You Get Tough With It

It’s a busy night at Café Machiavelli and one of the POS computers is down. Forced to share a single terminal, the stress level among the waitstaff is running high. I’ve got several tables to input, but a newbie waiter, hovering over the touch screen as she frantically searches for the right buttons, is blocking my path.

“What’s the holdup?” I ask, trying to filter the frustration out of my voice.

“How do you modify a steak medium well?” the waitress, a sylph of a girl no older than nineteen, begs.

“Touch the ‘Steak Special’ icon first,” I reply.

“Okay.”

“Then hit ‘Modify Item.’”

“Okay.”

“Then hit ‘Temp.’”

“Okay.”

“Then hit ‘Medium Well.’”

“Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“Then what?”

“Are you finished with the table?” I ask.

“Huh?”

“Are they getting anything else?”

“No.”

“Then exit out,” I say.

“How do you exit out?” the waitress asks.

Groaning inwardly, I hold on to my patience by remembering IT people put up with this kind of shit everyday.

“Hit the button that says ‘Exit,’” I say.

“Thanks.”

“Now let me in there,” I say. “I’ve got to put in five tables.”

“But I’m not done yet,” the waitress wails.

“How many tables you got left?” I ask.

“Three.”

“Listen,” I say. “Things are nuts tonight. Tell me what you need to order and I’ll put into the computer for you.”

“No,” the girls says, shaking her head. “I’ve got to learn how to do this.”

“I understand you want to learn,” I reply. “But now’s not the time.”

“I wanna do it!”

A lightening bolt of stress flashes from the top of my head to the base of my spine. As my chakras begin to smoke, stomach acid vaults up my esophagus and starts filling my mouth with the taste of regurgitated lunchtime pizza. I’ve got cappuccinos to make and desserts to plate. If I don’t get my orders into the computer soon, I’ll go into the weeds and be destroyed. Swallowing hard, I channel all my frustration into my eyes and unleash my thousand yard waiter stare. The girl’s resistance, predictably, implodes.

“Okay,” the waitress whimpers, “You do it.”

As the girl reads from her order pad, I input the information into the computer. What would have taken her ten minutes takes me only two. Digital generation my ass.

“So,” I ask. “Is everything’s in now?”

“Yes,” the waitress says, sullenly.

“You sure?”

“Yep.”

“Don’t take it personally,” I say. “You’ll learn the computer when it’s slower. Tonight’s just nuts.”

“Okay.”

“You’re doing well,” I say, my voice softening. “It just sucks your first night is so busy. You’ll be okay.”

“Thanks,’ the girl replies.

“If you need help let me now.”

“I will,” the girl replies, a small smile playing on her lips. “Thanks.”

“No problem.’

I turn to the POS computer and start inputting my orders. As my fingers fly across the keyboard, a hulking presence reeking of garlic suddenly materializes behind me.  It’s Willem, Café Machiavelli’s manager.

“How long you gonna be?” he hisses in my ear.

“I’ve got three more tables to do,” I reply.

“Let me in there. I’m way behind.”

“So am I.”

“I’ve gotta void a credit card receipt too,” Willem huffs. “Let me jump in front of you.”

“Dude,” I reply. “Wait your turn.”

“Why don’t you do as I say?” Willem shouts.

I was a restaurant manager once, and, truth be told, I was famous for cutting in line while other servers waited to use the POS machine. Saying I had an emergency with a customer’s credit card was my usual MO. Sure, maybe this is karma paying me back, but I’m not in the mood to accept life lessons from the universe right now.

“I’ll be done in a minute Willem,” I reply.  “Chill out.”

“Goddammit!” Willem shouts, stomping his feet up and down like an angry child, “I need to get in there!”

“You’re having a temper tantrum now?” I reply, not taking my eyes of the touch screen. “Get a grip. Start drinking early or something.”

Willem storms off. I finish putting my orders into the computer, make my cappuccinos, plate my desserts, and run everything out to my tables. I’ve got an extra minute so I help out the food runner, extract a broken cork out of a bottle, recite the specials at one of the new girl’s tables, answer the phone, take a reservation, greet and seat a new table, hang up some coats, and direct an old man to the restroom.

As I head back to my section, I look over at Willem. He won’t speak to me for the rest of the night. I’m not worried. In his early thirties and turning into a drunk, Willem will consume several vodka and tonics, drunkenly grouse about how he’s under appreciated, and then stumble home early – forgetting all about my earlier intransigence. I used to work with drunks and drug addicts. I know how it goes.

