Pane in the Glass.

Okay, this is going to be a quick rant (I hope) because it has to do with something I am a THOUSAND percent sure no one has EVER thought about.

If you go to a restaurant that has a glass door, DO NOT TOUCH IT.

I know. That sounds weird. But I’m serious.

One of the jobs of a host is to clean the door, window, pastry case, etc. multiple times each shift.

That means that I have to pause from running around and taking peoples’ names, etc. to grab a spray bottle and newspaper (towels leave residue) and run to the front to wipe down the door, case, and counter.

And here’s where things get awesome: While I’m cleaning, I will sometimes have to step aside to let people enter or exit. AND PEOPLE WILL PALM THE GLASS TO OPEN THE DOOR.

WHILE I AM STANDING THERE WITH A SPRAY BOTTLE IN MY HANDS.

BLATANTLY HAVING *JUST* CLEANED THAT VERY PANE.

This is not a joke.

I went to Busboys and Poets the other day on 5th Street and saw that their entire door is just one big pane of glass. I asked the hostess if it was her responsibility to wipe it down? and she looked at me, startled, and said, “Yes, yes it is. How did you KNOW that??”

And I understood her shock.

Because NO ONE thinks about who has to clean the door.

Ever.

Listen, I get it. Doors are gross ’cause everybody’s been putting their hands all up IN that. But seriously, people. It’s called a sleeve. Or an elbow.

If there is absolutely NO way to open that door without licking your fingers, adding some BBQ sauce to the thumbs, and pressing your palms squarely into the center of the glass, then please do so gently. And say an apologetic prayer for the hostess as you leave.

Otherwise, try to think of someone else for a change and realize that all of the things you take for granted on a daily basis? Those things are called “tasks” for other people.

And they suck.

I’ve got 99 Problems…

…but an attitude ain’t one.

Listen, I can’t stand stupid people any more than the next guy.

But that includes people from both sides of the host stand.

Yes, I rant about people who come into restaurants and own the place, but the bottom line is that the customer is, indeed, always right.

I don’t care how much of a moron the person is– as a professional, you are not allowed to be snappy or equally stupid in return.

The following are a few traits I have observed first-hand (or heard of from friends) that I 100% condemn:

(1) Ignoring a table– This actually happened over the weekend. My mom and I went wedding dress shopping with my future sister-in-law at george’s on the Main Line (outside of Philadelphia). The place was very cute (and very new) and the hostess was ADORABLE. (Pretty sure it was her first week– I give her a month before that smile turns into a wolverine-esque snarl and a set of forehead wrinkles). Anyway, we sat down, the server took our order and…. we never saw him again. Like, literally. Not one more time. (Okay, that’s not true. I saw him hanging out by the bar.)

No joke, though, this other SUPER cheerful server helped us out (as he did the other 5 tables in the room that weren’t his) and the hostess and bartender got us carry-out boxes and our check when we’d been waiting at our table for nearly 30 minutes without having been able to summon anyone to come our way.

Needless to say, I persuaded my mother to tip the server who’d actually HELPED us, leaving “ours” the 10% he hardly deserved.

As I’ve said before, I am ALL for tipping on account of good service– and tipping generously. That said, a tip should reflect the service rendered. And this service was non-existent.

(2) Blatant annoyance– This happened to me at Boxcar Tavern in the heart of Eastern Market. The place itself is freaking adorable. Like, totally charming. I’d stumbled upon it while wandering around the Market on some idle Sunday before work. The hostess was super hospitable and even offered to take my cell number so she could call me when my table was ready (I give her 2 months before she wants to shoot everyone who asks her to do so). Anyway, when we were eventually seated, our server came out and seemed almost annoyed that we were there. And, having been there, I can understand this. What I canNOT understand is why someone who is working for tips exclusively would jeopardize her ‘paycheck’ by being visibly annoyed at a table. As in, we saw her like twice the entire time we were there, and when she did come by, she wouldn’t even look at us and seemed irritated that we were even sitting there (I think she was just jealous of my cute date, personally, but that’s another story) ;). And she didn’t even bring our food out (which is fine– but you HAVE to follow up and make sure everything came out okay. I mean, c’mon).

