3 Oct 2011

Do's and Don't's of Eating Out

For years I worked as a waitress, and as my regular readers will know the restaurant I worked in closed down in January of this year. When I was signing into yahoo today I noticed a fun article on things your waitress is actually thinking, you can see it here. It reminded me of all the crazy people I dealt with in the few years that I worked there.

Their10 tips are:
1. No finger clicking: Never ever ever click your fingers, you will be marked by your waiter as being the spawn of Satan and they will ignore you for another 10 minutes just to teach you a lesson. Only idiots and coke heads click their fingers.

2. Compliments to the chef(a bizarre one that makes no sense)

3. We don't want to 2 cents: this has happened to me, and I really wanted to line them up and shoot them, if you are unhappy leave nothing, don't be insulting and leave 2 cents. I handed tips like that back and said archly 'Sorry Sir, you forgot your change', and if they offer it again then I replied 'No really you're ok'

4. Misbehaving children: I had this happen all the time. Obviously kids cry sometimes, that's fine, but a restaurant is not a playground, it's certainly not a jungle gym. Lots of waiters running around with hot plates/coffee/soup is not where you want your little Jimmy to the crawling about. On occasion I had to say it to parents to get there kids to sit down and a few of them looked shocked that I would ask such a thing.

5. Tedious Meal Requests: This is a strange one for me since I'm allergic to everything and always need things changed. But since I know how it works I know how to ask for things. The key is to be polite, I always mention that I know it's an inconvenience and that I'm very sorry. I ask, not demand, if they could help me out. I usually study the menu myself and look for things can can be easily changed. I don't ask for a creamy fish pasta with no cream and fish and still expect it to be amazing(seriously some people are this dumb).

6. Drunk Customers: Being drunk in a restaurant is different than drunk in a pub, the lights are brighter, it's generally quieter and therefore your drunkness is more noticeable. Being nicely sozzled is totally fine, but being drunk and abusive is not. Or another fine one I saw a few times, drunk and fighting loudly with your spouse, then taking it out on the waiting staff...classy!

7. Recommendations: I totally disagree with this point, I never lied to people, I always told them the truth about a dish. There was one dessert stupidly called 'the meaning of life', which was horrible and a waste of money(how ironic!) I always told people, but then happily recommended any of the others which were delicious.

8.Working as fast as we can: Being a waitress was the hardest job I've ever had(and I was a toilet cleaner in my student days!). 99% of the time a waiter is busting their ass trying to get the food out on time, running around with 20 things in their head, all the while remaining pleasant. Obviously there are bad waiters out there, I had them and they make me twice as annoyed because I know they are creating grumpy customers through their incompetence.

9. Sending things Back: I agree with sending food back that has been badly cooked, like an over cooked steak, limp pasta, burnt pizza etc. But I did get bored with having farmer Joe send back his veg because it wasn't boiled beyond all recognition just like his Mammy makes it. But at the end of the day send it back if you're not happy, after all you are paying for it. Do it politely though, mistakes happen waiters and chefs are only human after all.

10. Be Polite: This was my biggest bug bear working in the restaurant. Firstly let me preface this by saying that the majority of people are lovely and polite, and were taught some manners by some good mothers. But a surprising number of grown adults had no concept of manners, no please, no thank you, and certainly  no smiles. Some of the worst offenders were office men in their 20's who came into lunch all the time, sometimes daily, who never said please when ordering,  just 'Give me the burger'. I got more and more annoyed with them as the months rolled by. The only thing to do was be really polite to the, shiny bright and chipper, I refused to stoop to their rude caveman like behavior.

Other points to note:
Kissing: No one cares if a couple is a little romantic when they are out to dinner, but we once had a woman sit on her partners lap while they waited for their food to arrive. It was a family restaurant, all the other customers were scandalised, and it was plainly awkward bringing out their meals while when were eating the face off each other.

Toilets: Wow is the only word that comes to mind. Please treat the toilets as well as you would the ones at home. I can only hope that people flush, and don't throw toilet paper all over the floor,and leave sanitary towels on the ground. Seriously??? Someone has to clean that up!

Swearing: If you have an issue with something, deal with it politely, if you feel you are getting anywhere with the waiter then ask to speak to a manager. Never resort to swearing, it will get you nowhere, and you will never be treated well in that restaurant ever again. I've been shouted as, cursed at, and abused by customers, it's not nice.

Please Remember what you ordered: Your waiter probably has a least 10 tables to take care of, that's between 20-50 customers, they cannot remember every dish for every person. When they come out of the kitchen with plates in their hands please listen to them. Also those plates are pretty heavy and pretty hot, so if they stand there being ignored while you are chatting away they are gonna get annoyed with their burning fingers pretty fast!

Clearing tables: Clearing tables especially large ones can be really hard sometimes, especially if you are 5 3" like me. Don't just sit there doing nothing, if you can pass plates out to the staff from the inside seats then please do, it will make their like 100 easier and they will love you for it.

Don't use you wine glasses for water if a water glass is provided: This may sound really stupid but it adds loads of work at the end of the night. Every wine glass is polished by hand to get rid of water marks. At the end of a long busy night there can be a couple of hundred glasses to do, so the less there is to polish the better. It was everyone's most hated chore!

Tipping: I don't know if I want to get into this mind field. I've had lots of fights with friends about it, I'm ashamed to say I'm friends with people who don't tip...but it's a choice not an obligation to tip so I can't fight with them too much. If you are unhappy don't tip,if you're happy tip 10%, if it was the best meal of your life tip 15-20%. Don't leave 50c after having a meal for €60, it's not witty, and your waiter will remember you next time and maybe won't be so accommodating.
It's a minimum wage job that is really horrible, people only do this job for the tips, they live off them and depend on them. It's the reason why they do their job at 110%, there is a massive difference between taking an other and delivering food and clearing it. As opposed  to taking an other while being really friendly and helpful, asking for special requests in the kitchen, cajoling the kitchen to get exactly what you asked for, delivering the food speedily, checking back to see is everything ok, getting your kids some colouring sheets, and water jugs for the table. It's all the extra little things that a good waiter will get for you before you even ask for them, they do it pleasantly and airily. They do this for 10 tables at a time, and for 6-10 hours a day,( probably with scant break because they are understaffed). Think of this next time you are calculating the % of you tip.

1 comment:

  1. Now I just wish everyone HAD to read this! Thanks Ruth!
    Laura x x x


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