Thursday, November 18, 2010

Weird Wednesday: Restaraunt Raunch

Okay,  I'm a few minutes late ... so shoot me ;)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... I was young and waited tables for a coffee shop in California.  We used to run a nightly dinner special and on Monday it was Chicken.  It came with soup and salad, 1/2 a chicken fried, choice of potato, and  a dessert (rice pudding) ... all for the ridiculously low price (even back then) of $1.49.  No, that is not a typo. I really did meant one dollar and forty-nine cents.

This attracted the size crowd you might imagine, a good portion of them being senior citizens. Most weeks the line of people waiting to be seated would go out the door and wrap all the way around the building.  Although typically that kind of wait would make for some very grouchy customers, we were generally forgiven because of the low cost. 

It wasn't only this restaurant's specials that were cheap.  The entire organization was, and while we rarely ran out of food, other essential things ... like clean silverware ... were another story.  It was a decent sized place, 6 sections of tables and a double counter that usually counted as one section, but on "Chicken night" it was two.  You see each counter had 10 seats and it was impossible for one person to handle both "well" when we were that crowded. 

Nobody liked to work counter on Mondays because it was extremely fast-paced.  The counter didn't get seated by the hostess after the table was cleaned.  Oh no, one got up another sat down.  You cleaned the preceding mess as quickly as you could get to it, and the customers usually already knew what they wanted to order.  I didn't mind because I was very good at my job and with that quick turnover I would make a pile of money.

One night the person scheduled to work back counter called in sick and the manager, who we'll call Prick, didn't bother to try and call anyone in to cover the shift because "Well Sally's working front counter, she can handle both".  No, it wasn't a back handed compliment, he knew exactly the kind of hell he was putting me into.  He didn't like me ... and since he was going home, it wasn't his problem. 

It started out okay, my first batch of people spaced themselves out well enough that things were moving like clockwork.   I was congratulating myself on how smoothly things were going on the way to pick up my last dinner for that round of customers, but when I turned back around my stomach dropped ... 17 people stood up and left at the same time.  Just as quickly 17 more sat down. 

There's no way to know exactly what order they sat down in.  I just started at one end, cleaned the places and took 4 orders at a time, got them started with soup and salad, then took the next 4 orders until I got through it.  Now by this time we had started running out of clean silverware.  I had gotten about halfway down the 2nd counter when a man at the end of the first counter who I had, only minutes before, just served his soup and salad starts yelling

"Miss, Miss!"

I looked up as he says,

 "Do you think I could get a fork to eat my salad with?"  (The soup had been served with a soup spoon on the plate, hence the delay.)

Cringing at my rookie mistake, I immediately stopped what I'm doing and said,

"Oh, I am so sorry Sir, I must have forgotten your place setting". 

I ran over to the silverware station under the counter and reached down to find NO silverware, only napkins.    

"No, No, all I need right now is a fork so I don't have to eat with my fingers" his voice dripping with sarcasm.

I rushed over to another station where there were knives, but nothing else.

"When I finish my salad, maybe then you could see fit to bring me a napkin so I can wipe my mouth."

I went out on the floor to yet another silver station,  to find only spoons.

"When my dinner arrives I'll need a knife to butter my roll" 

"Look that's enough, I'm getting it"

"And I'd like a spoon by the time my dessert gets here."

By this time I'm on my way to the last place we store silverware and I've totally lost my sense of humor.

"Shut it Bud"

I finally get there and LO!   There is the fork I need. As I reach for it, his voice rises

"Some waitresses are so FUCKING stupid they can't even bring you utensils to eat with"

I. AM. LIVID. at this point.  I gathered the whole handful of silver into a big wad, and from halfway across the restaurant I THREW it at him and pointed at the door,


... and when I did, every person seated at the back counter stood up and applauded!  He left and I just stood there shaking, trying desparately not to cry (when I am very angry my eyes want to leak).  A very sweet little old man came over, put his arm around me and said "Honey, why don't you go in the back for a minute and compose yourself, have yourself a smoke.  Go on, we can wait" and shoo'd me off.  And I went, because if I'd have tried to talk at that moment, the tears would have exploded.

