The Bargain of The Cake Cutting Fee.

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I recently brought a pair of scissors, clippers, and shampoo to my hairdresser and asked her to cut my hair for free.  Since I provided all the relevant equipment, I insisted that she cut and style my hair at no cost to me.  This is perfectly reasonable.  A person’s time, labor, space, and skill are all worth nothing; all that is of value are concrete consumables like a cake that you bring to a restaurant.

Of course, the above story is complete fiction; I would never presume that a person engaged in business was not deserving of compensation for their efforts.

Therefore, I am astonished and appalled that you keep acting shocked and confused when I tell you there’s a cake cutting fee.  Of $2.50.  Per slice.  So usually less than $23 for you and all your 8 guests.  All of whom, I would add, are as annoying as you are.

Let me tell you about the cake cutting fee.  We’re charging you $2.50 per slice of your cake that we cut and plate because it’s super-freaking-annoying to have to handle and manage your stupid-ass cake.  It’s f*cking the worst thing in the world.  First, you come in eight hours before your party starts (and an hour before the restaurant opens) to have us store your cake.  The box never fits the cake properly; it’s all half-opened everywhere and held together with scotch tape.  Then there’s the whole question of leaving-it-out-to-the-elements or putting it in the refrigerator.  So you think all this doesn’t merit $25 or so?  It’s not our fault that you only spent $8.99 at Ralph’s for your grandma’s 120th birthday cake.  Next time, spring for Susie’s Cakes or Nothing Bundt Cake, the Bundt-cake only pastry chain that has perilously painted itself into a corner with their variety-constraining name.

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The actual effort of serving your cake is an even bigger pain.  You have to place forks in front of every guest; you have to find the pastry chef and explain to him how many slices you’d like; you have to wait half an hour for him to finish cutting the cake; you have to then distribute the cake to your guests, all of whom will eat two bites and then push it aside.  Oh, but before all this, you have to present the cake with candles and wait about eight hours for you to take all your stupid pictures.  I have to stand there and watch you fumble badly with your cameras, trying to take horribly fuzzy pictures of pastry.  Oh, fun.

All of this, however, is nothing compared to how annoying the people who bring in cake are.  That’s what the cake cutting fee really is.  It’s a tax on annoying people like you, you who bring sand to the beach and you who think you everything should be free.  The guest who brings in a cake is also the same guest who monopolizes a table for five hours.  She asks the hostesses to change tables three times before she finds one she likes.  She orders iced teas instead of bottles of 20-year-old wine.  She decorates the table with confetti and party favors and useless flowers.  Sometimes she even assigns seats to her guests with name cards.  She (or he….or he) is the same guest who splits plates, can’t decide what to order, and sends things back because they’re “too salty.”  She asks for more ice in her iced because because she let it sit there for three hours in the hot sun.

And then, do you know what’s the most annoying thing in the world?  It’s when you can’t find the old cake box for the leftover cake.  Some mofo colleague threw it away, even though he never throws away anything, ever, to the point where he’ll leave his empty packets of Splenda all over our server station.  And our server station has like three trash cans within six inches of his empty, discarded Splenda packets.  But no…..he’ll throw away your cake box in a bizarre fit of tidiness.  Perfect.

So $2.50 per guest for this?  Consider it a small tax on your annoying personality and a discounted fee for our labor.  Or you could just order desserts at the end of your meal and stick a candle in one, like the rest of the human population.  Or you could just do that.

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A Brief Note on Mutual Birthdays and other astonishingly unlikely things.

I recently overheard a hostess take a reservation for a party of “eight guests with eight birthdays.”  I assume the guest was suggesting that between herself and her seven friends, they all shared the same birthday.

Let’s consider the possibility of this.  As we all know from simple probability, the odds of two people sharing the same birthday is about 1 in 365, not accounting for leap years.  That’s pretty simple.  How about eight people?  Over one in 863 quadrillion (1 in 365 to the 7th power).  And so I loudly yelled in the background, “Seriously?  What are the odds that eight out of eight people could possibly have the same birthday?”  1 in 863 quadrillion!

Do you know what’s even more likely than that?  Winning the Powerball lottery two times in a row, buying only one ticket each time (1 in 30.6 quadrillion).  You’re over 20 times more likely to have that happen.

Do you know what’s also much more likely?  That they’ll tell the server a million agonizing times that today’s their mutually shared birthday.  They’ll mention their birthdays about….oh, 863 quadrillion times.  All that for a melted chocolate cake.  And we can be 100% certain that the last thing these guests need is MORE cake.  We can be very certain about that.

I hope it’s all worth it.  I hope you enjoy living your lie.

(A List of) Appropriate Responses for “Do You Have a Gluten Free Menu?”

“Yes.  Here it is.”
“No.”
“No; my apologies.”
“I’m sorry but no, we do not.”
“Nope.”
“Does this look like True Foods Kitchen to you?”
“Does this look like Native Foods Cafe to you?”
“Is the Pope Irish?”
“Do pigs fly on the backs of DragonUnicorns?”  DragonUnicorns!
“Go F— yourself.”
“Yes.  It’s right next to our Vegetarian Menu, Our Vegan Menu, Our NonDairy Menu, and Our Low-Carb Menu.  Now go F— Yourself.”
“We have a GlutenFull Menu.  We have a GlutenOnly Menu.”

Isn't it oxymoronic?  Don't you think?  Like "private dancer."

Isn’t it oxymoronic? Don’t you think? Like “private dancer.”

