait for me even if I am busy. You go girl!! cynthia

    1. Thanks Cynthia! He should be able to dine with us for a reason. Good to know someone else knows what it's like!

  3. You should Helen Hunt him! "Sell crazy somewhere else, we're all stocked up here."