When Your Tips Just Don’t Add Up

tipsToday was such a great day.  I had an amazing lunch rush for a Sunday and everyone seemed to be in the best of moods.  And you know what good moods mean?  Good tips!  I won’t lie, I schmoozed a little bit, but was genuinely happy to be serving our customers today.  Life was good and the tips were generous.

The night shift was slow, but I had a couple of good tables that left me $20.00 so that helped me out quite a bit.  At the end of my shift, I tallied up the tips that I had made throughout the day (I keep a record so that I have a good idea of what I’ll be leaving with).  So, here’s the number all my tips added up to:

$173.00

I felt very happy about that.  I worked hard, served my customers well, ran plates and drinks, cleaned and helped other waiters.  Seemed like for the amount of work I put in…well it was fair.  When it came to doing my “reading” or my “report” (where the manager checks all my credit cards, interacs, cash, and tip-outs) I was left with $120.00.

$120.00?!?!?

It didn’t make sense to me.  Didn’t add up.  So when I checked how much I tipped out ($22.00) and deducted that from my total, I was left with $151.00 (which would make sense).  But where was that $30.00?  The manager checked everything again and even went as far as to go through all my bills with me in case another waiter was ringing up orders on my code and closing it cash.  Hey..it could happen.  But that wasn’t the case.  I was missing $30.00

What a bitch, lemme tell ya!  What happened to that money?  Other servers were asking “Did you put some money aside? Put it somewhere else by accident?” and the answer was plain and simple: NO!  I am very careful with my money when it comes to counting and keeping it safe in my apron. So what happened?  I honestly have absolutely no idea.  The only thing I can think of is if it accidentally fell out of my money clip.  But everything stays together in one place and it’s pretty secure.

So, I had no choice but to accept it.  Everything else balanced and the restaurant isn’t going to reimburse me for any lost money because it is…technically…my fault.  But, when you’re a stickler for precision and money, it’s really hard to believe that I misplaced it.  I just left.  Took the hit and left.

Getting home and opening a cheap bottle of wine to drown my sorrows in, I keep going over my day – wondering if I somehow miscalculated or put money aside without realizing it. But my thoughts also dance around the idea of relying on technology to calculate all of my sales, tips, taxes and discounts.  Could the computer I use somehow be deducting money without me realizing?  Is it possible that somewhere in the computer system there is a glitch?

The idea of the possibility of technology being the culprit scares me, because to be honest I have no idea how it works.  All the deductions and calculations it automatically makes.  As an owner or manager, you can set the computer to pretty much whatever you want, so in my mind…is it possible that something somewhere in the computer is making a deduction it shouldn’t?  Now…that’s a scary thought.

But us, as servers, how are we supposed to know this? Just take the word of the people we work for who are mostly there to make money?  Sounds like it could be fishy to me, especially when they are the ones setting the conditions for the computer system. We can’t exactly approach them and say “What’s the deal here? I’m missing money!!” and expect them to pay out of their pocket when they believe you’re the one who lost it somehow.  There’s no way to prove it, no complete record of cash (because a server could just pocket it), no way to show that you made the money you made 100%.

So it’s a problem – at least in my eyes.

I’ll take it as a bad day.  A day where I lost money somewhere and it cost me in tips.  There’s nothing more I can do except write about it and then move on.  But in reality – it does come down to money.  And I need money to pay for bills, food, rent, etc.  The missing money is almost my cellphone bill for the month.  When you look at it that way, when your tips just don’t add up, it’s not just a few dollars here and there.  It can be a whole big difference.

 

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True Story: The Proposal

Romantic Dinner
Romantic Dinner by Samantha Ombregt

Last Wednesday, I was replacing a coworker of mine since she needed the day off.  I was getting ready for work when my boss calls me, saying he forgot to schedule a waiter to come in at 4 o’clock and asked if I could come in early.  I said “No problem” and headed off to work.

