Another busy Saturday morning (and, my friends, when I write “busy”, I am not complaining – we want it to be busy, as the time goes by fast, we turn tables fast, and we make more money.)
I return from my mandatory thirty-minute break, which I always spend in the dining room as I don’t eat while I work (I don’t want to get out of “the zone” and I really do not want to be thinking only about a comfortable bed and a quiet nap after I stuffed myself.) My new section is filled up, but a co-worker who wants to go home in a timely manner asks me to pick up a couple of tables for him.
The first one is a five-top, four twenty-something young men and an older guy, maybe a coach? They are easy, agreeable, and so low-maintenance that I forget it’s an aberration. They order, get their food, and finish eating in less than an hour.
The second table is four ladies in their sixties who all drink decaf and take their sweet time perusing the menu. That’s fine by me – I don’t want to rush them and I certainly don’t want to stand by the table and sweat while they try to figure out what exactly they want.
After a while, they flag me down and I start taking orders. It’s smooth sailing all around until I get to the last one to order and I can barely hear her. I lean in, as I am 30% deaf in both ears (thanks, Dad!); she mumbles, and I still don’t hear her well. Her friends tell me she lost her voice and I am sympathetic. I help her by pointing at the menu items. After a while, we finally agree on her order: Biscuits and gravy with bacon and over easy eggs.
I refill their coffee cups while they chat. The food arrives in good time for a busy Saturday, but one meal makes it back to the kitchen. I did not deliver the food and I am wondering what might have gone wrong. My colleague tells me a lady said that was not what she ordered. I go back to the table, and sure enough, it’s the lady #4 who denies that she ordered that specific meal. I read back what she ordered, she shakes her head, repeating “No, no, no! I wanted pancakes and sausage! I don’t know what that is and I don’t want it!”
Of course, I cannot argue with a customer, so I apologize and go back to the kitchen and ask for two pancakes and a side of sausage. I am not crazy, and I know what “gaslighting” is… And I just got “gaslit” by a grandma!
It’s not a big deal, just one of those moments which warrant an “eye roll”, but still, it’s annoying, it’s a waste of time, and waste of food, which hurts my frugal soul.
A while later, I get a four-top: mom, dad, and two tween boys. Everyone is drinking water, but one of the tweens, who is drinking coffee with huge amounts of French vanilla creamer. Dad is a big, bolding chap with a huge belly and a shy smile. The boys are at that awkward phase when their voices start to change and they go from soprano to baritone five times in a sentence. The mother is a compact, broad-shouldered woman with thick glasses and her hair pulled tightly into a bun.
She orders for everybody, without looking at me. French toast with bacon and eggs for one son, chicken fried steak, eggs, hash browns, and pancake for the other, a club sandwich on sourdough with fries for her man, and chicken fried steak dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans, gravy on the side, for herself. We have two sizes of chicken fried steak and she pointed at the smaller one, which is at the bottom of the menu page.
I give them more water and coffee, bring her the salad and a cornbread muffin that comes with her meal.
Their food arrives and everybody is happy except for her. She glares at me and growls: “My steak is the same size as my son’s! I wanted a bigger one!” I reply that she ordered the smaller portion, but I would be happy to get her a bigger one. Without making an eye contact, she spits out: “NO! I don’t want to wait another twenty minutes for food!” Again, this is Saturday, a little after noon and the place is hopping busy! Twenty minutes wait for food for party of four is below average for sure.
I check on them and everyone is enjoying their food. She ignores me as she continues to reprimand the boys in an annoying, shrill voice that carries to my whole section.
A bit later, after I cleared a few plates, I ask her husband if he wanted more water, as his glass was empty. At the same time, he says “Yes!” and she says “No! All we want is the check!” I pour more water and leave the check at the same time, smiling and wishing them a wonderful day.
Their check was about $60.00 and there was no cash left on the table and no tip on the credit-card receipt. But I knew there won’t be a tip for me. I was just happy that she left, taking with her that dark abyss filled with negativity, as I tend to absorb those waves like a sponge.
Customer is NOT always right. Sometimes a customer cannot make up his mind and forgets what he ordered. We are not psychics, but we do write the orders in our notebooks. If you tell me “I want pancakes”, what would make me write “biscuits” instead? And if you point at a particular dish and start ordering, why should I assume that you wanted something else, just because you were thinking it?
It happens every day that we bring food to a table and somebody shakes their head, not owning it. We have to bring the food back to the kitchen and look for the server who took the order. And almost always he takes the food back and finds the person who plainly forgot what they ordered.
But sometimes they deny they ordered the food and their companions correct them, as they remember. Sometimes they deny and nobody comes forward to confirm, so we have to get the new order and hurry back to get it cooking, cutting in the line, while the customer fumes as he is hungry and everyone else is eating.
I know that sometimes it’s not easy to decide – many dishes might sound good and you are hungry (I have a daughter who takes forever to order a meal as she second-guesses every little decision.) But try to remember what you order and what you were THINKING of ordering instead. I cannot see inside your head:) If I could, I’d probably be working 1-900-Psychic line and making much more money:)