(3) Pressuring customers– This one was told to me by my brother’s fiancee. She said she was at Agora, an “adorable Greek restaurant” in her words. In fact, when she later Yelped about her experience, she said she wanted badly to give the restaurant 5 stars because of the delicious food and the mesmerizing atmosphere, but that she just couldn’t bring herself to do it– because of the hostesses.

Now listen up, hostesses of the world: YOU HAVE ONE JOB. While it entails a million micro-jobs, your job is to get people into the restaurant in some kind of a timely manner. That involves math, as I’ve stated before. Lots of math. And it involves a VERY strong will when you’re forced to take the criticism and insults of hungry patrons whom you’ve upset.

In this particular instance, my brother and 5 of his friends (and fiancee) had made reservations for 7pm at this restaurant. When they got there at 6:55pm, the three girls got out of the car so the boys could park.

**Point +1 for customers (arriving on time for their reservation)

When they told the hostesses that they were there for their 7pm reservation, the hostess told Steph (fiancee) that they couldn’t be seated until the entire party had arrived.

**Point -1 for staff (THEY HAD MADE A RESERVATION! THAT TABLE WAS RESERVED FOR THEM, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY PEOPLE HAD SHOWN UP!!)

No lie, I don’t care if ONE person from a reservation has arrived– those people reserved that table, and YOU have placed it strategically into your plan for the night– so DON’T SCREW UP ALL THAT STRATEGIZING by denying them entrance!!

I digress.

The hostess told Steph and the girls that they could sit at the bar while my brother and the boys parked.

When the boys finally showed up, the hostesses told them (and I am NOT kidding you here) that “Because they had arrived late, they only had an hour to eat because we need that table for another party”.

**Point -1 for the staff (YOU NEVER TELL A PARTY THEY ARE ON A TIME BUDGET. Ever. Not even if they’re “camping” and you hate them. Not even if they’ve stayed past usual closing time. I don’t care HOW pissed you are at them. You. Do. Not. Do. That.!)

**Point -1 for the staff (If you had LET them in when they’d arrived, they’d have already ORDERED for everyone and you wouldn’t even BE in this situation!)

What’s more, the hostess came up IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR MEAL and asked Steph if she had gotten drinks at the bar. [Duh. You SAW me drinking at the bar.] Steph answered ‘Yes’ and the hostess told her (again, IN THE MIDDLE OF HER MEAL) that she would need to pay for the drinks now because they couldn’t transfer them to the table.

**Point -1 for the staff (You NEVER interrupt a meal to deal with monetary issues. Ever. If you absolutely NEED to address the issue immediately, have the server do so. You are the hostess. You host. You do not ruin peoples’ experiences.)

Finally, when the Cinderella hour was up, the hostess had the audacity to point to my brother’s table and tell a waiting party, “Yeah, THAT’S your table over there– We’re just waiting for them to get up”.

Now, let me clarify. Many a times have I gone out to the lobby and told a waiting party that their table was clearing soon. I’ve even joked around with them about kicking the people sitting there out (This lessens the tension and makes the customers feels like you’re on their side– which you always should be). But I have NEVER done what happened next:

The hostess actually went to the table and told my brother & co. that she needed the table.

This girl should be fired.

From this and every job she ever applies to.

What. an. idiot.

 

When Steph told me that story, I was ashamed. Legitimately ashamed. I felt like everything I rant about on this blog had been for nothing.

So it’s important for me to clarify that while my rants are typically targeted at the average idiot diner, I do not discriminate. I am fully aware that workers themselves can be just as ignorant as the non-industry public. And these kinds of behaviors are inexcusable, too.

 

In closing, to all of my restaurant workers out there: Please make these rants worth the effort. Do not behave the same way so many of our customers do.

Just think of it this way: By treating the customer in the same manner they’ve been treating you, you are stooping to their level.

And Heaven knows we do NOT want to sink that low.

(For the record, this kind of thing is ALSO something I do not condone. C’mon people. We’re supposed to be taking the higher ground here.)

Wait, WHAT?

I just came across this video and HAD to share it.

(1) I don’t know WHAT this girl is on, but

-(a) A host’s job is NOT to just “stand there and look pretty”

-(b) If that’s your job, I don’t see how in Justin Bieber’s name that could ever get “tiring” (??)