“We have Protein on a Plate and Fat on a Plate.  Now go F— yourself.”
“I’m so sorry but not only do we not have a Gluten Free Menu, we have a strict No Douche Policy at this restaurant–and you’re in violation.”
“I’m so sorry but not only do we not have a Gluten Free Menu, we actually spray you with Gluten Particles the moment you walk in the door.”
“I’m so sorry but not only do we not have a Gluten Free Menu, we do have a Dress Code.  Your MuMu and Shants are in violation.”
“Did you also bring your own Stevia Sweetener with you?”
“We don’t.  But let me guess what’s going to happen here.  You’re going to make me ask the cooks a dozen questions about the potential gluten content of our items, all the while making your hungry colleagues wait precious minutes to order their food, right?”
“No.  But when is YOUR problem MY problem?  If your problem is my problem, then my problem is your problem.  My problem is that I have a very money-hungry 22-year-old constantly harrassing me.  Now she’s your problem.”
“We do have a Go F— Yourself menu.  Would you like to see that instead?”
“Why have I never even heard the word Gluten until about five years ago?”
“Trust me….when I look at you, I can tell you’re not allergic to gluten.  The only thing you’re allergic to is exercise and a little make-up.”
“We have a Glue Ton menu….for all the glue lovers out there.  Are you referring to that?”
“We have a Glute-On menu.  It adds glutes to places where you did not have glutes before.  Would that interest you?”
“We have a Gloo Tonme U.  Now go F— yourself.”
“I’m sorry.  Attention Seeker’s Hour just passed.  You just missed it.”
“Do you want to know what I AM ALLERGIC to?  It’s your FACE.  Your FACE gives me hives.  How do you like that?”
“Look.  I’ll make you a deal.  You order all the gluten you want and all of us won’t judge you for all the farting you do.  How’s that sound?”
“You’re chomping down on your third basket of bread.  And you want a gluten-free menu?”
“We DO.  We DO HAVE a gluten-free menu.  What’s the password?  No….it’s not ‘Jenny Craig.’  Try again.  Okay….I’ll tell you.  The password is…..’Go F— Yourself.’  That’s also our WiFi password.”

How Not to Correctly Order a Beverage.

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Scenario #1.

The perky rookie waitress earnestly approaches a table and before she even begins her spiel of “Welcome to the Carbs-And-TransFat Factory; my name is Brooklyn,” the impatient guest blurts out, “ICED TEA.  Me Iced Tea drink me argh mor.”  Seriously.  It’ll be like, “Hey guests.  My name’s—”  “DIET COKE NO ICE.”  “No…actually, Diet Coke is not my name.  That would be a strange name, right?  Even if my name were Diet Coke, wouldn’t I just use a different name at work since it would be very distracting and confusing to be named after a popular zero-calorie, carbonated beverage?”  Or, “Welcome to THE CHATEAU, LADIES.  You all look so—” “Wine.  Wine on table now!  Side glass ice, too.  We like to put ice in our wine.  We’re classy like that.”

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Hey.  Just let the server do his or her stupid speech before you ramble off your drink order, okay?  A lot of servers are required by their corporate bosses to say an entire speech to every single table, no matter how much that table doesn’t want to hear it.  And a lot of times, you do want to hear it.  It’s going to take 30 to 60 seconds and then it’s done.  Check your iPhone with the broken glass screen for a minute if you don’t want to pay attention—Lord knows you’re going to check it a million times during the meal anyway.


Scenario #2:

The jaded and cynical waiter approaches a table and says, “You know the spiel.  I won’t bother you with it.  Whatcha drinking today?”  LONG PAUSE.  “Hello peeps.  What are you drinking today?  Beverages?  Imbibing?  Liquids into mouth?”  BLANK STARES FROM GUESTS.  “Do. you. want. any. thing. to. drink?”  Complete look of utter confusion from guests.

Or the always popular variation:  “Would you care for a glass of Pinot Noir today?”  To which the guest replies, “OH NOOOOOOOOO.  We don’t drink.  WE DO NOT DRINK.  How DARE you even SUGGEST alcohol to me even though your restaurant is called Johnny’s Crab Shack and WINE BAR.”  How DARE YOU.  We are NOT drinkers.  I’m appalled that you could even suggest alcohol.”

Or there’s this:  “Can I getcha dudes a drink?”  To which they reply, “What drinks do you guys have, bro?”  Ummm…..do you want me to go through and list all drinks and drink combinations that we have?  We have 256 different products we can mix into drinks……that makes a maximum possibility of INFINITY different drinks.  Or I can just make up some stuff for you.  “We have the BroTini….The HipsterColada….The HerpesMaker…..do any of those sound good for you?”

Or this happens:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to This Restaurant.  May I offer you a thirst-quenching beverage as your aperitif to your long meal tonight?”  [Guests talk to each other and ignore the server.]  “ANYBODY?  DRINKS ANYBODY?  STOP TALKING ORDER DRINKS?”  [Guests still ignore server.]  “Okay, then.  I’ll just come back after I attend to ALL my other tables.”

Just come in to the restaurant with a beverage ready.  Save us and save you the aggravation of the above scenarios.  Lord knows you’re going to drink everything and anything placed within an inch of you.  You will, also, unfailingly, drink from the glasses of the guests next to you because you always forget that YOUR DRINK IS TO YOUR RIGHT.  M—– F——!!  The drink is to your right.  Or your drink is the stupid drink that has your IdiotGerms in it!  Figure it out for once in your Godforsaken life.  Just order the Stella and be done with it.  Seriously.

stella

Bro Ascendant.

