Freaky Creepy People

It’s a hot June afternoon and I’m travelling downstate with my joint custody dog Buster to meet a friend. But as I zip down the highway I realize I’m feeling tired so I decide to visit the biggest pusher of psycho-stimulant substances in the world – Starbucks. Let’s face it, next to these guys Pablo Escobar was running a lemonade stand.

Luckily I score a parking spot in front of a Starbuck’s inside a busy strip mall. Now it’s a hot day and I’m loath leaving Buster inside a car but I had the A/C blasting so the interior’s cool. Keeping the windows shut I lock the door and walk in to get my java fix. Besides, how long could it take?

Inside the cool shop I see there are two people ahead of me on line, a man buying a boat load of coffee beans and a large older woman wearing a dress that fits her like a potato sack. Feeling like a pastry I try walking up to the display case to peruse the goodies but the large woman’s blocking my way. “Excuse me ma’am,” I say politely.

The woman lets out a sibilant hiss of air and looks at me like I’ve crawled out from under a rock. Smiling at her disarmingly I note her flaming orange hair, granny spectacles, garish lipstick, over abundance of rouge and clumped orange mascara. If she was trying to look like The Joker she succeeded.

The woman’s response to my polite request is to block the display case with her rotund frame. Its then I realize her large body is throwing off a negative gravitational field, a repulsive force that shouts, “Stay away from me!” Undeterred I slip past her and begin perusing the cookies, scones and doughnuts I shouldn’t be eating. Her sense of space violated, the old woman lets out a large “Harrumph!” and moves her considerable body mass five inches to the right. Ignoring the negative vibe from the woman I look at the pastries and decide to get myself a double chocolate brownie. Man, all that sugar and caffeine’s going to hit my system like crystal meth.

When the old woman finally gets to the head of the line she instantly starts peppering the barista with a million questions. What’s a frappuccino? What does it cost? Can you make it low fat? How many calories are in it? After the worker patiently explains everything the woman starts rambling about her day, how hot it is outside and what a nice young man the barista is. As I listen to her talk I can almost see the words tumbling out of her mouth and scattering on the floor. Rapid and pressured speech? Bi-polar makeup and hyper vigilance about her personal space? Yep. This woman’s nuts.

I try being patient. Judging from the frumpy condition of her clothes going to Starbucks might be this woman’s only weekly treat. But as she drones on and on I feel beads of sweat start clustering on my back. Not because I’m hot mind you, because I’m worried about Buster. Glancing at my watch I see five minutes have already elapsed. Looking at my car I can see Buster’s still wagging his tail happily but soon the it’ll get too hot for him.  And with my luck someone from PETA will come barging in demanding to know who left a dog outside in a car. Unconsciously I let out a loud sigh. Big mistake.

“Do you mind?” the woman says, looking at me over her granny glasses. “You have to wait like everybody else!” I just shake my head and shrug.

“Ugh,” the woman says, her hands fluttering as if she’s trying to fan away a foul stench. “I’m surrounded by freaky creepy people. Freaky creepy people!’ I guess she means me.

“What would you like to order ma’am?” the barista says, wearing a smile covering up his desire to scream.

“I don’t know. I don’t know.”

“What would you like, sir?” another barista, a pretty girl with brown hair, asks me. Thank God.

“A medium coffee and a brownie please,” I say.

As the pretty barista fills my order the old woman decides on a frappuccino and a scone. But when it comes time for the woman to pay there’s a mixup and my coffee gets rung up instead of her frappuccino.

“I didn’t order that!” the woman says loudly. I look at the barista and our eyes lock in server solidarity.

“We’ll just give you the frappuccino at that price ma’am,” he says, knowing if he tries voiding anything the old lady will flip.

“That’s very nice of you,” she says curtly.

“Just wait at the bar, please. Your drink will be right up.”

As the old woman waddles away I notice she doesn’t leave a tip. No shocker there. I pull out my wallet and pay for my order. “Have a nice day brother,’ I say, popping a dollar in the tip jar.

“You too,” he says, smiling knowingly.

Walking past the old woman I rapidly put cream and sugar into my coffee, replace the top and start heading for the door. As I do so the woman looks at me angrily, her stenciled eyebrows twitching like Herbert Lom from the Pink Panther movies.

At forty-two I’ve discovered my patience for stupidity is wearing thin. Maybe my years in mental health and waiting tables burned it out of me. Or maybe I’m just sick and tired of all the bullshit. And just as the old woman’s about to say something to me I fire up my thousand-yard stare and dump a dose of “Shut the fuck up” energy into her crazed eyes. The woman flinches; steps back and I walk towards the door, not feeling one iota of guilt. But before I can get out outside I hear her screech, “This isn’t what I ordered. This isn’t what I ordered!” Looking over my shoulder I see her hectoring the poor barista and notice his pleasant face has replaced by a blank stare. Bitch should have left a tip.

I get into my car, crank up the A/C and drive off with Buster no worse for wear. “Freaky creepy people,” I say. “The world’s full of them.”


