The Elbow Man

You know I’m a Lakers fan. I’m a basketball fan as well. And a basketball player, though not for a number of years.

When you’re partisan and watch a lot of hoops, you identify a number of opposition tendencies – favorite moves, if you will – that really grate on you. Like M.L. Carr waving the towel. Like Danny Ainge crying at the refs, palms up, beckoning, ‘How can you make that call?’ Like Bill Laimbeer meeting a ball-handler coming down the lane with his chest . . . and then flailing his arms like a human dual-switchblade across the offensive player’s face.

These vintage examples are the kinds of things that make you stand before your TV set, palms up, beckoning, ‘How can you lie? You know you did it!’ They make you hack at the air, wishing Bill Laimbeer’s face was under your claws.

The same thing happens as a waiter. Tonight I witnessed one of my opponent’s favorite moves: The Elbow On The Check Presenter.

Conversation Domination Implement
Conversation Domination Implement

Only a Camper will do it. (I’ll address Campers in-full another time.) This is the party who will order their cocktails and immediately advise you, ‘We’re not in a hurry. We’re going to enjoy our cocktails and then we’ll look at the menu.’ Since Campers is not the subject here, I won’t detail the rest of the Camper M.O. Be assured that this posture will be maintained at every juncture of the dining experience.

Elbow Man (usually a male, though in rare cases he can be a woman) will (begin to) end the night’s dinner like this: Thanking you for bringing the check. ‘I’ll get that.’ He pulls the check towards him and places his elbow on top of it. He proceeds to continue expounding. No need for me to modify ‘expounding.’ He’s been expounding generally through the whole meal, and he will continue. The elbow, always, pins the check to the table. Five minutes . . . ten . . . twenty . . . The Elbow will be right there. You could throw scalding water on his face, and he’d block it only with his left hand. Right elbow: planted on the check.

Elbow Man is a blowhard showoff. He has money, or just as likely, he has enough credit to front like he has money. He desperately needs the approval that as a man with money he has a lot of wisdom to offer. And he’s not above milking the penultimate moment for more of his own gratification (well, he’s not above anything).

His mate (or mates) is a suck-up, probably because he doesn’t want to pay the bill – or even his part of the bill. And, probably, he shouldn’t have to after the punishment he’s received through this meal. So he will keep nodding, looking deeply into Elbow Man’s eyes, murmuring assent, grinning obsequieously.

Elbow Man has been torturing his mate the whole meal. Nevermind his self-important air-sucking – the fact that he’s invited his mate to this expensive restaurant has created an anxiety about paying the hefty check, from the beginning.

Who would invite me, a man obviously  of modest means, to this fine place and expect me to pay for $75 wine (that he ordered) and $45 steaks? He knows I can’t afford that. He must be planning on picking up the check . . . But then . . . what if he doesn’t? I’m screwed! I’d better suck ass here, the whole way. There should be plenty of chances to tell him how wise he is, how elegant his new house is going to be.

No apologies for the digression. From my POV, Elbow Man is just a jackass. I might or might not be trying to get out early. I might or might not be trying to get out, period, after a long night. I might or might not be hoping to turn this table. I might or might not be under pressure from my manager because there are people waiting . . .

I always try to divorce myself from my real-time problems in the restaurant. Though I don’t believe a party ‘owns’ a table for the whole night, I also can’t imagine ever forcing someone to leave (unless otherwise agreed upon – which does happen with savvy manager/hosts). As a diner myself, I can’t accept that.

But I still hate the Elbow Man. Why?

Because he can pay at any time. And he still doesn’t have to leave. He knows this, and he still doesn’t pay. His behavior simply exposes his own venality. He’s not screwing me (though it sometimes seems that way, and it’s sometimes true); he’s screwing his mate. He’s feeding his ego, holding hostage – the ransom being someones time, their soul.

Dude. Just put the card in the presenter. I’ll run the card. You can sign. You can sit there for the rest of the night if you need to. We don’t have a private SWAT team service to root you out. I’ll still fill your coffee. I’ll even open another check if you want to drink more. What’s your problem?

But then, I know what your problem is. Once you pay, your guest (hostage) is free to leave.

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Tryptophan Friday

I was cut in advance tonight, Friday, due to extremely light post-Thanksgiving reservations. So instead of a post-mortem later tonight, I’ll use this chance to take care of a few odds and ends.

