I don’t know how to say this any other way, so I’m just going to go ahead and be blunt about it. I’m too old for this waitressing/bartending shit. I really am. Last night may well have been the final nail in the coffin. As I left the restaurant last night I swore that I heard the metaphorical toll of the death knell, signaling the end of my career in the food service industry. Stick a fork in me. I’m done.
It probably wasn’t helpful that I was scheduled to work two doubles in a row this week — one of them the dreaded “bar double” — for absolutely NO good reason. Turns out it was a scheduling glitch, a memory hiccup on the part of the manager who makes the schedule. Okay. That’s fine. We all make mistakes. These things happen. I was cool with it. I got myself in the correct frame of mind and I sucked it up.
The powers that be have been very understanding of late — I’ve needed quite a bit of time off to help with my mother and to attend all of the graduation functions that my daughter has been involved in. Payback can be a bitch, but when it’s necessary you just do it. You don’t complain about it while you’re doing it. That just makes people feel bad.
There is, however, no rule against complaining about it now, though, is there? I don’t think so.
Let me start off by saying that when I am scheduled to work twenty-four hours out of forty-eight, I expect that I’ll at least come away with a fair bit of money for putting myself through the physical and mental misery that is concomitant with that kind of work schedule. Well, that didn’t happen. It was painfully slow both days.
There were spurts of activity, though. It was during these spurts that I had the pleasure of waiting on a menagerie of morons — some were just plain old drunk or stupid — in one bonus case, they were both. Still others were just downright and deliberately mean. It was a real treat.
Last night on a total of almost $300 in sales, I made absolutely nothing. In fact, it cost ME money to kowtow to these (less than) exemplar creatures. (Yes. It’s true. Yes. It’s perfectly legal. We tip out our support staff based on our sales, not based on what we make.)
After a dreary lunch shift, I was actually looking forward to a more profitable evening. Of course I was. Why wouldn’t I be?
My first table relieved me of that kind of thinking. And, pretty much, it went downhill from there.
These three guys, I’ll call them “The Ganja Triplets” were positively delightful. They chose to slur, grunt, and point their way through our time together. Surprisingly, I didn’t get a contact high from my proximity to them, so thick was the odor of marijuana.
They weren’t happy potheads, either. They were nasty, smelly jerks. And, they were, in my opinion, entirely too old for this kind of behavior. They racked up a $100 check, paid with $90 worth of gift cards, and left crumpled dollars and a mound of change for the rest of the bill. For me? They just left a mess and an overwhelming desire to go out after them and ask them for their mother’s phone numbers. Of course, it’s entirely possible that their mothers are just as bad as they are. What do I know?
Next up was a couple who seemed to be on a blind date. They, too, seemed too old for this sort of thing. Judging from the look on the woman’s face as the guy ordered up his fourth vodka on the rocks, I’ll bet there won’t be a second date. If she has any sense there won’t be.
He thought he was a class act. He wasn’t. He asked me for bleu cheese-stuffed olives. I informed him that we don’t have bleu cheese-stuffed olives. In a condescending and superior tone, he asked me if we had olives. I told him “yes”. He asked me if we had bleu cheese. You can see where this line of questioning was going, right?
I wasn’t stuffing anything into anything for this idiot, except maybe a sock in his big, fat mouth. Maybe if he’d asked me nicely, I would have gotten him his stupid olives. He didn’t. As a result, I wasn’t going to go out of my way for his sorry, alcoholic ass. This inebriated asshole took both copies of his credit card receipt. So, again, no tip for me! (It kind of made me smile, though, when I realized that he was paying with one of those credit cards that you have to load with money. He can go right on thinking how he’s better than me. He’s not.)
Plus, at the moment I was contending with two “gentlemen” who appeared to be homeless and who had, during my fascinating conversation involving bleu cheese and olives, planted themselves at the bar. I feared that if I didn’t get over to them soon we would need to call in a paramedic for the neck injuries they were no doubt sustaining as they were looking around for someone — anyone — to wait on them. Clearly, they were in need of a fix. Or a chiropractor. They had the money to slop a few drinks back and hastily search their pockets for enough humidity or urine-soaked dollars and plenty of change to cover the check. Even on, what I am assuming, was a stellar day in the wonderful world of panhandling, it didn’t produce even so much as a left over penny for yours truly.
The final straw though was the father and son team that arrived fifteen minutes before closing, sat at a dirty table — there were two clean ones flanking the dirty one — and made a “wiping” motion, an “eating” motion, and a “drinking” motion to alert me that they wanted to sit there, that they wanted me to clean the table, and that they wanted to eat and drink. Yeah. Okay.
I, myself, could have made my own hand gestures at this stage of the game. I could have pointed at the two tables that were, indeed, clean and ready to be waited on. I didn’t. I suspected that they, too, were drunkards. I wasn’t wrong. The apple, I soon discovered, didn’t fall far from the tree in their family.
In the midst of readying their table for habitation, they proceeded to bark their orders at me. They were slurring over each other, so it was difficult to process what, exactly, it was that they were ordering/asking me. I, very nicely, asked them to slow it down so that I could hear them properly. It was late. I didn’t want any drunk mistakes. I wanted to insure that I got their order right. I didn’t even have a pen and paper out at this point. I was still wiping the table.
The father then proceeded to speak to me as if I were a total nincompoop. He began talking to me like a tape recorder that’s been put on slow motion — a “gag” which he continued with the entire time he was there. Delightful, right?
I was in that moment very grateful for two things, and so should he have been: 1) That I was too tired to fight and 2) That I don’t have more money in the bank. Because, seriously, I wanted to punch him in the face. He did leave me six bucks, though, so I guess I should have been grateful for that, too. It didn’t feel like a success, though. It felt more like a Pyrrhic victory, to tell you the truth.
I’m feeling more well-rested today. Hopefully today will be a better day — a day when the societal rejects find another restaurant to frequent, another waitress to terrorize. If it’s not, money in the bank or not, if I have to deal with one more cretin, this may be my last shift — ever. I’ll go out with a bang, though. You can bet on that.
photo credit: cannon