Comments

Freaky Creepy People — 90 Comments

  1. Good to have you back. Just out of curiousity, did she also have that other hallmark of crazy: more rings than fingers?

  2. Hope you’re having a enjoyable summer, Waiter. I can only tolerate “disturbed” people as long as they don’t speak to directly to me. It’s difficult to feel sorry for people who get into your face. I understand the need to get attention, but this is really an area gov’t intervention is desperately needed. People can rant all they want to about taxes, but as long as we, as a country, allow our leaders to throw money at the corporations and two pointless wars, what else can we expect? We need to reevaluate what the country’s priorities are.

  3. I’m a fan of the show “In Plain Sight” and your story today reminds me of a particular episode “No Clemency for Old Men” wherein when the guy gets of of prison after 25 years he can’t believe how rude and insensitive people are, so much so he almost commits a crime to go back into jail-where at least everyone knows what the score is and how to act. I try so hard to be polite and am met so often with a lot of rudeness. I wish I knew how to do your “thousand-yard stare” I need one!

  4. Waiter,

    I share your thin patience. Just turned 46 today and after years of Jobe-like patience, I too, find my patience wearing thin. It’s like, hey, if you made it this many years, why haven’t you figured it out yet?

    Good to see you back, hope there are more to come.

    Breadman

  5. I’m a cashier in a “natural” food store. *cough* Okay, I’m better now. Some people take their stupid pills, some take their arrogant pills, some take both, and often a freaking stupid arrogant bitch pill seems to get in the mix. Anyway, just as the pills kick in, stupid, arrogant and/or bitch a-hole gets in my line. It almost makes me wish I was a server again — I had so many more options for f*cking with customers like that.

    They have their brats in the cart where the groceries should go and give me a dirty look when I have no place to put the damn bags. Or they don’t speak a WORD of English — the usual salutations are met with no acknowledgement whatsoever. Until they read something on the big screen that they disagree with. “NO! NO! WATAMELON TWO FO FO DOLLA!” “Yes”, I smile, and point to the million inch font that reads “2 @ 2 for $4.00……….$4.00.” Dirty look ensues. “NO! YOU CHAHGE $1.49 POUND! SIGN SAY NINETY-NINE CENT!” “Um, no ma’am, that’s actually for the cherry vanilla granola that’s on sale in the ad — you have the almond maple.” (Which they didn’t write the PLU on the tag & pen provided…damn good thing I’m still clairvoyant.) Oh, man, I could go on. Maybe I should write “Cashier Rant”. And we don’t even get tipped. AND we get paid crap.

    Thanks for letting me vent. Time for my meds yet?

  6. i’m glad y’all are back, sugar! bless your heart for just “fire(ing) up my thousand-yard stare and dump a dose of “Shut the fuck up” energy into her crazed eyes.” xoxoxox

  7. Hey dude, glad to see your thoughts again. I’ve missed you.
    About your story today, I think people have a bigger sense of entitlement these days. They sincerely believe that they have every right to ring the information/energy/emotion/money/etc out of someone and a situation.
    I was at Target and saw an older woman in a Prius try on two or three spots before settling into a spot. The prior spot had been rejected because there were shopping carts nearby and in front that might ding the car. Where does she end up parking? Closer to the store but where two shopping carts had been parked so she could not get out of her car. She turned the car off. I tried to be a good Samaritan and pulled the two carts out and took them to the cart corral. No thank you. Nothin’. I told my four year old that saying “thank you” and having manners costs you nothing and makes people happy. Wish more people got that.

  8. Hi, I missed your stories.

    I am pleased you wrote again today. I hope your personal and professional stuff was good stuff and not difficult stuff.

    Now that I have hit 40, I have a lot less patience with dumb asses these days too. I just think it is age and life experience. I tend to become exasperated with entitlement in any form.

    I do not get upset with crazy people though. It is like getting mad at a cancer patient for puking after chemo. It is a symptom and they can’t help it. But, it took me most of my life to get to that place.

    I have many mentally ill family members, and I grew up with most of them unmedicated and undiagnosed which made my childhood quite an adventure. I am thankful every day for the peace and peace of mind pharmacological advances have brought to my family. It took a long time to realize they were not pissing me off on puroose, that it is just the best they can do sometimes.

  9. I have missed you! Hope life is beautiful professionally and personally!

    How to act in a public place seems to be a lost art. I had an almost identical experience at the Delta check in kiosks last week. Even the Delta agent was aghast. Oh well. They are what they are. Sometimes the DFWM look from hell is what you need to do.

  10. I could not figure out how to comment on the dog entry you posted. I am 42 and a relatively new dog owner. My dog is a rescue dog, and she became mine at six weeks old. She will turn a year old at the end of the month. I absolutely love her. I am amazed by this. She is a little pomeranian. She has given me a great gift. Someone to think about besides my self.

    She has also helped my mom. My mother accidentally ran over her own dog. Her beloved Harry. Layla has showered my mother with kisses, and cuddles. Dogs are precious. Well, I am rambling, but you should read the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain”.

