Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Whatever Happened to Manners?

I feel far too young to be one of the old fogies complaining about the youth and their lack of simple manners so I won't be. Instead, I intend on complaining about the middle aged.

I am not saying that all middle-aged people are rude, just most of them. Funnily enough, whilst working I have never come across an ill-mannered elderly person, nor a badly behaved child. More often than not, I find myself chatting with the blue-hairs and complimenting parents on their child's manners. It is the middle-aged that could learn a thing or two.

To paint the picture, our outside section is out the heavy front doors, which are closed when it's cold and push from the inside out. When I'm taking in several plates/glasses from outside, it can be very tricky to get the doors open. Sometimes there's a wait-station there that we can put things on, sometimes there is not. The other night was one of the latter situations. It was also freezing cold and I had a stack of plates and several glasses in my hands. Our doorman hadn't started yet. As I was arranging everything in my hands, several people came in and out of the doors (which shut quite quickly). Like a good little waitress, I greeted everyone coming in and bid everyone leaving a good night. Not one single person made any attempt to hold the door and let me in. One elderly man sitting with his family at table one noticed me outside, got up from his dinner and opened the door for me. As I was thanking him and coming in, he observed the lack of gentlemen in the world today.

Now I'm a feminist; I believe in equal rights and equal pay for all. I need a man like a fish needs a bicycle. I don't need a man to open a door for me. But on the same note, a gentleman is nice. The Boy insists on carrying the groceries. He walks on the side of the cars when we walk down the street. He opens doors for me. I do not require this, but it's nice. Really though, my point is not just that of the gentleman. It is common human courtesy to hold a door for someone coming in after you.

Friday, 22 July 2011


Last night was strange. We didn't have any of the coffee crazies come in (the regulars who I know and love) and only two of the normal suits. However, we did have an abundance of asshats.

First was the couple who camped for seven hours. I am not joking. For the last three hours they only had tap water. Also, the man was the kind of guy who speaks veeeerrryyy slowly to waitstaff because we must all be stupid. Honestly, how many people need "two Glenfiddich 18yrs, neat, but one only a half shot with a jug of water on the side" explained to them four times in different ways? I'm not saying okay and repeating your order back because I don't understand you. Whiskey is not hard. Reading Kant is hard. But I digress.

Second was the woman who showed up at 11pm on a Friday to a packed bar demanding a table inside for her and your nine friends. This was simply not going to happen, we had no free tables, chairs or even standing room inside. When I explained this to her, she pointed to three guys sitting at a four-top (waiting for their three partners to come back from the bathroom) and asked why I couldn't make them move. Because they've been here since dinner, have been coming here for eleven years and tipped me fifty dollars as well as being lovely, that's why.

I think last night must've been a full moon or the wind changed or something. Send me better luck for tonight!

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Best Thing I Have Ever Said

The other night I discovered that I can say pretty much whatever I like whilst working and as long as I do it smiling, no one notices that I've just said something incredibly crude/insulted them. This is the story of how I discovered this. Of course, you treat different tables differently; I would never have said this to a table of two little old ladies, for example.

It was about 10.30ish on a Friday night. Usually people aren't drunk that early but there are some exceptions, these two guys were an exception. I was doing outside section and stopped in to check on them. The exchange went as follows.

S - Can I get you another drink?

M - No I'm good. But I have to ask you, are you spiritual?

S - That depends on what you mean by spiritual.

M - I mean, do you ponder about why we're here and who put us here and all that?

S - I'm a second year Philosophy student, so I ponder, definitely. I believe in a Philosophical god, rather than a traditional Christian one. But I guess I'd consider myself spiritual, yes.

M - Do you believe in the second coming?

S - I don't really believe in the first one.

M - No, if I say the words "Second Coming", what do they mean to you?

(At this point I looked at him, looked at his friend who had the look of exasperation the sober man gets when his drunk friend is asking waitresses strange questions, looked back at the drunk guy and replied:)

S - Multiple orgasms.

And then I walked away, leaving sober friend cracking up and drunk friend wondering what just happened.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tugging the Heart Strings

Something that happened the other night reminded me of this story.

There's one guy, a friend of Odette, that comes in every so often. He's very wealthy and very nice, he leaves enormous tips and buys everyone working rounds of drinks. So a little while ago he came in and quietly told Odette that he wanted to buy one table's dinner. He also didn't want anyone to know that he'd done it. He left choosing the table to Odette and asked her to tell him who she picked.

There was one elderly couple in having dinner, they were both about eighty and very sweet. So Odette chose them and pointed them out to mystery man. He gave her his card and told her to charge their bill to it. She sorted that all out quietly and watched as the situation panned out.

The couple finished their meal and asked for the bill. Odette said "I'm not entirely sure how to tell you this, but a guest here has paid your bill already." Understandably, they were confused. She called over Mario and together they explained that a mystery customer had paid for their meal for them and didn't want to be identified. The woman started crying and explained that it was their wedding anniversary -  they'd been married for sixty years - and nothing like this ever happened to them. Odette and Mario bought them dessert and coffee on the house and told them to enjoy their evening. The couple finished the dessert and left holding hands.