I shake my head. I used to help people like Willem. Now I find myself standing on the sidelines secretly rooting for him crash and burn. I’m an asshole like that sometimes,  but the restaurant industry is a tough business.

And you get tough with it.


Comments

You Get Tough With It — 126 Comments

  1. Go you for helping the newbie! I know how tough learning new things in a rush can be. I’m glad you were willing to help her out in the middle of such a thing instead of letting her go into the weeds (if I may borrow the phrase).

    Hopefully she sticks around a while–busy nights are renowned, I’m sure, for scaring off kids like that.

  2. Congrats on the book. It’s been a couple months since I’ve waited tables, and truth be told, I miss it. Thanks for letting me live vicariously.

  3. good for you for helping the girl…;)
    the other night, ALL our POS comps went out. every single one. it. was. hell.

  4. Aww, I miss my drunk managers. There was one who would drink Sambuca every night until he stumbled home. I think he must have fired me a few dozen times in his blackouts. Congrats on the nephew. As always, I enjoyed the entry.

  5. Most of you will not remember life as a waiter before POS computers. I remember getting a book of tickets, hand-writing orders out (needed to remember order codes), pricing everything out by hand, adding up the total, calculating the tax, and then placing the completed ticket onto the wheel in the kitchen. At the end of your shift, you needed to account for each and every ticket. Anyone else besides me remember this???

  6. Yes, FW, I do. It drove me nuts sometimes. I had to reconcile every ticket at the end of each shift, too. That usually made it more difficult than usual to do payroll.

  7. Of course I remember life before POS. In the restaurant I am working in now they got a computer system installed 6 months ago. The place has been there for 33 years and it just now gets one! It was so inefficient before that it actually offended my sense of efficiency. This is not the first place that I have had to write everything down. I have had to do it at several other places in the past. All I have to say is thank God for restaurant computer systems. A pain in the ass at times, but way better than the alternative.

    You rock Waiter!

  8. I work in a new restaurant with the newest POS computers. We have 3 in the server station. The middle one is the only one that ever breaks, but somehow it draws us all in like a black hole. We all get frustrated and beat on it.

    Managers are the worst though. I screamed at mine the other day because our silverware wasn’t clean and she wouldn’t let me wash it again. She got my point when the other servers customers complained. She even apologized to me.

  9. It always seems as if it’s just that ONE computer that never works, and it’s always just when everyone needs it.

  10. A kiss and a cuddle would melt away some of that stress. That nephew of yours should do it. Nothing like the smell of a newborn.

  11. I used to work at Subway, and our computers went down during lunch. Both of them. And most of our clientele was from the manufacturing complex down the street and they only got 30-minute lunch breaks. The owner had to come and fix them, and we had to calm down about 30 angry customers as well as pacify the ones that just came in and saw the huge line.

    I miss it, in a masochistic sort of way.

  12. I’ve never waited tables, but I’m a legal secretary. Nothing like the computer system crashing when you have a filing due or are just finishing edits on a hundred page document. I love computers, I really due, but I swear they have pheromone sensors that pick up your stress levels.

  13. I was once one of those aforementioned IT people – for nineteen years. Stuff like that happened multiple times a day, often because the user did something they shouldn’t have. And to cover it up they got very defensive and unpleasant. Much of my job was gently adjusting their attitudes so that they became part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

    I suspect most IT folks could tell the same story.

  14. “Digital generation my ass.”

    I don’t think it was a matter of her not being electronically skilled. Instead, it was a matter of her not being familiar with the system. I’ve worked in a few places with different systems, and while the overall idea is the same, if you’re not sure where an option is, it’s going to be tough until you’ve worked there a few weeks.

    I will say, it looks she is at least worth a shot, because she did get out of the way. There’s definitely something to be said for recognizing the flow of a place and doing something that may temporarily inconvenience you in order to make everything better overall. That’s why I used to get along with the older ladies I worked with at one job. Even though they became sort of bossy and demanding at times, they knew what was going on, and if I just listened to them, everything went a lot smoother. Something to remember when you’re young and/or the new guy, I guess.

  15. I was working in a high volume restaurant once on a busy Friday night in the middle of rush, all the POS computers went down but one at the bar. We had to write tickets for our orders and give them to the kitchen. It made the food take about 45 min avg to get to tables, including apps. Nightmare!