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This is the world of the Bro; we’re all just living in it.  The Bro has always been around.  We used to know him as Preppy, Frat Guy, Frat Dude, Dude, Surfer Dude, Yuppie, and Young Republican.  Trust me; I went to the official Bro Ivy League College, the one with the highest concentration of fraternities and frat-boys in all the Ivy League (are there any other colleges besides the Ivy League?  I wouldn’t know).  There is nothing quite like the sweet smell of a Frat Basement at 3:01 am on a Saturday morning.  Nothing as sweet.

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Anyway, the 2010s are the decade of the Bro Ascendant.  Bros cross all races; they can be Ray J, or John Cho, or Vin Diesel.  (He’s African-American, right?)  He is, of course, John Mayer and James Franco.  What used to be a mere subculture is now THE CULTURE.  MMA, Extreme Sports, Energy Drinks, Axe, Flat-Bill Caps, Burgers and Fries, IPAs (the beers, not the retirement plans, which are IRAs), FauxHawks, TheDirty.com, and all that BroWorld entails has won.  Earth is officially BroPlanet; we’re just innocent bystanders to the takeover.

Bros cross all economic boundaries; they can be a lowly waiter saving up for law school, an annoying Verizon Wireless salesman trying to sell you on the latest HTC One, or a Extreme Sports Drink marketing specialist trying to convince you that a can of Monster Energy will give you the energy to….be even more Bro-ish than you already are.

ImageHow, you ask, can I identify a Bro?  First, if the smell of Axe Body Spray from 200 yards away doesn’t give him away, look for the copy of Maxim Magazine in his hand.  If he’s too poor to afford the $5.95 cover price for Maxim Magazine*, look for the Monster Energy Drink** or a Flat-Bill Baseball Cap.  Please note:  The Flat-Bill Cap must be the flattest thing you’ve ever seen.  It must be flatter than a girl with a B cup (which, by the way, and as we all know, is an abomination against Zeus, Odin, and Mon Mothra).  Otherwise, look for the vintage second-hand Ed Hardy T-Shirt or, perhaps more recently, the TapOut T-shirt.  Please note:  the Bro is not always in shape; he might be chubby and still be wearing a TapOut T-shirt.  Do not be alarmed.  This is perfectly normal.  The Bro will not wear proper Aviator Sunglasses, the best sunglasses on the planet.  OH NO.  He will wear plastic framed sunglasses—either circa-1984 Top Gun-style Wayfarer sunglasses or bizarre Tortoise-shell Sunglasses.  Who the f— wears those??  The Bro does.  He wears them with shants—Pants that Are Shorts, usually of denim material—and TapOut T-shirts, even though he has never had anyone TapOut on him.  And he wears plastic sunglasses.  This, my friends, is how you identify The Bro—LiveStrong Bracelet, TapOut T-Shirt, FlatBill Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Cap, Plastic TortoiseShell Sunglasses, Watch that bizarrely costs more than his rent, Copy of FHM (For Him Magazine….but couldn’t it also be For Her Magazine? or For Hermaphrodite Magazine?), and 32-ounce can of Monster Energy Drink in his hands.  He’ll also have a Tattoo that attends to his Bro-ness.   The Elite Bros will have Alpha Delta Fraternity Insignia decorating their upper shoulder areas; the lower echelon of Bros will have vague references to Nascar and Pabst Blue Ribbon, along with nude silhouettes of inappropriately busty ladies, on their flabby but still large biceps.  It’s called StrongFat, by the way—having what appears to be large muscles because you have a lot of fat between your muscles.

My deepest apologies but can I please go back to the world of Fraternities for a mere second?  Is there nothing more perplexing than the thought that either your dear mom or the U.S. Federal Government is footing the bill for your $400,000 education when you’re spending every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night in a Fraternity Basement drinking Keystone Light and playing Beer Pong?  I do want to point out that I never joined any fraternity and still received multiple commendations for exemplary research from my Nobel Prize-winning Economics professors.  Still….I feel bad that I didn’t make the most of my early years.   Two roads diverged in the woods and I chose…skanks.  Skanks and beer pong.  And Diet Coke.  Can I also make a very small note that we had the World’s Stupidest Fraternity that actually named their Frat “Kappa Kappa Kappa.”  Look up what letters those form.  Oblivious or insensitive?  You decide.  Needless to say, I went to perhaps the least PC of the Ivies.

Anyway, before I insult The Bro too much, I want to point out that, one-on-one, The Bro is actually a decent person.  He’s faaaaaar too naive to realize that he’s a douche-in-the-making.  He’s not a Douche; he’s a Proto-Douche.  He’s still a relatively nice person; he can either choose to become a Douche or a Young Republican.  One-on-one, he’s all “Hey Dude Bro” and “Hey Brah, if you could get me another ShockTop IPA, that would be RAAAAD,” and such.  I even had a Dude Bro Brah Dude Flat Bill Frat Boy tip me 12% on a check once.  So they’re not quite DoucheBag territory.  DoucheBag-in-training.  Not DoucheBag yet.

So this brings me to the whole point of this The Bro post for a Restaurant Serving Blog.  You will, quite frequently, encounter The Bro Waiter in your travels.  Let me tell you about the The Bro Waiter.  He’s actually pretty earnest about his job; he thinks every woman wants his number and that every waitress lusts after him, but he still cares about his job because it’s one more dollar in his Law School fund and one more dollar for his Flat Bill Collection, his Axe Body Spray Fund, and his Maxim Magazine Subscription Fund.  Your tip means one more dollar he can spend on bottle service at Costa Mesa’s Sutra Lounge and one more drink he can buy a fat chick (any girl over 120 pounds) at The Butterfly Lounge.  So he’s a good waiter.  He will, of course, ridicule any hardworking General Manager that tries to actually make him bus his own tables or refill his drinks, but the customers love him.  Well, the MILFS and Cougars love him.  If nothing else, there is that.  So let The Bro work in your restaurant…..he balances out The Skinny Hippie Chick Who Walks Into Work with a Suede Handbag and Her Hangover Sunglasses On and The Jaded Former Manager Chick Who Smokes Cigarettes Like They’re Going Out of Style waitresses that you also have on staff.