-(c) She seriously needs to stop laughing like that

(2) Is it just me or is this guy EXTREMELY inappropriate?? And what the heck job was he snickering about at 1:30?? Pretty sure this dude’s on a list somewhere. And not the one I was talking about in my last post. Not that one.

#thatawkwardmomentwhen

Let me guess…

Okay, so this is something that I doubt anyone would EVER think twice about.

Unless they worked in a restaurant.

But it happens all. the. time.

I’ll be rushing around the restaurant, trying to make sure the place doesn’t implode, all the while helping to bus and water (read: drop water bottles at) tables in an attempt to appease the hungry masses… and I’ll get a phone call.

But not just ANY phone call.

A phone call that goes something like this:

————————————————————————————

“Hi, what’s the wait like?”

…[Immediate instinct: Hang up.]

FORHOWMANY?

“…Oh, eh, well, um, er, like, um, four?”

[Look at watch in meantime, wondering why caller didn’t already have this information ready]

Well, RIGHT NOW, like, if you came in RIGHT AT THIS VERY SECOND, it would probably be about a 15-minute wait.

“Oh, well, what if we came in in like 45 minutes?”

[Impulse: Attack.]

I can’t estimate that, sir, I’m really sorry. There’s just no way for me to tell.

“Oh, well… can I put my name on the list now?”

[Impulse: Slap through phone]

No, sir, I’m sorry, we don’t take call-aheads.

[HANG UP.]

———————————————————————————–

For those of you who don’t understand why that conversation would be annoying, let me shed some light on the situation.

(1) HOSTS ARE NOT PRESCIENT.

We cannot tell the future (believe it or not) and we sure as Hell cannot tell you HOW LONG THE WAIT WILL BE IN 45 MINUTES.

Think about what you’re asking me.

Does that even SOUND logical anymore??

So basically, you’re asking me to predict what’s about to happen.

Okay. Let me give it a try. I predict that in 12.6 minutes, a group of 37 preteen girls dressed in tutus and tiaras will come in, comandeering our entire restaurant for the next two-and-a-half hours. After that, a man in a lizard suit will sit at table 23 and order hash browns and herbal tea, while a girl with lemon-colored knee-highs gets into a fight with her boyfriend over how he eats his eggs.

Sounds crazy, huh?

Yeah. Thatsbecauseitis.

Asking me THAT question is the exact same thing as asking me how long the effing wait is going to be an hour from now. I don’t know! I have NO WAY of knowing who will walk into that restaurant, nor do I have any idea how long people will be sitting there.

(2) Furthermore, NO YOU MAY NOT PUT YOUR NAME DOWN ON THE WAITLIST.

The waitlist is reserved for people who are here AND WAITING.

It is not called the I’M-STILL-IN-MY-BATHROBE-BUT-AS-SOON-AS-I-GET-DRESSED-I’M-GOING-TO-GET-IN-THE-CAR-AND-DRIVE-THROUGH-DC-TRAFFIC-TO-GET-THERE-I-PROMISE list.

Find a restaurant that has THAT list and I will move you to the top of mine. Permanently.

It’s RUDE to try to put your name on a list whose purpose is for people who have made the effort to actually come in and physically find out how long the wait is.

(3) My last point has to be saved for an entirely new post, because it drives me INSANE.

But the gist of it is as follows: PLEASE DO NOT EXPECT ME TO KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN YOUR PARTY.

Again, I am not a psychic.

I’ll race you.

Okay, this is going to be a quick post because apparently it could get controversial.

I just happen to think it’s MIND-BLOWING and needs to be shared.

On Friday I was having an unusually calm day at work, with only patient and happy customers and no I’d-like-to-hurt-you-now moments.

It was a very normal, uneventful day of me seating customers, handing them menus, and cheerfully moving on.

Around 2pm, I sat a couple at the table closest to me and continued on with my duties around the restaurant. About 10 minutes later, I noticed that their server had approached their table after being summoned by the male. He began speaking to her with increasing urgency and pointing to the table next to them where a group of four tourists were seated. I could tell by the server’s face that she was baffled by what he was saying to her.