  11. I’m only 20 and my capacity for bullshit is basically non existent. But I’ve discovered that I’m really, really good at smiling patiently at them and making them feel like morons while not saying a word. This has become my new favorite hobby. ‘How to shut people down without opening your mouth!’
    I mean, not to say I’m brilliant or anything CLOSE but at least when I don’t know, or if I’m just feeling bitchy, I just keep my mouth shut.

  12. Since moving to China the rudeness and crazy thing has escalated to a degree I previously thought impossible. However, being over 49 and with people who do not as a rule speak English, I indulge in both the stare that scares all and whatever verbage pleases me at the moment. Chinese are pretty much immune to the stare but you should see the face when they speak English.

  13. Good to see you back! I am still waiting tables and while I am only half your age my patience with people is starting to wear thin after 7 years of dealing with people… had a similar situation happen at my chain steakhouse restaurant… a crazy came in… ordered a combination of things that weren’t on the menu after taking almost half and hour to order… when her food came out she flipped out because according to her that wasn’t what she ordered and we made it all wrong and of course once we got her placated she ate paid and left me… you guessed it… nothing! :D but you just have to smile and keep going… or keep yourself heavily medicated! :p

  14. Hahahaha.. you have such a talent of nailing the point right on the head. “Freaky creepy people” indeed.

    I’ve worked 6 years in customer service (4 in food) and while it’s not the experience you have under your belt, I completely understand. The sad part is, I’m only 22, and my tolerance for stupidity is already almost as low as yours.. Bless your patience.

    Your stories make me smile, knowingly, of course. :)

  15. Pingback: Pablo Escobar - Ardub

  16. I disagree Adelia, I don’t think Waiter has a privileged view. I think common courtesy in interpersonal exchange is not too much too ask for. If it becomes the exception instead of the rule, then we’re all screwed.

  17. Thought maybe you were gone forever! Welcome back! So, do you ATTRACT crazies? I swear, if there is a nutjob within a mile, they will find, and talk to, my mother. It’s absolutely an incredible thing! And, of course, since they’re nuts, she feels it necessary to be NICE. UGH. Glad you got your coffee and Buster was OK!

  18. Great to see you back! You pegged that diagnosis, just because someone’s mentally ill does not give them the right to behave like that!

  19. Great to see a new post from you. Don’t keep us waiting so long next time, eh?

    Being a salesman, I have to deal with my share of idiocy. Maybe I should develop my own thousand-yard stare…

  20. I was starting to worry the naysayers had finally gotten to you! I see I’m not the only one whose missed your view on the world, no matter the vantage point :D Welcome back and looking forward to November’s book relase!

  21. I have no more tolerance for stupidity. Nor “entitled” people. I think the entitled people annoy me more, though …

  22. I’ve been working on my own stare lately, it works wonders on our ‘guests’. I’m going to have to try adding a healthy dose of ‘shut the fuck up’ to it.

    Also, I need to stop drinking things as I read your entries; my computer almost got showered in tea I was laughing so hard.

  23. God Bless my mother, whose sheltered life has only recently been exposed to those rude, entitled and/or crazy.

    I went with my mom to the beach for a long weekend, out last night out, we were sat next to a very loud party of 25. There was some drinking going on but it wasn’t the alcohol that was enabling their obnoxious behavior, it was just their normal personalities.

    I blocked them out but my mom sat there, getting redder by the moment. Extremely upset that those people were loud, talking about things that offended her and was trying to rush both of us through our meal.

    I like to give the stare. I cringed when she complained to our waiter and made sure that she tipped him well because he can’t control who comes in.

    My favorite people are the ones who block the whole isle in the grocery. When I politely say excuse me, they act as if I didn’t say anything. I say it again and add a please to it and thank them when the grumpily move their cart three inches. If they huff and puff, I just turn back, smile really big and thank them again, adding a have a good day. I leave them with a very puzzled look on their face. I guess that isle had been reserved for them at that very moment but I never saw the sign.

  24. I’ve had a couple of customers like that recently… and I’m in a fast food type environment, so it often plays out exactly like that. I can hate people so much sometimes…

    JB (#5) – I was in a group therapy program recently that included a guy just getting out of prison after 22 years. He had a similar kind of reaction to the amount of disrespect he was getting in the outside world. Obviously not to the same extent of going back in, but it was a real issue for him.

  25. So I have always wanted to know, what is the right thing to do. So you are saying we should leave a tip. And what is the right amount? Does the 15%-18% rule still apply. I have never known.

    I think your posts points me in a direction. Thanks! Always a pleasure to read your posts

  26. This is a little off point but I am not sure I understand part of the transaction here. I am not a coffee drinker so I have never interacted with a Starbucks before, but why are you tipping them to get a product you just paid for?
    I understand that in a restaurant I am paying for my table to be serviced beyond the brining of my food. The service fee is separate from actual goods transaction. But I don’t tip the girl at Walgreens for handing me the film or fragrance I just purchased. I don’t tip the people at the buffet for putting my food on a plate. And at my local burger joint they hand me my food and drink and I service my table myself, I don’t tip the cooks for cooking my food, and I don’t tip the counter person for filling my soda. So why are you tipping for them simply giving the item that you just paid for? From what I can tell they don’t even bring it to your table for you… heck you didn’t even stay in the place long enough to drink it. Do you tip the people who box your donuts? How bout the dry cleaner clerk?
    This is not in defense of the complete nutter you had to deal with, I am just perplexed by the fact that you made it seem as if tipping was expected and rude to skip.

