A quick Yosemite recap is on Zach’s blog. Perhaps I’ll add more later, but for now I’m relishing the clean feeling I got from my last shower until next week. Bringing back the Africa style, yeah! We are just chilling near Lake Tahoe and trying to sleep well tonight before heading to Burning Man tomorrow!!!!
I’m posting this now as a filler while I’m on the road. This happened back in July but I didn’t feel comfortable posting it while still an employee of that restaurant. There are some nasty stories of servers posting too much online, managers finding it, and them getting fired. Although I don’t think this post ever had potential to get me fired, I chose to be safe rather than sorry. So here it is now, an old post from July 4th:
Disclaimer: My restaurant almost always runs smoothly. Today was just an exception. So if you’re looking for a place to eat in Flagstaff, know that my restaurant is awesome and this was just one very rare, very messed-up day.
Let me tell you the story of my day, a day in the life of a restaurant server. It’s the 4th of July, and I have to work. That’s fine with me, actually, because we’re expecting it to be busy since the 4th of July parade goes right past the restaurant.
To be prepared for a busy holiday, we had three servers on instead of the usual one. Myself and one other girl who’s very experienced, and the third server kind of new but usually really awesome. The one front-of-house manager was also bartending, and we had a host. The kitchen, however, for some reason did not seem to be prepared for the busy day. They only had two cooks working!!!! What???? Warning bells!!! Before we even opened we had parade-goers popping in the door asking what time we opened and/or if they could use our bathroom. We were all ready to go in the front of house, hoping for a big-money day. Other girl was smart enough to take the patio for her section (an opportunity I would later regret passing up on), so guy and I were rotating tables inside. As soon as we opened at 11am we got a big rush of tables. After the initial hubbub of getting drinks and orders taken for my sudden five tables, I was fine. Keeping up on refills and setting utensils and appetizer plates and everything. Tables kept steadily coming in and I kept getting their orders taken and drinks out like a pro. It didn’t take long, however, for us to realize that the two poor kitchen guys were going insane. The restaurant was 3/4 full and there were only two of them. Why didn’t they have more people scheduled? I have no idea. The manager back there kept saying “You have to slow ’em down guys, you have to slow ’em down…” Well, I’m sorry dude, but I’m not going to purposely wait to take an order when it’s clear that a table is ready. That just makes slow service my fault when clearly this quagmire we’re about to be in is entirely your fault. I go back out to the floor, make sure drinks are full and no one seems too antsy yet at my tables. I notice one table that belongs to other guy that still has menus and no drinks despite the fact they’ve been there for a few minutes. (We’ll call them Old People Table.) I check with him to make sure he’s got it and he says he does. A few minutes later, they still have their menus and one of them clearly gives me a “Come help us!” look. So I go over, apologize for their wait, and take their whole order. Other guy comes up to me right after, asks if they’re mad, I say “No, I think they were just a little impatient,” and offer to tell him what they want. He says “No, you can just take it.” Great, so now he’s generously (sarcasm) giving me an extra table that’s already irritated because of his lack of attention. A.k.a. some extra work with the chances of a good tip already ruined.