As I get to the restaurant, I see that there is a table just being seated and since I know it will be mine, I change as quickly as possible.The day waitress has already taken their wine order and is explaining to me the specials of the day when I see another couple being seated two tables down. I’m excited, since I won’t just be waiting around for tables to come in.

I head over to the table, say a friendly hello and inform them of the specials and ask if they want anything to drink.

Just water, thanks.” They both say.

I get them two glasses of water and give them time to look through the menu.  As I head back towards the kitchen, I start a fresh pot of coffee and see the man from the second table get up and head towards the washrooms.  I smile at him as he passes and he motions to follow him.  What the hell? I think.  I walk towards the hallway leading to the bathroom and ask “May I help you?”

He calls me further down the hallway without saying a word, and when we are out of sight of the rest of the restaurant he says:

“I need a really big favor from you.”

“Okaaaay…” I say hesitantly.  He’s reaching around in his pocket for God knows what.

He pulls out a little, tiny plastic baggie and says:

“I’m proposing to my girlfriend and would really appreciate it if you could put it in the chocolate mousse and bring it to the table.”

At first I felt relieved to see a beautiful ring inside and then extremely happy.  How cute!  Then the nerves kicked in after he left the ring with my after I promised to do my part.

What if I lose it? What if I drop it? What if she says no?

All these thoughts were going through my head and I could not imaging what he was going through. I tried to act normal at the table as I took their order.  He was drinking water like a fish (probably because of the nerves) so I made sure to refill it as much as possible, especially after he finished his meal.

She took 15 minutes after he was done eating to finish her meal.  I could feel the nervers as he played nervously with his napkin and probably thinking “Hurry up and finish eating! I want to tell you I want to spend the rest of my life with you!

Then I realized, as I picked up her plate (finally), that I never asked him if he wanted me to just bring the dessert or go one with the service as usual and he’ll ask me for it.  What if he’s changed his mind at the last second?  So, I went to get the dessert menu and told them I’d give them a few seconds to choose.  When I went back to the table I asked her if she was having dessert.  She said “Oh God, no.  I’m way too full!”  So I turned to him and asked if he’d saved any room.  He ordered the chocolate mousse and I said “Excellent choice. It’s my favorite.

So I went to prepare the dessert, place the ring on top of the mint leaves we use to dress-up the mousse, and started walking to the table.  Don’t drop it, don’t drop it, I kept thinking.  I decided to come from behind the woman so she wouldn’t see me approaching with it and so that he would see me from afar and prepare for whatever speech he was going to give.  I placed it on the table, gave him a confident nod and walked away.

There was a gasp and a huge smile, but she never put the ring on and he never took it to put it on her finger.  Did she say yes?  So after 2 minutes I walked by the table without looking, turned around to the man and he gave me a thumbs up sign.  Phew!  She said yes!  There were tears of joy, squeals of delight, kisses, hugs, and phone calls to family.  I brought them a little bottle of champagne “On the house! Congratulations!” I said.

He paid for their meal and hand in hand they walked out of the restaurant.

I was a part of someone’s big day, helped a man propose to the woman of his dreams.  It made my whole night.  Thank goodness I didn’t screw it up.

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How Being a Hostess Taught Me to Be a Better Server

For 4 years before I started serving tables, I was a hostess.  Not just any regular, everyday hostess…I was deemed Head Hostess.  This title pretty much meant that I was in charge of verifying all reservations, seating rotation, setting up large parties, organizing the wait list, and distributing tables evenly among the servers.  It was, in my experience, a difficult job.  The multitasking  and workload, however, was not what made it challenging.  It was handling the customers (along with their complaints) and most of all…dealing with the servers.

In my restaurant, the waiters and waitresses are not allowed to go up to the front desk and bother the hostesses.  Any problems with tables or fairness were supposed to be brought up to the Floor Manager and from the Floor Manager to the Hostess.  However, when the Floor Manager was busy chatting up a storm with regular customers or taking care of a customer complaint with a certain waiter, servers would flock to the front entrance like a bunch of vultures and harass the hostesses.  Why does he have more tables than me? What do you mean my reservation canceled…give me another one! I don’t want any more tables, I want to get out of here early.