Dude Bro Dude….this GreenFlashIPA is for you.

* can’t afford to pay for a whole Maxim SUBSCRIPTION, even though it’s only $3 more than a single copy of Maxim Magazine.

** can’t afford Red Bull

I Thought I Knew.

Before I entered the food-service industry and began what I call “the Dark Ages” of my life, I used to think I knew people and the restaurants they populate.  I thought I knew—but I had no idea.  I had no idea how petty people can be and how utterly nonsensical they could act.  Here, I present to you,

What I Learned From Working In the Restaurant Industry.

1.  While old people should be respected, they’re borderline insane.
I’ve been raised to respect the elderly.  They deserve our patience and our care.  Whenever I see a Senior Citizen trying to load her cat food and Ben-Gay into her car at a Ralph’s or Von’s, I always offer to help.  However, they have serious issues.

Sweet but difficult.

Sweet but difficult.

They need a continuous supply of scalding hot coffee at all times.  Seriously.  There are no coffee machines that can brew coffee as hot as they want it.  They cannot have anything spicy.  They will ask you about the spiciness of everything from the Clam Chowder to the Poached Salmon to the Chocolate Cake.  Seriously.  They want to know how spicy the chocolate cake is.  And best of all, they cannot hear.  You have to stand right next to an old person’s one good ear and shout the specials right into the hearing aid.  Even then, they’ll ask you to repeat everything very, very slowly.  Since they can never see the menu because the print’s too small and the lighting’s too dark, they’ll break out one of those combination flashlight/magnifying glass thingys to read the menu.  Finally, they will walk very slowly and unsteadily through the most heavily trafficked parts of the restaurant.  You’ll be carrying a tray of six overfilled martinis and they’ll be ambling through the main hallway like they have all the time in the world.  And they don’t.  They don’t have all the time in the world.  Look—I appreciate all that you did for us during World War I and all, emancipating the French and deposing the Kaiser, but I have drinks to drop off here.  Oh, and by the way, Frenchies—feel free to NOT let Germany walk over you every. single. time.  Feel free.

2.  Babies are cute but will destroy everything.
In a couple of years, I hope to start a family with the right woman.  I’ll raise four kids and avoid any of the mistakes my parents made—leaving me and my sister home alone since we were in Kindergarten, refusing to buy me Happy Meals because “they’re a waste of money,” forcing me to read the Encyclopedia as “entertainment,” and making me rake the lawn for $1.  Kids are cute and yeah, I suppose that in a way, they’re “our future,” whatever that means.  Anyway, your little six-month-olds are cute but you need to get them under control.  They’re walking claw machines that grab anything within a foot’s reach.  How many more times will your baby lunge for your $17 glass of Saxon-Brown Pinot Noir before you strap that blobby blob down?  And WTF with the putting everything in their mouths.  You need to stop feeding them menus, tablecloths, your purse, and, most of all, your phones.  If I had a dollar or every baby I saw chomping down on an iPhone, I’d be richer than the Sultan of Brunei.  And he was rich.  He’d fly women from all over the world to attend “parties” at his palace.  Ok….maybe that’s not rich; maybe he just had a lot of frequent flyer miles.  No matter; keep your babies under control, folks.  And stop feeding them Cheerios when they’re going to end up not in their mouths, where everything else goes, but on the floor.  And then I’ll have to do that super annoying thing where I have to hunt down the one broom that our giant restaurant has.  WTF with the ONE BROOM for a two-story, extremely high volume restaurant?  And that broom always has (1) a broken handle and (2) only about 5 bristles left.  Do you know what a pain it is to clean up cheerios with only 5 bristles?  It’s not fun, friends.  It’s not fun.

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3.  People aren’t very smart.
Every menu should have a big warning on the cover that says, “HEY—THERE ARE STUPID QUESTIONS.  READ THE F***ING MENU BEFORE YOU ASK ANY OF THEM.”  I say this because about 90% of the menu questions people ask are answered on the menu.  “What’s the dressing on the Chicken Salad?”  It’s on the menu.  “Does the burger come with onions?”  On the menu.  “How much is the Filet Mignon?”  Waiters don’t memorize prices because they’re ON THE M*****F****** MENU, you dolt.  This is only the start of the inane questions we get.  Questions like if we have pizza (at a Seafood Restaurant) or a vegetarian menu (at a Steakhouse).  Questions like, “If I leave my car here and then walk to the Hockey Game, will my car get towed?”  Really.  Do I look like parking enforcement to you?  Do I have one of those chalk-on-a-stick tire markers and an orange vest?  Why the f— would I be the person who would answer that question?

He's so hot....he's 98 degrees!  That's actually lower than regular body temperature.  Weird.

He’s so hot….he’s 98 degrees! That’s actually lower than regular body temperature. Weird.