  27. Actually Pablo Escobar’s enterprise was pulling in as much in 1987 as Starbucks pulls in today. Aside from the fact that Escobar was a mass murderer comparing him to Starbucks (and thinking Starbucks is somehow better at pushing psycho-stimulants) is just plain wrong.

  28. After 20 years in the Biz, I can so relate. When I take my chef hat off I am one of those freaky people once again.

    Glad to hear you again Waiter

  29. Good to see you back, Steve.

    Always seems when one is in a hurry, for whatever reason, there will be something thrown in the way to make your passage slower – Murphy’s Law!

    @Adelia – I didn’t see this as mean; if anything, Steve was polite until the very end, when he decided enough was enough and gave his “stare.” That woman might’ve been nuts, but I don’t think in a mental illness sort of way – just devoid of proper social ettiquete.

    And @top; you’re tipping because they’ll remember you and make your coffee fantastic every time; oftentimes will have your coffee already ready for you when you get up to the counter and if not, will deliver to your table so you don’t have to stand with the herd at the other end of the counter. Making a good coffee drink is an art! Not in the same class as slapping meat patties between two pieces of bread, slipping some fried potatoes in a little baggie and calling it dinner. Sorry; just ain’t. JMHO, of course.

  30. Try going shopping or to anywhere like Starbucks when you’re pushing a wheelchair. You’d think people would be helpful, but I can’t count the amount of times when I’ve been out with my friend and come across people who are either oblivious to the chair or who will just refuse to move a few steps so I can turn the chair without hitting anyone/anything. This is my experience in the UK, anyway.

    Good to see you back, and I hope you come across some better mannered people soon. Personally if I don’t know what I want at Starbucks, I won’t join the queue. No point in holding up everyone else just because I’m feeling indecisive.

  31. man I worked at a starbucks for about a year when I was 20 years old, and the crazies never stopped, it was as if there had to be at least one, if not a dozen, in the store at all times causing havoc. However, and not saying this lady fits the mold, I would always feel bad for the older customers who come into an environment like starbucks, all they want is just want a simple coffee old fashion style, without all the gimmicks and upselling and extra bullshit starbucks throws at you, also, they may not want to be rushed through the line like its a high school lunchroom. “Hello” and “how are you doing” just isn’t encouraged as much as “would like fifty cents worth of whipped cream on top of your black coffee sir? No OK Next!” last, as I rant, whenever my co-workers would get all snot ball on some elderly person, it would piss me off b/c I would think about the hardships my grandparents went through – the depression, WWII, Korea, etc…Anyway, I’m sure this lady was crazy but hell, so is starbucks (I never drink corporate coffee if their is any available alternative, even prefer gas station coffee over starbucks or dunkin).

  32. So, it’s not privileged to mock someone who appears to have a mental illness because of the symptoms of that illness?

    You may not have been a saint before, waiter but at least you weren’t a jerk. There’s nothing to read out of this other than the fact that you didn’t like this woman, which seems to be the point of most of your writing now.

  33. Yay, you finally posted again. >w<
    I’m glad you’re posting again, and I still can’t wait for the release of your new book.
    Because of you and your link to the blog of the las vegas cabbie, I’ve started up my own blog to muse into and fill up with my own crazy ideas, and I’ve given gratuity by linking both you and mr. Cabbie. It probably won’t do much but who knows, you never thought you’d go from waiter to writer.

  34. Lol, I think I’ve met that wacko lady at my local Starbucks, or perhaps one of her kindred spirits.

    It seems to be the kind of place where you get a nice mix of people who are aware of what’s going on around them and super-efficient at ordering their beverages, and then those who are completely off their rockers and decide to spread their crazy around to the rest of us.

  35. uuugh! i have to deal with that every shift i work!like one old bat who flipped her lid when i was sweeping the floor….i guess she would rather see other peoples leftovers while she ate…freaky creepy people indeed!

  36. Hey Waiter – welcome back! You make me nervous – if your patience for the stupidity of the masses is starting to wear thin at 42, I’m curious as to how I’ll be at that age. I’m 25 and my tolerance for the rude/ inconsiderate/self-involved has been wearing down for a couple years already. I fully agree with Kim that people’s sense of entitlement has reached an all new level and is the ultimate cause of the asshattery that has become the general public. The beauty of it all is the irony – that your writing career (along with many others) has been based on the notable actions (or inactions as the case may be)of those in your environment. Without the douche-canoes, what would be left to write about?
    Looking forward to more of your thoughts and stories over the summer months!

  37. Nice to see you again!
    I think you handled the situation as well as can be expected. Common courtesy, it shouldnt be too much to ask from people.