Meanwhile, two of my tables are getting pissed. (We’ll call them Angry Table 1 and Angry Table 2.) They both have kids, so I understand. I go back to the kitchen yet again to check on their food…still not coming. I ask the kitchen guys to please make the kids’ quesadillas first so at least their kids can start eating. I refill chips and salsa for the table that ordered it and go ahead and take it off their bill (paying for it myself). I get free chips and salsa (on me) for the other table while they wait. I make sure everyone’s drinks are always full, explain that the kitchen is backed up, thank them for their patience, and apologize profusely. Thankfully, this whole time, most of my tables are pretty cool. It’s just these two that are impatient. At this point, I know that it’s just not going to turn out well, but I try to keep smiling and just control what I can. Finally, the first quesadilla is ready and I immediately take it to the kid at Angry Table 1. The rest of their food comes shortly (finally!) and in all they wait about 40 minutes. I check on them after a few bites and ask if everything is good, and they nod/affirm. Finally the first quesadilla is ready for Angry Table 2 (they had ordered 2 for 2 kids) and I run it immediately so the kids can have something to munch on. As soon as I walk past them again they complain to me that the quesadilla is “way too greasy; it’s a GREASE-adilla.”* (Hahaha, brilliant play on words guys!!!!) I apologize again, and tell them I’ll have the kitchen remake it and make sure their second one is better also. They say now they only want ONE quesadilla better cooked. Ok, deep breath. I’ll have it for you as soon as they make it. Then, as luck would have it, Angry Table 1 HEARS Angry Table 2 complain about the Grease-adilla and decides to tell me as I walk past them (after checking on them earlier) that their quesadilla was “exactly the same, way too greasy and disgusting!!” But the kid already ate it. Lol. Here’s a hint for all you readers: If you’re going to complain about food, do it before the food is half or totally eaten!!! That’s the only way your complaint will be taken seriously!!! Of course I apologize profusely some more, offer to have a new one made, offer them free dessert, etc. They refuse it all and ask for their bill. Angry Table 2 gets their new quesadilla and the rest of their food. (Again, 40 minutes. Way longer than it should take.) They also refuse my offer of free dessert. They ask to speak to the manager and I send him over. He discounts their food and they pay and leave. Angry Table 1 pays but then asks to speak to the manager also. (Copycats!!!!) I ask him to go over there as soon as he gets a chance, but he’s also bartending so he’s busy too. Not two minutes later, I walk out again and they’re leaving. One lady says to me “Well, we would have loved to speak to the manager, but now we just want to get out of here!” I politely as possible tell her, “That’s our manager right over there, I asked him to come speak with you when he had a chance but feel free to approach him on your way out.” Which they never did. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So all in all, both Angry Tables got free chips and salsa, were offered free dessert but refused it, had the chance to speak to the manager, and I can honestly say I gave them the BEST SERVICE I COULD POSSIBLY GIVE. It was the freakin’ kitchen, people!!! I’m sorry!!! Angry Table 2 still tipped me 10%. Woohoo for mercy. Angry Table 1 though? Their bill came out to about $80 and they left me………..27 cents. And that’s just because they wanted their credit card transaction to be an even dollar amount. (So I didn’t even claim the tip to spite them….mwahahaha!!!)
Now let’s get back to the drama of Old People Table. They finally get their food after about 40 minutes and only asking me one time if it was coming (overall good patience compared to everyone else). They also refuse free dessert. Then, to make a bad day even worse, I go to swipe their credit cards and our system is not accepting them. It just totally pooped out. That has never happened before but as luck would have it, it happened on an already crazy day!!! We were about to have to comp everyone’s food and put a “Cash Only” sign on the door, lol. So they waited another 15 minutes just to pay while the manager called the General Manager to get her to run down here on her day off and fix it. So I’m bugging him incessantly asking what to do for my table that wants to leave while he’s bartending and calling her and trying to fix the computers. Argh! Eventually we just let them pay with a check and the GM came down and fixed the system. Crisis averted. By this time, the cooks had finally gotten another guy to come in early and help them. He was working crazily helping them catch up for a good two hours before even having a chance to clock in or change into his work clothes, lol.
Oh man. So all in all, a ****show of a day. It’s no wonder every single server was found at the bar after the lunch shift ended. (Other girl never had many problems though…people who sit on the patio are always more chill…I shoulda known…d’oh!) Oh, and the people at Angry Table 1 ALREADY left a scathing yelp! review which rightfully criticizes the wait-time but flat-out lies about my service.
So the main purpose of this story is not to get you to feel sorry for me but just to get you to think about how much of it is actually your server’s fault when you have a bad experience at a restaurant. We are the public face but there are so many things that are out of our control. Overall today, my sales were over $500, but I only made $80. With sales like that, and for how hard I worked, I should have made $100, so that’s pretty crappy. (I jokingly asked the kitchen to tip me out, yeah right.) Honestly people, what can we do to make you happy??? I bought you appetizers out of my own pocket and offered you free dessert! My argument is this: when you have a bad experience that is out of the server’s control, you have every right to complain to the manager, get a discount, write a bad review about the food, whatever. But TIP YOUR FREAKIN’ SERVER if it’s not their fault.
What do you guys think? Anyone have any restaurant horror stories, either from a server or customer point-of-view? What should I have done differently? Did this help you understand what goes on in a restaurant better?