4.  People want the restaurant to be as hot as a Nick Lachey band.
That’s 98 degrees for those of you who don’t specialize in 90s-Boy Band Trivia.  Even in Newport Beach, where the temperature always floats between 60 and 90 degrees, they want all windows closed and all heaters at full capacity.  They want bonfires in the middles of their tables and if a dolphin farts in the Pacific Ocean a hundred miles away, they want all the patio windscreens down.  And fast!  Let me explain to you how this feels when you’re a server.  First, I have a lot of muscle and a high metabolism, both of which make me warmer than most people.  Second, I’m taking some of those Green Coffee Bean Extract diet pills right now, which makes you even warmer.  Long story short story, we get really, really hot working in a restaurant, running around to retrieve your sauces one. at. a. time.  First you want more ranch; then you want more blue cheese; then, you want another side of ranch and bleu cheese.  Ranch and bleu cheese.  Boy, do you love your ranch and bleu cheese.  Boy, do you love asking us for ranch and bleu cheese.  Never mind that you’re already putting unheard-of pressure on our chairs and patio floor; you want a side of ranch to accompany your order of ranch on a plate.  Ranch on a Plate.  You’d probably order that, wouldn’t you?  By the way, shouldn’t all that extra fat around your bones keep you extra warm?  But no.  It’s the opposite.  So even on those gloriously sunny days where we blast the air conditioner so you’ll receive a pleasant gust of cool air as you walk into our restaurant, there’ll always be at least one joker who asks that we turn off the air conditioner.  Seriously.  Order some wine to warm yourself like a New Yorker would do.  When I was in Boston, we’d sit on the patio on a Sunday night in December WITH NO HEATER and I’d have to shed my jacket and my watch to cool down (watches make me very warm).  Californians.  You don’t know what hot means and you don’t know what cold means.  But anyway, don’t be the joker who wants to change the entire temperature of a restaurant just because you’re not happy and because you didn’t plan properly to bring your Chico’s or Old Navy jacket with you.  I understand that, judging by how you’re dressed today, you buy new clothes only when a sitting President loses re-election (1992), but seriously.  I’d rather stare at you in your powder-blue jacket from the 1970s than let you turn off our precious air conditioner.  Ironically, there’s a very special place in Hell for those people who ask for the air conditioner off when it’s a sunny Summer day; it’s ironic because you’d probably ask Lucifer if he could turn the thermostat UP a bit.

5.  Waiters are all really, really old.
Much like the ancient art of Stripping, I always thought Fine Dining Serving was a job designed for Law School students and others working their way through some state school that accepts people with less-than-2200 SATs (yes, Virginia, those people actually do exist.  And no, I don’t know how they live with themselves.  Do you?)  Sadly, I was mistaken.  Servers are old.  I don’t mean hot-girl-in-her-late-20s-so-the-bloom-is-off-the-rose old.  I mean Viagra-taking, Rogaine-applying, testosterone-supplementing old.  I mean old like fewer-than-a-dozen-eggs-left old.  In my restaurants, I’m considered YOUNG.  It’s like when I was one of the youngest associates ever at the internationally renowned Management Consulting firm where I used to work, before it all went wrong, before I traded in Black Cards for Black Aprons.  You know how advertisers strive really hard to reach that coveted 18 to 45 demographic?  Because people over 45 are pretty much invisible to the rest of us?  Yes….well, let’s just say that no one is advertising to my coworkers.  Well, I suppose that Shady Acres of Florida and all sorts of MediCare Supplemental Insurance companies are advertising to them.  But no one actually interesting.  I’ll frequently find my colleagues discussing things like TV Shows on CBS, What Being a Baby Boomer Is Like, How Much They Missed The Miss The 1960s, Why The Beatles are Better Than The Rolling Stones, Where They Were When Kennedy Was Assassinated, How Much a Cup of Coffee Cost in 1978, How Much Their Osteoporosis Medication Costs, and other profoundly interesting things.  Look, Baby Boomers—I get it.  I GET IT.  You miss your glory days when you would jump into the back of your El Camino and talk on the CB radio with creepy truckers.  Awesome.  AWESOME.  Now please shut the f— up and finish filling up your ice tea cups.  Seriously.  You know your coworkers are old when they have kids older than you.  They have CHILDREN OLDER THAN ME.  Some of them even have cats older than me.  Well, they’re feral cats….cats weren’t domesticated at that time, before things like computers or electricity were invented.  Anyway, if you ever wondered if you were too old to work in the restaurant industry, I have news!  You’re NOT.

So that’s part 1 of…..let’s say three parts.  I have tendency to start many things and finish only a few of them.  Still, that’s better than you, you who starts nothing and therefore finishes nothing, except for your ranch-drenched Blue Cheese Crumbles with Blue Cheese Dressing Salad, Topped with 100% Pure Gluten and 100% Pure Fructose Corn Syrup.  Good luck with that, champ.

Miss High Apron Wearer.

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I was in the middle of another intricate dissection into the allergy affectations of The Newport Diner when I realized that I’ve never really followed-up on one of my favorite waitresses of all time.  I’ve gotten so many questions about her.  She is Miss High Apron Wearer.  You know who you are.  I will tell you first that, as you may have ascertained, she wears her apron very high.  Way high.  She wears it (1) above her waist and (2) barely below her chest line.  This is the first thing you’ll notice about her.

Now I’ve been asked by many future-head-servers-in-training how to wear your apron.  There’s only one correct way to wear an apron.  This applies to the common two-pocket+pens-slot double-sided black apron of 27″ length (obviously the very best kind of apron) as well as other aprons, including but not limited to the lazy “half length apron” favored by cocktail girls and the supremely annoying three-pocket apron.  Who ever needs that third pocket?  And the third pocket is in the middle.  It’s the crotch pocket protector, I suppose.  And by the way, if you’re wearing a full body apron, you have a whole different post coming to you.