Odette told me later that in over ten years of hospitality work, that was the only time she has ever teared up whilst working.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Bitch, I Will Put You in a Nursing Home

Last night seemed to be a night for the crazy folk to come out and play. I'm not quite sure why, it wasn't a Sunday or a full moon (always weird) but there was a distinctly odd feeling about everyone. On top of that, the staff were in full on strange mode and the streetlights were out for about an hour. On the whole, though, people were lovely, except for one crazy bitch who makes up my story.

She was there almost all night at a table with several of my favourite regulars and they were in my section. I was at the table a fair bit; these are regulars who spend money and appreciate being well-looked after. Anyway, even early on there was something weird about this one woman, let's just call her Crazy. Well Crazy had a mean case of the crazy-eyes and she was one of those women who refuse to acknowledge waitstaff. That pisses me off to begin with, but the guy she was there with was nice enough to make up for it. They were drinking Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc (from 2010, fruity, from Marlborough) by the bottle, so didn't require a whole lot of checking up on but I was walking around and stopping in with them every so often after the regulars left. It was on one of these general "Can I get you another drink/something to eat/more water/clear anything finished?" stop ins where the woman looked up at me and shouted "Go away! Just go away!" to me whilst flicking her hand dismissively. This is when my bitch came out. "Fuck it," I figured, "may as well give her what she wants." So I did. I kept joking with and serving every other table in my six table section but them. They could pour their own damn wine. Roughly ten minutes later, Crazy starts crying, while sitting at her table. I hate women who do this, it makes me and everyone who notices it uncomfortable. Crazy went to the bathroom where  the other waitress (Mary-Jane) overheard her wailing about how the waitresses were so young and "he" (presumably the thoroughly middle aged man she was with) was "looking at them".

Well this answered some questions, namely why my presence anywhere near their table seemed to so upset her. But I kept doing my thing, until I went to start closing so Mary-Jane was on the floor. Well she knew what had happened but only sort of and Crazy's water glass had been empty for nearly twenty minutes. So Mary-Jane went over to fill it up and the same thing happened. She came into the kitchen to tell me, wondering if she'd done something wrong. Now this pissed me off more than when Crazy first pulled that shit. Mary-Jane is far newer to the game than I am and therefore not yet jaded. She's also lovely, friendly and genuinely cares about her customers. For this hag of a woman to make her think she was the one at fault made me livid. But there was nothing I could really tell Mary-Jane, other than to punch Crazy in her dried-up ovaries. So I let the manager and the bouncer know that she was drunk and told Mary-Jane to do what I'd done and simply not serve them.

Later, when we (Cookie, The Boy and I) had finished staffies and were walking home we saw something beautiful. Crazy and her man thing arguing in a doorway just down from my bar. I heard man thing say "I'd like you more if you weren't such a bitch" and "Just knock! You're not staying with me so you can either knock or sleep on the street." The police were on their way over as we walked past. Karma is sweeter than revenge.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

All My Hats

I'm done with work for the week! Well, sort of, I have this thing to go to with some of the staff tonight; a new bar/restaurant has just opened across the street from us and gave us tickets to their opening party. Bring on the free food and booze! Being a waitress is so glamourous (ha-fucking-ha).

Anyway, so over the last 20ish hours I've worked I've done lots of different things. Generally I'm a waitress and that's all I do; I talk to people a lot and I carry stuff. But since we've cut down on the number of staff on at any given time, I get to do way more things. Last night I got to be on the door while A was inside looking for his missing wedding ring (I got to check IDs and everything). Friday night I got to bartend when it got busy suddenly and Mother Hen was ordering stock, I figured I'd help out Cookie and The Boy. That brings me to my little anecdote of the day.

I am not a bartender; I can make mixed drinks just fine and even a few cocktails, I can pour wine (who can't?) and beer from a bottle. Tap beer is a mystery to me, there's all the tilting and foam and it's too much effort. Anywho, I was over at 120 (the end of the bar) and a guy there asked me for a Jim Beam and L&P (for those non-Kiwis, it's a lemon flavoured soft drink). I explained we don't have L&P and his options as far as mixer goes are Coke, Diet Coke, lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale and any weird variety of juice. This is when his arsehole factor became apparent. He started going on about how he's been "coming here for years" and why don't we have any L&P? I replied that I don't know about multiple years, but I know for sure we haven't had L&P in at least two. I also said that he's more than welcome to go across the road to a convenience store, buy a bottle of L&P and we'll keep it chilled for him and make his drinks with that. He settled on Jim Beam and ginger ale. I made his drink in front of him and got the portable Eftpos for him to pay, upon which he informed me that he wanted it in a smaller glass. Now at my bar, the tall glasses and the short glasses are actually the same volume, so if I'd made it tall and he wanted it short it wouldn't have been an issue. But unless the customer says otherwise, I will always make bourbon and rum mixed drinks in a short glass, this guy wanted a whiskey glass. It was 3 in the morning, we'd done last call and I could not be fucked with arseholes at this point. I politely (not really) informed him that if he'd wanted it in a smaller glass, he had ample time to tell me that when I was making the drink in front of him, not when it came time to pay and he could either take it and pay or leave it.

