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Waiters, waitresses, idiots and injustice.

Guest Check PDA: open

People Who Use These Do Not Exist To Be Screwed With (Image by atduskgreg via Flickr)

I have never waited tables.

Let me qualify that. I served as a celebrity (their term, not mine) waiter at a Special Olympics fundraiser three or four times. That gave me enough experience to realize how physically demanding it is to do that kind of work. It didn’t expose me to the kind of crap they have to put up with.

Last night, I had the privilege to see justice come to someone who was abusive to wait people. It was beautiful.

I had dinner at one of those Japanese hibachi grill places. Cooking in front of you, chopped up bits of food, knives, fire – you know the drill. The kind of place you never actually see a Japanese person in.

So There Was This Baby. His Parents Were Jerks, But He Was Cool

We ended up sharing a table with a family with an infant son. As it turns out, the baby was the only one who treated the waiter and cook in a halfway decent manner. In fact, the baby was really likable, as babies are.

A chicken running

Chicken Breasts, Unaugmented (Image via Wikipedia)

The man made sure the waiter knew that he would be basing his tip on the size of his portion of food. When the gentleman who did the cooking came to our table, the point was reinforced. Here is the thing. A chicken breast is what it is. If that’s what you order, you pretty much know what is going to be on your plate. Chickens don’t have augmentation. This guy took money out of these people’s pockets for something they really had no control over.

At one point, the waiter dropped off a beer to the man, but did not hear the man’s wife indicate she had a need. As he walked away, she said four times, progressively louder – “I need something.” The last time was a full on shriek. The waiter heard and started to turn back after the second “I need something”, but he was not fast enough. When he got to her, she berated him for not hearing, then demanded a fork. I’m not sure what the rush was, there wasn’t even food on her plate yet.

At the end of the meal, the waiter dropped off our checks and a couple foil wrapped after dinner mints. The man called the waiter back to him. “These” he said, holding up a mint, “I’m going to need more of these, a lot more. The better you do, the more your tip is going to be. I want a lot.”

The Part Where My Telepathic Powers Nearly Killed A Man

What gives people the idea that waitresses and waiters are there to absorb abuse, unfailingly predict every possible need and have their income slashed at any perceived slight? Would the people who act in this way tolerate losing a portion of a day’s pay because someone thought they were a step slower than the next person?

I’ve seen this kind of behavior in colleagues and friends. It is wrong, and it is embarrassing to witness. When I am with someone who acts that way, I do what I can to make it clear to the wait person I don’t condone it, and I make a note never to dine with the offender again. Still, that seems inadequate as a response. It remains illegal to torture people for this sort of transgression, so I’m open to whatever suggestions you may have as to the proper response.

Complimentary after dinner mints - Kam Fook Do...

Oh My God, It Worked. Don't Stop Believin' (Image by avlxyz via Flickr)

As to last night, if you are reading this and you recognize yourself as the jerk I got seated with, I need you to know something. When you choked on that after dinner mint, the waiter wasn’t the only one who had wished that on you. I can honestly say I was surprised it happened  – that was the first time I had ever made such a wish and had it come true. Still, I’m glad you’re OK. I’m glad I only thought “I hope you choke on that mint” instead of “I hope you choke on that mint and die.”

If you were wondering what the waiter and I were laughing about, please be assured it was you.

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55 Comments on “Waiters, waitresses, idiots and injustice.”

  1. Choking on that mint was karma!

    I’ve never been a waitress either…there would be an awful lot of people wearing their food!

    Wendy

  2. planetross says:

    I’ve never seen one of those restaurants in Japan, but I know they are here somewhere.
    Those people sound like pricks … and resemble them too for some reason.

    I’ve been on the reverse end of this: buying beers in a bar in Santa Barbara, the waitress stopped serving our table after 2 beers. We asked what the problem was and she said it was because we weren’t tipping her. My friend and I grew up on the tab system and were going to tip her at the end of the night. It was a short trip to the bar to tip the bartender … and get beer.

  3. Zahara says:

    Got a good chuckle out of this one. I worked as a waitress from the age of 16 to 38. Not only is waitressing physically demanding, (sometimes running around non-stop for 8-12 hours) but it is mentally demanding, if you’re doing it right. Sometimes you feel like a ball in a pinball game, bouncing from table to table to kitchen to bar, at the mercy of cooks, chefs, owners, bartenders, and customers.
    Restaurants are notoriously understaffed, and guess who picks up the slack? Run faster, work harder, stress more.
    All in all, though, the nice customers outnumbered the idiots.
    Thanks for the support, Omawarisan.

  4. shoutabyss says:

    Geez. I’ve seen people like that. They exist and they are really out there. I’d call it unmitigated gall. I’d like to tip of wok of hot oil on his head.