There’s only one correct way to wear an apron.  It must be worn below the waist, right on top of your belt, with low-rise pants, with the apron strings pulled around your back and tied neatly under your apron in the front.  This is how the International Association of Waiters, Waitresses, Butlers, and Butleresses have prescribed it and this is what you must do as well.  All other forms of apron wearing will be subjected to ridicule.  Hence, Miss High Apron Wearer, you are the subject of this post.

The next thing you’ll notice about Miss High Apron Wearer is that she’s always 9 minutes late.  I never understood these people, the ones who are always exactly on time in being late.  If you’re always the same number of minutes late to the job you’ve had for nearly a half-dozen years, why not just leave 9 minutes early?  It’s not like this your first day at work.  It’s not like you live far away.  And it’s not like you had so much else to do with your day besides shopping for craft supplies at Joanne’s Fabrics.  By the way, if you ever wanted to see what a Spinster convention looks like, drop on and look inside a Joanne’s Fabrics store.  It’s a store dedicated to fabrics.  It’s 2013….who is still buying fabrics a la cart?  Even Miss Havisham looks at the women shopping at Joanne’s Fabrics on a Friday night and says, “Wow, do I feel sorry for them.”  Seriously.  And I know that all you young spinsters out there know exactly who Miss Havisham is.

Even though she’s late to her 5 pm shift, she’ll proceed to fill up a 64-ounce Double Gulp with Diet Coke from the fountain.  This is her routine.  She’s finished a 64-ounce Double Gulp on her way to work and needs to refill it for her five-hour shift.  She stares blankly into space and declares how much she does not want to work at the same job she’s had for the past five years.  This is always curious…..there are more restaurants in the world than any other type of business and yet you choose to stay at this one.  She’ll then proceed to mention all the important work that she’s had to do for her liberal arts major at a local state school.  Liberal arts at a state school….I’ve discovered another oxymoron.  This will go on for another eight minutes before she’ll finally approach a table.  I will note that when she does approach a table, she’ll demonstrate her perfection of the earnest posture and polite voice necessary to succeed in the front of the house.  This is in stark contract to the marked condescension she displays with all her coworkers, all of whom are perhaps too chauvinistic to understand her deep appreciation of romance novels.

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The romance novels.  This is how she’ll spend her e x t e n d e d thirty minute break.  Never has anyone been so able to take thirty minutes and make it 42 like Miss High Apron Wearer.  She will sit in her decade-old German Fastback, slurping down yet-another-64-ounce Big Gulp of Diet Coke, and read the latest from Harlequinn.  42 minutes later, she’ll return to her post.  This is how I imagine her $97 of tips is spent each evening:  20% white wine; 20% Diet Coke; 10% Misc; 10% Traffic Tickets; 5% state school tuition; 35% books, of which 1/2 are Harry Potter and 1/2 are romance novels.

What she doesn’t do is save any of the $1s and $5s from her previous night’s work and BRING A BANK OF $80 TO WORK LIKE ANY PROFESSIONAL SERVER SHOULD ALWAYS DO.  Seriously.  It’s easier for you and easier for the manager.  It’s far easier than lumbering up to the bartender who’s already too busy discussing the failures of his life with one of his regulars, getting his attention, and asking him to change a $20 into small bills.  But noooo.  On her very first table of the night, she’ll ask for change.  Her excuse is even better:  “I don’t bring any cash to work so I’ll know how much I made that night.”  Or you could just remember how much money you had at the beginning of the shift.  There is that.

Finally, she’s one of those Servers Who Wear Their Sunglasses Into Work From Their Cars Even Though Their Cars Are Only 20 Feet Away.  She literally cannot be bothered to leave her sunglasses in her car for the 12 seconds it takes to get into the restaurant.  If you ever asked who these people are, now you know.  They’re high-apron-wearing, romance-novel-reading, Diet-Coke-at-work-refilling, sunglasses-keeping, Joanne’s-Fabrics-crafting, non-bank-bringing servers who, I might add, also obsessively claim that everyone else has stolen their pens.  It’s a restaurant and they’re pens.  They’re going to get lost.  You can always do what banks do and put a chain on it, if they matter so much to you.

Your life’s been declined.

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Your Card’s Been Declined.

Look. I understand. You’re trying to live the Newport Beach/Laguna Hills/Anaheim Hills version of The American Dream and, in the process, over-extended yourself (and your credit) a little. At first, it wasn’t too bad. When business slowed at your chain of tanning salons or at your anti-male-patterned-baldness herbal medicine business (that operated via Multi-Level Marketing), the expenses of your inflated lifestyle were only slightly exceeding your income. You had a little bit of savings but, more importantly, you had that most vital tool of conspicuous consumption: The Credit Card(s). You could still keep up all the appearances of a successful Orange County Middle Aged Man even if your businesses were slowly receding into oblivion.

So you kept living the way you were. You renewed the lease on your BMW 7-series (“The DoucheMobile”), kept adding more TapOut sleeveless shirts to your collection, and kept going to Target for your Cialis prescriptions. (Can I just make one slightly and very brief tangent here about prescriptions and pharmacies? And yes, I realize that my only sister, the one who used to feed me white bread topped off with a layer of granular sugar when our parents would leave us alone as latchkey kids, is a pharmacist but still, I must rant about this one thing. Why are pharmacies so bad at refilling prescriptions? Every time I go there to get my totally-not-related-to-anything-contagious prescription, it’s never ready. They have ONE JOB that takes three steps. (1) Get prescription. (2) Put pills in bottle. (3) Give prescription to customer. What could be simpler??)