On slow days, I would constantly hear their complaints about customers.  They would be all riled up because a table left them $8 on $102 or their table was just having two coffees and sharing a soup.  I’d hear all these horror stories about guests dining and dashing, dishing out impossible demands, and even belittling them as people.  After days of hearing all of these tales of woe, I decided then and there that I did NOT want to be a server.

But, when the time came that I had learned everything I possible could about being a Hostess, I figured it was time for me to learn something a little more challenging.  Knowing what I knew about the difficulty of being a server, I thought that maybe it would be different for me. So, I started learning the menu, how to punch in orders, and the timing of the plates.

As I started learning more and more and watched the best waiters work, I started to notice how horrible some of them actually were.  As I circulated within the restaurant, I was getting stopped by a lot of guests complaining that they had no utensils, were low on water, that their food was taking too long,  and that they couldn’t find their waitress.  Even though I was a Hostess and could have said “It won’t be long, I’ll get your server”, I stepped up to the plate and decided to handle these things personally. I would get the water pitchers and make my way through the whole restaurant filling up glasses.  I made sure everyone had utensils.  I checked with the Expiditor if food was taking too long.  If someone wanted another drink, I took their order and sent off the order to the bar.

Slowly I started to notice the things you need to do as a server…and the things you should NEVER do.  When it came time for my training, I already had a great overview of what was expected of me.  I never neglected filling up water glasses.  I never talked in the back, ignoring my customers.  I always made myself available to them and any other table in the restaurant.  I picked up visual cues and could tell when a customers was ready to pay or was getting up in search of the bathrooms.  Anticipating the guests needs became a strong point for me.

The hostesses loved me because I would never go up and harass them about getting more customers.  They would clear off my tables and reset it and sit more people all because I would watch the door for them when they’d run off to eat something in the back.  It was a give and take relationship with them and because I knew the challenges of being a hostess and how the servers try any way possible to get them to fold and give them new tables, in their eyes I was the best waitress to get along with.  Soon after, I became a bridge between servers and hostesses.  Complaints from waiters about hostesses started coming to me and instead of brushing them off I’d explain to them why their table changed places or why one waitress had more tables (because she had all the tables by the windows – customers love that section).  I took the load off of them for quite some time and I think they appreciated the silence for once.

Being a Hostess and walking around the restaurant taught me how to be a better server.  I was like a fly on the wall, learning the job from only the very best and learning how to take care of neglected customers from the very worst.  Without being a hostess, I’m not sure if I’d be the waitress I am today.  I may have started at a low end restaurant, without a decent training and no restaurant experience.  I could have been one of those servers, the ones who don’t give a damn about customer service…only the money in their pocket.  So, when I’m passing by the front desk sometimes and I see a girl applying for a job as a waitress (even though she has no experience), I wonder why they don’t apply for the Hostess job instead.  Maybe they don’t realize that sometimes that is the best way to get the job you want.  Start slow and work your way up.  Like I did.

So, my advice to anyone looking to get into the restaurant business for the first time is this:  take any job you can get.  Most places ask for a minimum amount of years of experiences in order to be a server, but can take you with no experience in another position.  You’ll have to work hard and prove yourself to the managers and owners, but from my experience a lot of restaurants like to hire within the restaurant.  We need new waitresses.  Well, how about Kayla over there? She’s been working hostess for 3 years, maybe she can handle it.

Any experience you can gather up will only improve your service later on.  You could go from dishwasher, to kitchen, to bar, to waiter and then… Voilà!  Your a waiter who knows how everything works and how things are run in the restaurant.  Are you in one of those positions now? Don’t sell yourself short, it may just be a stepping stone to yet another experience…serving tables and serving them well.

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True Story: The Best Buy Bandit

One cold and snowy day in December, back when I was a hostess at The Hot Spot, I was standing around wishing I had something to do.  My daily cleaning tasks were done and because of the weather, there were only a couple tables in the restaurant.  No one was walking in and the phone would ring maybe once every hour.

