Cheque Please!

January 18, 2011
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My hand grips the black and silver folder, pulling it closely to my chest and walking confidently across the room, smiling at people as I pass by and trying hard to hide my smirk. I feel borderline superior to the others circulating the room as I open the door into the washroom so I can bask in my over all prodigious ability to thrill and charm a group of people in a record speed of thirty seconds. Taking a deep breath, I gaze urgently at the folder. As soon as my eyes set on the contents of the inside, I instantly sink in anger and disappointment. Fifteen dollars. I service over nine people for an hour and a half, give them my constant attention, clean up their spills, and listen to them drone on for precious minutes of my time about vague subjects that disinterest me and this is what I get?! I shove the petty change and exit the bathroom, not looking forward to replacing my frown with a smile. Hi, my name is Devon, and being a waiter is possibly the worst job you can ever have.
You’re probably wondering why people would ever want to wait tables to begin with; well let me put this in a way you might understand: Money, bread, cheddar, deniro. I have taken home pay checks of over six hundred while my friends from school are struggling to pay for their cell phone bills. The thrill of a successful dinner rush and counting how much you’ve made on tips is as addictive as cocaine. The door has opened and a couple stroll in. On the first glance, they appear to be your average couple, but after a quick analysis, it’s easy to point out that the two are on a date, probably first or second. “Hello sir, Welcome to Frensoi’s. Table for two?” I ask in my most professional voice, which makes me sound nearly twenty and not my actual seventeen year old self. “Okay, there is going to be about an hour wait sir.” I say with a smile. The restaurant is packed and I’m not expecting my reservations to bail. “An hour? Preposterous. Tell Mario that I am here!” he says with a flick of the hand. I discreetly check out his date and almost laugh. Her face is pushed up in an annoyed glance and can tell she is overly disappointed by her pouting lips and crossed arms. I almost feel bad to say what I’m about to say, “I’m sorry Sir, Mario no longer works here.” “What?! Since when?” he roars, catching attention from the customers eating in peace. “We went under new management about a year ago.” I say calmly. My lip is quivering to contain my laugh. His face is blushing a dark shade of red. This is guy is failing, big time. The man looks like he’s about to cause a scene, so I ask if he is willing to wait or not in a tone which states the argument is over. He gives up, apologizing profusely to his date. The phone rings and I answer it to be notified table four reservation has been cancelled.
I wasn’t so bitter being a waiter in the beginning. Before I started I was mesmerized at the way waiters could completely sell there personality to people in reward for good tips. If you combine charm, a great smile and even a little of flirting to the mix, people were dolling out cash before you could say ‘check please’. I thought being a waiter would be a cake walk. I’m a pretty funny guy with bright blue eyes, shaggy hair and a built body which was often mistaken for being good looking. Oh, how I was wrong. My first day was probably one of the most humiliating days of my life. After being trained quickly on the basics, it was basically a sink or swim situation. I didn’t just sink, I was brought into the middle of the ocean, beaten, tied an anchor to my foot and was thrown over board to the sharks. I had walked over to two woman having dinner with such over enthusiasm and eagerness that it was obviously they were thrown off. After taking their drinks orders, I walked over to the bar and filled them up. I had three different tables with drinks and thought I was being smart and time saving by carrying them all on the same tray. I walked carefully, feeling good half way through. I never saw it coming. A woman abruptly stood up from her chair, catching my pant leg, and I think you know what happened after that. I fell face forward; seven glasses flying in what seemed like slow motion across the air. Liquids were combining and splashed several customers before they shattered across the floor. The restaurant went silent. My pant leg was still stuck to that stupid chair as I squirmed to get it undone. That unfortunately, wasn’t the worst part of the evening. After a brutal talking to from my manager and several apologies, I took the food orders and went about doing waiter like things. I brought out one of the woman’s food, smiling and giving her the linguini she ordered. She immediately began digging in. Within seconds she was coughing. I smiled and offered her some water when I saw her skin tone go from pink to purple, her eyes bloodshot in silent panic. “Oh my god! She’s having an allergic reaction!” the woman screamed and instantly grabbed her purse. Her epipen was taken out and the woman’s skirt quickly brought up. After several seconds of unbearable anticipation, the woman’s skin went back to normal and her breathing circulated. She stood up, flinging her body at me, her fists aiming for my face and I’m ashamed to admit she got a couple punches in before her friend calmed her down. That was the last time I ever saw that woman, thankfully. Fortunately my boss took pity on me and let me keep my job, after paying for everyone’s meal through my paycheck of course.
After my embarrassing first day, you would think the waiters are generally the ones who make the mistakes, but coming from experience, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes, people are a**holes. And it’s not like you can just handpick which people you want to serve. Customers are random as there attitudes are unpredictable. You could go to a couple presuming they are having a relaxing dinner only to be thrown into a battlefield of emotions, you might see someone you thought was just eating alone only to find out they were stood up by there dismissive boyfriend and are forced to be the sympathizer for the night. You can also have the group of friends who pay more attention to there gossip then the menu in front of them, taking excruciatingly long to order. There is however a pattern of people which I prefer to stay clear of. First there is the awkward first date, you know the people who were set up by mutual friends? They realize they have no connection at all so they rely on you to help feed the conversation. Second there is the obnoxious teenagers. I know it’s hypocritical, but teens are the absolute worst. They come in a herd, laughing loudly and acting like they own the damn place. They’re completely oblivious to what’s going on and rarely tip well, if fifteen percent at all. (And if you’re a teenager reading this, don’t roll your eyes and say “Oh my god I sooooo don’t do that!” Shut up. You do.) Next is the grumpy old people. They complain about their medication, their relationship, and pick and nag about possibly every single possible thing that pops into their heads. And last but not least the bar buddies. They’re embarrassing, they’re drunk, and if you’re lucky they most likely will throw in a ten dollar tip at the end of the night after countless glasses of red wine, not even thanking you as you throw there butt’s into the backseat of a cab at closing.
From putting try-too-hard businessman in their places to overcoming obstacles to dodging the bad tippers and headache customers, being a waiter is a hard job to handle. It takes guts and a strong level of patience. You have to be willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. I hope after reading this brief report of waitering you will think twice the next time you’re in a restaurant and are about to jip the waiter a tip. Because if you come back to the restaurant I can’t guarantee you’re food won’t be altered. Just kidding. Kind of.





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