A typical week for waiters

Waiting tables, bartending, serving food…many college students have to resolve to these kinds of part-time jobs. We need extra money to help pay for our education and to afford to have a life outside of school. Dealing with the public, however, can be just as stressful, if not more than, as dealing with essays and exams.
This past Saturday night, a fellow Ambrosian and I closed down the restaurant which we have both worked at for about eight month. Charlie is a graduate student at St. Ambrose who waits tables two or three days a week for a little extra cash and saving money. I bartend at the restaurant for the same reasons and to make money for my study-abroad trips. Let’s call the restaurant which Charlie and I work at Emerald Mondays.
There are many things we both hate about serving the public, but we have to admit the money is good. Saturday night, however, was a different story. The night had us both questioning whether the degradation was worth it. Before I dive into it, I need to let out a few points which I think all diners need to get through their heads.
There is a common stereotype floating around that waiters are not as intelligent as those who have “real jobs.” Some people have very little respect for waiters. Whether the waiter is intelligent or not, at least the person is doing something with his life and working hard to make money. We get paid less because the bulk of our pay comes from our tips. If the waiter did everything he/she could to make the experience the best possible, leave a decent tip!
On the same point, Charlie and I, as well as several other hard-working students, are giving up our Saturday nights to serve needy, greedy, rude people. (Yes, many people are actually very easy and pleasant to wait on, but the rude people ruin it for everyone). Some of these rude people assume that since we are waiting tables, we are doing nothing with our lives. I once, for whatever reason, told a customer that my mother is a nurse. The response I got was, “Oh, why don’t you do something like that? It’s not too late for you.” No kidding, I’m only 21. Just because I’m lowering myself for the moment to wait on you, why do you think I’m going to do this for the rest of my life? Don’t assume your waiter has nothing going for them. This is very rude and will not get you nice service in return.
Now that these points are clear, let’s go back to Saturday night. Emerald Monday’s closes at 11pm on weekends. The restaurant was dead between eight and 10, so the manager sent everyone home but Charlie and me. It was nothing we weren’t used to. After 10:15 however, seven tables came in for Charlie and about 12 other people came in to fill up the bar. The last table put their order in at 11. Now, of course people are allowed to come in the restaurant and order up until closing time. We must stay there; there is no rule about it. The common knowledge stands that the last hour should give the employees time to clean up and get out on schedule, as well as give any dining guests time to finish their meals and conversations. There should be no question about when closing time is because the hours are listed in bold letters on the entrance door.
Since the last hour is cleaning time, how do guests expect the best service or even the best food? Everyone, especially the cooks, are rushing to get out of there and are already upset that people are still coming in. Although “the customer is always right” and all that, we’re still going to want to get back at them. I’ve never seen anyone mess around with anybody’s food or anything like that, but the employees certainly don’t care about how happy the people are with it.
Among Charlie’s seven tables was a family of six, who of course ordered steaks and lobster and plenty of alcohol. Members of the family did not care for their steaks, were upset with the small portion of lobster tails, and wanted to complain about everything. Not even the manager cared to comp off any of their meals because she was trying to help us both take care of our other guests and do her closing tasks at the same time.
After the kids in the family had thrown half their chicken tenders on the floor, Charlie came back to the bar smiling as if nothing had gone wrong that night. In his hand he held the family’s credit card receipt for a $145 bill. Of course I figured he made a monster tip off that high of a tab. I took the slip and read “Tip: 0.” The horrible family had stiffed my poor college friend.
I don’t understand what goes through people’s heads when they think it is a good idea to take their family with small children out to a nice restaurant and stay til midnight. The kids are going to go crazier than they already are and they are going to ruin the night for many people in the restaurant. This is a perfect time to order a pizza, hence why pizza places stay open past midnight. Also, if they can’t afford to go out to eat so badly that they have to try and get free food out of the restaurant (not to mention they also can’t afford any kind of tip), order pizza! Pick it up and no need to worry about tipping a delivery driver. Problem solved.
This was just one particular weekend out of several chaotic ones at Emerald Monday’s worth ranting about.

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