Standing at the front desk, I can see outside into the front parking lot.  While glancing out the big window, I saw a girl running up to the restaurant.  I guess she was cold and wanted to get inside as fast as possible.

“She looked like she was in trouble.”

The girl swung open the front door and glanced behind her nervously.  Strange, I thought.  She actually looked like she was in trouble.  She finally came through the entrance doors and into the front lobby and looked around quickly.

“May I help you?” I asked.

“Where’s the back door?” She demanded.

I looked at her, stunned for a moment.  First of all, we don’t have a back door for customers.  Secondly, why would she just want to walk through the whole restaurant just to get to the back (if it even were possible).  She kept looking out the window and ducking down.

“The only door is the one you came through.” I told her.

“Fuck!” she cried as she opened the lobby door and then stopped dead in her tracks.  Two guys stormed into the front door wearing Best Buy uniforms, faces and arms red from the cold outdoors and started blocking her way out.

“Don’t fucking touch me!”

“Get out of my way! Don’t fucking touch me!” she yelled.  They two Best Buy employees held up their arms as if to say “We’re not laying a finger on you” and she pushed her way through the door, turning left to run down the side alley next to the restaurant.  Right as she was about to step off the walkway, a police car came to a screeching halt.  An officer jumped out of the car and caught her, bringing her into the back seat.

I turned to the two guys and asked “What the hell was that all about?”.

“She stole hundreds of dollars worth of stuff from the store so we chased her all the way here.” One of them told me, out of breath.  They sat down for a moment, trying to regain their composure.

“Do you guys need a glass of water or something?”

“No, no.  We have to get going.” They explained.

I imagine the adrenaline was overwhelming, chasing and catching a Best Buy Bandit.  Even just running from there must have took a lot out of them, especially running through the snow and slush.  They soon left to talk to the police and I guess to get back to work.  I wonder if they got a round of applause upon their return.  Or maybe even a bonus.

That was one of the most unexpected experience that I’ve had working at the restaurant.  There I was, just wishing something exciting would happen and I get to see a thief caught red handed.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: Mourning Flowers

“Im down…”  she replied. “My husband is dying” 

A few months ago, a regular customer of mine ( a lady of around 60 years old) came to the restaurant to eat.  I didn’t notice her until another waitress asked me “Does she usually take the small order or the regular meal?”  I really had no idea what she was talking about at first.  I quickly finished cleaning my section so I could go over and say hello.

She’s only been coming every Sunday for the past 2-3 weeks, and every time by herself, and always orders a Bloody Caesar (with double vodka) to start.  Last time, she offered to buy me one!  I told her that was really sweet, but we aren’t allowed to drink on the job.  She understood and told me that she was really thankful for the wonderful service.  I was touched.  She said she would come back to see me because I was a really sweet waitress.
Yesterday, however, when I went over to say hello she didn’t seem like herself.

“Hello there! How are you today?” I asked.

She shook her head and played around with a magazine and bouquet of flowers she had on the table.

“I’m…down.” She replied. “My husband is dying…”

I didn’t really know what to say, except  that I was sorry to hear that.  I’ve never really been good at knowing what to say in those types of situations, especially with people I don’t really know.  She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t know what to do.  She was so depressed, even though it had been a long time coming.   The way I see it, no one can ever be fully prepared for that, no matter how long you might know it will happen.

The woman also told me that she had no family around, no friends, and that she was alone.  I told her that I work during the day on weekends and it’s relatively quiet (not too many people at that time), so if she felt up for having a quick bite to eat she could come to the restaurant and we could chat.  She said she would really love that.  She promised to bring me pictures of her grandchildren that live in Toronto.  I said I’d love to see them.

“Enough about this, I don’t want to burden you at all,” she told me.

“It’s not a burden,” I explained.

“I’m so glad I met you!” she said sweetly.  All I could do was smile.

Her waitress came by at that point and we all chatted for a bit.  A few minutes later we passed by the table again to check on her and she told us that she wanted us to have her flowers.  We denied them at first, saying it was too generous and she deserved to have some beautiful flowers around her house.  She explained that she already had too many.