  16. It’s so interesting to compare your posts about Cafe Machiavelli with the Bistro posts. When you started blogging about Willem he seemed like a fairly sympathetic person, but the more you interact with him the clearer it becomes that he’s not. At the Bistro all the personalities were more or less set, since you started writing well after you’d started working there.

    Anyway, another enjoyable post. And congratulations to Waiter Nephew’s mother and father!

  17. Way to go on helping the new girl! that goes a long way. sorry ur POS went out. I hate when that happens — everything takes that much longer on ur end and kitchen’s end because u have to wait and take 4 tables at a time and then the kitchen gets 4 tickets printed which sucks for them too… sorry, hope they service it soon.

    as far as willem, he does need to get a grip. manager or not, if u’re putting in the the order that comes first or u’ll have a room full of angry diners (at least the void customers are already full :) )

    and btw, you have another typo: ‘if you need help you let me now’ — shouldn’t it be know :) ?

    good luck, great post as always! ordered your book. hopefully will arrive soon.

  18. oh yeah, when our POS comps went out, not only did we have to write the orders and give them to the kitchen and everything, but we couldn’t run credit cards. so that fucked the restaurant up, regarding sales.

  19. …and here i thought POS meant Piece Of S%^t
    computer…LOL. which is what my hospitals’ computer system is.

  20. I never knew steak was cooked that way.

    Heh. So much for cooks trained in Italy by old men at hole-in-the-wall culinary schools in the mountains. Well that’s just an ideal that probably isn’t true anywhere.

  21. Long time reader, first time poster. I worked in the restaurant business for 15 years, my husband still does. In the late 80′s I worked for a large chain restaurant ( still around) and we were the first in the area to get POS, while they worked out the kinks the computer would go down at least once a week. Most of us were going to school and would always seem to walk out with an couple hundred in cash that night….of course, this was back in the day when more people paid with cash!

    Keep it up waiter, you remind me why I love and hate the restaurant business…

  22. Waiter, thank you for numbering the comments! It’s been a lot more fun reading them, knowing I can stop whenever I want, take note of the number of the last one read, then start again later, right where I left off. The other system was just plain cumbersome. Especially when a post would elicit hundreds of comments. I couldn’t read them all at once, but yet never knew how to find my place when I wanted to start again. Thanks so much!

  23. Hey Waiter, after reading this post, it brought back memories of my last restaurant I managed. I was on the back-end office computer and it suddenly went down, so I ran out to the front hoping that somehow the rest of the terminals were still running. Of course that would have been too good to be true. All five terminals crashed and already I had customers from all corners of the restaurant heading my way. They demanded comps, other rolled their eyes in frustration while others were more patient and understood that sometimes the unexpected problems arise. It was one of those days at the restuarant that I wish I wasn’t there, but that’s part of the restaurant life.
    I’m glad you helped out the new girl. Its too bad she was stuck on a night like that. HOpefully everything is up and running smoothly now.

  24. I completely understand your frustration. As a server myself, I know what it’s like when you can’t get into the station to get your orders processed.

    However, I’m in a slightly different situation, as my restaurant doesn’t use a POS. All servers are accountable for our own tickets, start with our own cash banks (no cash register), all orders are written by hand, with special orders written and verbally explained (in broken Spanish) to the cooks, and all tickets have to be manually tabulated. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one in this boat sometimes.

    (And also nice to know I’m not the only one with sadistic feelings at times.)

  25. I need to stop reading your blog. I’m starting to have waitress nightmares again. I’m at a new restaurant and I don’t know which tables are in my section… I just realize that a party had been sitting down for half an hour and I haven’t acknowledged them… etc…

    But I do enjoy your writing, so I suppose I’ll keep it up…

  26. Thank God that the business of slinging drinks lends itself a little better to taking and filling one order at a time – we take the order, make the drinks, serve the order, and process the payment. So there’s rarely a line at the “register” for more than about ten seconds. I don’t envy you the way you restaurant waitstaff have to keep so many things in your heads at once.

    Plus, I get to wear jeans. l

  27. Good for you with your your patience with the waitress. I do a fair amount of phone support with other offices inside my organization, often fairly tricky stuff, with impatient and frustrated users. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the cool, but if you do you have their respect and trust ever after.