*At least the other servers and I got a free GREASE-adilla. It was delish.
Do me a favor. Start here. Meg’s post about doing things we’re afraid of is so well written and TRUE.
There was a short but bright rainbow in the sky tonight. A sign of good luck for the start of our journey tomorrow! It’s been a weekend of goodbyes and wrap-ups. Packing sucked. As usual, I found myself with a way-too-big pile of “essential” clothes and a way-too-small suitcase. Trying to convince myself that I don’t need these, I really don’t need these, I don’t! Who cares about variety? The car is packed to the gills with camping supplies, clothes, food, and camera equipment. But I’m sure we’re still forgetting something. The rest is in boxes in a closet here. So of course I’ll come back, because after a year of only what I stuffed in one suitcase, I’m gonna want to see the rest of my clothes again!
It’s been a year. A seemingly quiet one compared to last year, but I still can’t believe all that’s happened. I’ve learned how to live with someone in a real, day-to-day, “in this for the long haul” relationship, survived our first real fights, and found myself more in love than ever. I’ve worked two new jobs and started my own business. I’ve learned to snowboard, tried rock climbing, hiked long distances, cliff jumped from 50 feet, and climbed my first two mountains. I’ve been to Mexico for the first time. Biked many miles, saved many dollars, made new friends, started to integrate into a whole other family. Tasted western microbrews and Spanish wines. Shared so many homemade pizzas with couchsurfers from around the world. What a year.
The next one is going to be even better. A circular journey that will take us through two continents and back. The western US, Ohio again, all of South America, and back to Ohio by August 2012. After that, who knows? These next six weeks we’ll be living out of the car, couchsurfing, exploring new national parks, and going to Burning Man. I do have several goals for our time on the road:
1. Study Spanish every day.
2. Hike or run every day. Work my way up to running a 10k.
3. Dumpster dive.
4. Keep the car clean and organized.
5. Take amazing photographs.
6. Keep up this blog.
7. Eat healthy.
8. Enjoy myself!!!!!
So tomorrow we begin. First a quick stop in Las Vegas, for Zach to sell some of the scrap copper wire he’s collected at work. Yes, we really are that poor. And as Zach said “What great story doesn’t start with driving to Vegas to sell something?” Lol. Then to Death Valley NP in California, where apparently the highs can be over 120 degrees this time of year. Yikes. Now it’s time to share a bottle of wine in hopes of being able to sleep tonight. I’ll catch up with you again from somewhere in California!
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”-Christopher McCandless
I recently received a Home-Try-On kit from the awesome eyewear company Warby Parker. They’re a young, hip, new online glasses retailer doing some really innovative things. They actually give away a pair of glasses for every pair you buy. And they’ll send you 5 pairs to try on at home for 5 days. After receiving my 5 pairs, I think I know which ones I like best, but I thought I’d throw it out there to the blogosphere too. So away we go with some silly Photobooth pics to show you my options!
So, which pair should I get? I can only afford one, if that! Cast your vote in the comments!
On our walls right now are two different world maps:This one is our Couchsurfing map. Every time we host someone, we have them put a pin in the place they consider “home.” In the last year, we’ve hosted over 50 people from over 20 countries! I don’t know where everyone who wants to see the Grand Canyon will stay once we’re gone! As you can see, the majority of our surfers have been from Europe, many from North America, and some notable outliers from Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Nepal, Taiwan, and China! Many of these pins also represent awesome new friends who we hope to see again on our travels! We already have couches almost everywhere we’ll want to go in Europe someday!
This is our map. The 3 different colors of pins mean something here. Pink is for places I’ve been, brown is for places Zach’s been, and green is for places we’ve both been. We intend to add a lot more green! The past year has been spent building up good karma by hosting so many travelers. One week from today we are getting in the car. Our year of travel-as-a-lifestyle begins in California. It’s time to work on our map, baby!!!
After several years as a waitress, there are some things I just need to say!!!! If you care about behaving like a decent person when you go out to a restaurant, here is some advice from one who knows!!! And for the sake of this post, the personal pronoun “I” really stands for ALL SERVERS you will ever meet in life.