“I’m an old woman!  Don’t argue with me!” she exclaimed as she thrust the bouquet into our hands.

So the other waitress and I accepted and thanked her for her generosity.  She headed home after…I hope that she got home safely.  She seemed pretty down.  I haven’t seen her since, but hope to see her once again to know that she’s okay.  I at least hope that maybe I cheered her up a little bit by lending an ear.  Everyone needs someone to talk to.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: The Psycho Stalker

One day, back when I was working as a hostess at The Hot Spot, a woman strolled into the restaurant looking rather shifty.  I cheerily greeted her as she came through the front door, but she continued on past the front desk with not so much as a glance in my general direction.  As I hostess, I was used to being ignored by customers and I figured she was just too focused on trying to find someone she was supposed to be meeting for lunch.  Discretely following her, I kept a few paces behind in case she needed my help, that is, until she finally came to a stop behind a nearby table.

“She stood there for a few moments, nervously clutching her purse and eyeing the man sitting in the booth.”

She stood there for a few moments, nervously clutching her purse and eyeing the man sitting in the booth.  His back was facing her and as she ducked up and down to get a better view of the guy, I thought that maybe she was meeting him on a blind date and she was trying to size up the guy before deciding to take a seat or run out of the restaurant before he noticed.   It was weird, however, that the man had only asked for a table for one when he entered the restaurant.

“May I help you?” I asked politely.

She shook her head, so I walked towards the front desk making sure to be a available if she needed a menu or not.

She finally took a deep breath and approached the table, quickly sliding into the booth to face him.  No “Hello!” or “Hey! How are you?”.  They started up in what seemed to be the middle of a conversation they had already been involved in.  And it was quite the heated discussion, if I may say so myself.  The man’s plate arrived to the table and their waiter asked the woman if she’d like anything.  She shook her head and continued to stare at the man who was now picking up his fork and knife to eat.

“The man was trying to shush her, but she wouldn’t have it.”

After about 10 minutes,  I could hear the woman’s voice more and more as the conversation grew more intense.  The man was trying to shush her, but she wouldn’t have it.  He finally had enough and asked the waiter for the bill.  Their server placed it on the table and walked away to give the two of them some space.  Before I knew it, the man was coming up to the front desk asking me to quickly get the waiter because he needed to leave right away.  I got their waiter and the man paid, all the while as the woman stared angrily at him.

“She had that You’re Dead To Me look  that Lily sometimes has on How I Met Your Mother.”

He walked out of the restaurant, saying a quick thank you, as the woman stayed behind still sitting in the booth.  As I walked by, I was a little scared.  She had that You’re Dead To Me look  that Lily sometimes has on How I Met Your Mother.  She was fuming, then suddenly she was up and running out of the restaurant.   I went to the front desk to look out the window into the parking lot and saw her yelling at him as he was opening the door to his car.  She continued to run towards him and then threw herself between him and the driver’s side door, slamming the door shut and preventing him from getting in.

“She tried to hold on for dear life he attempted to exit the car by the passenger side.”

The man then calmly walked around the car to the passenger side door and unlocked it and slid into the seat.  The woman pulled the door open on her side and as the man climbed into the driver’s seat, she threw herself onto him, her legs dangling out of the car. He tried desperately to push her off, but she’d wedged her legs into the door of the car that there was no way he was getting her off of him.  She tried to hold on for dear life he attempted to exit the car by the passenger side.

Meanwhile, people walking by were starting to watch the scene unfolding before them as the man finally freed himself from her grasp. He ran out of the car and started heading back towards the restaurant.  I quickly ran to be behind the front desk so he wouldn’t notice me watching the craziness of what was happening outside.  I saw the woman getting out of the car and slamming the driver’s door as the man asked me to (very politely might I add) to call him a cab.  So I did.

