Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Acid casualty with a reposessed car

Vietnam Vet playin air guitar!
It's just the shit-kickin' speed-takin', truck-drivin' neighbors downstairs.
Truck-drivin' neighbors downstairs (Yellow Sweat) by Beck

No kidding, I think that I have waited on this guy at least twice in the past month. Here is the thing: We are a tourist-based economy. No surprise. Destin, Florida. Awesome fishing, the most beautiful emearald green beaches with sand that looks and feels like granulated sugar. Golf courses galore, things for the kids, the parents, even a nice Outlet Mall, with all of last-years latest from Gucci, Coach and Brooks Brothers. Lots and lots and lots of restaurants. Pretty much every chain has a location in Destin (except for the real upscale ones, i.e. Ruth's Chris or McCormick and Schmick's) and there are many, many more privately held ones. Starting mid-spring and continuing straight through the summer is boom time around here. Boom time. People with crazy amounts of money, looking to spend it in exchange for services and a good time. Now is the time however for the "locals" of which the picture presents a perfect snap-shot of the ideal specimen. Who are the typical people that come to the Panhandle of Florida to vacation? Here are my prime examples with a little commentary on what it is like to wait on them working in a restaurant where the food is fresh, good and fairly expensive.

The Redneck Local (pictured above)

Drinks: Light beer or Bud bottle. Could care less if there is a happy hour on draft beer, drinks bottled beer, no exceptions. His woman may join him for one drink, something fruity and frozen, but more often than not will just have diet-coke. Someone has to take care of her man when he gets too intoxicated to function later in the evening.

Eats: Steaks, usually a porterhouse, though sometimes a ribeye. In any case, the steaks are usually the largest on the menu and are cooked well-done. If he gets the Ribeye, he will complain that it is fatty, even though most of the normal marbling has been cooked away.
She will get the small filet (pronouncing it feelett-miniown attempting to act like she knows it isn't pronounced like it is spelled and tries some sort of a southern-french type accent) and it is cooked well done. Since we are in the south, we have their prefferred sweet-potatos. Good thing, too.

Tips: $2 unless the chick has ever worked in a restaurant (he hasn't, that is certain) in which case the tip is 15%, but she will utterly piss off her dude as he attempts to convince her that it is way too much to leave.

Why they are in the pan-handle: Someone needs to build fences, roofs, and roads down here.

Uniforms/Habits: These days it is long-sleeve flannel shirts and jeans, but see above picture for the summer uniform. Often wears a hat for a Big Time Southern football school, but has about as much chance of NOT having attended said college as your chance to find some brand of smokes on them. Many times (if they are from out of state) they come in cigarette dangling from their mouths asking for the smoking section. In the summer time, be thankful you got the tank top on them. If you are a dude, then you are "Buddy" and a female is "Sugar."

The Snow Birds!

Drinks: Happy-Hour drinks! They come and though they have never been there before KNOW through word of mouth that our Happy Hour has many premium liqours, including their favorite, Beefeater Gin Martinis! At $2.69 a pop, you aren't making very much, but what the fuck, let them have fun!

Eats: Your cheapest steak, split, cooked medium. "Bring an extra bowl with the salad but we'll pay for an additional side." You're fucking-a-right you will! These people also have the annoying habit of not telling you what they want until they have finished their first round. They will converse happily with each other, just the two of them at your four or six-top, drinking $5 worth of good hootch. When they are good and ready, they will tell you what they want to order, though any of us could have guessed already. They will also stress to you several times that they aren't in any rush, and that they will be upset if things come out too fast. Great. So all in all, they will sit at your table for more than an hour and a half, and have a $35 bill. As long as they don't get dessert and coffee, you will survive. If that happens, write off that table for the night and concentrate your services elsewhere.

Tips: 15%. Almost no exceptions, although it will sometimes be 20%. Not because you were so great, or went our of your way, just because they always leave 20% at a restauarant. "Oprah told the woman 'that was what you leave these days'."

Why they are in the Panhandle: Because it is cheap to come off-season (they are normally here October to February only) and it is freaking cold in Cincinatti right now.

Uniforms/Habits: Absolute musts are the trucker-caps with their military affiliation or else a touristy one that may simply say "Destin" or where ever they may hail from. Females will always come equipped with a coat, since the AC is always on here in Florida. Habits are luring you into a conversation about yourself, which will then be followed by them telling you all about themsleves. CAUTION: If two Snow Bird couples sit near each other, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER expose them to one another. Life stories will ensue, followed by golf dates, shopping sprees and who the hell knows, maybe wife-swapping. Putting two sets of Snow Birds near each other is like sparks and gasoline. Your section goes UP IN FLAMES!! Two 15-20% tips on miniscule checks from two of your three table station, for HOURS worth of work. I have seen them dominate a section sitting at a table like love-struck teens AFTER they have eaten and paid their bills for two hours at a time. That means no turning that table, no new guests, no new tips. Do they realize what they just did to ruin your night? Uhm, the answer is no.

