Friday, 11 November 2011

ahhh... the joys of waitressing...

i am just completely crashing and burning on the blogging front. i just looked again and couldn't get my head around the fact that it has been 4 weeks since my last post. i seriously need some motivation! i am not working as many hours at the restaurant lately, so that has given me time to focus back onto what i really love... making stuff, writing and scouring ebay for vintage clothing and tchotchkes.

before i write about a little experience i had recently at work, i just wanted to post pix of the sweet little bike i just picked up on ebay. we are going to go on a road trip next sunday to pick it up and it has worked out that where we are going, there is a pottery exhibition on that day that scott wanted to check out. so it's win win. but also, even better than the bike, i found a little accessory that i think is really one of the coolest things ever although, i can't seem to find many people that can appreciate how cool it is or share my enthusiasm for it. i love it for it's rarity. a 1980s, old stock, still in the box, never been used am/fm cassette player for the bike. i know we've moved on to digital. but i still love the simplicity, the kind of tinny sound and i think it will be nice riding along the seafront listening to all my old tapes mixed and otherwise. here are some pics...

my new wheels
totally bitchin cassette player

also cool... has a cb...i have my eye on it

so...the restaurant has been a very interesting experience for me. i hadn't waited tables for longer than i even want to think about and... i tell you... it totally reminded me why i decided to fucking give it up in the first place. it brought back the exact moment, many years ago in california, when i found myself so over it, so worn down by it all and suffering from torrents of stress dreams where there were too many tables and i couldn't cope or i forgot someone wanted a "half-caf" latte instead of regular, that for about half an hour i sat harboring fantasies of going postal on a room full of people or maybe just turning on the gas and running out, locking the doors behind me.

it takes a lot of years of waiting on people in LA with their impossibly extensive lists of needs. all the "no oil or butter, no fat, lightly steamed, basted, i didn't want this, i can't have that, of course i can't have anything the way it comes on the menu, i'm high maintnence! i need to change it all! waitress...WAITRESS!!!! snapping fingers, blank stares, complaining, complaining, COMPLAINING...blah blah blah as well as all the extremely self-important people in the "industry" to grind you that far down.

i was lucky though that i worked with great people, including my brother jason, who always kept me laughing with little gems like, when a customer, who after half an hour of abuse and just being a complete asshole would say, "you KNOW... the customer is ALWAYS right!" and jason would just deadpan, "uh... sorry...not on MY shift." we had 100% back up from our employers, who trusted us completely when we would tell them we had just been pushed too far.

the restaurant where i am currently working is really lovely. it has a fantastic vibe about it, 98% of our customers are wonderful and interesting and a pleasure to chat to. thankfully, it is a totally different story here than what i have dealt with in the past. i have had a couple of incidents, but not even a patch on what i've been used to dealing with. i almost wanted to goad the few customers that HAVE tried with "jesus... is that the best you can do? let me give you a few pointers on how to make yourself even more pathetic and annoying... i don't feel like you are committed to this... you have to find your inner asshole!"

a few weeks ago, there was a woman who was celebrating her 40th birthday and had reserved a table for like 10 people. when her party arrived, there were 3 of them. and they seemed slightly strange with each other. the birthday girl informed me that they were all there. there would be no more coming. or possibly one more.

that night, i was training a new employee and for what felt like HOURS,  i had been explaining in great detail every aspect of the job. so maybe i wasn't at my sharpest. the new waitress came to me and said something about the birthday woman wanting to order some champagne. she had said which one she wanted, but she wasn't 100 percent about it. so, i don't know why, i have no excuse, normally i would have just checked this with the customer, but instead, i brought the bottle i assumed she wanted to her table. i then made the mistake, which i hadn't ever made until then, of letting her keep talking and ignoring me as she was, as i stood there, and NOT show her the bottle. totally my mistake. i opened it, i poured it, they were drinking it and it was only about 15 min later when she lifted the bottle out of it's bucket to pour more that she realized it wasn't the one she wanted.

so, immediately i hear "EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!" and turn to see a very unhappy, pinched-up, pissed-off bitchy face waggling a finger, beckoning me to come and have a showdown. there was no build-up, she just wanted to get straight in to it.

birthday girl: "um... THIS is not the champagne that i ordered. Uh, i know we have all had some, but this is NOT the champagne i ordered, THIS is not even champagne! ( i would like to note that it did say "champagne" on the bottle and although slightly less expensive than the one she wanted, it is an award-winning champagne, so you know, not just some sparkling grape crap or anything).

me: " oh... i am SO sorry about that. um....

b.g.: " i don't even know what this IS... it is NOT champagne... it is NOT the one I ordered and LOOK there isn't even a label on it that says what's in it and you know, i am REALLY annoyed.. i mean... it's my birthday and i decided i would get this champagne and you know... my birthday was ( motions skyward with her thumb ) and now it's ( motions thumbs down) so... um... i am really annoyed... really annoyed... just REALLY ANNOYED."