He waited in the front lobby as the woman paced around outside waiting for him to come out.  She had finally had enough of waiting and stormed into the restaurant and took a seat right next to him.  I mean, she literally made sure that the whole side of her body was touching his.  And then she just glared at him as he blankly stared ahead.  She talked, he didn’t.

I finally saw the cab pull up to the front door so I told the man that his cab had arrived.  He thanked me and got up to leave.   The woman shouted at him to not go, but he wouldn’t listen.  As he climbed into the cab with her yelling at him, she did the same thing as when he was trying to get into his own car.  She threw herself onto him, making sure to dangle her legs out of the car so that the driver could not drive away.   After 5 minutes, I could tell the cab driver was starting to get extremely angry.  He yelled at them to both get out and drove away, never looking back.

“He attempted to get back into his car, but she was a complete maniac and was one step ahead of him the whole time.”

By this time, the man was finally starting to yell. I could see him yelling at her to get away from him.  He attempted to get back into his car, but she was a complete maniac and was one step ahead of him the whole time.  I saw him trying to push her away from the car door and then suddenly he was off running.

“He had somehow grabbed her own set of keys and was running to her car.”

He had somehow grabbed her own set of keys and was running to her car.She chased after him and caught up to him before he could figure out which key was for her car and a screaming match began. All the while he was trying to fake her out by running back to his car and quickly spinning around to run back to hers.  Finally, he gave up trying and it was a wave of screaming and crying from the girl.  She tried to wrestle her keys away from him, but he held on with all his might and then he did something that made me think …

“Did he really just do that?”

I even asked it out loud to the two other waiters who had joined me to watch the crazy show in the parking lot.  We were shocked.  The man had thrown her keys into the middle of a busy street and made a run for it as she watched where they landed.  She stared with her mouth hanging open as she realized what he’d done.

“She ran right into the middle, grabbed her keys like a football player running drills, and made a mad dash for his car.”

He ran as if running for his life and you could see the split-second-decision-making the woman was doing.  Keys or The Guy?  Keys or The Guy?  She decided to make a run for her keys as the man jumped into this car.  At that moment, no cars were driving down the road so she ran right into the middle, grabbed her keys like a football player running drills, and made a mad dash for his car.  She was too late as he pulled out of his parking spot and headed towards the exit.  She tried to run out in front of his car, but he had already pulled ahead of her before she had a chance to  pretty much throw herself onto his moving vehicle.

She bolted towards her own car, got in to the driver’s seat and drove off like the dickens, heading in the same direction he did.

The whole day, the staff talked about what must have happened.  Some thought that it was his mistress and he’d just called it off and she couldn’t let it go.  Some thought it was his wife of girlfriend who was checking up on him to see if he was cheating on her.  Some thought it was some Psycho Stalker.  Whatever it was, it was one of the weirdest moments I’ve ever witnessed at work.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: The Dashing Diners

Last night, I was working a double shift at The Hot Spot .  After my 15 minute break, I saw that the manager put me in a section that I’m not usually in (at the front of the house, near the hostess desk and the front door).  Now, normally, that’s a pretty good section, but seeing as how it was a quieter night, I only had 2 tables.

It started off well and everyone was very nice and polite.  I saw my table #6 lifting their hands to get my attention, so I walked over and asked if everything was alright.  They were 3/4 done their meal and thought maybe they wanted to take the rest To Go.  But, the girl asked me for another Coke and the guy asked for a glass of water.  So, on my way towards the kitchen, I picked up the Coke, grabbed a glass of water, and headed back to the table.

As I got closer to the table, I noticed that no one was sitting there anymore.  The plates were still on the table, so nobody had given them the bill in the few moments I was gone.  I ran to the hostess desk and asked if anyone saw them leave.  One of the hostesses said that they said they were going out for a smoke and would be back.  I felt better, but when I looked outside I didn’t see them standing by the door.  I thought to myself Maybe they went to smoke in their car…it is really cold outside, but I knew better.  They had just dined and dashed.

