Sunday, April 27, 2003

Server Rant

As you may well know, I work at Olive Garden. I've worked there since July of last year. Previous to that, I was a server at Crapplebee's in a few different locations, at the first of which, I was even a Certified Trainer™. So I've been waiting tables for a while. It's actually the longest I've worked in any 'profession', but I have to say that lately I am so absolutely burned out and over the whole thing.

Being a financially successful server depends entirely on the area you live and/or work in. In my case, I live in this armpit town in WV, full of rednecks, hillbillies, and otherwise completely ignorant people. There are decent people here, but they're definitely the minority. I heard some figure that 80% of the population around here gets some sort of government assistance. Now, I don't know if that's an actual statistic, but after waiting on the people around here, I have to say it sure seems true.

I have never, ever seen such cheap.. CHEAP!!!!!!!!! fucking people in my life. They either never learned to tip or just really are incredibly cheap. Not only that, I guess Mama never taught them how to behave in restaurants. These are folks who are more accustomed to grilling squirrels out back than going out to eat in a fancy restaurant like Olive Garden.

Part of the lovely package of working at Olive Garden are our all-you-can-eat soup, salad, and breadsticks. I think if we didn't have any of the above, life would be grand. I wouldn't have to face cheapness every day I work. First I have to say that my biggest peeve at working at OG is the customers that are so obsessed with the free salad and breadsticks that they can't even contain themselves while I inquire about what they'd like to drink. A sample conversation:

Me: Hi, my name is Alena, I'll be taking care of you today. Can I get you all something to drink?
Person: Well, we want the salad.

The hell? Were they even listening to me? Did I ask about the salad, or the meal at all for that matter? We're not going to run out of salad, so these people need to RELAX. If ever I want to quit with a big bang, I will likely say that to someone's face one day. "Look. The salad's not going anywhere. You all need to RELAX about the freaking salad and breadsticks. Now. What would you like to drink?"

Anyway, every time I think I have seen and heard everything, a table will end up topping the most ridiculous of my stories. Tonight, I had, I think, the cheapest table I have ever had. Two ladies, possibly mother and daughter, and this buck-toothed little red-headed girl. I get to the table and everything seems fairly normal at first (they didn't order just water and water or nothing for the kid), until I come back to get the dinner order.

The older lady looks up at me with a concerned look and asks, "How big is the dinner size fettucine alfredo?"

I replied that it's twice the size of the lunch size. The began asking questions like whether it came on a big plate and other weird things, until they finally just out and out asked if I thought the three of them could split a dinner size fettucine alfredo.

! ! !

Now, I could understand if they were thin ladies and looked like they might have small appetites. After all, I definitely couldn't finish a dinner size fettucine alfredo on my own. But it's not THAT big, and they were not thin ladies. I got immediately that they were looking to eat a ton of salad and breadsticks for free, essentially, while splitting the main dish.

I asked the lady if she wanted to add a salad, then, since she intended to eat salad and I was going to be damned if she didn't pay for it. We then got into a discussion about how the salad works. I'd have to charge her if she ate off the refill salad, and I would charge her the full $4.95 for unlimited garden salad. She then was concerned if maybe it would be more cost-effective to just order a lunch lasagna and get the salad that way. I was not about to make any decisions for her and frankly I really didn't care, because I was going to charge her for the salad either way.

She decided against getting the lasagna and the two ladies then decided to get a kid's size fettucine alfredo for the little girl. Whatever. I brought the salad, they ate the one bowl and declined a refill -- the lady would get off without paying, after all.. grr.

Then, after all this, as I'm taking the plates off the table, the younger lady says to me, "Oh, and by the way, just to let you know, my plate was dirty."

I just stared at her because I wanted to hit her. Her plate was not dirty! It had a little tomato sauce on the rim of the bowl, where the cooks (who handle tomato, marinara, and meat sauce frequently) had grabbed her plate. I bit back my nasty reply and gave her the explanation, which she kind of dismissed and said, "I was just letting you know."

Yeah, letting me know so you might get a free dinner, is more like it. After you ate the whole damn thing, too, it was obviously bothering you that much. Their tip was appropriately low.. 10% or something. I was not surprised.

And I walked out tonight, after 7 hours on the floor, with $40 ($460 in sales). Yeah. Worth it, totally. This job is like... a complete exercise in futility. Work hard, be nice to people, doesn't matter because you won't get tipped anyway. I've found that it makes no difference what kind of attitude I have with my tables. My tips are fairly shitty, no matter what.

I also have to say that little things are really starting to get on my nerves at work. Certain people are really irritating me and I'm starting to snap at them. I really would like to find a job that doesn't drive me insane.

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