  38. @Topochicho: I work at Starbucks myself, and I can tell you we do a lot more than just “hand you the item you paid for”. Coffee is relatively simple to get, but the fancier bar drinks require more work and knowledge of the beverage. Also, we do clean up after you: that bit of milk or sugar you spilled at the condiment stand, the stir stick you dropped on the floor, the napkin you pulled out halfway that nobody will want to use now, the cinnamon shaker you emptied, the bit of drink that you spilled and the used napkin and empty cup you left at your table – that’s what we do. We sweep and mop and sanitize and scrub and do everything we do to make your drink and your EXPERIENCE pleasant and perfect – that’s what corporate trains us to do. We don’t have people bussing tables, the people behind the counters do it all: drinks, cleaning, question answering and problem solving, everything.

    That’s what the (usually very meager compared to other coffee shops) Starbucks tips are for.

  39. Mmm, Starbucks: burnt coffee beans abound.

    I mean really–I just don’t ‘get’ Starbucks. The coffee is crap, overpriced–and apparently attracks Drew Carry’s secretary after a stay in an insane aslym.

  40. You should come here to France for gracious behaviour.

    Generally, the French do not barge. Even if it’s you who has done the bumping into, the French person will apologise.

    When someone comes into any smaller shop, they say “Bonjour” or “M’sieur ‘dame” and the shopkeeper and other customers will reply. And similarly when going for a walk in the country, or even a small town in winter – so different from the suspicion, paranoia even, when encountering anyone in the UK.

    And if you walk with a stick and are a bit wobbly, like me, then expect even more civility and kindness. The numbers of people who flock to help me up, even old ladies – it’s amazing. As for shopping using my scooter, there’s no end of, often young, volunteers to fish something off a high, or even a lower, shelf.

    But then French children are still brought up to be polite and courteous.

  41. I like to think that the crazy people are confined to cheap mcdonalds restaurants. but i guess nothing is so black and white

    (I discriminate, but mcdonalds deserves it)

  42. Local restaurant, server being berated by an over sized male customer, and the manager conveniently sees nothing. It’s over before I can react. We had a good meal with good service by weepy but efficient server. Two weeks later, same restaurant, server comes to our table, not in her area, says “I was having a lousy day a few weeks ago and you folks treated me nicely and left me a great tip – I swapped for your table, the appetizer is on me” What a nice gal! Goes without saying there was a generous tip, plus the 9 bucks for the veggies and dip.

  43. Waiter, I really think you should write a piece on your “1000 yard stare”. I’ve been reading about this for years, but I still have a hard time imagining a “look” that has the power to quiet noisy children and force loudmouth jerks to carefully consider their words. Honestly, my mental image of the “1000 yard stare” is something akin to the Dramatic Look Gopher, but I’m sure I’m way off the mark.

  44. It’s been awhile, Waiter. Glad to see that you’re still alive and dishing out stories. :) By the way, how is your book coming along currently? Didn’t you say that you will be releasing it in November? I’m anxiously awaiting it! Please write more of your little stories on your blog when you get the chance. I think I speak for all of your fanbase when I say that we have missed you!

  45. Waiter, great to see you back!

    Adelia, that woman wasn’t being mocked because she was mentally ill, Steve took her to task because she was acting like a jackass. Mental illness isn’t an excuse to check one’s manners at the door.

  46. Yes! I’m 44 and I’m not only losing patience but losing my sense of humor with it. These days it takes a little longer before I can laugh at situations/people as in this case. I look forward to morphing into an 80 year old bitchy cat lady – but of course, the only people that will be treated as such are those that bring it upon themselves: rude, inconsiderate, crazy(but not sick), & overtly peppy people, consider yourselves warned.

  47. I’m glad you are posting again, but you seem to have a harder, more cynical edge to your writings these days.

    Was it losing Brown Eyed Girl, or just life in general. Maybe you need a nice relaxing vacation. You’ve certainly earned it.

  48. Loved your most recent entry. I am SURE that this woman shops at my local grocery store with all 10 of her children blocking the aisle as she deciphers how many little squares each roll of toilet paper has and how many rolls are in each package and whether or not it’s scented and all I want to do is grab some TP and move on.

  49. There sure are too many freaky creepy ppl. Theres a women on FB that started a site called, i never tip waiter, waitresses, bartenders. ever! She says shes a lawyer and she is trying to get a following of ppl that dont tip! i think you should give her your 1000 yard stare!

  50. I’m new to the story, I just picked up the book yesterday and already I’m half way through it. It interested me because I work in customer service as well, I’m a cashier at a local grocery store. It’s amazing to me how rude people can be. I was raised to be polite as so many of today’s youth is not. Yet I get people who are so rude and they’re three times my age. Whats worse is that most of them treat us like our lives are going nowhere and that we have less than half a brain. Just because I work in a grocery store doesn’t mean i don’t have a brain in my head, it doesn’t give you a right to treat me like a lesser person. It bothers me that people are being raised to treat people this way and that if we have a desire to keep our jobs we can’t say anything.