  28. Posts like this make me so glad I skipped waitessing. When all the other girls in school started to earn extra cash (and pick up guys) I started working graveyards at the medical lab. Yes, it meant looking at vials of blood for 8-12 hours straight but my boss never came in drunk and when the computers shut down we were sent home with pay. I’d rather log specimens in a computer than wait tables, I honestly have no idea how you put up with people sometimes, Waiter. You have more patience than I’ll ever have, serious kudos, and I hope your computers start working again :o )

  29. Same with working in the movie studio with the lawyers. Gotta get tough with it. Get tough and stay tough. A month ago, kind of out of the blue, that toughness led me to a sort of funny thing. I typed my letter of resignation.

    Yesterday was my last day.

    Maybe the job made me tough enough I could live without it.

    ~C~

  30. i am in a different situ, because i work in retail hell; right now one of our computers in S/R is down and its weird to see my boss on the other side of the room, inputing invoices…on the newbie side, when i first started there i asked the person in charge “how do you alphabetize?” and she thought i meant i didnt know my alphabet…LOL, i just meant i wanted to know how THE STORE did their alphabetization, because i wasnt going to get yelled at for doing it wrong (she’s notorious for that)….just remember, new baby smell is the great destresser!

  31. The car was always fueled off of gasoline. It was the time-travel portion that ran off Mr. Fusion, which replaced the need for plutonium.

  32. Life is tough sometimes and there are always going to be people who can’t harden off enough to deal with low points. They can’t be coddled forever. Some people are just going to go into the weeds and not return. Sad, but true.

  33. My restaurant doesn’t have POS yet, either. I feel for the servers, who seem to write two tickets for every table — one to keep track of which seat gets what, and one for us! Then the have to ring it all up on the register as well… ugh. A good POS system (seems almost like an oxymoron) would probably be a big help to all of us, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

  34. I wasn’t going to mention the “lightening” (should be “lightning”) mistake, but I’m so flabbergasted that none of the other self-proclaimed “grammar nazis” caught it that I feel obligated. (And if I get through this whole comment without making a larger mistake myself, it will be a miracle.)

    Waiter, did you used to be a drug & alcohol abuse counselor? It sounds like it. I used to be one, and I came away from that thinking that you CAN’T help anyone like that, at least until they humbly, genuinely desire it. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but there you go. I burned way the hell out leading horses to water. Willem and his karma are doing a very intricate dance, and even if you wanted to interfere, you couldn’t.

    So is it wrong for me to grab some popcorn and watch while you recount his fall? Probably. And, I’ll probably do it anyway.

  35. FW-we all know what manual tickets are like BECAUSE when the POS sys DIES we have to revert to the paper hell of manual tickets. Many places also convert to paper tickets for busy nights with limited menus like Valentines Day.

  36. Oh god. tell him to fuck off, seriously. what an ass. He will; get his own in the long run. and hopefully the long run will be short :) Stay strong, Waiter. and Props for helping the new girl! Thats really sweet of you!

  37. Waiter, I like your blog. I’ve linked you and when I get more money, I’m buying your book. You do good work.

  38. yeah i know what you mean, life is tough sometimes and i sometimes think im turning into an ass. But im only getting tough with it!

  39. Great post as usual waiter. I relate totaly. Congrats on the new nephew, I became a great uncle about a year ago, he is awesome! I too am a master of the “Thousand yard” stare. We call it the “Stink Eye” here in the south.

  40. I waited tables, tended bar and managed restaurants before joining the Marines. Now that I’m out, and in my 30′s, I’m back in the biz while finishing college. Most of my coworkers laugh because I don’t really get that stressed out anymore. When things get too annoying, I joke with them the “Nobody’s shooting at us.” And when a table gets too drunk or blatantly rude, I often tell them of my “last job” which usually stops the aggression cold. I’m not better than anyone, and it’s not like I don’t care, but life is too short- and important to me now- to let alot of shit get to me. “Illigitimi non carborundum.” that’s Latin for “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” Who says college doesn’t pay?

  41. I always thought you were calling the computer a piece of s***, until I saw the term on another blog.

  42. First of all, ROFL to Paul in comment 53. I was going to joke to Wilhelm and Joyce that technically it’s “Point of Sale” but I can’t help but refer to it as “Piece of S*it”…

    Also, in regards to T and steak temps…if the customer insists, we’ll destroy the steak for them. How anybody can order a steak more than medium is beyond me (and even that’s overcooked, in my opinion)…and this coming from someone who doesn’t really eat it to begin with.