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WordPress offers statistics for blog sites. I’m excited to see that my traffic has been increasing steadily. While some people might start a blog merely to vent their thoughts and feelings, and others might start with the idea of having a structured way to assemble a personal journal, most want to have readers. And even the previous two types quickly catch the bug of trying to rack up more hits. Once you’ve put some thoughts out there, you crave the exposure and feedback.

So, to my readers who like what I’m doing, I urge you to add Waiternotes blog to your news reader. What is that? It’s a site or mini-program in your browser that retrieves new stories/posts for you. I use Google Reader. Most people have a Google account (gmail, Google Docs, Groups, Picasa, Maps, etc.). Google Reader makes it pretty easy. Click the link I’ve provided, then look for the text box at the lower right for Tips and Tricks:

 

Tips and tricks

If you find yourself repeatedly visiting a website to check for updates, or if you just stumble across a page you want to keep track of, you can easily subscribe to it in Google Reader using the subscribe bookmark.

To use the subscribe bookmark, simply drag the link below to your bookmarks bar. Then, when you’re on a web page, you can click the bookmark to view it in Google Reader.

Subscribe…

Once you see the feed preview, confirm your subscription by clicking the “Subscribe” button within Reader.

 

Pasted from <http://www.google.com/reader/view/>

 

Drag that Subscribe button to a bookmarks toolbar and you can start using it. In this case, find Waiternotes blog. Click that Subscribe bookmark and it takes you to Google Reader, where it makes you click Subscribe (on the web page) once again. From then on, when you go to your Reader page, you’ll see a link for Waiternotes every time I make a new post.

There are many other readers available. Yahoo, and I’m sure MSN have them too. It saves me a lot of time in my reading. And it will make it a lot easier for you to keep up with this blog.

google-reader

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In fact, one of my subscriptions is a great blog I’d like to recommend to you formally. Mikethewaiter.com is must reading for me. Mike is a big-time veteran – he claims more than 40 years in the biz. He’s got lots of great old stories, advice, and personal perspective. He doesn’t shy away from the controversial stance. And he’s just flat-out an entertaining read. Check him out. You will enjoy it.

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Comments are much-appreciated here, as are questions. If something in one of my posts piques your interest or your ire, give a Comment. I’ll most likely respond, or else save your question for an actual blog post, if the subject is rich enough.

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That’s all the housekeeping I have for now.

It was fortunate to get the night off. Virtually my whole family is in town, staying at the house. While a little five hour break for me to make some money isn’t too much of an intrusion, it’ll be nice to spend the whole night with everybody. After all, the Lakers are on . . .

 

Kobe Bryant - courtesy Los Angeles Times
Kobe Bryant - courtesy Los Angeles Times

Top Ten Things For Thanks

I am thankful for:

  1. The Lakers. It’s embarrassing how much they affect my life. When they win, my mood elevates automatically. Off-season, I’m adrift. Once the season starts, my life has structure. I know it’s not right. It’s just how it is.
  2. Daylight savings time in the Fall. The effects of that extra hour last me almost a week.
  3. John August’s Screenwriting Blog. He’s real. But it’s easy to find ‘real’ screenwriter blogs; they all use four-letter words and tell you about what they had for breakfast. What separates John is first, his compassion, and second, his no-nonsense expertise. He shares freely.
  4. Hendrick’s Gin. The work is done. The only thing ahead of me is a few hours of unstructured pleasure time – web surfing, computer poker, reading, playing music, watching the Lakers . . . and an icy martini. This gin is delicious.
    Hendrick's Gin
    Hendrick's Gin

     It’s got enough of that juniper bite to get your attention, enough botanical flavors to be interesting, but also refined enough that it goes down nice and smooth.

