Today we grant the coveted retail balls award for grace under holiday hell, a cool head under custy abuse and the strength to refuse to take any shit from a family who came in after hours on a holiday!
Long time look-e Loo till I finally bit the bullet and posted in comments under the name ServerSlave so we will go with that for now. I have worked in retail “big box” stores, offices, a library, and now an office. I will start off by sharing one of my favorite stories of stupid customers, awesome managers, crappy managers and coworkers of all types.
Way back when, I was waiting tables and where I worked you were required to either work Xmas or New Years Eve, with few exceptions you knew you were on the hook for one of these two days. The store was almost entirely staffed by college students, most of whom lived in the area year round, grew up there, etc, but some did not. These were usually the above mentioned exceptions, the people heading home for the break. This also meant that the store was pretty short staffed for one of the busiest times of the year (leading up to the holidays, we were near a mall and a large “downtown” type shopping area, almost always had 1-2 hour wait min starting @ noon.)
Now the goal for most was to be in one of the first or early cut sections, if possible, of one of these “required” shifts. For me it was to be on for Xmas and not be stuck working new years, I was usually pretty safe as no one wanted to close on Xmas, so I never did get stuck with New Years. As background, I never celebrated religious holidays and neither did most of my family, however, we had one heck of a New Years blow out. This might be weird, but I live in a suburb with a large Jewish, Indian, and Muslim community.
It is probably one of the most culturally diverse areas of the country and is about 15mins outside of what is probably one of, if not the, best known city in the world. This means that Xmas closing shift is pretty good money. Given I never have anything of importance to do on Xmas, I always tried to work Xmas, where it did not really affect me, and get off for new years so I could throw a little shin dig. After having worked in the store for some time I thought I was pretty safe, so when I got a call from a friend/co-worker that the list was up, I did not panic and asked if he would put me down for a closing shift on Xmas.
Shock of Shocks Xmas was completely filled, even the closing slot. I was just starting to try to come up with clever excuses to try to get out of a New Years shift when my friend said that only 1 other person signed up for New Years and so he would put me down for an early cut. I figured that is fine I should be out by 9 or 10pm at the latest, not great, but not bad… that was not to be the case but that is a story for another day.
Fast forward about two weeks, I am getting ready to go home after a double and I overhear my coworkers talking, call them AB and BB. AB was trying to convince BB to take his Xmas shift, that he would even throw him a couple bucks if he did. I found this odd, since we are all poor college students and most of us tried to work as many shift as possible and did not have the money to throw away just to get out of a shift.
I get not wanting to work on Xmas, but giving up cash to not have to seemed a bit extreme. I usually closed and was home by 11pm, most others were home by 8 or 9pm. Yes, you might miss dinner with family, but certainly you would be home for late dessert. Therefore, this exchange piqued my curiosity and I asked why AB was so desperate to not work Xmas. Apparently he had booked a flight to head home on New Years Day, told our manager as much and even written it and put it on the “board.” Our douche bag scheduling manager [hence fourth known as DBSM] decided that since the flight was technically the next day, he was still on the hook, even though the flight was at 2am... to DBSM that was still the next day. On top of that, he was supposed to meet his fiancé’s family on Xmas, they were actually even flying in just so they could meet him.
Given his situation his offer of a cash incentive to get out of his shift made more sense. Feeling bad for him, I chimed in and said I had no plans for Xmas other then Chinese food and a movie with some Jewish and Indian friends. I would much rather make some cash, and could still probably meet my friends for the movie. AB looked as though he was going to cry and started to tell me all the favors he would owe me, including the aforementioned throwing me a c-note.
I told him it was unnecessary and I really did not mind blah blah blah. We then head to the office and tell the DBSM that I was going to take his shift, at which point DBSM snaps “you know that you will still have to work New Years,” while giving me as death stare.
I said I understood, I was just trying to help AB out, not get out working New Years. Then DBSM tells AB that he has to work New Years if I was taking his Xmas shift, which would defeat the whole purpose of me covering his shift. We try to explain this to DBSM, but it was useless as DBSM was dead set on making AB work one of the two shifts. I even pointed out that both shifts were completely covered, and some people are not going away nor working either shift.
I explained that me taking his shift only for him to work a shift is insane. NADA. DBSM did not care, and said we could always use more help and he did not think it “fair” if AB did not have to work one of the shifts.
WTF? The shifts are fully covered already and many others are not working one of the shifts either. We were only saved by Cool A** Manager [hence fourth known as CAM] coming in and telling DBSM that it was fine, so long as I worked both shifts AB was off the hook.
Fast forward to Xmas eve. When I first walk in I ask if either closer wants to take my section, as it was an early cut and I knew closing on Xmas I could make some good money. Sure enough, I get one of the closers to trade sections. Everything was going pretty well, I had a slow but steady flow of customers until about 8pm. It died down very quickly after that, and as we were going to close in 2 hours I asked CAM if I could cut everyone else on the floor. CAM said sure, and even told the other closer he could go home if he wanted as CAM would pick up the slack if any more tables came in. I got all of 3 tables for the next hour and a half, and most of them were in and out before 9:30. I spent most of the time sitting at the bar with CAM and the bartender [who was Jewish and also asked to stick around in hopes of getting a few stragglers. ] CAM then decided no one else is coming and tells me and bartender, “Might as well clean up a bit and lock up.”
I put the chairs up, sweep, do side work, and various other closing type things and was just waiting to cash out with CAM and clock out. CAM walks by with keys and heads to front doors and is about to turn the key when we see a young man come up. CAM had just locked the door, but unlocked it, cracked it open, said a few words back and forth with the young man and then came up to me and bartender.