  51. to those with questions on the whole proper tipping bit, it is polite to leave a tip, whether it be your lose change from the purchase to the very welcome dollar or two in a tip jar. I used to work at a chocolate store where the tips we made were divided between the people who worked that day and the tips I made the day before often helped pay for the lunch I needed the next day. We provide a service by making the food you request and by cleaning it up and the tip that you pay us is considered a thank you for that

  52. Incidentally, by saying a librarian uses more brainpower, I don’t mean that baristas aren’t intelligent, just that most of their tasks are repetitive. Also, should I really tip a coffeehouse when the task they most commonly do for me is hand me hot water an a teabag?

  53. Sometimes… ya just get fed up being so understanding all the time. You let it slip… there’s that conflict (Crazy=sympathy, asshole=GAH! WHY SO PREVALENT?!), and sometimes… sometimes you just want people to be frikken civil, you just want interactions to go smoothly, you just want to be the one – once in a longass while – to get the understanding and sympathy. Call it a moment of weakness. Steve, you have my sympathy. The possibly crazy lady has my sympathy, too — as does everyone who has to deal with her.

  54. I’ve been serving for 3 years. I read your book during the first vacation I’ve had in two years. It did wonders for me! I don’t know what it is but something about reading the words of someone who knows exactly what it’s like – the frustrations, the insanity – it just made me feel thousands of times better. The way you put things is just so perfect – I kept finding myself laughing and gasping over how true your every story and thought were. What a good way to vent over vacation =)

    I went back to work with a big smile on my face…its funny but I sort of feel above it all now. That makes it easier to laugh!

    THANKS! -Lissa

  55. @calbear: I’ve worked at a couple different coffee shops, and here’s what I’ve observed in terms of the work involved in each place and the tips:

    I worked at a small independent coffee shop for almost a year. You know the kind. There were a lot of regulars who came there over the big chains either ’cause it was closer, they genuinely liked it better, or they felt superior to others who do go to the big chains. The work in terms of making drinks there was very simple; aside from the usual coffee, the lattes and other espresso machine drinks were very basic as well. Only two types of milk to choose from, no drizzles or powders to decorate with, no standards for presentation, aside from it not looking gross or messy (FYI, Starbucks Caramel Macchiato comes with caramel drizzle on top, and that drizzle is supposed to be drawn in a 7×7 grid with two circles around the outside – now there’s a presentation standard; that’s branding for you).

    I wish I could show you the training they make us undergo at Starbucks when you’re new. There is a set of books that you have to read and answer questions in. There’s a couple on making drinks, a couple on serving customers, cash handling, cleaning, etc. I’ve had a lot of part-time jobs (coffee and not) and none of them were as intensive as Starbucks. The set of books takes about 1 – 2 weeks to complete, and when you’re done that you have to undergo a certification process, which is about an hour with the manager or assistant manager as they ask you questions about coffee, store/company standards, and watch you perform a couple tasks (make some drinks, bus the tables, etc) to see how you’re doing. Even after that, it takes on average three months for most people to really comfortable in their job and that they really know all the things they need to (and even then, there’s always new things to learn).

    In terms of tips, although I was expected to do a lot less, I got way better tips at the independent coffee shop than I do Starbucks. At Starbucks, I’ll do roughly $20 a week. At the small timer, I did $10 – $15 per shift, with about 5 shifts per week.

    What you tip is up to you, most of my customers don’t and to be honest the majority of my tips at Starbucks come from regulars that we’ve gotten to know a little and talk to a bit or whose drink we can make without them even needing to ask and just for being friendly and pleasant. It’s not ’cause bagging that pastry or steaming that milk was particularly difficult. In fact I’ve done even more work and not gotten a tip out of it (gone out of my way to get nutrition info, told somebody how to tailor a drink when allergies are involved, given them in-depth coffee knowledge, etc). I did none of that at the independent coffee shop, I wasn’t expected to, yet people tipped me more.

    Everybody has a different view on when/how much they should tip, and to each his own. Personally I don’t care that much – again, I’ve done very hard work at other places and not received a tip (ie: loading a big armchair into a minivan singlehandedly barely warranted a thank you). But I do take a little offense when I’m told that my job is simple, repetitive, or not worthy of even a thank you (monetary or verbal). Tips are optional, cool, but don’t tell me that I don’t work hard for the meager tips that I do get.

  56. Loved your most recent entry. I am SURE that this woman shops at my local grocery store with all 10 of her children blocking the aisle as she deciphers how many little squares each roll of toilet paper has and how many rolls are in each package and whether or not it’s scented and all I want to do is grab some TP and move on.

  57. Again, I’m not saying you don’t work hard or that your tasks are beneath me in some way (including being beneath a “thank you,” something I never came close to implying; in fact repeated tasks like refilling a water glass are those most worthy of thanks). Just that, as you say, there are a lot of people who work even harder and do even more complex tasks, yet are rarely tipped (and often have to refuse what tips they’re offered). And, as you say, the tipping system for coffee shops runs counter to what you’d want from a tipping system, with the harder job getting the more paltry tips. Finally, I do not like the Waiter’s implication that ignoring a tip jar – even somewhere where there are no tipping rules and most people don’t tip – somehow morally justifies a screwed-up order (or, conversely, that leaving a tip allows you to act like a crazy person and expect infinite patience).

