True Story: The Cold Soup Conundrum

As I was closing up one night at the Hot Spot on a Wednesday night, I saw two last minute customers walk into the restaurant.  The manager on duty at that point was a little bothered by it.  We had no one in the restaurant for the past hour and the kitchen was closing in 10 minutes.  He was looking forward to getting home a little earlier than usual.

The Manager says to me “Go see them right away and see what they want to eat.” So I walk as quickly as possible and as I come closer I see that it’s a couple, a man and a woman, and their menus are closed, just waiting to order. I was glad that they knew what they wanted already.  I asked them if they were ready to order.

Woman:  We’re just here for a bowl of your daily soup. [laughs)

As she’s speaking, I can tell that she’s either extremely drunk or on some sort of drug.  She’s wearing a sloppy smile and slurring her words.  The man has a goofy grin on his face and looks like he’s trying not to laugh.

Me: Will that be all? The kitchen is closing in 5 minutes so if you’d like anything else I need to let them know.

Man: Nope. Ha ha ha……that’s it.

Woman : [laughs hysterically]

I walk away and tell the manager that they only want the soup and he tells the kitchen staff to start closing up.  I ladle soup into two bowls and take it to the table.  I put one down in front of each of them and they’re silent.

Me: Here we are! Enjoy!

Woman: We will! [mimicking my cheerful voice]

Man: [laughs]

I just walk away and let them eat their soup in peace.  I start finishing up my closing tasks when I see the woman get up from her seat and start waving her arm in the air.  I drop what I’m doing to go see her right away.

Me: Is everything alright here, ma’am?

Woman: The soup’s cold.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry about that. Let me warm it up for you.  Sir, would you like me to warm up yours as well?

Man: [half way done his soup] No, mine’s fine.

Me: Alright. I’ll be right back with your soup, ma’am.

I checked the temperature of the soup and it seemed quite warm, not scalding hot, but not cold either.  The only way for us to warm up soup is to nuke it for a bit.  So, I stuck her bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds.  I didn’t want to put it in too long because I didn’t want her to burn her tongue.  The microwave beeped and I stirred up the soup, changed the bowl and spoon, and brought the bowl back to the table.

Me: Here we are, ma’am.  I hope it’s hotter now.

No one said anything so I left the table as the woman was stirring the soup.  Suddenly I hear the woman trying to get my attention.

Woman: Uh….excuse me!

I turn around and head back to the table.

Me: Yes, ma’am?

Woman: It’s still cold. [laughs]

I kind of chuckled, thinking she was joking but she just kept staring at me.  I apologized and told her I’d warm it up some more.  The man was finished with his and I cleared the bowl from the table at the same time.  I headed back towards the soup station.

Manager:  What’s wrong?

Me: She says the soup is still cold.  I’ll put it in for another 45 seconds.

Manager: Well, she obviously wants her soup to be boiling hot, so just stick it in for a minute and a half to be sure.

So I wait as the microwave counts down the seconds.  When the soup’s ready I take it back to the table and place it in front of the woman.  I can see the steam rising from the bowl.  There’s no way that she can think it’s cold now.

Me: Here we are.  Just please be careful, I’m sure the soup is quite hot now.

She barely listens to me as she stirs the soup quickly and takes a huge spoonful.

Woman: Ugh! It’s too hot now! Take it away. I don’t want it.

Man: Baby, just let it sit for a bit and it will cool down.

Woman: [laughs]  Oh yeah! Ha, ha, ha! It’s okay. I’ll eat it.

I just stood there for a moment, trying to judge the situation.  Was this for real?  I started to walk away and kept looking back.  I could see the woman sitting with her hands on her lap, staring blankly at the bowl of soup just waiting for it to cool.  The weird thing was that the man was doing exactly the same thing.  They just sat there for 5 minutes, staring at one bowl of soup.

From afar I could see the woman take her spoon and start eating.  She was done in less than 2 minutes. I brought them the bill (about $10).  They got up to pay with a credit card, so I passed it and handed them their copy to sign.

Me: Thank you so much, have a wonderful evening.

They said nothing and just walked out the door.  I checked the bill.

They left me 25 cents.

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True Story: An Impossible Demand

This past Sunday, I went in for the lunch shift at the Hot Spot and got a table of 4 people.  They seemed nice enough as I approached them for their drink order, but as time passed I realized that these would be difficult customers to satisfy.  As nice as they were, they were extremely specific (and altogether picky like crazy) about their order and I worried that they may complain about everything from the timing of the service to the quality of the food.

First of all, they wanted their Brazilian Coffees to be hot.  “Put the coffee in the microwave if you have to,” they said.  So that’s what I did.  As much as I hate to nuke things in the microwave, I did what they asked.  The coffee seemed hot enough as I took it out and poured it into a sugar rimmed glass mug.  They didn’t want whipped cream, so I filled it to the top and took it to the table.

I set the coffee down in front of the two people who ordered it.  One of them took a sip right away and said it wasn’t hot enough, so I brought it back to heat it up for a minute and a half.  The coffee was boiling and bubbling, so I told the gentleman to be careful.  He touched the mug and seemed happy with how hot it was.

Then, the woman with the other coffee said (in a very disgusted voice, might I add) “Is there even any alcohol in here?”.  I was a little stunned and told her that I had put the correct amount, but if she wasn’t pleased with it i could get her some more.  “Well, yeah. I mean, there’s no alcohol in here at all.”

I sighed to myself.  Of course there was alcohol.  I’m not going to cheap out on that, but I also can’t make it half alcohol and half coffee (like some people may make at home).  “I’ll get you some more, ma’am.  It won’t be a problem at all,” I reassured her.

Before I could leave and get the alcohol for her, another man at the table told me they were ready to order, so I set down the tray I used to bring the drinks and took out my pad of paper and pen.  Their order was complicated and they were changing things around on the menu to suit their preferences, but I didn’t mind as much since they were the only table in the restaurant.  I also didn’t feel like arguing with them that normally we don’t put ketchup on our burgers.

As soon as I was taking the menus from them and about to walk away from the table, the woman with the coffee said “Excuse me, but is that alcohol coming?”

Cue the crickets.

I didn’t speak for a moment because I was shocked at her question.  I could not believe what she was asking.  How could the alcohol possibly get to the table without me leaving to go order it, let alone get it from the bar.  Did she think I could have sent out a discreet signal to someone to get it right away?  Did she think I could somehow communicate with the bar that she wanted more? How could she possibly think that it could get there if I never even left the table?  It seemed like such a ridiculous question to me.  I guess some people don’t have much common sense in how things work.  It is impossible for me to get something if I haven’t even left the table.  If I could use The Force, I would.  But I can’t.

So I said “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I haven’t even had a chance to leave the table yet, but I’ll get it for you right away.”

“Well, don’t forget it.” She replied.

All I could do was repeat “I’ll get it right away ma’am”.

So I pretty much ran to the bar and prepared it for her and took it to the table.

“How is it?” I asked as she added it to her mug.

“It’s good enough, I guess.” She said.

The rest of the service was pretty much the same way.  Complaints about the soup not being hot enough, the fact that I didn’t bring bread to the table (we only bring bread if the customers ask), asking what we give for free for birthdays and saying a chocolate cake wasn’t good enough, etc.

Every waiter has had customers like this.  And sometimes it’s a little infuriating.  People need to realize that we are only human, we only have two hands, and we are not mind readers.  I really tried my best, and it still didn’t seem good enough.

TIPS FOR CUSTOMERS

Think about what you are asking from a server.  Is your demand physically impossible? If so…then take a moment to maybe rephrase your request.

TIP FOR SERVERS

Try to keep your cool.

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