Monday, April 23, 2007

The Job. Summerteeth.

The weather was beautiful in Chicago this weekend. Summer seems to have finally arrived and I love everything about it...except for one thing, we open up our patio at the restaurant.

We have twelve extra tables on a back patio and four on the sidewalk in front. Our sections grow and usually this means we add another server to the shift to cover the extra tables. Not on Sunday's though. Sundays are a tough day to predict. It could be slow, and a waste of time for that third server. Or insanely busy, to busy for just two servers.

This past Sunday was insanely busy.

Combine that, with the staff adjusting to the increased amount of tables and you can get what we call in the business "weeded," or "slammed."

The level of my service doesn't fall off to much, but I am the type of waiter that asks if you want lemon or lime for your water if that's all you have to drink. I suggest espresso and dessert, I like to go through the menu and describe the various entrees. But when I'm weeded, I can't do very much of that.

My haste almost cost a customer a tooth.

A two-top came in and sat down during this crazy rush and ordered a couple of club sodas. After I delivered them, they asked if they could have some lime wedges with them.

Sure, fine. Lime wedges coming up.

As I said, normally I would have asked if they wanted any citrus, but I was in give-them-what-they-ask-for mode, and not in my mind-reading mode. As a customer, this should tip you off. Be specific with your waiter. Ask questions about the items you might want to eat.

After I dropped off the lime, they ordered two salads. A Cobb with no blue cheese or olives, and a summer salad. The ingredients in the Cobb salad are listed in the menu, the summer salad is only partially listed but ends with a, "...and much more."

This would be my downfall.

The salads came up, I delivered them and asked if there was anything else I could bring. No? Great, enjoy your meal. I went back to running around.

I passed by the table a few minutes later and the summer salad guy stopped me.

"There are olives with pits in here. I almost broke a tooth."

"I'm very sorry, sir, can I get you something else?"

"No. Why didn't you tell me about the olive pits? I almost broke a tooth. I didn't know they were in there."

"There have always been kalamata olives, with pits, in the salad, sir. I'll be happy to get you something else if you don't care for it."

"I don't want anything else. I want to know why you didn't tell me about them. I could have broke a tooth."

I want to say, because I am really fucking busy, and I lost my ability to alter the past in a terrible home-mulching accident, otherwise I would change all this unpleasantness. I want to say, because you didn't ask what else was in the salad beside what is listed in the menu. I want to say, you are the first person to ever complain about it. I want to say, you are a grown man, ordering for yourself and feeding yourself, slow down when you chew and I think you will be alright. I can only be so responsible for what you choose to put in your mouth. Sorry.

But I can't, I'd get fired.

So I do the only thing I can do, smile and offer to bring him a free dessert adding, "Again, I'm sorry, it's never come up before. From now on, I will always mention the olive pits to everyone that orders this salad. Are you sure I can't bring you something else?"

"No. I don't want anything else. I'd like to talk to a manager. I could have broke a tooth."

Fine. Great. I'm beginning to wonder if I had told you, but only said it once, you might not have heard me, given how you seem to repeat yourself.

You talk to our manager. Oh wait, we don't have one.

"On Sundays the bartender is in charge, you can talk to him, or you can fill out a customer comment card which the owner will read when he comes in tomorrow."

"You don't have a manager?"

"No. The bartender is the default manager when the owner is out."

"Fine. We'll take the bill." They pay and tip five on twenty-five.

O.k., decent tip, I take back what I thought about you.

He walks straight for our hostess who is dressed the best out of all of us, so I assume he thinks she might be in charge. From across the room I can see his lips say "tooth" over and over.

Despite the tip, I don't like seeing customers leave unhappy, it reflects poorly on me and I take some pride in my work. But you can't fix every mistake.

He did give us a new bit. Every time we bring something to our mouth, we scream, "My tooth!" and complain of not being told there was (fill in the objects name) in there. It's a pretty good bit.


Natalie said...

If I order a salad and sew a kalamata olive I assume pits are included. What an ass.

Grant Miller said...

I've tried waiting tables. It's the toughest, most impossible job ever. There is no pleasing anyone.

TA said...

I LOVE this story!!! Great!!! I'll be at Jury's Monday and Tuesday...hope to see you there!

Valerie said...

If the olive doesn't have obvious holes in it, I will assume it has pits. What a moron that guy was.

Team Brennan said...

Yeah, everything everyone else said. What did he want, you to put pitted olives on his index fingers like a 2 year old?

This is why I'm not a good server -- I would have dumped the whole salad on him.

Flannery Alden said...

What a baby! At least the tip was decent.

I will note your advice and make sure I'm specific when I order in future.

Flannery Alden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Why didn't you tell me this story was going to be on your blog?

I was eating while reading it and I became so engrossed that I forgot I had put shards of glass in my salad to dissuade my co-workers from stealing my lunch. I usually remove the shards before I start eating but your post was so engaging I forgot. Now I've perforated my intestines.

Why didn't you tell me this story was going to be on your blog? I would've chosen a safer time to eat. I don't know why I wasn't told.

lulu said...

Mmmmmmm Olive pits. I'll be sure to order extra next time I'm at Jury's.

dirty said...

Hehe...I could never work in a situation where I would be forced to be nice to people like that.

We used tog o out to dinner with a couple that would complain about everything just to get a free embarrassing. One time the they complained about a steak not being cooked right and sent it back not 4 but 5 times! They then offered to cook them a fresh one to take home and they left it on the table when we left...

We don't go out with them anymore...

Chris said...

Bless you for your patience, Philo!

Phil said...

Natalie - Yeah, I'm not sure he saw them, just started chompin'.

Grant - It sure feels like that sometiems.

TA - Crap, did I already miss you?

Val - Like I said, I'm not sure he really looked.

Team Brennan - Putting olives on your fingers is fun, huh?

Flan - I don't mean to dump on all customers, but any good server will happily answer your questions if it means getting the order right.

Jason - My God! I've done it again! I'm a monster!!

Lulu - We got plenty. And dang it, when are you gonna come in?

Dirty - Yeah, I've had people like that.

Chris - Patience is a technique, if you practice, it's second nature, or perhaps I've given up my manhood and pride...

Johnny Yen said...

Phil, your patience and professionalism should stand as industry standards. The only problem you, and any other waiter has is that you can't anticipate the stupidity of some customers.

Dave said...

I would have warned him to be careful that the knife is sharp and the fork is pointy.