I got to the back room, took a couple drags off a cigarette, then took a deep breath and then went to find Bosley, the night Manager.  When I found him, he took one look at my face and in a quiet, comforting voice said, 

"Now Sally, I know you're mad at Prick but if you walk out now you won't be paying him back, it won't hurt him at all.  It's me and these girls that are here that will have to deal with it."

"I'm not walking out Bosley, but when you hear what I did, you're going to have to fire me"

"Why, what happened?"

When I finished the story he started  ... LAUGHING!

"I'm not going to fire you, now go wash your face and get back out there okay?"

Bosley was the coolest boss EVER.  We called him Bosley because he was like a cross between Tom Bosley (the dad in the TV show Eight is Enough) and the character Bosley from Charlie's Angels.  I don't even remember his real name. 

I made great tips that night but the best one was from that same little old man who said,

"If anybody ever talks to you like that again Honey,  you just 'accidentally' trip and dump an entire pot of hot coffee in his lap."


  1. well done girl. You probably only said what everybody else was thinking.

  2. Thanks Mynx,
    Damn you're fast, lol wasn't even done editing yet. And apparently you're right about that, but I was young then ... and mortified at losing my temper publicly like that.

  3. Ha! Way to go! I'd have been fired for punching or something! And I think the father in Eight Is Enough was named Tom Bradford. -not sure though. :)

  4. Hi Yvonne,
    That WAS the characters name in the show .. but his real life name was Bosley although I'm not 100% sure about his first name.

    LOL I have to point out that throwing metal projectiles isn't a whole lot better than punching ... just sayin'

  5. you go...i worked in the service industry my whole life and know the hell it can be, but for every prick there is a nice person

  6. You are awesome! I have never worked in the food service industry. I am such an anxious person, I would have been too overwhelmed and would have self combusted right at the counter at the first realization there wasn't enough silverware. How sweet of the old man to offer such sage advice :-)

  7. noice....

    the force is strong with this one, yess...

    flinging silverware is sometimes the ONLY this post...

  8. It’s comforting to be reminded that for every dickhead, there are loads of lovely folk. I would have applauded you too :) Good for you!
    The enigmatic, masked blogger

  9. Tis true, the service industry sucks big ones. Although I was good at my job, there came a time when I was just not WILLING to kiss ass anymore.

    If I ever go back it will be only because there's nothing else available.

    And yeah, sometimes throwing shit IS the only option.

  10. Working with the public has just one problem.... THE PUBLIC! Having worked in retail in another life I know only too well what a pain people can be! Good for you!
    Follow me @ Hedgeland Tales

  11. Hi Sally, found your blog via Laura's ForestWalkArt.
    Yay! So loved what you did - it must've felt so good heaving all that silverware etc! Onya. Quite a few situations I've been in and wished I'd had your gutz ;-)

  12. Hey chickadee! I gave you an award on my blog today...the one about my dog liking vibrating toys....

  13. Well, you have to know, I'm extremely proud of the action you chose to use. :)

  14. As mortified as you were with saying something like that, I've done the same. Waiting tables can be a completely thankless position, but then there are the little rays of sunshine that brighten things - like that little old man. Well done!

  15. Awesome. I wished on my a day to do that when I waited tables, but go for me.

  16. Tom Bosley played Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days. And your former night manager sounds exactly like him - warm, embracing, kind.

    I love how you related this experience. I wish I could have been there that day, but your words painted it brilliantly.

  17. Oh my goodness, I wish I had that sort of courage! To really stand up for myself, saying that, I have never waited tables so you never know!
    It's a great story Sally, thanks for sharing it.

  18. You stood up for youself, and that is worth applauding. Its always good for you. kudos!