Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I don't want a Holiday in the sun!

But we are all different! As Sid would say, "Now I got a reason..."

What do I mean? Let's see...here vs. there. I am here in the Redneck Riviera, total tourist spot, Destin, Florida. Should be some serious money to be made off of all y'all tourists and locals with cash. When I worked in Washington D.C. I made a lot of money waiting tables and tending bar. I worked five nights a week, had my days totally free (I went to college back then, but don't now) and paid for my party-boy lifestyle including vacations, nights partying, rent, car payments and yes tuition and books, though I also had the Army College Fund and GI Bill to help.

I did work at money places, though...One was a total "local" tourist bar/restaurant where I bartended. On the slowest, deadest winter Monday night I could make $100 cash, all while getting paid $6 and hour. On the busy Saturday nights I have walked away with as much as $550, and usually made over $300. Truly rare would be the weekend night where I wouldn't break $200. Problem was staying up til 3am every night. So I changed jobs for "upscale" dining. Hell, I liked food, dining, wine, booze, the life. I started to work at this place where the Surf and Turf was $40, Alaska King Crab legs were $50, and the 2 and a 1/2 pound baked stuffed lobster was $75. The wine list had all the biggies...Dom, Veuve Clicqout, Chalk Hill, Stag's Leap, Chateau Montelena, etc The single malt scotches they carried were on the dessert menu, divided up into which Scottish Isle they hailed from...I mean they also had fish and chips for $13 (the best you will ever have, just perfect) and served Iced Tea, but all it took was one great table per shift and you were in the money. Have three or four great ones, and you were PAID bigtime. Very little ignorance (which I will talk about later), celebrities, rich people and pro athletes constantly eating there. I saw many in my year there and personally waited on several Washington Redskins like Champ Bailey (he drank Hennesy and cranberry juice, YUCK!) Gus Frerotte, but after he left the Skins, (he would always eat the King Crab legs and leave a great tip) Tre Johnson (he must have drank at least 10 pineapple juices) and others such as Robert Urich and a couple of DC type celebrities. Typically a waiter working on a typical Friday or Saturday night would come to work at 4:30 or 5, walk out at 10:30 or 11 with well over $200, often $300. My problem there was they needed bartenders, and I had lots of bar experience, so they started giving me bar shifts and that cut my income in half.

I tried sales...That is a business for sharks. You can make a lot of money there too, but must slit the throat of the guy next to you. I am simply not that aggressive. In other words, I made a crappy salesman.

Back to the restaurant biz...Now that I am in the "South" things are different. I love the South, like college football, and NASCAR (though I can't stand sweet tea.) Most Southerners are on the "right" side of the political spectrum. They are self reliant, hate the Gob'ment, and are "good people." They will give the shirt off of their back if you are in need, are quick to shake your hand, look you in the eye, and otherwise treat people with respect.

Why can't they eat in a restaurant? Why can't they tip? Why can't they refrain from driving their waiters right up the wall? How can anyone come to a steakhouse and order a filet mignon and eat it well done with fries and steak sauce while pounding your sweet teas? A typical "Southern" style tip is usually 10%. These days, I just take it! It is better than the random tips that I often get...$10 on a bill of $130...$3 on a bill of $80 (there were three people, buck a head!) There are many people who give the 15%, which is always appreciated...There are also plenty who give 20%. There are also the exceptions, the 25% and up folks, that can often balance out the "buck a head" folks. The general tip here in the South seems to be 10% which does suck. But I have committed to my wife, who doesn't pick where she gets stationed, so I live with it.

To those of you who say "grow up and get a real skill!" I would have to say fuck off real quick...Waiting tables is incredibly difficult at times, and people are so varied in their tastes that it takes a lot of knowledge to wait tables and not look like an asshole. It takes a great amount of organization, skills, and most of all patience to deal with you people! I have that knowledge. I have those skills. I take your kids picture when they dress up nice for the Prom and dine out at "that fancy restaurant" ordering that one order of prime rib with two plates, eating up valuable chunks of my section on a Friday night for a crappy tip. I smile and coo at your baby even if she is uglier than your wife. I yell so that your elderly Mother can hear me and then patiently redescribe the specials (but now for EVERYONE in the vicinity) so she can just go ahead and order from the kids menu. I clean up after your spawn, (and do so with a smile if the tip was good, so don't stress it!) including on more than one occasion, little person vomit (yeah Dad, thanks for "picking it up" and hiding it in the cloth napkins so I can't see it and get it on my shirt as I bus the table.) I give respect in all cases, no matter how ghetto/hillbillie you appear and call you sir, Ma'am. My restaurant usually only hires people with those skills, and those without are quickly weeded out (to quote the great R.Lee Ermey) as non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved corps. They are occasionally weeded out by management, but more often than not are weeded out by the people who are being waited on with crappy tips for crappy service. I am sure not saying that it doesn't happen, as it often does, even in the "nice" places. If your waiter is atrocious, it is your duty to stiff him (even I have done this, but only once for some incredibly rude service on the part of the waitress totally in HER control) and help weed out this type.

But if the service was great, there isn't any reason not to go ahead and hook up your server. ESPECIALLY if you feel like eating there again! You do not want to go to a place where you are "known" for crappy tips, I personally assure you of that!

3 Comments:

At Thu Oct 13, 01:17:00 AM, Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Damn dude, being a wiater/server/bartender can't be an easy job. I don't get ill at looking at gory stuff, but dirty plates will do it to me.

But I more than 60 percent of the time tip 20%, and no less than 15%. I heard about those southerners not tipping well. As I'm sure you know if you from living in DC, that in PG county no one f'n tips, hillbillies or the ghetto fabulous. It's terrible.

My best to you, I love people but I couldn't do that job. I hate mine now as a personal trainer because I'm know in a phase that I've been able to escape for over 10 months, and that phase is sales. It sucks, so that's why I'm quitting as soon as I get a temp job.

Lastly, bro, there's no shame in your game.

 
At Thu Oct 13, 01:35:00 AM, Blogger waltoncad said...

Heh, I have no shame in my game, I love it really, even in the redneck riviera. DC was the shit, though and I made such cash there...However I worked NOWHERE near PG County and only in, well not to give it away, but McLean and Old Towne Alexandria...NOT exactly PG County. I love the game, so I guess this is what I do...I wish that I had the caliber that a Bethesda offered down here in the R.R.!

 
At Thu Oct 13, 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Mclean and Alexandria are definitely not bad places to be at. That's where the money is...it's definitely in Bethesda that's for sure.

Good Luck down there.

 

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