    My wife and I went out for the lunch special yesterday. $5 a plate and iced teas were included. The tab came to $10. When my wife asked how much we should tip, I said $3. “It’s a very small ticket so it only seems right.”

    I wish Darwin was alive so I could ask him, “Why do there have to be a-holes?”

    Love the picture of that chicken. Go chicken, go! See if you can outrun McDonalds and/or KFC!

  5. Todd Pack says:

    Dave Barry said it best: Someone who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.

    Some people are just jerks. I don’t know why, but things never work out well for them, but there you go.

  6. Thypolar says:

    I have seen this so many times and have heard horror stories from my hubby who use to wait tables before we met. I don’t put up with treating people this way and have been known to open my mouth on more than a few occasion, even to people I don’t know personally.

    Bravo on your telepathic powers! (hold for applause) Do you work parties?

    • omawarisan says:

      People put others in an awkward position when they behave like this. I’ve said something a few times, but most of the time people who do this are too dense to get it.

      I always separate my tab from theirs as soon as possible and make it clear to the waiter/bartender why.

  7. Half the fun of those places is the interaction between the waiter/chopper and the guests. That guy effectively wrecked that from the start I’d say. I feel sorry for the baby if it is going to have to rely on its parents to learn social skills. And on that note, who brings a baby to a restaurant like that? Couldn’t the kid jump on the hotplate or something?

    • omawarisan says:

      Yeah, even if jackass is a recessive gene, that poor baby is in a tough spot.

      They were smart enough to have the baby at a good distance from everything, though had he gotten into something it certainly would have been the waiters fault.

  8. writerdood says:

    For an asshole, his breath was pretty fresh.

  9. I cringe when I hear things like this. Yesterday, the woman in front of me in line in a store made a rude, completely unnecessary remark to the cashier. Why do people think they have the right to behave this way?

  10. Laura says:

    I think that people who act that way are on some kind of weird power trip. With this guy in particular, it’s practically extortion — instead of ordering a larger meal, he threatens to penalize the waiter if he doesn’t bring him extras.

    • omawarisan says:

      Right! It have cost him $3 to order an extra piece of chicken, but it was more fun to make them jump for his amusement.

      • Spectra says:

        I used to waitress. I got desperate once and worked one week at a Jersey diner, the graveyard shift. I was told, everybody who comes in here orders extra cheese, and they tip lousy. SO, the owner charged $1.00 per slice of orange velveeta, as he hated his own customers. So one guy comes in to order a take-out sandwhich, leans his elbow on the counter, locks serious eyes with me, and lets me know he’ll tip me better if I get him free cheese, winks and says “if ya know whad I mean.” I asked him right back, “Will you also pay my rent for me when I get fired?” and added “If ya know wad I mean?” (wink)
        I rather enjoyed any opportunity I saw to “stick it to ’em”. In one place, on a river-park, strollers would come in and ask “Where’s the restroom”, as if we owed them a free squirt. It was so much fun to tell them they could not come into our restaurant and pee for free. We operated on a “Pay-per-piss” basis. You buy lunch, go ‘head, hit the head and squirt on the walls for all we care. Otherwise, go piss in the river you moron. Amazing how upset the Pissables would get when we sent them off to the Port-a-Potty on the kids playground. And we’d snicker as they marched out, threatening discrimination lawsuits all the way, their knees tighly locked together as they waddled out the same door they rushed into.

  11. Abe's Blog says:

    This kind of behavior is one of my pet peeves. I would have a difficult time working in the service industry as I have seen people behaving this way – hotel staff especially. There are no more Kings, only people who like too pretend they are royalty.

  12. savanvleck says:

    My waitress days numbered two. Both nights, I went home and threw up. I’m much better answering phones behind a desk. However, it is nice to know that perhaps occasionally, my wishing the jerk in the car behind , or in front of me, would get a flat tire just might work.
    Keep the faith!

  13. Greg says:

    Sweet catharsis.

  14. Rob G says:

    Karma is always waiting for an opportunity to pounce – sometimes it has fun and let’s us all have a laugh!

  15. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    You showed way more restraint than I would have, Oma. That couple would have left there with chopsticks embedded in their foreheads. I have a very tough time putting up with abuse like that. Their poor child.

  16. tsanda says:

    poor kid never stood a chance.

  17. thejaggedman says:

    My brides criteria for a great tip is thus: You can flirt with my man but you damn well better get me refills while you do it. Other than that we will give you a good tip even if the service is “sub-pare” because waiting on tables is a tough way to make a dime.

  18. shoutabyss says:

    I have to admit. I can’t stop thinking about this story. You have a way of capturing my imagination.

    I’ve written about this before, but I think part of the problem is the lie that we were all raised with, that we bought hook line and sinker, that says, “The customer is always right.” Blech.