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Anyway, even though your fortunes are declining, you’re still going to expensive restaurants with women half your age. At first, this wasn’t a problem for you. You had your credit cards. Gleaming plastic symbols of your purchasing power. You could take your arm candy to Louis Vuitton for the latest handbag and still buy an ostentatious mancelet (man bracelet) from the Gucci boutique. Nothing had to change. You could still take all your minions to a waterfront restaurant, let them have the “run of the house,” and put it all on your card. That’s the beauty of plastic. It can be made to look like anything–it can even look like success.

Here’s the problem with credit. Take this lecture from an Ivy League graduate with a degree in Economics and laurels from Nobel Prize winners. Credit compounds faster than that suspicious rash forming around your happy trail. Your debt GROWS FAST, is what I am saying. I know you’re so bad at math that can you never add up your subtotal and tip correctly but you must realize that if you take a $1000 restaurant bill and not pay it in full, it becomes nearly $1400 after two years, right? BY THE WAY, you all really need to learn how to add up your tips correctly. You’ve caused countless servers such consternation because of your sloppy, preschool-ish math. Your bill will be $87.25, you’ll leave a nice $24.75 tip, and you’ll total it up as $102.* SERIOUSLY. What the f— is that? Now the server has to put the lower amount and eat the lost $10. Your generous tip has become a less-than-20% $14.75 AND you’ve made the server feel like she just threw money away. Thanks, Blaise Pascal. THANKS A LOT. You make Euclid turn over in his grave and Pythagoras cry.

So all your years of “living large” have come to a head here, at one of our tables in our busy waterfront restaurant, when you hand me a fancy “platinum” card for your dinner for yourself, your mistress, your ex-wife, your kids, your business associate, and your groupies. (And a little aside to the credit card companies: when you call every single credit card you issue “Platinum,” it no longer is, in fact, anything close to platinum.) Your meal concludes and I hand you, the obvious The Alpha Male, the check for $992.45. Bottles of Cakebread and filets of Kobe beef aren’t cheap, you know. You hand me your card, I thank you and retreat to the POS, slide your card, and…..UGH. Out pops a little receipt saying, “Declined,” followed by some cryptic error message that the codebreakers during World War II would have issues deciphering. Guess what I do next? I try it again. That’s a little secret I want all of you to know. I don’t care if I become more wanted than Edward Snowden. I want all of you to know that we always try to swipe your card AGAIN if it gets declined the first time. Sometimes, you know….sometimes, it actually does work the second time. There. I’ve said it. Oooh. That little secret’s going on Wikileaks later this week.

I’ve tried it twice and now have two more copies of the “Declined” slip. Yay. So I approach your table meekly and with all the politeness I can muster in my jaded demeanor, I lie and tell you, “I’m sorry sir but something must be ‘wrong’ with your card and our computers. It’s just not going through.” At this point, I’m expecting you to tell me that I should try it twice. That’s a very common reply. But not you. NO. NOT YOU. HERE’S THE MOST GLORIOUS PART OF THIS WHOLE TRANSACTION. Since you know you’re already over-extended and since you know your card really might not work, you IMMEDIATELY HAND ME ANOTHER CREDIT CARD. You don’t even blink! You basically had me “test” your card, hoping it just might go through. What the hell is that? Because YOU can’t handle your finances, you put me through that uncomfortable situation where I have to tell you, in front of all your loved ones, that your card’s been declined, knowing full well that your card had very little left available to it? You literally had another credit card chambered and ready to go. You know we’re not supposed to be participants in your own twisted one-man game of credit card roulette, right?

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Amazingly, your second card from Last Chance Bank of North Dakota went through. Well, have fun paying that one off. Anyway, the one good thing to come out of all this is you left me an extra big tip. That’s usually what people do when they embarrass themselves.

THE END.

*I know all you readers had problems adding this up, too. I know.

Youth is Wasted on the Young.

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So California’s Board of Alcohol Beverage Control recommends that servers ask for ID from anyone who appears under the age of 30 if they order an alcoholic drink. Age verification is obviously a very important aspect of responsible service. And since I still get carded when watching R-rated movies, I also understand how a guest feels when someone asks for ID.

However, I’m getting waaaaay too many customers who pre-emptively flash me their IDs with me even asking. Look–I’ll be the judge of whether you look under 30 or not. And most of you do not look like you’re under 30. Many of you, in fact, are closer to the last 30 years of life than your first 30. I was actually going to ask you if you wanted to take advantage of our Senior Citizen’s Discount. I was actually going to tell you how nice it is that you took your GRANDkids out to dinner. So you can keep that wallet in your pocket and order drinks to your heart’s content. There’s really no danger of you being anything close to 30. The only numbers you need to worry about are your weight, your cholesterol, and your blood pressure. If your life were an hourglass, there would be more sand on the bottom than on the top, if you catch my drift. I don’t even care if you ordered Vodka Red Bulls in 2013, although a Kir Royal or Champagne Cocktail would be more suitable for your demographic. You could’ve walked in here with nothing but a $20 bill in your pocket and there would’ve still been no danger of you needing any sort of idenitifcation. Come on, now. Your face looks like it was born before the invention of sunscreen. It’s got more wrinkles than a bulldog-pug crossbreed. Really. I know you like to tan but feel free to apply something higher than SPF 15 to your sun-allergic face. Seriously. The moment you needed Botox injections was the exact moment when you no longer needed to travel with any ID to any bar in America. Congratulations on that! You really should be just watching CBS at home and eating Ovaltine or Malt-o-Meal with Tang, anyway, reminiscing about the days when you still were, in fact, the Belle of the Ball.