  58. I swear God must be cloning these people just to test our patience. I feel for you and Buster, at times I agree with Bill Engval and tell these people “Here’s Your Sign”. Continue your good work and keep on tipping !

  59. As a 17 year veteran of restaraunt work from bussing to serving, I have seen tons of freaky creapy people. I am surprised at how many people are clueless or just plain don’t care about what waiters go through. To this Injustice, I give “the servers message toyota camery” please tell all the servers you know to go here. http://www.sponsafier.com/#/gallery/view/324993en and vote every day. I have 14 days left to win. the winning design will be raced on national tv. this car lets people know that 10% is an insult and that 20% is the correct tip for excelent service. Thanks for your help.

  60. Good to read more from you! Thank you :)

    I didn’t know that people are supposed to tip at Starbucks in the USA! I suppose Hong Kong doesn’t really have much of a tipping culture (usually they bill up 10%, and tipping at a local congee shop got a lot of questions, a lovely smile and some free food). We don’t even have tip jars at Starbucks. They usually have a plastic box to collect for charity instead. Interesting to know!

  61. I read your book enjoyed it and mostly agree with you on tipping…but comments like “she should have left a tip” (hinting that her order would have been right if she would have left a tip) are off the mark. You make it seem like the barista purposefully messed up her order because she didn’t tip. If servers do this it makes no sense…save yourself the trouble of having to deal with an angry customer and get their order right and send them on their way.

  62. I am close to being done with your book. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year. I was a waitress long(ish) ago, but the experience never leaves you. I was a young (18) single parent (gasp!) going to college (good luck!) but I made it (we shall see). I’ve been at my “real” job for 8 years now, but customer service taught me more about people than any class I have ever attended. Anyway, I truly enjoy you. Please keep it coming.

  63. Hey waiter!
    What an entertaining blog you have here!
    You seem to care an awful lot about Buster…so I’m surprised that you’d write about leaving him in a closed car on what you describe as a “hot June afternoon” FOR EVEN FIVE MINUTES WHEN ‘THE CAR’S INTERIOR WAS COOL FROM THE A/C.’ I can tell from the way you wrote that post that you really _do_ know better. Think about it. Your dog’s wearing a fur coat. Your dog can’t sweat. Why don’t you put on a fur coat–or better yet, a nice thick wetsuit, since that’ll effectively stop you from getting any use out of sweating–and go sit in your car for five minutes tomorrow afternoon with the windows closed, and see how that works for ya? BTW, I’m not a PETA crazy, or mentally ill (arguable, depending on who you ask), or even an a/hole (ditto). I just really get irritated when I see dogs in closed cars on summer afternoons. COME ON, you know better, so don’t do that to Buster any more!
    Now I’m going to go and read some more of your blog bits.
    Mike, in Connecticut

  64. My disdain for socially retarded people developed at a much earlier age so I feel your pain! I’ve spent 10 years working the door in bars and clubs from Philly to DC and have seen the worst of the worst. I have to ask was this Starbucks in Doylestown, PA? LOL

  65. Taking out server anxiety on others. HAHA. I cringe when I’m actually on the receiving end of the bar next to a group of girls begging for the bartender to take their order only to pick up the menu and discuss it when he or she arrives.

  66. @ Adelia; Steve is not a jerk. He’s burnt out. Try waiting tables for more than five years, it kills your ideas about human kindness. Honestly I’m grateful that he’s still posting, it’s like hearing from a friend you knew as a kid back in high school who grew into an adult. Kinda.

  67. Hey Waiter! After a few late night hours, I read your blog from start to finish. As a new waitress myself, I really enjoyed the insight you gave into the world of serving others. I also really loved your other musings, parables, and short stories. I purchased your book this weekend, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Thanks for writing all this stuff. I laughed, I cried, I thought deeply. Keep on writing, you have one more follower.

  68. lol. this reminds of me of when i was at walmart this older, taller white guy and i were waiting at this loooog line to pay. i was ahead of him and i was just as impatient as him but i didn’t show it. meanwhile he was gripping his items, leaning his body forward into my personal space, gnashing his teeth together. i waited patiently. finally we got to the conveyor belt and i moved to put my stuff on it. but he pushed me aside and put his on first and basically had the attitude that i had mysteriously disappeared. i was like, oh no he didn’t! no he didn’t just put his stuff on first! then he turned and looked me in the eyes like what are YOU gonna do about it? well, i pushed forward and laid my stuff before his. then i struck up a convo with the cashier and starting asking for cigarettes (even though i don’t smoke) and peppering her with tons of questions. i feel sorry for her now but it was worth it to see the guy. his veins were popping out, he was practically snarling! finally he said, “Could you please hurry? I’m-” i said, “Why sure!” and i grabbed my stuff after i paid for it and scooted out of there. before i left, i shot him a bitch’s smile. i think he got the point. anyway this reminds me of it. lol

  69. I just purchased your book last weekend for my mom who’s been a waitress for 30+ years. I knew she’d be able to relate. I started reading it too and LOVE it, though I’ve never been in the restaurant business.