I waited 15 minutes, just in case they’d come back, but they never did.  I was furious!  It was the first time this has ever happened to me and I couldn’t believe it.  How can you just walk into a restaurant, order drinks, appetizers, two main meals and just leave without paying?

I told a coworker about it and he told me that Karma’s a bitch and that they’ll get what’s coming to them.  He said that this happens from time to time and to just let it go, because there’s nothing you can do about disgusting people like that.  He’s right.  There’s nothing you can do.

So, I put on a smile for the rest of my customers and something amazing happened.  I got the best tables I’ve ever had on a Saturday night.  I was getting 20-25% tips all night.  One table said that the next time they would come, they’d ask for my section.  Another said that it was the best service they ever had.  It was just amazing.  Starting the night off with a bunch of thieves, I thought that maybe it would be “one of those nights”, especially since it was a full moon, but it turned out completely differently.

Sure, Karma’s a bitch.  But, it can also turn around and send good vibes to a good person who deserves it.  Thank you, Karma.  Just one question to the couple who left without paying:  How do you sleep at night?

So, to all those diners out there, please show some respect and actually PAY for the food and service you are receiving.  Otherwise, you’re just a thief.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: Why I Don’t Mind Serving a Table With Kids


Kids In Restaurants:  A Server’s Point of View

A lot of waiters think “Oh no!” when a family with kids is seated at a table in their section.  Other guests often complain that the children are too loud.  Some think that children should be left at home with a babysitter when parents wish to dine out.

I think there might be too much of a grey area there and that people are too harsh when it comes to whether or not children should be allowed in certain places like restaurants, museums, etc.

Being a waitress at a restaurant, I think it’s wonderful when parents bring their kids, teach them how to order their own food and say “thank you” and “please”. It’s important to learn these things early on in life.  I also have to admit that 85% of the kids that come into the Hot Spot are very well behaved.  Their parents know when their child is capable of behaving themselves in public areas.

Now that’s an interesting word.  

Public.  What is a public area?  Dictionary.com defines it as “open to all persons”.  What is a kid/child?  Dictionary.com defines them as “a person between birth and full growth; a baby or infant”.  Therefore, if museums and restaurants are open to all persons, children should be welcome as well.

Why I Don’t Mind Serving a Table With Kids

To be honest, one of my best memories as a waitress was when a family of 4 (mother, father, 3 year old boy and baby) came to eat at the restaurant.  The table was in another waiter’s section, but when it came time to serve the desserts he needed a bit of help taking the order.  I went up to the table and informed the little boy that he had ice cream included with his meal.  His eyes lit up when he asked politely for chocolate on top.  ”Excellent choice!” I said, I rung up his order in the computer.  I quickly went to get the small bowl of ice cream and when getting to the table I said “Here you go!”.

“What’s yaw name?” the little boy asked, unable to pronounce the letter R.

“Carrie!” I replied. (name changed)

“Cawwie?” he asked.

“Yes. Carrie.”

He paused.  Looked at the ice cream I had brought to him and then back at me.

“I love you, Cawwie!”

That comment pretty much brought tears to my eyes.  It was the best tip I ever got and it made my week.  I still think about it to this day and hope I remember it for years to come. Whenever kids are seated in my section, I hope they will be as wonderful as that little boy.

There’s just a few little problems…

The problem that I see as a waitress is when parents let their children run around screaming in the restaurant and are too involved in their “adult” conversation to keep an eye on them. Not only is it disruptive to other guests, but very dangerous as well.  It boggles my mind that they don’t see that waiters are running around with hot plates, trays full of drinks, and carrying orders that come with steak knives. It makes me incredibly nervous to see young children running around the restaurant because I’m so afraid that they’ll get hurt.

Do parents know how easily their child could get hurt?  I can’t stress this point enough.  I’ve seen waiters on a busy Saturday night coming full speed around a corner and walk right into a little child (all the while trying not to drop hot coffee on them).  There are many restaurants that have play areas for children and I think it’s such a wonderful idea.  A restaurant like that would be a lot of fun for kids and it provides a safe environment for them to play in!  They won’t have to be bored sitting at a table waiting for their food to arrive or run around in a dangerous area.

