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

True Story: The Horrible Hostess

[Hostess job description at The Hot Spot:  answering the phone, greeting and seating guests, bussing tables, and saying “Goodbye” to guests]

About a week ago, I was getting into work and had just put on my apron and was heading into the Front of the House when I saw the morning hostess rolling cutlery for the day.  For the sake of this post, let’s call her Cher.

The problem: she was blasting her own music from the bar’s radio at top volume and singing and dancing along with the song.  None of her Opening Tasks were done and she had her cellphone next to her and was texting.

The rules: First of all, cellphone are prohibited in the Front of the House at all times.  Waiters, bartenders, and hostesses are to keep them in the staff rooms.  Secondly, the restaurant was opening in 5 minutes and she seemed completely unaware of that fact and seeing as how she’s in charge of unlocking the front door, it didn’t seem like she was going to do that any time soon.  Also, the radio in the bar is for bartender use only, so not only was she breaking that rule, but also the volume level should be kept to a minimum so as not to bother other employees and customers seated nearby.

The story: The Ass. Manager was MIA so I assume she was taking advantage of the fact that our boss wasn’t there and was taking some time to do whatever she wanted before he came in to work.  So, I took it upon myself to walk into the bar and turn off the radio.

“Hey!” she said.  “I was listening to that.”

“Well, the restaurant is opening in 2 minutes so we need to turn on the regular restaurant radio and unlock the front door.” I explained.

“Oh….yeah. I forgot.”

Nice.  Way to do your job properly.

So throughout the day, other employees strolled in and started to work.  As soon as on of the bartenders, Lancelot, came in, the hostess left the front desk, went to the bar to chat with her back to the door, and continued on as if what she was doing was okay.  It was a Sunday so there weren’t too many tables at that time, but I knew customers would start coming in at around 1:00 pm.    At that moment, I noticed a couple walk through the door and glanced over to Cher chatting up a storm with the bartender, completely unaware of the fact that two people were now looking around for a hostess to seat them.  I waited to see what she would do.  She never even looked towards the front once.

“There are people in the front.”  I told her.

She dropped what she was doing and went to the front to seat them, only to come back and continue gabbing away.  Then four people came through the door and Cher still didn’t notice them.

“Hey, Cher!” I yelled at her. ” Get to the front, there are people there!”

This continued on like this for another…oh let’s say 4 times until I started having to answer the phone for her because she was too distracted to hear it ringing. I finally went up to her and said “Cher, I’m tired of doing your job for you.  Stay in the front and do your job.”  That lasted for all but 15 minutes.

Imagine you’re a waitress, in the middle of taking and order and have to say “Excuse me one moment” to your table so you can answer the phone for a hostess who is doing nothing that talking all day.  It’s infuriating.  You could say “Just don’t answer the phone”, but if the boss calls and no one answers, everyone is responsible for not answering.

If the hostess can’t answer the phone, then the manager does (if there is a manager present).  If the manager can’t answer the phone, then a waiter answers.  If they’re all busy, then someone in the kitchen has to answer.  With a limited number of staff on Sunday lunches, it’s a very short list of people able to answer the phone. Plus, with one cook in the kitchen, he can’t just drop everything and answer the phone while in the middle of cooking 6 table’s food, now can he?

How terrible will it look to customers if their waitress runs off to answer the phone in a middle of an order?  Well, I can tell you now it looks completely unprofessional, especially with the hostess standing there yapping instead of doing her job.

What I thought about doing:  Honestly, I thought that a way to get her to stay in front was to get my cellphone and force her to stay in front by continuously calling the restaurant, but with the amount of tables I had there was no time for doing something like that, but I have to admit that schemes like that did cross my mind (doesn’t everyone think like that from time to time?).  It would have been sneaky and a little bit evil, but may have taught her a lesson.

The solution: So, what did I do?  I told The Boss.  Yeah, I know.  I felt like a snitch, but seriously…enough is enough.  He was extremely unimpressed.  They took her off the schedule for Sunday lunches and put a competent, hardworking hostess who will do her job and do it well.

The importance of a hostess: This kind of “I don’t care about my work” attitude should not be taken lightly, because the first impression a customer gets is when they are greeted by a hostess.  There’s nothing worse than walking into a restaurant and having to wait for 15 minutes while staring at a sign that says “Please wait to be seated” thinking How much longer do we have to wait?  The hostess’ priority is The Door and any employee who can not understand that should be given the boot.

The Waitress Confessions

Restaurant Terms:

Front of the House – the front end of the restaurant, the dining room and bar where the customers are served and wait staff, bartenders,  and dining room managers mostly work.

Opening Tasks –  A list of tasks that need to be accomplished before the restaurant opens for the day.