    There is quite possibly NOTHING WORSE than the computer systems going down in the middle of a busy Friday/Saturday night in a restaurant filled with kids who have never had to work in a restaurant without a POS system and who have no common sense.

  43. I used to have to take orders on a pad, with a pen, and then enter from the pad onto the cash register — which did NOT produce a slip with the orders on it, but at least it did the addition. I scrupulously wrote down everything as it was ordered, transferred to the register, and made out okay on tips. One of my co-workers, for some crazy reason, MEMORIZED what people ordered at the table, entered it into the cash register, and then filled out the page on her pad from that. She was constantly coming up SHORT at the end of a day! As in, negative tips, which she had to make up out of her pocket. I could never understand why she clung to that system, when it so obviously Didn’t Work.

  44. Murphy’s Law. At work in all places of employment since 3000 B.C.

    Sorry to hear about the busy night, Waiter. You’re a braver person than I for pulling through it.

  45. Seasoned servers always know who’s gonna make it and who isn’t. A new girl at 19 having POS issues is by no means out of the running, but a manager in his thirties who acts like a child when he can’t have his way (which is like, always, for restaurant workers) doesn’t stand a chance. Sounds like you’re a more vital part of the inner workings of the restaurant anyway. A real manager would have understood the need to wait in line and relted that to a customer if necessary.

  46. Congrats on the Book, and Kudos for helping out the newbie.

    As for Willem, he is an ass, and if would treat people with the least bit of common courtesy, his life would go a lot smoother.

    He deserves to crash and burn, and the sad thing is this; when he finally does, he will have no idea why no one offered to help.

  47. Willem is (from what you’ve told us of him) a pathetic piece of shit. Karma will eventually bite him hard on the ass.

    You on the other hand, dear Waiter, are one to be admired for your grace under pressure. Good for you for retaining some semblance of patience with the new girl. She may end up blossoming into a good, maybe even great server thanks in part to your guidance.

  48. Hang in there,Waiter. This book deal is going to come at a good time for you. Hopefully you’ll make enough that you’ll be able to quit working at Cafe Machiavelli, since I notice that more often than not there are exasperating circumstances going on there. Just an observation, but if the opportunity presents itself, take it and and in the dupe pad and pen. I think you are due a long, relaxing vacation.

  49. I can identify with the new girl. (and I’m about the same age too.) I’m usually pretty good with computers but getting used to the computer system at a cafe is pretty tough, cos everything has to be done and learnt at top speed, and after two months being a part-timer i still make mistakes sometimes. i know how she must have felt, and you did good! =)

  50. Forced to share a single terminal, the stress level among the waitstaff is running high.

    dangling modified alert! who is forced to share?

  51. It’s difficult to not become cynical in life. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle right now. Cynical about some stuff and idealistic about others. I hope I can keep some of my idealism though.

  52. I also remember working for a manager very much like Willem. One busy Sunday morning, we had a full house, a line out the door, and guest checks (all done manually) wrapped around the wheel. The manager was riding the head line cook so hard that she took every single ticket off the wheel, threw them into the rotary toaster, and walked out the door.

    It was a hell of a day, but I can still vividly remember seeing the toaster on fire and the manager having to use the fire extinguisher to knock the fire out before the entire kitchen got flooded with foam!!!

  53. Ha! The IT part cracked me up because that’s my line of work. Having worked in a helpdesk job for a couple years, I can attest that it is very frustrating.

  54. We have all been the newbie at one point. I am a newb at two hospitals now and I love help from people. It is hard to swallow pride and let some one help you out, so I hope newbie girl can stick it out.
    Waiter, you sound numb again letting Willem go so far in the weeds the tigers stalk his manager ass. But I can’t blame you. You can only be abraded so many times until the callus forms.

    To the grammar police: get a freakin life. That is why publishing houses hire you idiots, so the truly creative can churn it out. You help polish it. You did not make it, that chafes ya a bit, doesn’t it? You were just asked to polish it. Here is your rag and wax, go polish where you are asked to. Did waiter ask you to proof his posts? I haven’t seen that…
    Please correct me if I am wrong, waiter. I love your writing. I could care less if you dangle or drop or hang or run on… just keep writing.

  55. Having read the Wikipedia article on the Thousand Yard Stare, I’m thinking you may wish to rename it as what they describe is a blank gaze of hopelessness, not a glare of frigid fury.

