Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pick up artists

I have seen many posts on this issue, but what the hell. Here’s my two cents.
Hitting on the waitress.
I’ll start off with my theory on why this is so common.
I have been in the industry and out on the town enough to have observed many instances of guys hitting on the waitress, but not on, say a group of single women sitting at the table next to them. Why is this? I believe it’s because the waitress seems “available” simply by the nature of her job. She is friendly and keeps coming back to talk to you. She offers something many men are looking for; the desire to please. Most forget that this is her job. My brother says that guys hit on the waitress or bartender because that's "just what you do" when you go out with the guys.
I have the odd “luck” of getting hit on by guys frequenting the bar. They are not sitting at tables and therefore are not tipping me. Since they are customers of the bartender that cuts down on my obligation to be…”available”. Some may say that is a bad attitude to have, but I am there to make money. It’s not that I am unfriendly, simply that the conversations are awkward and forced. Also, they have been drinking at the bar for some time before approaching me so the combination of tipsy or buzzed patron and tired sober waitress does not make for good conversation. Also, and most importantly, I strongly feel that it is a bad idea to get involved with customers.
That being said, here are two examples of the guy you do not want to be at the bar.

A few years ago I worked at a bar whose main customer base was 20-something college students and corporate types. To place a drink order for a table the server had to stand at the server station at one end of the bar and wait for a bartender to come over. The server station was set up with a stack of trays, garnishes for drinks, straws, and coasters. It was obviously not the place to sit if you were a customer. It was located at the narrow end of the bar so there was no customer seating directly next to it.
There was a guy named Tim that would come in on the nights I worked and stand next to the server station at the bar so he could talk to me while I waited for drinks. This was distracting and intrusive. He probably thought he was being smooth or something by standing where he knew I would have to talk to him. Problem was I would often come across as rude because I was trying to work. I would interrupt the one sided conversation to order my drinks from the bar and when they were ready I would take them out. At first I would apologize and excuse myself, but eventually it got old and I would half ignore him. I figured he would understand that I was there working. Guess not because this continued for weeks. He asked me out a few times until I finally told him I had a boyfriend and pointed to one of the largest doormen employed at the place. I tried to reject him nicely but some people just don’t get it.

More recently…these both happened on Friday nights at Sports Bar. My bartender and I have an agreement that I fill my own drink orders and do not have to tip her out at the end of the night.
It’s been a busy night but is just starting to wind down. I’m behind the bar filling a drink order for one of my remaining tables when a guy at the bar started calling my name.
I look up to see what he wants.
“When you have a minute I want to talk to you.”
“OK,” I say a little apprehensively.” You can talk to me while I get these drinks.”
“When you have a minute I have a question for you.”
Is this guy hard of hearing or just dumb?
“OK, well I have a minute now while I make these drinks. What do you want to ask me?”
“I want to ask about your tattoos.” He says as he leans across the bar and reaches for my arm.
I take a step so I’m out of reach.” What about them?”
He leans even further and grabs my arm. With his other hand he starts rubbing the tattoo on my upper arm. I step back and pull my arm from his grasp.
“What’s your question?”
He asks where I got them and what they mean. I sigh and give him the scripted answer I give everyone specifically designed to discourage further questions. As I grab the drinks I have finished making he asks me to come back when I have a minute.
I tell him when I have time and make a mental note to look busy for the rest of the night. I still have 3 hours to go. A while later I am serving a table of regulars on the patio and see the Bar Guy sitting with them. I know he’s not friends with any of the people at my table so I pull aside one Daniel, one of the regulars.
“Did he just wander out here?” I ask.
“Yup. Don’t know why but he’s staring at you. He’s kinda creepy.” Daniel says as he glances over at Bar Guy.
Daniel returns to the table and I ask if anyone needs anything.
“I need you to talk to me when you have a minute.”
Will this guy ever quit?
“OK, but I am busy right now. Maybe when I have a minute I’ll find you.”
I walk inside to the POS. As I’m entering the order Bar Guy comes in and walks up to me.
“Listen, I just want to talk to you for a minute. Why won’t you talk to me?”
“I’m sorry, but you do understand that I am at work right? My table just ordered something so I have to go get it now.” I look him in the eye as I speak, wait several seconds, then walk away.
With an hour to go until close I start closing side work. Since the kitchen is closed I start with the specials board. I am kneeling on the floor by the board when I see someone walk up next to me. Bar Guy.
“Hey, looks like you have a minute now.”
“I guess.”
“Listen, I am just trying to talk to you, get to know you. Maybe ask you out. Do you want to get dinner sometime? You’re really pretty.”
I put down the marker I am using, prop myself up with one hand and lean back slightly to look up at him.
“OK, to be honest with you, I work here full time and I go to school full time. I barely have time for myself let alone to date. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not interested.” I pick up the marker and continue to write the weekend’s specials on the board.
“Hey, I understand but I’m just asking for dinner, maybe coffee. Not too much of your time. You can’t be too busy for that.”
“I appreciate the complements and the offer, but really I’m not interested.” I say without looking at him.
“I’m just saying, I’m a man, you’re a woman. You have needs. I get that and I can help you.”
At this I stand up and walk away. “Thanks but no thanks. I’m not interested.” I say as I walk away.
He goes back to the bar and stares at me for the rest of the night. He asks the bartender to call him a cab and calls my name again. I ask him to hang on a minute and go outside to check on my table. I hang out and talk to them for a while trying to kill time and waiting for his cab to get there. When I see it pull up I go inside and tell the bartender. I slip into the kitchen before he can say anything else.