  5. The weather in Southern California. I spent half of my youth in the midwest, where there is about two months of good weather a year. The rest is either cold and icy or hot and sticky. Today it’s partly cloudy and temperate. My houseguests had coffee this morning sitting on the front porch. After Thanksgiving Dinner, me and the guys will have cigars outside.
  6. My family. It’s a good group. We’re fortunate to have had a majority of prosperous, good times vs. bad. This year things are the farthest ‘down’ since the ’70s, but it hasn’t changed a thing with us, except we’re spending less money and scrapping more for it. I love them all.
  7. strats-super-reverbFender Musical Instruments. My favorite stuff to play. I own four or five Stratocasters, a couple Telecasters, and several Fender Amplifiers. This pic is with a couple Strats and my fave amp, the Super Reverb. Of course, unlike this picture, mine are both vintage, Blackface Supers.
  8. Microsoft One Note. This is a hidden gem of MS Office. If you have it on your computer, open it up and look through the ‘Tutorial’ notebook that opens automatically. I’ll bet you think of some way it can be useful. For instance, as you might know, I’m writing a screenplay. In outlining, traditionally, I’ve written notes (often quite lengthy) in the margins of the printed copy, then attempted to integrate those notes into the next draft. But the notes are everywhere, out of order, hard to read, cryptic because of space considerations – a mess. Now, in One Note, I just log the scene and type away at my note. Needless to say, editing and reordering these notes is a breeze. When I’m done, I print the notes – nice, neat, and organized – and hit the next draft. I also use One Note on this blog. I have separate pages of the Blog Notebook for Ideas, Drafts, and Brainstorming.
  9. Loyal Customers. Without these great folks, I would be poor and out of work. Just as importantly, they make my job a fun thing to do. Thank you for having personalities and treating us waiters as the real people we are.
  10. Thanksgiving Day Itself. Most restaurants are still closed for Thanksgiving. The structure of society, though crumbling yearly, is still intact!

I hope everyone out there is having a happy Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Thanks for reading!

Customer Types: Cell Phone Users

 

I know blogging waiters are supposed to be deeply critical – even outraged – by everything their guests do, but I have to break form here.

We’re all cell phone users. Even in restaurants. I don’t think even 5% turn them off entirely. The conscientious put them on vibrate. The rest don’t bother.

My position is, I don’t care. Use them or not. It’s your dining experience. To the degree it affects other diners’ experience, that’s on you, not me. I’m not policing people on that.

I find that behavior problems in restaurants generally are an even split between true offenders and a-holes who can’t accept other people having a good time. Or similarly, a-holes who don’t understand they’re having dinner in a public place, not their own dining room.

The server trying to mediate such problems is in a no-win situation. Usually it’s another table in his station. He alienates one or the other or both. Tips are blown either way. The ‘offending’ table in another servers’ station causes consternation from the other server because now his table is pissed, while yours is happy. He gets screwed.

Usually I pretend that I said something to the offending table. Sometimes I’ll say something subtle but non-confrontational pointing out the offending behavior: ‘I thought there was a riot going on over here and I rushed right over . . . Haha.’ Or, ‘I’ll wait and come back when she’s done with her phone call.’

But 95% of the time I stay out of it. Let someone make an ass of himself; it’s not my problem. Showing extreme forbearance in the face of obnoxious behavior usually gets me great tips not just from that table, but from surrounding tables observing my patience. ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ they’ll say.

All that said, I think people using their cell phones at the table is rude to their dinner companions. I don’t care about me. It’s no different to me, if you think about it, whether they’re talking on their phone or to their fellow diners. I’m supposed to stay out of their way and do my job around it.

And what difference is it, to other tables, if they’re talking loudly on the phone or talking loudly to their companions? Sometimes I think people get pissed at things because  they think they should be pissed.

The ringer thing is pretty bad, though. You should expect chatter, talking, shouting, clinking of silverware and glasses, music, even an occasional baby crying when you go out to a restaurant. But you shouldn’t have to be jarred by bells, and sirens, and rap or rock ‘n’ roll ringtones.

Finally, to characterize restaurant cell phone users, I think they are self-centered people. They’re Number One – after the staff, the rest of the diners, and most importantly, the people they’re dining with. Breaking bread is a sacred social tradition. It’s a time to commune with people, talk, enjoy a moment. When a person is scorning his present company for someone miles away, it’s extremely disrespectful.

Thinking about it more, I’ll hedge a bit on the use of cell phones at lunch. Often, these are business people who are only eating because they have to do it to survive and get through the rest of the day. If they weren’t in a restaurant, they’d be in the office gobbling snack machine crap and washing it down with cold coffee. A restaurant lunch is really just a slightly less structured part of their work day. In other words, they may be in a restaurant, but they’re still working. And it doesn’t seem, at lunch, that anyone ever minds people using their phones.