    My father has that glare that will freeze the marrow, and he refers to it as The Whammy. It’s something of a family trait- he inherited it from his grandmother, and I’ve inherited it from him. (None of my kids has perfected it yet, though.)

    Dad tells a funny story on it, though- he grew up in a small upstate NY town, and apparently one day the owner of the local drug store informed him that he had the Evil Eye. The funny part is that the guy wasn’t joking.

  56. Oooohhhh, when reading this one, I absolutely could feel the frustration you must have been dealing with, being behind the newbie: that sinking feeling when you know the weeds are just a heartbeat away! Good for you for biting it back and helping her, though…you saved her from a truly nightmarish evening.

    And, yeah, who does eat a steak medium-well? Gawd…why not just gnaw on a shoesole?

  57. Hi Waiter! I just got finished reading every single one of your old entries. I have a very boring job and not much to do, but it still took me several days to get through. So many entries!

    Congratulations on your book. Going back I realized how far you’ve come as an author (and as a person?) in these past few years. Your earlier entries were amusing, but as they went on and you found your style they became moving and artful.

    As you began to write less about hotties and assholes you disclosed more of yourself. Your grammar and punctuation improved along with your writing style and your personality really shone through the more polished your writing has become. I feel like I’ve looking through a photo album… I’ve gone with you back to your former weight, your smoking, through the ups and downs with your drinking, and your contemplation of your relationship with God.

    It’s been so nice getting to know you through reading the hundreds of entries from your past. I’m happy for your success. Best of luck to you.

    And whoever it was that got you to stop putting apostrophes where they don’t belong… is a saint. I look forward to the book.

    :)

  58. What is funny is that customers probably never see what is behind the scenes after they order food. So much can go wrong so fast. It’s the good customer that doesn’t create a scene if something doesn’t happen right away or if their order is a little wrong.

    I’m not saying that everyone who eats in a restaurant would benefit by being a server sometime, but at least knowing what happens when they visit a sit-down, order from a menu restaurant would at least give them more compassion.

    Great writing Waiter. Can’t wait to read the book.

  59. Your writing is still as interesting as ever, but your proofing seems to be on vacation lately. It taints your normal high-quality output a bit.

  60. Wow… you really need to calm down waiter. You seem to have lost your cool from the looks of the last few articles.

    In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that you seem to have turned into a douche, considering the change I see from your earlier writings to now. I’ve loved reading the blog until recently, but I think I’m going to have to stop. Sorry! Best of luck…

  61. Waiter- your entries are starting to turn into psychological masturbation…do you really think that your “waiter stare” can actually dissolve a person’s will? Do you really? Really?

    Your interpretation of your life is worse than that masturbatory fan fiction you wrote about yourself as a detective trying to help out teh underage prostitute…jesus, get over yourself.

  62. Hey Eli – were you standing too close to Waiter when he spooged? You’ve got something in your eye.

  63. After reading this I went and counted all the terminals in the resturant I work in. Turns out we have seven. I couldn’t imagine having less or any of them crash.

    Good job waiter!

  64. Whoa, to number 68, you gotta chill Cannis. Maybe you have a grudge against the “grammar police”, but waiter doesn’t. He HAS actually told readers to point out grammar and spelling mistakes. So back off.

    Don’t include people you don’t know into your own little prejudices. And emotional issues (since that was a pretty emotional outburst!).

  65. And, why oh why do people have to take it so personally when someone points out a spelling mistake????

    You’re not the first one to “defend” waiter from “grammar nazis”.

    Chill, people! The writer HAS told readers that he welcomes corrections! If it personally bothers you, that’s your issue. If they do it to you, then get irrationally defensive.

    But leave waiter alone!

    (hahaha)

  66. (oh, fyi, the last line is a reference to Chris Crocker’s “leave Britney alone!” video, available on youtube).

  67. For the longest time now I thought “POS computer” stood for “Piece Of Sh!t computer” (seeing as it breaks down pretty often and what not) lol xD

  68. Hi Waiter, just wondering if your book is sold outside of the States? In “third world” countries? In Asia? You have readers on the other side of the world too, and some (me) would love to get their hands on a copy. Love reading your blog, makes me want to be even nicer to waiters (although I’m always nice to waiters – I’ve been accused by male friends of ‘flirting’ when really I’m just smiling and being friendly)! And just to say something on tipping since you blog about that a lot – Tipping on this side of the world is not common, since the service tax is incorporated into the bill – a compulsory tip (15%)! But I sometimes leave a tip on top of that if the service is good, following the example of my aunt and uncle. I don’t really tip in Australia because, for one thing, I’m a poor student with zero income, and for another, waiters get paid on average $20 an hour, $25 on weekends!

