Tag Archives: frustration

I’m just your server, and many things are not my fault…

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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.

How to Treat Your Server Like a Human

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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?

Productivity?? What????? I’m Gonna Go Cry…

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This is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult by Hyperbole and a Half is one of my favorite blog posts of all time, and it greatly describes how I’m feeling right now.

Ahhh!!!!  I AM OVERWHELMED!!!  Who knew that working full time and planning a year-long trip and fundraising to make a documentary and going to the gym everyday and continuing to keep the house in order and having a social life would be so much to do?

I am especially discouraged right now because I was trying so hard to break out of my usual “really-bad-at-delegating-just-do-everything-myself” ways, but I pretty much failed.  Turns out, not delegating doesn’t work, but delegating doesn’t work either!!!!!  At least not when the others involved are just as busy as you are and just flat out don’t care as much, because they’re not the ones who went to film school and whose infant career is depending on this project.  Which is understandable, but still, just leads me back to doing everything myself.

I ended up a big PMS-ey, bawling mess last night because I was just so stressed out and felt like I was carrying the whole world on my shoulders.  And Zach can’t understand because he’s just Mr. Super Laid Back, like “There’s no hurry; it’ll get done when it needs to!” And I’m screaming, “I know it doesn’t NEED to get done now but I WANT it done now and DON’T YOU WANT TO MAKE ME HAPPY?????”  Ahhhhhhhhhh CRAZYPSYCHOGIRLFRIEND unleashed!!!  So we are at the impasse we always reach: my Type-A Stressball tendencies vs. his procrastinate ’til the last minute/just have fun/don’t worry about it ways.  Which I love about him to some degree, but sometimes…honestly….I want to take a syringe and inject a shot of pure stress right into his rear.  At what pharmacy can I find that?

This is an emo post with no real solution.  I’m ranting.  For something real to read, look at the posts Zach wrote recently: one on his blog about our Courchsurfing story, the other on the La Aventura Project website about our Arizona adventures.  He doesn’t think he’s a good writer but he really is.  I love him.  I’m just frustrated by life right now.  The end.

Sometimes we make schematics about things in everyday life…

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…because as Dane Cook says, who doesn’t love working with schematics?

This is the one I came up with last night:

Zach added the points and descriptions.  And don’t worry, Zach has never cleaned a bathroom which means I have never contemplated killing babies.  The addition of points on the y-axis for our birthdays prompted me to ask, “Does this mean my birthday present is going to be you cleaning the house?  Cause that’s kind of just as bad as getting an electric toothbrush for your birthday.”

It’s pretty sad how true this is.  He’s trying to help more though, and I’m trying to be more patient.  I know this is a normal part of learning to live together.  I’m glad we can laugh about our disagreements.

TMI about my teeth

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I really want to cry right now.  I just had the worst dentist appointment of my LIFE.  I seriously feel like this is some sort of cruel joke because everything I just got told came out of NOWHERE!!!!

I have a real job with benefits (even though I hate it and am quitting in two weeks).   So yeah, I figured “I’ve got insurance, I’m’a go to the dentist to get my teeth nice and purrdy!”  It’s been exactly a year since I had my post-Peace Corps dental check and x-rays.  Everything was declared “a-ok, lookin’ good” at that time.  And I’ve NEVER had a cavity in my life.  Ever.  So I went to a new dentist in Flagstaff today just expecting a routine cleaning and to ask about a possible retainer for a teeeeeny little overlap two teeth are doing.

Oh boy, was I unprepared for what was coming.  I got x-rays done and then immediately got worried when the dentist looked at them and started telling the hygenist to take notes of all these dental mumbojumbo things.  Dr. Happyface then gleefully translated to me that I have THREE cavities.  The jig is up.  Effffffff.

But that’s just the beginning.  He proceeded to stab all my teeth with the poker thing in order to reveal that I now have sensitivity problems and I need to start brushing with Sensodyne and using flouride mouthwash.  Cha-ching.  I’m sure that stuff’s not twice the price of Crest or anything.

Oh, and the nighttime teethgrinding I’ve been known to do but never had result in any problems?  It’s definitely worn down my teeth and he “highly recommends” a nightguard.  Of course, this costs $400 and my insurance won’t pay for it.  But it will save me bazillions down the road so it’s totally worth it, he assures me.

Oh, that little overlap?  I could maybe get Invisalign but I also have some issues with my molars aligning so I should probably just get braces again.  Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WTF was all that orthodontia I had as a kid worth if everything is coming to this??????

Of course that’s not the end.  The hygenist proceeds to measure my “gum pockets” and of course those are also all effed up also.  I definitely need to start using a Sonicare electric toothbrush to prevent further problems.  “How much are those?”  I ask warily, defeat in my voice.  “Oh, about $120.  But it’s totally worth it.  Most people who switch to them never go back.”  Yeah, buddy, that’s awesome.  I definitely want to cart an electric toothbrush around the world with me on all my life’s adventures.  And she proceeds to give me the same lecture and demonstration about how to floss they give you every freakin’ time that makes you feel like a two year old or like you’re wearing a “World’s Worst Flosser” t-shirt.  Except this time it’s even worse because I can almost read her thoughts as she judges that obviously all the dental debacles I am having are due to my own hygenic negligence.  I want to yell at her “I lived in Africa for a year and came back with no teeth problems whatsoever so all this junk going on now is not my fault!”

