I’ve been at work for an hour and a half and my first table is walking out the door; a pair of guys clad in casual dress office apparel straight out of the GAP catalogue. Upon taking their drink order I was surprised that one ordered a draft. As they walked past the front register where my manager was standing I overheard them ask “Do we pay here? We just left it on the table.”
“On the table’s fine guys. Thanks.” My manager says barely glancing up from the paperwork in front of him. He always decides to do paperwork on the counter next to the register instead of on the office. I’d better go get the money off the table I think. I seriously dislike when people just leave cash on the table.
I walked out on the patio to collect. My busboy, SA from here on, Ramon, was already cleaning the table. Under the mustard I spotted the check and cash. I picked up $21 and walked inside. Pulling the check to the top of the pile I stopped dead in my tracks.
Cash in hand: $21
Shit. My first table of the day and they didn’t even leave enough to cover the bill. I turned around and walked back outside. I searched the patio, table, condiment caddy, and even surveyed the area around the patio hoping some of the cash had drifted off in the wind. There was barely a breeze and no rouge bills to be found.
I walked back in and handed the check and cash to my manager. “They didn’t leave enough to cover the bill. They shorted me.”
He studied the check, counted the cash, and then studied the check again. I had new tables being seated and work to do. “If you could take the soda off the bill then what they left would be enough. Can you do that? It was my first table of the day and I don’t care about the tip, I just don’t want to have to pay the difference.”
Thankfully he felt bad and agreed.
Shortly after the mathematically inhibited GAP guys left, I figured I could easily make up the lost tip on a table of regulars just finishing their meal. For the first time in 3 months we had the woman’s favorite soup. I approached the table.
“Can I get anything else for you this afternoon?”
“No. That soup is so wonderful. You should make it every week” stated the woman. I was hoping she’d say that.
“It is wonderful. Would you like to take some home with you? They don’t make it very often and I’m not sure when we’ll have it next.”
“Oh, what a wonderful idea! If you can do a quart I’ll take that.” Her eyes glowing. She reminded me of my dog when I had a treat in my hand.
“We don’t usually sell soup by the quart but I’m sure we can do that. I’ll be right back.”
I hustled into the back and told my head cook, Hector, I needed a quart of soup. He found a container to put it in and told me to charge for 7 cups of soup. After packing the soup nicely for her I talked my boss into letting me charge her a bit less.
I brought out her soup and ran the husband’s card for the tab. $54 up from $46. I know I gave them good service so I was anticipating the tip would reflect that.
$7 like always. So much for that.
Around the time I usually leave, 3, a table sat in the bar area. A table of regulars that usually sit at the bar. The problem with bar regulars sitting at tables is they will place orders with the bartenders directly if their waitress is not there the second they desire something. This means that whatever they end up tipping their waitress must be split with the bar separately from the tip out at the end of the night. Also, waitresses get tipped less than bartenders as a rule. Unfortunate but true. At the Sports Bar I know what the regulars tip the bartenders, especially when they charge. I process all charges for the bartenders and their tips from charge tabs.
The bar regulars order a water, a sprite, an iced tea, and “light vodka and iced tea with lemon.”
As I deliver their drinks I ask if they would like to order.
“Oh, we’ll be here for a while honey. Not yet.”
At least I brought some homework with me this morning.
As I take care of the bar regulars a couple moves from the bar to the patio without letting anyone know. I decided to let them come in and get their own drinks from the bar. I’ve served them before and they have never tipped me. I notice they are leaving the bartender $2 a round. At least she’s making some money off them.
The bar regulars close out with me at 4:30 and leave half the tip they would have left the bar. At 4:33, two ladies walk in dressed in skirt suit combos and carrying those super corporate leather trapper keepers, unzipped with papers peeking out at every angle. They walk up to the bar with cell phones in hand and looking so very important.
“What can I get for you ladies this afternoon?” Jen asks.
“We need menus. Menus.”
When Jen returns with the menus they have new demands.
“I want a chardonnay on the rocks. You know how to do that?”
“Yes, I think so.” Jen replies with a little bite in her voice.
“I want black cherry vodka and iced tea with a lime. Not a lemon, a lime.”
“Sure thing ladies.”
When they receive their drinks they seat themselves at a table.
Great. I stall greeting them.
After a few minutes they walk out to the patio. Their drinks are almost empty so I decide to go out back and have a cigarette, of course. As I smoke I wonder what I did to piss off the restaurant gods today. I take a long, deep last drag of my smoke before snuffing it out and walking dejectedly back inside.
Walking outside with my best fake smile I greet the ladies and ask if they are ready to order. They are, of course, not ready.
Before ordering they both spend 20 minutes talking importantly on their cell phones. Their eventually order? One Greek salad. At least I don’t have to wait for the kitchen to make anything. I take time to make a nice looking salad and even throw on a little extra feta and Greek olives. I deliver the salad and another iced tea cocktail. Now they need another wine on the rocks.
“Jen, what did that lady have in her chardonnay? Lemons?”
“Nothing. The other had lime in hers.”
“Well she has something now.” Wonder where she got the lemon wedges.
As I deliver the wine I notice they are large slices of lemon. The bar cuts their lemons in tiny triangles. She must have helped herself to lemons from my drink station. Lovely.
“Can I have some more feta? There was only, like, two pieces in this salad.”
“Sure.” There was definitely more than two pieces in the salad. I made it myself. I should know.
I ring in $1.00 misc food on her tab and bring out the feta.
I know she’ll be unhappy about the charge, but I am positive I am not getting a tip from them before I leave and I won’t be here when she gets her check.
When my relief waitress arrives I give her a heads up on the charge. She giggles and says she can’t wait to give them their check and claim ignorance.