  69. LOL…I love the Willem stories. I used to feel sorry for his type too and try to help out, I just don’t have the fucking time anymore!!! Or any patience. Glad you helped the newbie out.

  70. Waiter I had a dream about you and your restaurant last night. I dreamt that Cafe Machiavelli was some very upscale Indian/Italian fusion restaurant and that I was there to cover your shift. I didn’t know how to do anything, except run food, but somehow I got by. But I saw Willhelm who turned out to be much older than you describe him, and he was of middle eastern decent. The weird thing was the restaurant was tiny and had only like 8 tables and 4 servers. Any way thought I’d share, I think I had this dream because I’m trying to figure out your secret identity you are like supper man, and I’m like that guy that tries to figure out who he is. So far I don’t have many leads, this can be attributed to the fact that I live in Wisconsin and haven’t been to NY for a long time. But…. I will find you waiter. I will find you.

  71. There are some managers that “do” get in the way. Why are you still answering phones, taking reservations and such?… That take syou away from your tables. Not a good and effective thing.

  72. By the way – good luck this coming Mother’s Day to the Waiter and all of those readers who are part of the hospitality industry. May you stay out of the weeds, and may the tips fall upon you like a monsoon rain.

  73. Waiter, you are one stingy dude with your sympathy and understanding. I guess pretty 19 year old girls rate but senior staff and customers get the short end of your patience and hospitality.

    You’re becoming a dirty, old lech. Take heed and Change Your Ways…

  74. CONGRATS on the Waiter book! Not to forget your adorable nephew :) Its been a while since I commented but I love reading your blog and the fact that it grows from strength to strength each read. Hoping you have a new book out in a year! Cheers :D

  75. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for not tolerating a drunk/wanting him to crash and burn… you just want his actions to catch up with him. That’s the only way some people learn, you know?
    Huge fan, btw… keep fighting the good fight!

    ~Joe C

  76. I reread this a couple of times; still like it. But it got me thinking. If restaurant work is a tough life, and you get tough with it, this is my question: if the life is changing you, is it changing you into somebody you want to be?

  77. Sounds like you were really tuning into the world around you. Those moments creep up when stress hits, knock down the defenses, the walls, shake things loose inside. And you see, really see, with that stark clarity, what really lurks in and around your world. You pull back. You have to, because if you don’t, you will get sucked into the shadows. Because you’re an author as well as a waiter, you see deeper. Because you’re a former theologian, you empathize deeper, have a farther view field than most, and get the guilt thing too. I don’t think you’re an asshole, Waiter, I think you’re plugging in.

    Also: moments like these, they’re often the universe’s way of pointing something out we need to see. Like a message. For all kinds of reasons. Often for the writer, it’s a revalation that factors back into the current wip, or what’s circulating in the rear lounge of the headspace.

    The contrast, between the newbie and drunk, both torqued on frustration and unable to see beyond their own selfish needs – unable to recognize the state of chaos – kind of reminds me of noir crime fiction. I picture a night club circa 1930, layer on layer of activity, two seeming opposites, slyph in slink mode, brute bouncer type, yet both petulant and plugged into themselves to the exclusion of all else. And the club manager, the faciliator, always in circulation and in tune with the layers and waves in the club – recognizing the light and dark of the moment in both.

    You’re a good writer, watier.

  78. Hey WaiterRant, Please post more often. I keep coming back and being disappointed. What you do write is excellent, but once a week (or less!) is going to drive your fan base nuts … or away.

  79. Good thing you got your blog or you’d be a danger to diners like me. I’ve been known to take just a mite to long on the menu. But then I knew Giovani Macheivelli. Machievelli was a friend of mine. Your no Macheivelli.. not yet. I give ya another year. I was a waitress at the I-Hop at Creakin Junction AK back in ’29. You can imagine the kind of gentleman that was used to ordering more than omlets when it came to chickens. In your case though, if you get an ulcer it might be from the job.. caused by bacteria you know… anyway.. I can tell you like your work.

