Service With a Smile

Fried catfish

Like anyone who works in restaurant service I saw my fair share of insanity. There was the bartender/manager who drank away the profits, the line cooks who popped pills and juggled knives and the fellow waitstaff who stole tips. But at this plastic-plate, greasy-everything joint, the worst of the worst was far and away the customers. On Valentine’s Day, because I was the only single waitress on staff, I got tapped to pull doubles. Alone. After 12 hours of serving crappy food to cheap couples, enduing endless jokes about being dateless and watching several couples break up and storm out, leaving their checks unpaid, I finally took my last table.

At first, the group of 15 obese diners seemed like a godsend. They were polite, calm, orderly and friendly. I muscled up my last smile and gave them the best service I could manage, hoping for a tip big enough to cover the dine-and-dashers. But when the orders started to arrive, it all went to heck. The shrimp-to-catfish ratio on the fry plate was off; the burger buns were too small; the lettuce wasn’t crunchy enough; the Sprite tasted like 7up and it was all my fault. When all was said and done and all 15 lumbered off into the night, I searched the table for my tip. They had left me 37 cents. I ran out after them and saw them laughing and exchanging high-fives as they walked away.

Other tales of greatness include: the puker who, after vomiting onto the table next to him, wiped his mouth and ordered another basket of onion rings; the prostitute who stretched one cup of coffee for four hours while trolling unsuccessfully for dates; the belligerent who arrived at 5pm every Friday for cocktails and was forcibly removed by 6pm, drunk and swinging fists; and my favorite, the flash-n-grabber who would hang his member out of his pants under the table and, when he caught a waitress noticing, would reach up and goose her while she was still immobilized in shock while yelling, “Caught you lookin’!”

I was fired from this job when, after getting food poising from my employee meal, I missed two days of work. The manager actually sent one of the line cooks to my house to retrieve my apron. I told him I had lost it and later ritually burned it along with my left-over order slips.

Comments (11)

EmMarch 15th, 2010 at 7:22 am

… wow… just… wow….

SoloReflexMarch 15th, 2010 at 8:29 am

sounds like my experience at outback steakhouse

AdrianoMarch 15th, 2010 at 9:42 am

I wonder why would the employees let a prostitute troll for customers for 4 hours inside the premises.

serbizMarch 15th, 2010 at 10:38 am

A place that serves catfish & onion rings, has prostitutes soliciting customers all day, you can watch disgruntled couples breaking up; this sounds like a GREAT job. The only bad part must be heaving to wear an apron.

AndrewMarch 15th, 2010 at 11:49 am

I’ve worked at 3 Applebee’s in the past 2 years. I feel ya (minus the getting fired part). Restaurants breed such a special brand of crazy.

APearlFromGritMarch 15th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I’m sure this all sounds unlikely, but this was in a 24-hour cheap bar/restaurant in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There were very few people in town and those that didn’t start out crazy had become crazy after the storm. There was no police presence to speak of and unless it was a murder or a lucrative drug bust, reporting crime was a waste of breath.

SikaMarch 16th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Why didn’t you add gratuity to a group of 15? Even if it wasn’t the norm at your restaurant…who was to notice? You were alone.

SikaMarch 17th, 2010 at 8:36 pm

p.s. those chicken fingers look amazing

moiMay 23rd, 2010 at 10:18 pm

where was this diner? Butthead, Wi? lol I too worked as a waitress and i know it is one of the worst, if not the worst jobs ever. i went thru what you had , except we weren’t allowed to accept tips. covered in sauces, i quit. the manager was a real sweaty pig who sweated all over the food. it iwas disgusting. that’s why i hardly go out to eat, i know what goes on back there.

AceMay 27th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I would’ve done something subtle yet very, very evil to those 15 obese jerks… the rule #1 of the club: do not mess with those who handle your food ;)

TinaAugust 5th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

This sounds nothing so much as the pitch for a dark and surreal tv show. And I would totally watch it.

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