“Table 17’s pissed,” Beth informs me.
“Why?” I ask warily.
“They thought the special salad was too expensive.”
Ah, the Caprese Salad – arugula, roasted red peppers, ripe tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella dressed with out famous parmesan pesto sauce. Delicious and all yours for $11.95
“Did you tell them how much it cost?” I ask.
“They ordered it anyway?”
“And they asked for it to be spilt in the kitchen,” Beth adds.
I look over at the table. The salad plates have been licked clean.
“But they ate the salad!” I exclaim.
“Probably looking for free stuff,” I mutter.
“Can you go and talk to them?” Beth asks plaintively.
“Do I have to?”
“I don’t get paid enough to deal with this crap,” she says.
“I’ll go talk to them.”
I walk over to table 17. My complainers are a couple in their early sixties. The husband’s sporting a shock of frizzy red hair afflicted by an unfortunate bald spot. A real fashonista, he’s wearing white shorts and black calf length socks. The money he’s not spending on himself must be going to the wife. She’s fashionably dressed but her face has been pulled into that taut droll grimace indicative of one too many facelifts. I bet she can’t smile to save her life. The again she probably never smiled in her life.
“Hi,” I say introducing myself, “I’m the manager, how can I help you?”
“Yes, yes,” Red says smiling expansively,” this salad was too expensive. I don’t think I should pay for it.”
“Did you enjoy the salad?” I ask pointing to the empty plates.
“We did but that’s not the point,” Red says, “It shouldn’t cost so much.”
“Sir, if you thought that why didn’t you send the salad back right away? We would’ve happily gotten you something else,” I reply.
“You were aware of the price?”
“I’m sorry sir, but since you ate the salad I have to charge you for it.”
“That’s not acceptable,” Red says firmly, his faux smile disappearing.
“Sir, I don’t set the prices. And if I refunded everyone’s money after they ate the food I’d be out of business in a week. I’m sure you understand.”
“So you are not going to refund my money?” Red asks. There’s a note of warning in his voice.
“I’m afraid I can’t.”
Red looks at his wife in shock. Her expression is artificially frozen in place.
“Just bring us our entrees.” he sighs resignedly.
Their entrees come out. They eat without complaint. They ask for the check and pay the bill. Thank God.
I think the whole matter is settled until Red waves me over.
“You charged me $12.95 for the salad,” he says angrily.
“Sir you asked for the salad to be spilt. That’s a dollar extra,” I rely. Why did I know this was coming?
“It’s on the menu sir.”
“I know. I saw it. But to still put the charge on my bill is screwing me,” he says making a twisting motion with his hand, “and it’s bad business.”
“I want the salad off my bill,” he says. Here we go again.
I know how to shut this guy down. Did you notice how he bitched after he ate the salad? How he complained about the bill after he paid it? Red’s passive aggressive in the extreme.
I reach into my pocket and fish out four quarters. I place them on the table.
“Here’s your spilt charge back,” I say.
“Well, that’s a start,” Red says shocked.
“No sir, that’s the end.”
“Have a nice day sir,” I say walking away from the table. We’re done here. If the guy never comes back – that’s good business.
But Red and his wife don’t leave. Instead they scrutinize with renewed fervor. Red waves me over again.
Yes sir?” I ask politely.
“The computer added up the bill wrong. You owe us money,” Red says in a strained voice.
You have got to be fucking kidding me.
“Sir, the computer is very accurate,” I reply.
“Bring me a calculator,” Red sputters.
“Beth where’s the calculator?” I ask.
“It’s broken,” Beth says all innocent like.
“Sorry sir,” I say shrugging.
The man starts adding everything up on the back of the receipt. He shakes his head.
“We’re going to be late for our movie” the wife says. I wonder if it’s a zombie movie. All her friends will be in it.
“Let’s go,” the man says getting up from the table.
Waving the check in my face he says, “You’re gypping me at least a nickel.”
A nickel? Now he’s bitching about a nickel? I start fantasizing about plunging my corkscrew into his eye.
Red glares at me. I’ve got my waiter poker face on. Neither of us says a thing. A tense moment passes.
Red and his wife storm out of the Bistro.
“Oh my God,” Beth exhales after they leave, “those people were nuts.”
“His picture is next to passive aggressive in the dictionary,” I say.
“Ya think?” Beth chuckles.
“Well, I better tell Fluvio about this,” I sigh.
“You think the guy’s gonna make trouble?” Beth asks.
“He won’t let it go,” I say, “It’ll gnaw at him.”
“We haven’t heard the last from this guy,” I say.
We did hear from Red again. It sucks to be right all the time.
I’ll finish this story next week.