The Post Golf dinner.

Drinks: Note all the water on the table. They are dehydrated from playing golf, and may have had a beer or scotch already at the 19th hole. They will drink water and lots of it. One guy may be drinking beers, but he is an alcoholic and tolerated by these guys because he can drive the ball 300 yards every time.

Eats: Could run the gamut. Steaks, pastas, rack of ribs. They will usually add lobster tails, though.

Tips: A guy who golfs can score a brownie point or two by asking where they played, comment on the course, and chat golf for 30 seconds. This will get you exactly zero extra tip, since they are already tipping 15-20% judging you solely on keeping their ever-empty water glasses full and get their orders right. If an attractive female waits on these guys, she is going to act ditzy, get treated in a sexist manner, and tipped very well. They will often ask a male server about titty bars. Their wives are shopping.

Why they are in the Panhandle: Duh. Good for the local escort services, golf courses, and yes often restaurants. Usually loaded with cash.

Uniforms/Habits: Greg Norman gear, Nike Golf gear, khaki pants, stupid hats, and golfers tans. Habits are to act like they are going to hook you up with a fat tip, often boasting that "We'll be one of your best tables of the night" then leave, giving the "verbal tip;" "Hey, great job, every thing was FANTASTIC, tonight. Really super." $23 on $150 unless you are C-cup or larger in which case you had to endure 90 minutes of them hitting on you, bragging and showing off for $30 on $150.

The newly married Baptist Couple.

Drinks: Water or sweet tea.

Eats: Usually a modified version of one of your dishes, something tasty, until you take out the shitake mushrooms, sundried tomoates and red pepper. They may let you keep the Gouda cheese on there after a detailed explanation of what Gouda cheese is, but most often just want pasta, chicken and cream sauce.

Tips: Random. They are usually very young, therefore it isn't their fault, noone has told them how to tip yet. Daddy or Mommy has taken care of everything up to this point in their lives, and they are down here alone often for the first time. They have money, and if they knew how to tip would likely do so. Unfortunately they usually just leave a couple of bucks on a $45 check. Bonus Tip: This couple is most likely to leave you a "pass-it-on-card" as part of your tip.

Why they are in the Panhandle: Often times they are sent there on some sort of religious activity and come during off-peak season for the reduced prices. Sometimes they are honeymooning, but the only thing that is certain is the titty bars aren't getting richer with these kids around. Not that that is a bad thing, of course!

Uniforms/Habits: Uniform is a pinpoint cotton oxford and khakis on him, and frumpy dresses (even if she is hot) on her. Their habits are to act clueless and barely speak to one another, nor to you. They will be going to the movies after dinner, and even after that will barely speak.

There are many more types out there, and I will get to all of them in due course. Destin is nothing, if not predictable. People crazy from the heat! Please take no offense by any of these "stereotypes" if you recognize some of this in yourselves, just change what it is that you are doing and prove me wrong! I love exceptions to these rules.


At Wed Jan 11, 05:49:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Guinness said...

Right on! You've prompted me to put a little thing together on "joeaverage" to answer the question of where these folks go when it's not feeding time and how they behave. Enjoy! (It will be posted by this evening.

At Wed Jan 11, 05:44:00 PM, Blogger Desultory Girl said...

This is too funny. At the gym, a few of my co-workers and I always discussed how we needed to turn it into a fricken sitcom.

But we definitely have those same very types here in NW, DC.

At Thu Jan 12, 09:14:00 AM, Blogger waltoncad said...

Oh, I can just imagine DC, having worked in McClean and Old Town, Alexandria. How many humorous scenes in the history of movies/tv have you seen filmed in a restaurant? Same with the gym. It must be a riot to watch someone try and figure out a new machine...come to think of it, even the old ones. Or to watch someone so out of shape as they try and work out. How often do you get to watch people hit on each other? The stereo-typical "I love my body" people, who can't stop looking at their muscles?

At Thu Jan 12, 09:13:00 PM, Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Oh, bro, it's everywhere. I almost forgot you were right where I was at one time. You know all about that, especially with all them Northern Va folkes.

Fortunately, I was doing my own thing most of the time that I didn't see what was going on with everyone else. But I did know who was hitting on me. And there were the "I love my body" types.

At Fri Jan 13, 07:26:00 AM, Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Now I see what we have to do to get you to post. We need to change your blog to, "Loaded while I scribble."

I'll be speaking to alli about thi ;)

At Sun Feb 05, 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Waltoncad, where are you??? Have you been abducted by aliens?

I'm sure you've got something of interest to say on any and all events that have transpired since January 10th!!

We miss you!

At Wed Feb 08, 11:23:00 AM, Blogger waltoncad said...

Lots of crap, just no time. It sucks. I was almost never in my life a diarist, though I have always wanted to be. I will try harder to get something down soon.

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