The Restaurant Life

Since I spend 4-6 nights per week of my life working at a restaurant I am accumulating quite a share of hilarious experiences. For those of you unfortunate enough to never have worked in a restaurant yourself it may not be quite as impacting 🙂 but indulge me anyway…

The restaurant I work at is located fairly close to USC, and you combine that with the fact that we sell 1/2 lb. cheeseburgers and fries for $1.95 makes us a popular destination for college students. Now some of the girls I work with rather despise the USC kids (as we call them b/c seriously these 20, 21 year-olds are KIDS!) mostly because as they are not of age they don’t drink and therefore have $10-$15 checks with crappy tips. That part, while it doesn’t thrill me, doesn’t bother me so much either b/c I understand being a broke college student. However, I do have this apparently unrealistic expectation that college students actually posses an average level of intellect.

Case in point, last night. So it’s 9:20 pm or so (we usually close at 10 pm on Mondays) and it’s been a pretty dead night, even for a Monday. So my lovely bussers have reset the room adjacent to our bar for lunch the next day, and I am politely informing the 3 people that have sat in there while passing at least 8 empty tables in the bar that the room is closed. They then proceed to let me know that about 20 people are on their way to join them. This procures both good and bad feelings in me. Good because a party of that size is going to be some unexpected money on an otherwise dead night (yay for money any way it comes!). Bad because as I realize most of these kids are probably not ordering alcohol it is going to be a whole lot of work for relatively little money (even with the gratuity you can be certain I am adding to their check).

As the children begin to arrive one of them has the crazy notion to ask me if they can do separate checks. Are you kidding me?! There’s like 20 people here so far, and you’re all ordering all the same type of food off our happy hour menu, and you want me to keep track of that, especially when you get up and move around to talk to your friends? I don’t think so. My look pretty much says all this while my lips mutter out a simple “I’m sorry there’s just no way I can do that with this many people”. Fortunately there is one guy with a brain who sees my wordless message and assures his friend it will be fine, and they will work it out. Yay for smart guy!

Meanwhile the 20 people is really more like 45+, so we have effectively used every table in the room with the exception of 2 (which means my bussers set that whole room up for nothing as they will now have to do it all again, complete with moving the tables back into their pre-rush-of-crazy-students formation). The other great thing about large parties of college students who go to private schools is that they have this entitlement thing where they just expect everyone to do what they want. So as the 7 cheeseburgers, 5 chicken sandwiches, 4 wings….(you get the idea) are being brought out by my previously mentioned awesome bussers/food runners (way to go Roman and Joe!) they simply expect them to know precisely what they should be getting. This however does not take me by surprise,  so I simply make a rather loud announcement that I need everyone to LISTEN when the guys come and call out their food and claim it otherwise they won’t get it. I find this really is the best way b/c otherwise I inevitably have food just thrown down on the table (b/c no one is listening) and then several people are like “where’s my —-?” and I’m like “well it’s been sitting on the end of the table getting cold for 10 minutes b/c you didn’t claim it when I asked who had it  – but you enjoy!”

So this progresses as I’m also trying to inform them that we are in fact closing so I need to get everyone’s order in. As I’m picking up their multitude of drinks I kind of have a PMS moment (at least I think…) and I just go off on our fabulous bartender, Fred saying, “One would think that college students would have the presence of mind to at least call when they are bringing close to 50 people to an establishment. Even a ‘hey we’re on our way’ shout out would be better than nothing. But no, they just waltz in take over a whole room and assume it’s fine.” (Which, I mean, it is; we have the room; but that is SO not the point! )

I conclude that my problem is that I expect everyone to be smart, and then I’m disappointed when they’re not. I need to lower my expectations, but seriously come on now, how low do we have to go?! Anyway it all ended fine, and they weren’t even THAT bad. Smart guy handled organizing the bill, and he was super nice about it all.(Second yay for smart guy!) But the funny thing was the total bill for that party was about the same as a party of 7 we had in the dining room. It’s moments like that when I’m like, why am I a cocktail waitress again?

But c’est la vie! It was money I didn’t have before, so praise Jesus for that, and it is kind of an adrenaline rush serving that many people at once (I was up till after 2 am). And that friends is just one of the many stories I have – the moral of which is “Always call ahead if you are bringing a large party to a restaurant (which really should go without saying but I’m letting it go…) and even if the tip is included you should ALWAYS tip extra for a party of that size b/c it is a LOT of work.” (Side note, said USC students did NOT tip any extra…:( )

Till next time…

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~ by Shannon on January 13, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Restaurant Life”

  1. Ohhh my goodness!!! I can virtually hear your voice as I’m reading this! And the paragraph that starts with “As the children begin to arrive…” had me totally ROFLMAO!!!! <——I trust you know what that means. You are so hilarious Shannon. And also an amazing writer! You seriously need to write a fiction series based on your life! It would be a bestseller!!!

  2. I love that you think I’m funny! It totally boosts my self esteem 🙂

  3. Oh Shanny, you have such strong opinions; where is the grace I know is in there? 😉 Note: “c’est la vie!” is something I did not know was spelt that away until reading it. I just wanted to mention that in light of our “subtitles” conversation recently. Oh how you love them, I know it. =)

    • The grace is what I actually show to those people 🙂 – this is where I get to express what I really think.

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