I'm not a server, but senior staff member. Officially I'm a hostess, in a fairly big restaurant, but I'm getting training up for a manager's position as soon as the current one quits (soon, he's moving out of state). As such, I do a bit of running around; reducing the height of the weeds, helping carry out big orders to tables, and other stuff. Rule one pressed into my head is that as a manager, there is NO SUCH THING as a job that's beneath me. I do what needs help doing.
Anyway, there's a main section where people are normally seated, and there's a kind of side wing that can be used either for private parties or for expanding on busy nights. These rooms are separated by folding doors.
It's a Friday night, and Fridays tend to be the busiest. Manager gives me the nod and I have opened the folding doors wide as a precaution since we're just below capacity for the main room. Things are going really well and so far the wait isn't that long since most of the waitresses are keeping things moving.
Except for Darla, who has just begun her shift for the evening.
Darla is one of those employees who makes a great show of working really hard, but always finds reasons to get out of doing what she's told to do. If a manager tells her to help out doing task A, she apologizes profusely but says she's scrambling to do task B and wants to know if she should just abandon task B entirely. (Usually the answer is No.) Then she loiters over Task B, only to "forget" where she was supposed to go next.
I put a bug in the manager's ear about the things she has done and he agrees to keep an eye on her. In today's tale, she is setting the tables in the wing as it opens for customers. When he finds out that she is too busy setting the tables to help her coworker out of the weeds, he tells me and Darla both that [Selection of Tables] is solely Darla's tonight and that once she's done, she's to wait on customers and nothing else.
Now our restaurant does have busboys and they are responsible for bolstering the service. Usually they set tables, top off drinks, bring napkins, roll silverware up, and the hundreds of other "little" things. But the busboys are considered a "luxury," to lighten the load among the bajillion things that the business as a whole has to do. It is ALSO the waitresses job to get requested items, so if somebody asks for extra napkins, the waitress gets the damn napkins, because the busboy may be busy with another task and it's just faster for the waitress to grab some.
Anyway, she is told to set HER section of tables and then I am to start funneling people in, but (and this is something the manager says only to me:) to only give Diane a single good sized table top. If she's attentive and working hard, to give her more people, but for now to give her one thing and to keep an eye on her as best I can in between trading off with hostesses.
I sent the a table top of five people in and marked them into her section while another hostess walked them to the table. Some smaller groups come in and are seated in the main section. Fifteen minutes in, I am gobsmacked to see one of the five, a gentleman, come ambling out of the room to ask if a waitress could be sent in, as they haven't even ordered their drinks yet, and have already decided on their meal.
I apologize and hand the hostess stand to one of the others while I go hunting.
Diane is IN THE SIDE ROOM with the table top for five, her back to the room in general, setting the rest of the tables in the room. She clearly hasn't introduced herself as their waitress and the custys, who don't know better, figure she's a different staff member and not responsible for them. Who the fuck takes 15 minutes to lay out rolled up silverware, I ask you?
I tell her in a sickly sweet voice that, as she was told, she only needed to set her own tables and not the entire room, and that the party was her party and she needed to get her ass over there and take their order.
Diane huffs and takes their drink order and dinner order, then leaves. I return to the hostess stand and wave over the manager for a quick conference.
I seat folks, rounding the side room with a couple of other waitresses and tables (who, coincidentally, finished setting the room in the time it took Diane to take the order and leave).
The custy makes his appearance again half an hour later. They got their drinks, but are wondering when the food should be out. He is, remarkably, calm and merely a little annoyed but not furious.
I hit up the radio and ask on wait time for food. I get the response "about five to ten minutes."
Okay, our chefs are on their game so why are we at the thirty minute mark? I go hunting again. Diane IS ROLLING SILVERWARE! She says she "forgot" that she had a table, and couldn't one of the other waitresses take care of it, since she was busy?
In the words of a very wise ass; "When this is over, I'm going to need a whole lot of serious therapy! Look at my eye twitching!"
I send the manager over to put the fear of God into her and she goes sprinting to the window.
I grab the extra plates and walk with them to the room to begin delivering food when something strange comes to my attention... the plates are cool. The food is not steaming. Diane is handing out the plates stiffly, miffed at having been forced to abandon her luxurious bus boy duties to serve her own section.
The man who has sought us out a couple of times takes a bite and looks Diane dead in the eyes. "This food is cold."
Man, annoyed, "Do you want to touch it and find out? I'm telling you this food is cold!"
I can already tell by the temperature of the plate, but since I'm going to throw the food away anyway, I subtly stick my thumb into the spaghetti near the edge. The spaghetti is rubbery where it's still wet, getting stiff and dry where there is no sauce, and room temperature.
Diane: "And I'm telling you--"
Me: [interrupting] "I'm SO sorry sir! We'll get you some fresh plates right away."
I hustle Diane away and wave the manager over. I explain what's going on and he tests the plates himself, while glaring at Diane, who is suddenly finding her shoelaces very fascinating.
Long story short, Diane was sent home and told not to bother coming back to work, ever. The meal was comped (a wise decision to limit the damage to only one table and thus only one tab gets comped due to her incompetence...) and I personally smoothed ruffled feathers at the table by taking over the duties of the delinquent Diane until someone could be called in.
On the plus side, they tipped me well for my stellar performance. On a more humble note, I'm fairly sure that while I did a good job, the bar was set pretty damn low for comparison. ^_^;