I’m just happy to have them. If we didn’t get their money, it would be Nestle,  Mars, or Frito-Lay.

Sorry, But I’m In A Bad Mood

    I take pride that I’m able to distance myself from my real life problems when I walk in the door of the restaurant. Not only is it respectful to your fellow workers and your customers, it’s good business. As we always say, ‘This is how we get paid!’ You’re not going to get good tips walking around with a sullen face and sour attitude.

    But yes, I am a human being. Although I am able to effectively put on a pleasant demeanor and exercise extreme patience, things do get on my nerves.

    I’m not in a bad mood today – hey, I’m off! – but that won’t stop me from starting a new feature in the Waiternotes Blog: Sorry, But I’m In A Bad Mood – Things That Get Under My Skin.

  • Guests who can’t wait to request things even as you’re doing it. I first noticed this irritating behavior at the Fish House, a place where we used large oval trays (the kind you have place on a stand in the dining room) to deliver everything. It was a large restaurant, so to save steps, you’d use your tray almost like a personal side station, loading plates, drinks, silverware, anything you were going to need for your tables that trip into your station. I couldn’t count how many times delivering coffee I would set down the cup and saucer with one hand, the teaspoon with the other, and a guest would blurt, ‘Can I have cream and sugar?’
    I’d think, ‘Hey, my tail doesn’t have an opposable thumb! I’ve got it right here.’ And I reach back to the tray to retrieve them.

    Same with ketchup and fries. It’s just right here, dude. Calm down.

    Similarly, ‘We’re ready to order now,’ as I’m standing before the table with my order pad and pen in hand.

    Opening wine for guests with full cocktails in front of them: ‘You can just open that now. We’ll finish our cocktails first.’

    On initial visit to the table: ‘Maybe you can take our cocktail order?’ Why do you think I’m here? Is there any restaurant that doesn’t take cocktail orders first?

    Parallel to this is the guest who rushes the order-taking process, inquiring about their choices at every opportunity before you have a chance to present them as you would anyway. ‘I’ll have a green salad. What kind of dressings do you have?’ It’s a good thing you asked. Otherwise we would have served it dry. This is the same person to whom I’ll respond, ‘Ranch, Blue Cheese, or Vinaigrette.’ ‘Do you have 1000 Island?’  Sheesh.

  • The First Table Is Never Good Enough. I’ve learned that on my Bad Mood days, no matter where I seat a guest, they won’t like the table I’ve chosen. Table for two by the window – ‘Can we have a booth?’ A nice, spacious booth – ‘Do you have a smaller table?’ On the patio – ‘Do you have something inside?’ In the heart of the dining room – ‘Is there something quieter, away from the bustle?’
    My current dinner house, Carney’s, has a narrow floor plan. All tables are against a wall – none floating in the middle of the floor. Amazingly, we always get this request: ‘Can we sit somewhere away from the traffic?’ Dude, the whole place is an aisle way! There’s nowhere that people don’t constantly pass your table.
  • Do You Have House Wine? The pro answer is, ‘We do not designate one wine as House Wine. We have several selections though.’ Unfortunately, on my Bad Mood days I’m more likely than not to respond, ‘The Smoking Loon is the least expensive, if that’s what you mean.’
    When I’m in a better frame of mind it’s fun to list off the wines in this situation, complete with descriptions, and watch the guest squirm trying to decipher which one is the cheapest without asking which one is the cheapest. ‘The Ste. Michele is dry with hints of apple. The La Crema has a touch of butter and pear. The Clos La Chance is oaky with some nutmeg on the bouquet.’ The eyes go glassy as she tries to picture which name she remembers seeing on the bottom shelf in the supermarket . . .

    My favorite though is when the guest just says, ‘I really can’t tell the difference, so it doesn’t matter to me.’ Thank you! That’s when I say, ‘You might as well have the Ste. Michele. It’s the least expensive, but it’s a very nice glass of wine, crisp and dry. If you don’t like it, I’ll take it back and get you something else, no charge.’

    Just be comfortable in your own skin, people. I’ll try to make you feel good for it.

Vicodin Theory and Ciera the Open Book

As promised in the last post, I’ll reveal the results from a test case of my theory regarding Frank the Bartender and his Vicodin addiction.