  80. oooh, waiter, I love your blog, it is so great. I love how incisive you are – you deal out justice to everyone with your wit! It’s a good thing you are cynical in a very cool way, because if you weren’t you’d be just like all the cranky fuckers stuck in dead-end jobs you have to serve all the time…
    Anyway, like I said, you are such a great writer I just can’t believe it. You are the next Hemingway. Your ego is not overinflated and your post timing – a week or so apart, half of them 10-line plugs for your new book, another quarter of them basically old posts re-written (as if to a formula…) – is awesome!

    But seriously…. I’ve been reading your blog for two years, which is why I keep posting negative comments on here. You used to be humble. You used to try and punctuate. You used to put forth work that had definite potential.
    Now you don’t.
    In the eyes of one reader… your job is winning – you are slowly beginning to suck.

    Sorry.

  81. So I’ve passed a link out to everyone I know for them to read this(waiters or not) and I have to say I love reading your material. I’ve already talked a few people into buying your book when we get a chance. I work in tech support now, but I worked in food service before. I COMPLETELY understand the “customer” is not always right and you make my day with all the posts I’ve read.(It took me 4 days, but I finally finished off reading your archives as well)

    You make me want to go to NY just to try and find the restaurant you’re at and have you as my server.(PS: I only tip 20%. 15% is only if you are absolutely horrible)

  82. One of these days, Waiter, all hundred or so of us loyal posters will all turn up at your restaurant wanting to be in *your* station. Alllllll at the same time. While we’re waiting, we’ll all talk amongst ourselves, just like we do here.

    On the negative side, most of us will probably want just some hot tea or a glass of water with lots of lemon slices, and we won’t have reservatons of course, but on the plus side, we’re all friends with the owner, and we’ve been trained to tip well. Of course, the cops will have hauled some of us away before we get to that part……….

    Now there’s a nightmare to be proud of! And you started it all yourself.

    Can we have some more rolls over here?

  83. Yay for trying to help the new girl. Thats very nice. I finally caught up with all your posts and now Idon’t know what to do with my day :(

  84. kudos form the kitchen side; new staff need all the help they can get, but at the right moment. The way you dealt with her is spot on. As for the substance abusing floor dick; let him crash and burn-that group deserve it. Glad you are out there making our lives back here better-even if we are in different restaurants.

  85. Yeah, Bossy agrees: the girl can learn how to use the thing another night when it’s not busy, in some other lifetime, on some other planet.

  86. Anyone posting under the “nom de web” Al Sharpton deserves to be ignored, if not ridden out of town on a rail. Give us a break!

  87. I like your thinking Emory, though I’ll want something with a little more fire than water. Most likely will wind up in the first lot hauled off by the law, though worry not, I’ll make sure the tab and tip are settled up first.

  88. 10 days. TEN WHOLE DAYS. It’ that new girl isn’t it? You’re giving her some private lessons on the POS aren’t you? Stay away from her. She’s no good for you!

    Come back to us.
    Write us.
    Blog something.

  89. THANK you, Ava. I considered saying something similar, but I couldn’t word it so that it didn’t sound like the puppy desperately scratching at the door. When I caught myself typing things like *whine* and *snivel* I threw myself on the keyboard like it was a live grenade and decided to pray *quietly* for an update.

    I’m aware that I failed.

  90. To Meat(No. 52):
    I like your sense of perspective that comes to some with mere age, but to most only after experiencing real problems.

    FYI, “Illigitimi non carborundum” is fake Latin, according to several sources. Wikipedia suggests that the correct, if less memorable, phrasing would be
    Noli nothis permittere te terere.
    Doesn’t mean you can’t use the phrase – it’s very expressive of frustration we all feel at times.

  91. I thought I was hardcore alcoholic until I left the restaurant biz and it’s endless stress. It’s easy to curb drinking when you don’t have a bar staring at you an entire shift. Nobody should make a career of it. It becomes soul poison after too many Willems cross your path. You have to be one sharp cookie to be a successful server. That intelligence can be parlayed into a career that actually allows for a orthodox lifestyle with three times the pay and ten times the respect. Restaurant work sucks–always has, always will.

  92. I finally found a site that doesn’t just promise tips and how to make more money, it delivers. I walked with $185 Friday, $236 Saturday, and $192 on Monday. This guy is the real-deal. Everyone needs to check this out. insiderserversecrets.com

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