I really want to just stop you as you reach for your purse or wallet and say, “Oh, hey….that’s okay. Really. You can stop that now. I won’t be needing to see your ID. You’re ALL good. Trust me. I have zero doubt that your’re way over the age of 30. You can just keep your hands on the table. Save your ID for the cop who pulls you over when you’re going 45 in a 65 mph zone in your Chrysler Minivan. Settle down. Don’t you dare reach for that ID. I did not and never will be asking for your ID. The only time you’ll need your ID is when you go to pick up your Social Security check from the nearest welfare office. Seriously. The wrinkle factory called and they’re all out of wrinkles for you. The Sun called and wants its spots back.” You are not young any longer….is what I am saying.

Of course, the only revenge we have for these people is to card one person and completely NOT card her friend. Nothing is as fun as taking a pair of ladies and asking one of them for her ID and turning to the other and saying, “While I have reason to suspect that your young friend is under 30, I have absolutely zero reason to think that of you. Therefore, I do not need to see your ID. Just hers will do. Yes, she looks WAAY younger than you. In fact, I thought she was taking her mother out to a nice dinner. That’s very sweet of her.” That’s really the most fun thing in the world. I suggest we do it all the time. There’s really nothing better in the whole of the world than seeing the look on a woman’s face when she realizes that she looks a decade older than her same-age friend.

OH. OH. I forgot this one more thing. ONE MORE THING. For those of you that do get carded, feel free to take it out of your wallet-ID-holder-thingy to show it to us. When you leave it in, you always cover the year of your birth. That is, you cover up the one part of the ID that we actually need to see. While it’s HILARIOUS to see the degree to which you lied on your weight or hair color, we actually need to see the actual year of your birth to complete the age verification. Thanks and don’t forget the oil of olay.

Split This.

My favorite early-twentieth century novel by a Princeton graduate, The Great Gatsby, is about the perils and excesses of the Roaring 20s—America’s Jazz Age where anything goes and went and where third, fourth, and fifth courses were mandatory.  This was the past.

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The present….well, the present is something entirely different.  Even in Orange County’s richest city (by a complicated formula derived from median income, home value, and generally smugness), the $100 bottles of wine no longer flow freely and King Crab Legs are rarer than a matriarch in her 50s without Botox.  In fact, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend towards pairs of diners splitting their lunch.

What does it mean when you have a two-top sitting on your most valuable table and they end up splitting a $14 plate of Fish Tacos?  It means you just got hosed, Kenny.  You just got hosed.  This is $7 per person on a table that could seat four (or eight with a round “table” on top of the square table).  People who split a single entree are also not people who order too many add-ons.  Perhaps they’ll each tack on a cup of chicken soup.  Oooh.  Where does that get you?  It gets you an additional hour of waiting on this table.  See, people who split plates are at the restaurant not to dine and feast and generally channel the spirit of Bacchus but are rather there to talk.  To chat.  To engage in lengthy and primarily nonsensical discourse about their mundane lives.  They are not—to say in 80s parlance—going to “power lunch.”  They might even say they are in a rush but that’s the last thing they’re in, unless they’re in the band Rush and are planning to sit there for as long as it takes that progressive-rock band to get through another 4-hour set.  By the way, what the f— is up with progressive rock?  If I wanted to listen one band for half a day, I’d go to see part II (or III, or IV) of Wagner’s The Ring Cycle.  At least there’s a story there.  What’s the point of progressive music?  Okay, I get it.  You are really, really good at playing your musical instrument.  Great.  That and a box of rocks will get you a box of rocks.  Next, please.  This is why I love Ke$ha.  (See—she substituted a dollar sign for an S in her name, indicating that society demands the pretense of wealth in order to attain it.  Perfection.)

So the table that splits plates will, at most, earn you a $40 total check and an $8 tip.  They’ll mention that they have a birthday about six times throughout the course of your interactions with them, which begins at 12:01 pm and ends at 3:47 pm.  $8 for nearly four hours of waiting.  And you’ll be forced to deliver a free dessert and listen to their desperately-in-need-of-autotune rendition of Happy Birthday.  And I need to say this about birthdays, even if all this has been said before.  It’s a birthDAY.  Not a month.  Not a week.  This is far worse than Christmas being extended from December 25th to the entirety of all time between Halloween and New Years Day—at least with Christmas, we all get presents.  Nobody cares about your birthday but you, not even on the actual day of your birth, and we all care even less when it’s the week or the month of it.  And by about the fourth time that you mention it to me, I really, really want to know what exactly you want me to do about it.  You’re going to get that free cake you so desperately want but don’t need, not with your ever frequent forays into manatee territory.  Beyond that, the only thing I can offer you is a full-body rubdown topped off with the shocker, which is something I don’t do when I’m not on Pacific Coast Highway.  So there is that.

You can’t “split” things anywhere else.  You can’t go to Heat Ultra Lounge and ask to split the cover charge.  You can’t “split” a lap-dance from a dancer with your friend.  (You can, however, split your lap between two dancers.  That is true.  You have me there.)  You can’t split an airline ticket, movie ticket, concert ticket, or traffic ticket.  This is why restaurants are increasingly adding SPLIT CHARGES to your meal.  We’re charging you for the space, the ambiance, the entertaining and engaging service, and the clean-up services we provide.  We’re charging for the anguish you put us through when we have to ask the kitchen to split plates for us.  We’re charging you because you’re reminding us, yet again, why we so miss the days of Gatsby and Jordan Baker, even if Daisy Buchanan really was quite a heartless and uncaring person.