Good God, can I just get out of this place?  I was already half an hour late getting back to work.  (I *thought* I could easily fit this appointment into my lunch break, judging based on all my previous easy-peasy dental checkups.)  I was already holding back tears, voice wavering, as I stopped at the front to schedule my fillings.  I told Judgemental Hygenist I had never had fillings before, thankyouvermuch, so could she please explain what all was entailed/could I go to work after/what drugs would they give me (aka PLEASEEEEEE say you’ll give me laughing gas or knock me out or something cause I HATE PAIN!!!!!)?  No dice.  All I got the pleasure of scheduling for next Wednesday was a time to come in to get a novacaine shot in my mouth (probably two because the three cavities are spread on both sides) and then AN HOUR AND HALF of torture.  Omg.  I seriously wanted to cry.  And the kicker?  I asked if my insurance would cover all of this, seeing as it is supposedly medically neccessary , and of course I have a deductible and sliding scale and all that crap.  So what do I get to PAY for an hour and a half of torture?  $150.  Thanks for that final slap in the face, receptionist.  Thanks a billion.

Seriously guys, I’m horrified.  I do not understand at all how I went from having totally fine teeth to having this grab-bag of problems in ONLY ONE YEAR!!!  WTF???  It either makes me think that my Ohio dentist was a total slacker, or that this dentist is a golddigging torturous monster.  (Which does not seem like it should be possible since he is actually really attractive.)  So what should I do???  I’m seriously terrified to get these fillings and I CAN’T AFFORD all this other crap!  My day just went from happy to crappy.

Has anyone who’s had fillings tell me it’s not that bad????  Or is it really that bad??

Cracks Kill

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What a clever title, eh?????  You know it’s awesome.

Everyone knows that you can really drive 5 mph over the speed limit and never get a ticket, right?  Maybe even 10 mph over on the highway?  I don’t think I’m alone in this practice.  Well, I grew up in Ohio where the highway speed limit is 65mph, meaning I would drive 70-75mph.  Out west here though, the speed limit is actually 75mph!  That means Carrie gets to speed her way home at 85mph with no worries, baby!!!  Go go speed racer!!!

Well, an unfortunate consequence of this extremely high speed limit is that when rocks hit your windshield at 85mph, they do a lot more damage then they do at 75mph.  Or so I have come to believe, thanks to TWO little cracks I got in my windshield after only 5 months of having my current car.  Of course my cheapo Safe Auto insurance doesn’t cover glass repair, and I am BROKE, ugh!  Normally, I wouldn’t really care that much about the cracks.  But I am trying to be more responsible and on top of things lately, so I said to myself “Self, you know you should really just get those two cracks fixed NOW before they get worse.  Be a good responsible adult even though you don’t care about two tiny chips in your windshield.”  So I scheduled a repair with Safelite Auto Glass.  $145 was the estimate.  Again, ugh.

The Safelite guy came to my work to fix my windshield right where I was parked.  Convenient, right?  I was feeling all proud of myself for making this happen, when the repairman guy comes back inside and knocks on my office door and says “Umm…I just put the suction on the first one to fix it and it started spreading right away, so I can’t do it.  Sorry.  Here’s my manager’s business card; you should call him to see about getting a discount on a new windshield.”

AHHH!!!!!!  As soon as he left I turned to my co-worker Matt and asked, “Am I right in thinking he just told me that he broke my windshield more???????”  Matt goes, “Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.”  And sure enough, one of my cracks had spread from both sides, although it was still much smaller than a dollar bill.  I proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon freaking out about having to get a new windshield and how I could NOT afford that.  I even looked at switching to new insurance but that would cost even more.  In general, I was NOT feeling validated in my attempt to act like a responsible, on-top-of-things adult.  I was also feeling hatred for the fact that I must even have a car and fantasizing about moving to NYC sooner rather than later and going all-public-transportation.

Luckily, I refused to believe Mr. Safelite Windshield Breaker-Man and decided to call some other places.  I called the first place that came up when I googled “Flagstaff Auto Glass” and it was a little independently-owned shop.  The guy there seemed quite happy at the opportunity to steal a customer from Safelite and assured me that he could fix my windshield without having to replace it.  I was skeptical but holding onto a tiny grain of optimism so I took my car there the next morning.  He looked at my windshield, scoffed “They couldn’t fix that?” and told me he’d have it done in an hour.  I asked for a quote, just hoping it would be no more than the $145 Safelite had been planning to charge me, and get this????  “Fifty bucks,” said this amazing new-best-friend of mine.

Add to that the 15% coupon they had on their website, and I paid about $43 for the job.  You can still see a tiny bit of one of the cracks but as long as neither is in danger of spreading I am fine with that.  So, I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes Plan A fails for a reason.  Mr. Safelite Windshield Breaker-Man did cause me some frustration but in the end I paid only 1/3 of what I had originally intended to.  And I got a reminder that the biggest, most well-known company is not always the best or the cheapest.  Shop around, people.