When I left you last, Frank had a hell of a night Friday from the servers’ and customers’ perspectives. He was cool and level-headed at the start of his shift (usually not the case), and he was an animal of efficiency making drinks.

Saturday night was a different story. Starting the evening, before guests had begun to fill his bar and the restaurant, he was like a feral cat, clawing and howling, jumpy and aggressive, scared of shadows, so hyper he was incoherent. Through the shift he couldn’t focus. Prying his attention from his newest canned soliloquy (his wife broke her femur and had to adjust her medication to be functional) was impossible. When he would cast his gaze at our arm-waving, we’d call orders – simple ones like two Ketel rocks and a Cosmo – and he’d grab a glass, hesitate looking into the air, then beg a repeat of the order. A typical mess.

The difference?

Friday is when Jacqueline comes in with his weekend Vicodin baggie. As mentioned before, Jacqueline’s husband, Bart, is a bartender at a nearby establishment. He’s had health problems over the years, like bad shoulders, bad back, bad knees. And hence he’s on the Vicodin train. Though Bart uses Vicodin recreationally – Jacqueline says he pops one and watches football on his days off – he doesn’t need or want anywhere near the volume prescribed. As a side note, Bart like Frank is also a long-time ‘sober’ bartender. Also like Frank, Bart has an elastic idea about the meaning of sober. He smokes pot from breakfast to bedtime, and of course takes the occasional Vicodin excursion.

So, since Frank chews Vicodin like Smartees, he can’t hold on to a supply for more than a day or two. I don’t know what his supply system is during the week, but when Friday comes around, he’s probably been dry or nearly so for at least a day. At five o’clock he’s just normally medicated, probably having gulped his last pill before getting to work. He’s calm. Jacqueline gives him the baggie when she gets in at 5:30. Frank visits the restroom. For the next four hours, he’s Vicodin-charged, but not overdosed.

Saturday, that baggie has been beckoning him since he woke up in the morning. He can’t resist. He pops three or four before work to feel extra good. The result is that he’s crazed. He probably does a couple more during the shift to get completely out of his head.

I think my theory was proven.

Saturday also had a funny story from Ciera the Open Book. Ciera is fun and funny and loose and a daily drinker. She always has one ‘boyfriend’ or more, as well as two or three guys she’s dating/being pursued by. I’ve talked about her before. She had us in the back, telling about her Friday night (she was off work):

‘It was a nightmare! I had Rod (her long-time on/off boyfriend who lives in San Diego) calling me saying he was coming over. I had Angus (her most recent boyfriend who is now also on/off) texting he was coming over. (Neither knows about the other.) I told Angus I was going out with Candy but he said it was too late, he was coming anyway. And Rod is already driving on the 5. I didn’t know what to do. So I called Rod and tried to start a fight so he’d say fuck you, I’m going back home. But not too bad of a fight because he’s taking me to the Charger game tomorrow and I really want to go.’

‘Quite a highwire act, huh?’ I said.

‘You have no idea. But it didn’t work. I couldn’t really light him up because of the Charger game, so he didn’t get pissed enough. Luckily, he got there first and I said, “Let’s go get a room!” So he said “Okay,” and we went to the Hilton. I kept getting texts from Angus – “I’m outside your house. Where the fuck are you?”‘

That was a particularly delicious story from Ciera, but that should give you a whiff of what she’s like. Without embarrassment, she’ll tell you anything about her life you’d like to hear – and some stuff you might not. Like when she was walking gingerly one night. She said, ‘God, my ass hurts. Me and Angus fucked all night last night and towards the end he started going in the ass.’

‘You didn’t want to do it?’ I asked.

‘No, that was all right. I don’t prefer it, but I’ll do it when my pussy gets tired.’

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Saturday continued the strong weekend – $255. It was a curious repeat of the previous Saturday where there was a flush of people early, as I was still opening the restaurant. It made for a good early turn, after which I was first cut. My turn-in to the tip pool was a solid $210.

Sunday I paid all the bills stacking up on the secretary downstairs. I use my bank’s website in lieu of an actual checkbook. I’m sure there are downsides, but once you get set up, it makes the arduous process a lot simpler. It also yields really fast turnaround times. If, for instance, you’re paying a Citibank credit card, you can log in just two days before your due date and still get the ‘check’ there on time. Likewise, you can schedule payments automatically; you can schedule one-time payments to deliver any date you specify.