    I must comment on this post that even though I’m not in the restaurant industry, I am in customer service and my patience.. at only 25 years old.. is wearing quite thin as well.

    Thanks for speaking out!

  70. The comment about waiting in line like everybody else does not seem to apply to working at pools for some reason. I’ve worked at several pools and while at the front window checking people in, having them pay for various programs, or paying for an individual swim people seem to think this is the one and only time they don’t have to wait in line. Everyone gets so impatient and cranky with waiting in line for any reason that I wonder how they deal with lines in the rest of their life, or if they just save it all up and dump it at that one place.

  71. Wow, I must say I just starting reading your book the Waiter Rant, and boy do I understand. I have worked as a waitress for a long time and yeah you get the ones you want to give the stare to. But you also get the ones who make your day. One thing though so far I don’t know if you have written about it at this point. is the baby sitting waiter. The ones who have to watch out for the little ones left running in the isles because mommy and daddy are at the table arguing over what to order.Then they glare at you when you say excuse me but your child may get run over.I will say one thing though for people who work in the fast food industry such as starbucks. They deal with people who expect them to know exactly what is in each item, and if they don’t they are treated like they are morons. They are not. I tip even in the fast foods because when they see me coming now many times my coffee is on the counter exactly as I want it. No fuss No muss and no waiting longer than the time it takes to ring it in.

  72. I just purchased your book and finished reading it. I LOVED it! Next I ran to the computer and found your blog. I have always tried to be kind to those who serve me and it really came home when my daughter waited tables in college and I began to her her war stories. Personally I think everyone should be required to work in a service industry when they are young. It certainly can help one rethink his/her treatment of others.

  73. Went back to serving at 40 years old due to the economy etc etc. I loved the book and have recommended it to all the servers I know. I have learned a new perspective on the restaurant clientele from you which is much appreciated. Thought I would snap on someone last week after 4 lunch and 6 dinner shifts in one week. somehow I made it, just barely. Thanks for helping me keep it all in perspective.

  74. Dearest Waiter,

    Since your identity has finally been revealed, would you indulge us all and post a picture of your thousand-yard stare?

    Best Regards,
    Ashley

  75. OH man. Customer service. I am in a position at the company I work for to be bitched at by unsatisfied customers. I pretty much qualify as ‘assistat manager.’ One day the manager was out [emergency medical attention], so I was technically the highest authority in the building. Some guy on the phone, who started out pleasantly happy enough, wanted something that was impossible to do without him being there in person [something along the lines of calling a random tailor for a suit without knowing any of your measurements...you have to show up if you want it done right]. I politely and kindly informed him he would need to come in for the kind of attention he was requesting. In hindsight, I feel bad for his family because I grew up with one of his kind…sweet on the outside, a towering inferno of insults and ugly words on the inside. When I finally hung up with him, I was a shaking, crying mess. Not only had he insulted me professionally, but on a deeply personal level. I was told that I was a ‘pathetic excuse for a human…’ also informed that he would be switching to another service as my ‘inability to represent the best of customer service makes the entire company look pathetic and sad.’ He promised me he would call someone higher up and complain, even said he would try his best to get me fired. I’m sure some kind soul heard his crazy rant about the lady who refused to grant his impossible request and just decided to brush it off.

    Let me be clear that I have no recourse against badly behaved people, other than to let them know there is no reason to speak to me in that manner, which just makes them even more upset. Anything beyond that will get me reprimanded or, if the customer is very insistant, fired.

    I am still working the same position and I remember that phone call to this day.

    The *rudeness* that people seem to think is necessary to get things accomplished in this day and age is astounding.

    It’s gotten to the sad point where, if some member of the general public doesn’t go into a rage at some policy we have and politely inquires if there is any way we could possibly circumvent this boundary, I will sigh in intense relief and pretty much move heaven and earth to get what that person needs.

    That being said, I am not the CEO of the company, so sometimes what I can do for polite people is limited…but I do my fair share to at least *try* to help them out.

    Being cussed at and screamed at [even once in some African dialect] is considered the norm around here, and, aside from knowing looks and pats on the back for strength from my co workers once the particularly unpleasant person has departed, I am not much moved or affected anymore.

    I am sorry for the long, rambling [possibly incoherant] post, but I was inspired to leave a tale of customer service woe in the hopes that someone some day will read it and be able to relate.

    Have a fantastic summer :)

  76. HOW many waiters does it take to change a light bulb? None – even a burned-out bulb can’t catch a waiter’s eye.

    Have a nice day y’all ;-)

  77. I just read your book and found this blog!!! I was a server for crappy chains and some upper scale places in the mid nineties for 5 years going through school as a 30 something year old. I LOVE IT!!!! I am going to spend the next few weeks reading all the blogs. keep it up for all of the waiters in the trenches dealing with the assholes you remember, and the good ones you forget. Marty

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