CAM: “You two, they are a party of 15 and want to know if we are still open. I told them I had to see if my staff was willing to stay late. If you want to take them I will tell them ok, if not I will tell them you clocked out already.”
ME: “I have nothing better to do, let them in.”
Bartender “Sure, if Serverslave makes more, he tips me out more.”
CAM then lets them, fills them in on the fact we had just cleaned up and broken down the restaurant and asked if they minded waiting while we put the tables together, got the chairs, etc. They seemed fine with it. This is where it starts to get bad.
I JUST put the chairs in place, and they swarm to their seats, I had not put down silverware, put out sugar caddies, and no one told them to sit yet. In fact we had pretty specifically told them to please wait till we got them as it was just the three of us and wanted to make sure everything was ready before they sat. I write it off, and proceed to put out the silverware and napkins when BAM one of the hellspawns slams their chair into me. I figure it was an accident as he was seated very close to one of the walls and it was snug fit for me to get through, so I ignore it.
I got around the tables taking drink orders when BAM the same hellspawn slams his chair into me. I realize this is no accident, and politely point it out to his mother. I get the drinks and CAM asks if I need help, I tell CAM I am fine and proceed to bring the drinks out. As I am putting out the drinks BAM again the little hellspawn hits me with his chair.
Rather then risk another attack I simply place the remaining drinks at the end of the table and ask if the mother would be so kind as to pass it down a bit. I then take dinner orders, and recognize that the party was a family of either Indian or Pakistani descant.
This meant either they wouldn’t want beef or pork accordingly, thus I take the time to point out on the menu all the places that one of these two things might be present but not mentioned [our soups had pork and rice was sometimes cooked in homemade beef stock, as an example.] I put in the order and bring it out, and I think overall it was record time for a 2 top much less a party of 15. I let them take a few bites, check on them, make sure they have everything etc. I then walk in back and hang out with bartender and cam trying not to hover around the table TOO much as I had nothing else to do… I tried to keep it to no more than once every 10 mins or so.
Everything seemed to have gone fine, I went to drop the check and take the last of plates away when the grandfather says, “Thanks for staying late; I am sure you want to be with your family rather than here.”
I get that dread feeling, as my fellow server slaves will attest we all know what this means. WE ARE GETTING BONED ON THE TIP. Universally when you get a complement from the guy paying the tab he will stiff you on tip thinking his kind words are a substitute for cash. THEY ARE NOT!!! I turn with a big smirk and tell him I actually have no problem staying late. Why the giant smirk? The jokes on him, our restaurant ALWAYS includes 18% on parties of 5 or more. It says so on the door, the menu, pretty much everywhere. I even point it out to the man after his comment, I often did this when tables are nice as both/either an F U if you had planned on skimping on tip or a thank you and my effort at trying to ensure you don’t double tip if you hadn’t planned to F me. They pay, to the penny, and leave. I go to clean up the table when CAM comes over with a giant smirk of her own.
CAM: “They complained about you”
Serverslave: “WTF about what, they got the best service possible, I think the best ever”
CAM: “I know, they wanted me to discount the bill or comp some of the food off”
CAM: “They just said the service was lousy, I just said sorry they felt that way, have a nice evening and gave them a dessert coupon and an app coupon… ”
CAM then explains she had personally dealt with that same family some 2 dozen times in last year, and it was decided they would not comp them anything more the dessert and/or appetizer unless a specific problem was cited as all the comps and voids were ruining our numbers. Score one for the slaves!
I had mixed feelings over the experience and am sort of zoned out while cleaning when I notice a backpack. I mull over just trashing it, or putting it in lost and found, or burning it when I look out the window and see the family has not left yet. I do the right thing and run it out to them and go back to cleaning. Then I hear TAP TAP TAP and look up to see the grandfather knocking on the window and motioning to the door. I go over to the door and crack it open;
Serverslave: “What can I do for you?”
GF: “I just realized I forgot to tip you.”
SS: “Actually due to the size of your party gratuity was added.”
GF: “Oh, well here take this anyway.” He hands me $20
SS: “Thank you. I heard you had a complaint about my service. Can I ask what I did to make your experience less than perfect? I would like to know so I can work on it next time.”
GF: “we felt rushed, I mean, we understand you want to be with your family”
SS trying not to scream or blow my lid I explain that I wanted to work, that I said we should let them in, and that I had nothing else to do that night and chose a closing shift.
GF: “Well you just sort of threw the drinks down, it seemed like you were in a rush”
SS furious now but trying to remain calm “As I said to the mother of the child, I placed the drinks how I did because, as I explained to her, one of the children kept ramming his chair violently into me. I did not think I could place them safely given that fact.”
GF: “ I didn’t…”
SS: “It’s alright." [yes I cut him off] and proceed to abruptly shut and lock the door.
I am steaming at this point, I go in back and tell CAM what I did as I know a complaint is incoming and thought it best to get in front of it. I simply cannot believe the nerve of that family. CAM said she had my back and not to sweat it, pretty much as long I did not say anything involving expletives I was good to go.
I finish cleaning up and see they also left a purse, I do not bother to try and run it out or put it in lost and found, I just left it on the floor under the table [ok I MIGHT have kicked it further. And under a booth. And through a pile of dirt.]
In short, I give great service and they want to F!#$ me on a tip, even after they think they stiffed me I run out backpack, and they drop me $20 on a $200+ bill. WHAT A HOLES! They never did file a complaint and they actually came in once the next week. I saw them being escorted to a table and stared, and they all just did this weird looking at their feet shuffle thing...