I am not going to give any advice about the proper way to pick up your waitress of bartender. It’s almost always not a good idea and I am biased. I am not a fan. I know some people consider it “part of the job” but there is a line. Just be careful not to cross it. I guess I’ll leave it at that.


Waiter Extraordinaire said...

What a jerk!!!! I have to say this that as a guy I have no experience of what kind of abuse you must go through and other women who work in other bars and restaurants.It affects your work and state of mind when multi-tasking.
The next time you are being picked up by some loser just get the manager right away and have him tossed. You don't need the aggravation.

Lone Waitress said...

Unfortunately, the bar being the small place it is my managers don't really step in unless someone is too drunk or being a physical problem. They pretty much leave it up to us to handle our own issues. If they guy had touched me, well, that would have been another story and he would have been out of there before he could blink. Thankfully I have a ton of regulars that look out for me!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Right on.

bulletholes said...

Great story. The odds of picking up a Waitress or Bartender are low.
You have to work from the inside.

When I was 16 I was a Busboy at a Hotel. one night the barback didn't come in at the Lounge, called the "Two Minnies Bar"
The legend was that there had been a Brothel on that site with a glass floor and when patrons tossed their shots back, they were able to view the girls at work upstairs. The Two minnies now featured stained glass on the ceiling, depicting busts of attractive circa 1800's ladies.

Anyway, the lounge attracted mostly older Businessmen, and i saw first hand what the ladies there did. Two Cocktail waitresses and the lady Bartender, ages 22- 30, real pros, wrapped up tight in what amounted to Merry Widows, it was the Barmaid Standard Uniform in the 70's.
A man at the bar had gotten very drunk, and was hoping one of these girls would accompany him back to his room. He was the only one left in the bar, and the girls were saying no, but they were saying it in a very sexy way. They couldn't help it.
In desperation, he pulls out a $100 bill and announces we are to split this between the 4 of us. The bartender had it changed before you could say "Bottoms up" and promptly called security to help the poor bastard to his room.
That was my first experience with barmaids. It was impressive.

Food Service Ninja said...

actually you said he did grab your arm and personally leaning over the bar and stroking my tat with the creep vibe going would be all I could stand. WTF are the bouncers doing all night? Most places I have friends who are female tenders it just takes a look and a head nod to have a guy counseled and they use a code word to have a guy bounced to minimize the verbal drama.

Lone Waitress said...

When I said "touch me" i meant something more inappropriate, not that the arm grabbing was appropriate! My place doesn't have bouncers, just managers. We usually don't have problems that require bouncers. My manager did ask if the guy was bothering me and kept an eye on him the rest of the night. My manager was probably waiting for the same thing I was before making it a huge issue and kicking the guy out.