Another problem I see as a waitress is other customers telling  a family’s child to behave themselves.  This really upsets me.  Children automatically have a higher voice because they have not fully developed yet.  So, when they are talking excitedly about something they are passionate about, their voices get a little louder and also maybe a little higher in pitch.  While I understand it may be “annoying” to certain people, it is not a reason to turn around and shout out “Would you please keep your child quiet!”  It is a public place, after all, and there are many ways to avoid sitting in an area near children.    A good way to avoid any could-be-fussy children is to ask your waiter to change tables or ask to sit in the bar area.  That is a choice you’re allowed to make.  Insulting a family is not.

The Problem With Parents (sometimes)

Here’s a story about another problem I’ve encountered while working in a restaurant.  I’ve found that sometimes parents expect the staff to watch their children.  This baffles me.  One day while working as a hostess I was standing in the front lobby and a woman came in with her baby in a car seat (the portable ones you can carry around).  I brought her to her table, since she was waiting for her friend to arrive.

A couple of minutes went by and she came back with the baby in a hurry, placed the car seat on the floor next to me and yelled out “I’ll be right back!”.  Before I could say anything ….she just left her baby on the floor next to me.  I saw her run out in the parking lot and then lost sight of her.  My heart was racing.  Is she ever coming back?  This woman just left her baby on the floor with a complete stranger (a 19 year old stranger on top of it!).  I couldn’t seat other customers coming in because I had to watch this woman’s baby.  I waited for 11 minutes before she finally came back in saying “Thanks!” and went back to sit at the table as if nothing was wrong.  I was in shock.  First of all, the staff are not babysitters.  Second, what are you doing leaving your child with a stranger?  That is not okay by any means. Not only is it unfair to the child (to place them in the care of a stranger), but also unfair to put responsibility like that on a staff member.

 So, how about I turn it around and ask if certain adults should be allowed in restaurants?

I’ve seen a quiet family with four young children have to move to a different table because a group of 4 adults (all grown men) were stumbling around stupidly drunk and swearing like sailors.  I’ve seen a man throw a chair across the room in anger.  I’ve seen a woman stalking a man and yelling at him in front of the whole restaurant for not paying any attention to her. I’ve seen a teenage girl throw a glass at another girl’s face for just looking at her boyfriend.

I’ve seen a lady grab her little boy and carry him by one arm (body dangling), shove him into a bathroom stall and start slapping him silly (I intruded of course).  Then, carry him out of the bathroom the same way, out of the restaurant, and literally throw him into the backseat of a car and drive off like the dickens.

I’ve seen hurtful breakups, fits of anger, and loud arguments.  How does that type of behavior sound to you?  Pretty pathetic, I’d say.  If you’re so keen on worrying about children’s behavior, I’d say take a look at the way some adults handle themselves in public places.  That is all unacceptable behavior if you ask me.

What it really comes down to…

I believe if children are well behaved then it’s actually no problem at all. If they throw tantrums and scream at the top of their lungs, maybe a fancy restaurant isn’t the place to be. But, children are people too.  They deserve to be treated with respect.

Folks, we all have to learn to live together. No discrimination. People have families, families deserve a chance to go out to eat as well, and kids need to eat. Just like couples deserve to have a wonderful, quiet date-night. Of course, there are times and places for things.  You shouldn’t go to eat at McDonald’s if you’re expecting a quiet night out, just like you shouldn’t go to an expensive 5-star restaurant if you know your child is prone to tantrums.  It wouldn’t make sense to make those types of decisions.

Lastly, please be nice to children.

They are wonderful little human beings. Some are capable of behaving themselves in public, some are not.  Some children like to sit at the table with their parents and some love to run around and make new friends.  Adjust yourself accordingly and let kids be kids in areas where they are able to be themselves.

And if you are on an outing or eating in a restaurant remember that it is, in fact, a public area.  All types of people will “misbehave”.  Adults and children alike.  You can bet on that.

The Waitress Confessions