Finally, the female of the couple clarified to their server, “He just wants to see the dessert menu,” to which the server replied, “Oh, okay, well we only have the desserts listed on the board above me. You can also look in the pastry shelf to see what we have for the day. Milkshakes are the only thing listed in the menu.”

I got distracted by something else at that point and walked away, but I saw the server storm to the back. When I got back there, she said, “I seriously cannot HANDLE this guy” and brushed by us to get some air out back. I figured he was being a typical ignorant customer.

I didn’t know the HALF of it.

I finally followed the server out back to make sure she was okay (because I have sure as Hell been in that situation before) and walked out just in time to hear her explain to another server, “And he pointed to the table next to him and said, ‘I want a FRESH menu.’ I was confused and asked him what he meant, and he said, ‘The hostess is a RACIST. She gave me a CRINKLED menu and it doesn’t have the DESSERTS on it.‘”

Cue moment of hesitation, followed by explosion of laughter.

I think I burst out laughing because that was just the most INSANE thing I had EVER heard in possibly my entire LIFE.

Not only had I not had a SECOND of interaction with this table beyond seating them 30 minutes prior, but our menus are made of PAPER. If you splash a drop of WATER on them, they’ll “crinkle”. We usually don’t even HAVE any smooth ones unless we get a brand new shipment or something (which happens roughly every 3 months). So the whole situation was MIND-BLOWING.

Tip for the day: Your host is not RACIST if s/he gives you a “crinkled” paper menu. If you really do NEED a flat one, I’m sure she’ll give you one (I would have, GLADLY.)

S/he’s also not “racist” if she seats you in the second table by the middle back wall, or if s/he walks less than 8 miles per hour, or if s/he takes 2.435 seconds to enter a table into her system before greeting you, or if s/he wears her hair in a ponytail. For the record.

Sometimes, restaurant workers ARE blatantly racist. It happens. And if it does, you. will. know.

Case in point:

Or this:

Or this:

Or even THIS:

Friday was NOT one of those times.

As it were, I was working Friday morning with four servers: three African Americans whom I love DEARLY and one latino who can make me laugh no matter how heinous my day has been.

Please look around before you make sweeping judgments like that.

Or just don’t make them.

It just makes YOU look ignorant.

Empathy, people. Empathy.

Holy GOD this is the most outrageous thing I’ve seen in a LONG time.

The other week, a banker left a 1% tip on a $133 check in order to ‘protest’ the 99% movement.

[Copyright futureexbanker.wordpress.com]

 

DUDE.

SERIOUSLY??!!

I ABHOR the Occupy movement. With a fiery passion. Ask anyone. I think they’re disorganized and sloppy, and they smell like a mixture of weed and mud.

But I would NEVER take my hatred for them out on HARD-WORKING AMERICANS.

Douchebag banker man, do you even RECOGNIZE the absurdity in what you just did??! Essentially, you are CONFIRMING everything the Occupy movement has been wrongly accusing the 1% of embodying. What is WRONG with you??!

And to make matters worse, he left a “tip” of his own, much like the ones posted in the Perspective portion of this blog’s menu: “Get a real job”.

EXCUSE ME???!! A REAL job??! Dear sir, please go tell that to the people destroying McPherson Square with their pointless protests while they interfere with the daily workings of the city and contribute absolutely NOTHING to society. Do NOT reprimand an industrious server for finding work and helping to propel the dying economy!

I have TWO Ivy League degrees, a year of PhD work behind me, and I’m working on a second Masters. AND I STILL WAIT TABLES. Why? (1) I need money, fool! I live in DC and am trying to make myself an upstanding and influential member of society. That takes HARD WORK. (2) I need the exercise ’cause I don’t want to get FAT (and, given your $133 tab, you probably don’t share the same fears). And (3) Contrary to what this blog would have it seem, I actually do like meeting new people. Not stupid, ignorant ones like you, but normal ones who have interesting stories to tell and perspectives to offer.

Do not even BEGIN to assume that you know what these servers’ lives are like OR worth. For all you know, that girl could be the concert violinist you just saw at the Kennedy Center last Thursday night who feels suffocated by the constant practicing and uses waiting tables as a social outlet.

YOU. DO. NOT. KNOW.

So leave the effing twenty percent tip and move on with your life. I assure you NO ONE wants advice from you.