"most people free-born will submit to anything for a salary."
--charlotte bronte, jane eyre
"as the whores say, why the hell should i be a waitress?"
--margaret atwood, lady oracle
Okay, I got a job at a really horrible local restaurant about 3 weeks ago. It's a place I myself refuse to eat, on the principle that if I want salmonella I'll eat Malt-O-Meal, not go out to a faux-quaint restaurant with decorations that are supposed to look country and instead look like they were stolen from a Junior Leaguer and pay $6 for a chicken fried steak with huge globules of egg in the batter. But I needed a job badly (saving up for college, you know... the reason WHY I have to save up is a whole other, bitter story) so I took a job as a waitress at the Satan Crap Food Cafe (perhaps that's not the exact name). From day one, it SUCKED ASS.
First of all, do you think the Pig Puke Cafe employs bus boys? Oh, hell, no. Which means the waitresses get to clear off the tables after the people leave. I honestly do not know how on Earth people can get their tables so filthy, not to mention the floor *under* the tables. I'm not exactly Miss Manners, but I manage to keep my food in the general plate area. These people get gravy on the BOTTOM of their plates, which takes a special kind of slovenliness... leave huge globules of ketchup on the table tops... and, my personal favorite, don't bother to take their napkin out of their lap when they finish eating and place it on the table, but brush it off so it falls under the table and I have to get down on my hands and knees and fish it out (this is among the people who actually put their napkins in their laps... they mostly keep them on the table and wipe their hands as they go, or, as I saw one guy ACTUALLY DO YESTERDAY, without even a hint of irony (not that that would have excused it,but it would have at least made it comprehendable), TUCK THE NAPKIN INTO THEIR COLLAR LIKE A BIB!). After I get all the scroungy, ketchup-and-gravy-and-God-knows-what-else-encrusted plates off the table, I get to take them back to the dishwashing area, where there dwells a creature hideous beyond words... the dishwasher guy from hell, a beast coated with prison tattoos, grime, and grease, with chains hanging out of every pocket and evil, squinty eyes, whose sole joy in life (aside from smoking generic cigs and whacking off to late-nite Cinemax) seems to be making lewd comments to waitresses. And until last night, who was his *favorite* waitress? Yup... lucky me. He was always saying shit to me so disgusting that I honestly almost puked one time... I was standing in the wait station shaking halfway between crying and vomiting (and I am not easily upset) and I came *thatclose* to giving notice right then. Last night he was talking his usual shit and I was just like, "whatever," and then he goes, "hey, you don't like me much, do you?" and I was like, "No, you say some stuff that really pisses me off," and he was like, "oh", and walked away. Hopefully he'll back off now, but I wouldn't be *too* hopeful.
The only thing that sucks worse than the filth and the scummy dishboy is...you guessed it... the clientele. The Poop on a Plate Cafe attracts only the most discerning customers, roughly the same demographic that can be seen buying stretch pants at KMart. A few of my favorites: The Health Bitch, a woman who came in and ordered a hamburger and went on about how I had to make sure it was well done because she could just barely stand to eat meat these days, there was so much icky stuff in it (I had to bite my tongue to resist the urge to say, "Then get a salad, you whining turd!"), made me get her a straw through which to drink her tea because she just couldn't put her mouth on the filthydirty glass (does she not realize that the tea she is sucking through the straw is itself in contact with the glass? Or that putting her mouth on the glass is no worse and probably a little better than using the restaurant silverware?), and basically drove me crazy and ran me ragged with all her little health-nut demands. Then I go over into the smoking section to bus a table, and guess who had snuck over for a cigarette? Health nut my ass. Then there's The Petulant Old Lady, who hates me from the second I say "Hi there, how are y'all doing this evening?" to the time I say, "I'll leave your check with y'all, you have a good evening!" I get at least one every shift, and they all do the same thing: glare at me as I walk up, snarl as they order their food, look at me like, "No, stupid", when I ask them ANYTHING, and, of course, make an unholy mess of their table for me to clean up. At least they usually tip pretty well. The WORST is when people come in and order six million things, go on and on about, "oh, this is such good service!" and then DON'T TIP. What do they think? That I give good service because I care about their dining experience? That waitressing is my art and I do it solely for love? Fuck, no! It's all about the tips. DUH. In short, our customers piss me off. One day I was really disgusted with my job (more than usual) and decided to amuse myself by coming up with new restaurant slogans in my head. My two favorites were "Bad food for worse people" and "If you think our food stinks, wait till you smell our clientele!" My brother had one to add: "If our food makes you sick now, wait till you watch our customers eat it!"
One more thing. I hate when people ask me what on the menu is good. Like I eat that crap! Every time they go, "Hmmm, what's good?" I'm tempted to either say, "Nothing!" or, "Well, have you tried Mejor Que Nada?" (MQN is a restaurant in town that *doesn't* suck ass, I should explain.)
Okay, I'll shut up now. Let me just close with a warning to the youth of America: Waitressing may look like an easy way to get a little extra pocket money, but it's nothing but trouble. I got into it, and now I can't get out (at least, until I get another job). So kids, when it comes to waiting tables... be smart... don't start.