1. Don’t act like I’M inconveniencing YOU when I come to the table! You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve gotten rude facial expressions or even words, telling me to “Go away, we’re not ready yet” or something after I’ve given a table plenty of time to decide on their order. If you want to take your time and aren’t in a rush, just tell me that nicely in the first place. Otherwise I’m going to assume you came in to actually EAT so don’t get fresh with me for trying to serve you promptly!
2. Realize what’s going on around you, and that I’m not the only one serving you. I take your order, but the bartender makes the drinks, and the cooks make your food. Hence, if your drink order is taking awhile, it’s not my fault!!! Same goes for the food. If you see me hovering at the bar pleading with the bartender to hurry it up, know that I am doing my best for you!
4. Order preemptively. If I come by and ask if anyone wants another drink, and you are anywhere close to finishing yours and know you will want another, just order it! There is nothing more annoying than a large table where one person asks for one more thing each time I bring something to the table. Get in sync, people! I should not have to make six consecutive trips just to get you one more round!
3. If you’re going to complain, have a solution in mind. I hate it when people tell me something is wrong but then reject every offer I make to correct the problem! First of all, if something is wrong with your dish, stop eating it and tell me ASAP! “Problems” reported about things you’ve already practically finished will NOT be taken seriously. Duh. But, if you don’t want your food remade, don’t want to speak to the manager about a discount, or don’t want a free dessert, why are you even telling me??? You are a complainer for complaining’s sake and I’d rather just not hear about it if you’re not going to let me fix the problem.
4. Something small but significant: make it obvious when you’re ready to pay! Stick the cash or credit card out of the top of the little black book, and stand it up or put it somewhere different on the table. I HATE it when people just stick their card inside and leave it exactly where I placed it. That makes me have to guess whether or not there is something in there, and believe it or not I am not psychic. And there is nothing more awkward then having to go up to a table and ASK if I should take the check. If you’re not ready, it just makes it seem like I am rushing you, when really I was afraid that I was keeping YOU waiting. So stick your freakin’ credit card out the top, people!!!
5. Don’t think you can make up for a bad tip by being super nice to me. This is known as the “verbal tip.” Honestly, it’s just like an extra-hard slap in the face. If you’re really nice and complimentary the whole time, then I’m going to expect a good tip. Not getting one from such nice people makes me lose my faith in humanity. I can’t take your compliments to the bank.
6. I make $4.35 per hour. That’s NOTHING. My checks are like a bonus. I live on tips. 20% OF YOUR BILL IS THE NORMAL TIP FOR A GOOD SERVER!!!! (I’m talking to you Euros, you’re in America now.) So, you should always start with the idea of tipping 20%. If the service is bad and it is clearly the server’s fault, you can deduct. If the service is AWESOME, or you feel like being extra generous, feel free to tip over 20%!!! But you should never tip less than 20% for good service in this day and age. Also, guess what? I don’t even get to keep all of those tips you give me. At the end of the night, I give 10% of my total tips to the bartender, another 10% to the busser, and 5% to the host. So I only even keep 75% of the tips I make!!!! Also look at it this way: when you tip me, you’re also tipping everyone else who’s working to serve you!
I’m sure I will think of more of these later so perhaps I will add to this post. But for now, keep this post in mind next time you go out to eat! What do you think? Have you done any of these things I just warned about? Or are you always an awesome customer and appalled that others are not?
I took this picture in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya, in 2007. The camera was a crappy point and shoot but I think to this day it’s one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken, compositionally. This Acacia was the only tree in the middle of the enormous plain. In my time in Africa I’ve seen plenty of Acacias (I had one right behind my house in Tanzania and have some cool pictures of it too) but I still think they’re the coolest trees in the world.
So, getting a tattoo is on my Thirty by 30 list. I’ve been set on the location (shoulder-blade) and the words in my envisioned tattoo for a long time, but I keep waffling on the picture. Lately I’ve been thinking that an Acacia tree would be perfect! It could have color, meaning, and even be based on this picture that I took! Including the road would be awesome and meaningful too. Plus, it’s African-themed without being obvious (my first idea was an outline of the continent of Africa) and fits perfectly with the words I want: “Tupo pamoja” meaning “We are together” in Swahili.
What do you think?????