at this point, i looked at her friends to see whether maybe they were in agreement with all of this behaviour or whether, like me, they thought maybe she might be overreacting a tad. there was such a huge air of tension. i thought they were on my side, but, i wasn't totally sure yet if they would agree with me that she had the kind of personality that would have dale carnegie breaking through solid oak and digging himself out from under 6 feet of earth just to teach her how to win friends and influence people. or at the very least, by the tiny turnout for her birthday party,  just win friends.

i tried my best to smooth it all over and find out what i could do to make her happy
( as it turns out...nothing) and offered to discount the bottle of champagne i had given her and maybe give her a glass of the champagne she wanted on the house. this suggestion met an icy stare and a "NO... not good enough." so, i then asked what WOULD she be happy with.

she: " THIS... what you've given me... it's not champagne ( so, we were still back at the beginning). it's NOT EVEN champagne.

me: "um... it is champagne. max, (the owner) has chosen all the wines on the list and i think he's pretty happy with his selections, but i am so very sorry it isn't the one you wanted."

she: "MAX... yes... oh, i have had a CHAT with max about his "champagne selection" you know how many champagnes he has on the list? THREE ( thrusts her 3 fingers at me) ok... THREE. i know a little bit about champagne ok? just a little... just a little bit...only a slight bit...just a little ( as she goes through about what felt like 20 minutes of saying 'just a little bit', she was pinching her thumb and index finger together to emphasize this and was so nasty and sarcastic. i didn't know what i could do really. i just watched the performance)

me: "i am positive you know way more than i do. i really don't doubt your knowledge."

she: "i have traveled around france ok... doing wine tastings, but i don't know MUCH... i don't know much about champagne...just a little bit about it all... ok? i've tasted champagne from all around france. ok? this is not champagne... but, you know... i just know a little bit... that's all...( she had such a smug bitchy face on her through all of this)

at this point, one friend chimed in, "she does know a lot about champagne". then the other male friend looked at me with what i swore were pleading eyes and just said, " please, just bring a bottle of veuve cliquot."  as i walked away, she was just still ranting about it all. and when i returned, the same guy asked, " can i just down it all in one?" which gave me the assurance that he was indeed on my side. thankfully. i walked off as she continued to rant about stuff and i heard her say something to the guy like " NO, i am RIGHT. you just don't have the fucking BALLS to do what i just did."

in the end, the guy came up to pay the bill which was maybe £150. he apologized for her behaviour and i asked whether maybe she was allergic to alcohol, because she was so totally over the top for what the situation was and he said, " to be honest, i don't really know her that well. i've only met her a couple of times. but, no, she's actually just like that."

my god! i couldn't even fathom wanting a friend like that. and the fact that he was paying the bill astounded me. i'm sure i saw a halo of light around his head as i processed his card. he was a much better or much stupider person than me. i couldn't decide which.

also, this was a huge eye opener. here she was... her 40th... considered pretty much a landmark birthday and she was spending it with 2 strangers and another guy (who cut out shortly after the champagne incident and she spent the rest of the night bitching about him off and on). OUCH... where were her lifelong friends? or jesus, even just some people she had met more than "a couple of times"? either they couldn't be asked to come or more than likely, she just didn't have any. it didn't take my one semester of high school psychology to figure out her rant wasn't about the champagne at all really. it was much deeper than that. which then made me kind of pity her i guess rather than feeling slightly angry that someone felt that it was acceptable to behave so abusive and child-like and belittling toward someone and not even bat an eyelash.

at times like these, i can go a little dark and maybe a bit evil. there was a part of me that wanted to shout at that little girl inside of her, sad that no one had come to her party, sad because somewhere deep down she might feel like she hadn't achieved much in life apart from being a brat and having no friends. i wanted to tell her how brilliant all of my birthdays are, spent with all my beautiful friends and family. surrounded by people who love me.

of course, i didn't. it did turn my stomach a little bit when she tried to be friendly and chatty with me as she got her coat at the end of the evening. as though nothing had happened. but i still managed a smile. i probably need to let it go now, but there is still that little part of me that if i saw her outside the restaurant, wants to tell her how i didn't really appreciate her performance....that she is living in some kind of fucked-up, crazy world where at 40 she thinks acting like a tantruming toddler is ok. and that maybe... just maybe... if she learns how to play nice with the other kids, she might have a better 41st....hmmmm....we'll see....


  1. WOW! First of all I must insist that you blog more, because I so enjoy reading what you have to say!
    I'm a bleeding heart and while a part of me would have wanted to slap this bitch another part would have felt sorry for her and wanted to buy her a birthday present and make her happy! I wonder if the alcohol triggered her behavior too? Some people just can't handle it and act rather badly, especially with champagne. Poor woman, I'll worry about her all day :)
    See how lucky you are?!?!

  2. thanks so much tracey. that is really kind of you to say. in fact, i wanted to say to you, as i see the comments you write on scott's blog too, that you are always so positive and encouraging in your comments and i think we both really appreciate that! i also have a bleeding heart as scott tells me every time i am ranting about something or someone and he says "you know, all you need to see is a documentary on how hard their life has been and you're 360." but i tell you... this woman... you would have definitely slapped her! she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. hard life or not.