    Some people have taken that faulty concept and ran with it to the point where they feel that when they are spending money, they have the right to treat people badly. Now I’m no Miss Manners but every time I step out of the house I see people doing things that I would never even consider. I’m a little scared of a world where it turns out I’m the most civilized.

    At the grocery store I walked up with my little basket of goodies. Every line was full and it was going to be a long wait. So I shrugged, picked the line that looked the shortest and/or had the cutest checker, and settled in. I consider this sort of situation a special version of Hell. Yet that was all I did. I didn’t throw a tantrum or start yelling and what not.

    Meanwhile, another guy walked up with his groceries. You could tell just by looking he was a real class act. He stopped, looked surprised, and waited about a quarter of a second before bellowing at no one in particular, “Hey! Are you going to open another lane or what?!?”

    Of course his rudeness paid off and he was out of the store and on his way before me. That doesn’t sit right with me.

    Thanks to you, now I know what happens when that same guy goes out to eat.

    Because the employee at the Japanese hibachi grill couldn’t tell the customer to go Hell, well, that’s why I often refer to having a job as a form of prostitution.

    • omawarisan says:

      I agree, the customer is always right doesnt give the customer the power to redefine right.

      I have to believe that these fools get short term rewards…like the guy at the check out, but they mess themselves over long term. I hope I’m right.

      “I’m a little scared of a world where it turns out I’m the most civilized.” That idea is pure art sir. Art.

  19. Pauline says:

    As someone who worked in customer service-Twice in a food court, once in a coffee shop and twice in a department store-stories like this make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

    I had to put up with entitled a-holes like that for very little pay.

    If the offender is reading this post: Newsflash! Being served doesn’t give you the right to act like you’re better than the restaurant/department store staff!

  20. Omawarison says:

    If I was the waiter, I would have been proud to have recieved no tip from that jerk. Wait, it wasn’t PJ was it? If it was, I’m finding that dude.

    • omawarisan says:

      No, this was an older guy and it happened before PJ was working there. I stopped and talked to the owner when we were leaving. I wish you’d seen that mint go to work on that guy. I think it was the first time I’ve ever laughed at someone choking.

  21. pattypunker says:

    chicken’s may not augment but i heard some roosters do.

    and yay karma.

  22. Brooke says:

    Dining experiences are usually ruined by other patrons. Apparently these people missed the Sunday school lesson that talked about treating others how you’d like be treated.

    • omawarisan says:

      You’re right. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but the number of times I can say I had a bad night because of the wait person is immeasurably small.

  23. spencercourt says:

    > The kind of place you never actually see a Japanese person in.

    I’ve seen Japanese at these places exactly once – in Honolulu, when the Japanese were all over that place. (Maybe these Japanese steak houses don’t exist in Japan?)

    We were seated with some Japanese tourists. We all laughed when they ordered American beer and I ordered a Japanese beer.

  24. Greg says:

    God only knows what additional ingredients these people are getting in their drive through food. Complimentary of course.

  25. Having sat at a hibachi table and missed the flying bit of broccoli that sailed past my head after the chef did the “flick the food and have the diners catch it in their mouths,” I would have wished that the chef successfully aimed the veggie at Obnoxious Man’s mouth and that it had become lodged in the back of his throat before he even made it to the after dinner mint. Same for Obnoxious Woman. Mwaaahaaahaaahaaaa!

  26. jaerae1971 says:

    I heard Dean Koontz once tell a story about how he had gone to dinner with someone he was considering as an agent. Apparently the man was very rude to the waitress and he was so taken aback he didn’t know what to say. When the man excused himself to the men’s room, Mr. Koontz looked out the window and saw a women brown bagging her dogs poo……he went outside and offered her $10 for the bag, then went back inside and put said bag in the mans briefcase.
    Love that story.

  27. Pie says:

    I’m responding to this one late I know, but I just don’t understand how some people believe they are entitled to abuse waiting staff in that way. Actually, I do understand. It’s called “they can’t fight back or they’ll lose their job, so I can be an absolute s**t.”

    Imagine having the power to lord over another because you know it would be your praise or complaint that could make a difference between continued (low paid) employment to keep body and soul together, and unemployment, with the fall out that follows including inability to pay rent and bills. How satisfying it must be to bring that amount of misery to bolster your small, insignificant life. How sorry must we feel for that baby, who will no doubt carry the same values as those people, unless there’s some kind of intervention to change his/her path? And how marvellous was the power of your mind to conjure up the mint choke.

    I often believe these types will suffer in the long run, but for now, we have to hope to witness a little short term payback occasionally. Looks like that was your lucky day.

    • omawarisan says:

      It was glorious and scary at the same time to see that mint go to work.

      I agree, people such as this enjoy abusing those who they know can’t fight back.

  28. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    Woah, you are a Jedi. (Maybe a Sith?)

    This guy did deserve that? Why has no one ever told him that that kind of behavior is not OK? Ridiculous.


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