He paid the $9 and shut up. I think I'd make an awesome bitchy bartender.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Cast of Characters

Right, well I'm starting to get confused with the aliases I've given everyone, so we'll get them straight now. This is only the front of house, kitchen staff and regulars will need their own separate posts.

Chief - The big boss (sort of, he's not actually allowed to own a bar because of past drug convictions, so technically his wife owns everything). He's a lovely guy who drinks Pinot Noir like it's going out of fashion, smokes like a chimney and has a wicked speed habit. Lovely and well-meaning though he is, he's going mad so drives us all fucking insane when he starts trying to tell us how to work.

Mrs Chief - Possibly the scariest woman I have ever met, and I don't scare easy. She's beautiful even though she must be pushing 60 and she's always flawlessly dressed. She owns everything and holds the liquor license cause Chief's not allowed to. I was terrified of her for months when I started, until we had a Secret Santa day last Christmas and showed up, excited as a little kid, wearing a Santa hat and gave everyone bottles of champagne. Now I'm slightly less scared of her.

Mario - The resident, crazy maitre d. He's about 5"7, 50 years old and very, very Italian (from Sicily). He calls everyone darling, takes hour-long smoke breaks and adores dirty jokes. He also drinks wine like no one I've ever seen, you hardly ever see him drink, but the give away is finding wine glasses with condensation still on them. He also has a tendency to drink glasses of wine meant for customers, especially on slow nights. A man his age, in this industry who does and says the things he does would have been fired long ago, but for his accent and skill at talking to people. It took me two months to be able to understand a word he said.

Odette - One of the managers, called so because she's beautiful and a dancer but also has a wicked speed habit (and access to the best drugs in the city). I adore her, she's lovely and the only person who doesn't yell at you if you call in sick. She's been at the bar for eight years but is leaving in a month for a managers job at another restaurant.

Mother Hen - The general bar manager. She's terrifying too and it took her a long time to warm up to me, but now that she has, she's amazing. She's everyone's mum but I've learnt after one too many 8am walks home to never go out drinking with her after work. She knows every single hospo worker in the city and has been in the industry for nearly twenty years. She has the best "don't fuck with me" face I have ever seen, I'm trying to learn it. Also married to our bouncer.

Lurch - The manager on Sundays and Mondays, he's huge. Easily over 6 foot, he's incredibly protective of the female staff, especially when we go out for post-work drinks and a lovely guy. He is, however, a nut job when he's drunk. One of the first things I learnt is that "when Lurch suggests a party back at his place, you go home."

Short Stuff - Another maitre d, he's shorter than me (I'm 5"4), Maori and hilariously funny with the filthiest mind I've ever come across. He gives everyone nicknames when they start, I'm Roaring Meg Mount Difficulty (named after a wine) because I never roar at anyone. He's one of my favourite staff members, though he works day shifts so leaves fairly early every night.

A - The bouncer. Married to Mother Hen, but far more chatty and relaxed. They've been together for years and are the sweetest couple I've ever seen. He's a personal trainer during the day and is hilariously funny. Drinks a lot of coffee but very little booze and tends to go on strange diets where anything white is banned.

Superman - Built like a tank, he owns a construction business and goes to university during the day, he only works as a maitre d on Sunday and Monday nights and nights like New Years Eve. He's severely ADHD and only sleeps about four hours a night. He's harsh, he made me cry once, but he knows his stuff and he's funny. We have a love/hate relationship.

Honeybee - My favourite waitress. She started two weeks before I did and we work mostly the same shifts. She's training to be an air hostess and working at the bar at nights for the hospo experience. She's stunningly beautiful and a lot of fun. We sing together when it's boring.

Frenchie - Obviously, she's French. She's a waitress/bartender but her true calling is photography. Unlike most of her fellow French hospo workers, she sees this as simply a job that's good for travelling with, she doesn't care too much about service (which is much more fun than caring a lot). I went in for dinner once, asked her what the soup was and she replied "I don't fucking know, but there's probably no love in it."

Mary-Jane - Our newest waitress, she's a lovely girl (and gorgeous) but working with her drives me mad. She's sometimes lazy and tends to do stupid things like getting high on her break and not being able to work. However, she is great for a post-work drink.

Kilt - The newest bartender, she's beautiful and Scottish and hilarious. She dances behind the bar and is great for a laugh. I don't know her well enough yet to say more.

Cookie - The glassie, sometime bartender and my old flatmate, he's also one of my best friends from before we worked together. Tall, swishy and fabulous he's the only gay in the village (at the moment, anyway). Mario thinks we're like Will and Grace, he's not wrong.

And last but not least,
The Boy - As well as my lover, he's a bartender; he's been at the bar off and on for six years (it was his first job out of high school). He's also our resident pot-head, always good for a meeting in the kitchen after work and wonderful at his job. The first person ever to make me break my rule of not screwing the crew, it works fine because he's incredibly chilled and makes the best hazelnut margaritas. Plus, he puts extra booze in my drinks, that always helps.