I worked for Ciera tonight (remember the Charger game date?). Not too busy. Made $103. Had a late table featuring a gorgeous blonde of about 45 years. She’s had some work done, and I thoroughly approve. She’s been coming in for a couple years with her boyfriend, and I think I’ve served them 90% of the time. She always looks stunning – think Heather Locklear, the way she still looks today (she even looked pretty good in her mug shot!) – and I always compliment her when she sits down. Her boyfriend is always preoccupied though courteous. He is always impatient with her indecision ordering and with her positions in their conversations. He doesn’t drink. She drinks Chardonnay.

For some reason tonight, she leaves the table and finds me in the hallway, out of sight of her table. She grabs my hand and thanks me profusely for putting up with him. She says I always make her feel so good, and I’m so good to her. She apologizes for him again, and says they’re no longer together. She says she’s dating now. She asks when I work? I tell her, and she says she’ll come in alone and sit with me next week.

Sounds good. But it’ll probably be the following week if ever, as Carney’s is closed Thanksgiving and I might be off Friday.

Every man is different. I’ve been best friends with some who could stroll a cemetery at midnight and be propositioned by a beautiful woman. I’ve been best friends with others who could strike out on Spring Break in Cancun. Myself, I will make advances and be accepted and get no follow-through; I’ll be propositioned and never hear from her again; or sometimes it’ll just come together. I’m neither a Closer nor Elvis: I have a hard time ‘making it happen,’ and I don’t have an abundance falling in my lap.

But it’s always exciting.

R.I.P., Martini Glass

 

Real long day yesterday, a double. Got home at 11:45 p.m. with a couple beers in me and the Lakers on tap (if you will), so I bagged the blog for the time being. Lakers dominated the Nuggets – a thoroughly enjoyable way to end my night, along with my Bombay martini which with the earlier beers ended up being a little too much. My momma raised me right: I just don’t like to waste gin.

Also, on a personal note I’d like to say a few words about the passing of a very dear friend. Two nights ago, I poured a brilliant Bombay martini into my favorite martini glass. It’s a large bowl, mosaic-like colored glass affair, built very solid. It has served me well. Being so heavy, it really holds onto a chill. Alas, it is made of glass.

There was only one lemon in the house, already partially used for twists. It was pretty desicated, but it also made it sort of like camping where you make do and enjoy it even more for the hardship. I was digging deep with the twist gouger (is there a name for this kitchen tool?) right over the glass. (Note: To those unschooled in the finer points of mixology, when you ‘twist’ a lemon rind, it emits oil from  the skin, fragrancing and flavoring the drink. A good server/bartender will do this right over the drink, and then also rub the twist around the inside rim of the glass. Only an amateur will just drop the twist in the drink. Using the kitchen tool – which is uncommon in restaurants – the oil comes out in the rendering of the ‘twist,’ not when you do it with your hands. This is why I was doing it over the drink.) So, in digging deep on the dried lemon, I was using quite a bit of torque. No, I wasn’t buzzed yet – this was my only drink of the day. Well, the lemon squirted out of my hand. Trying to catch it, I toppled my beloved martini glass onto the floor, shattering it and wasting several ounces of gin.

We shared a lot, me and him. He consoled and comforted me at the end of many a long day. He celebrated with me for many Lakers victories. He chimed in on myriad toasts at cocktail parties. He kept cool even when I was losing my head. He was really a great guy.

R.I.P., Martini Glass.

At least my birthday is coming up.

Lunch at Michael’s was consistent with the straight line of the rest of the week. $110 on only four tables. Again, the people with money still have it. It’s the people who have to ‘feel’ wealthy to have lunch at an expensive steakhouse who are missing.

Had a shopping center developer VIP at Michael’s who bemoaned the economy. He said he was okay personally, as ‘we’ve been in cash for a long time,’ but the climate was making everything else difficult for business.

The merit system was at work today, also. This is where the good people get rewarded. I don’t mean me, although I do benefit other times. There’s a great dinner server, Bo, who has been working a lunch shift a week for awhile now. Because of his versatility and ‘game,’ he was awarded a banquet of 12 people (I know, usually banquets are no reward at all, but this one he did alone, and got a $135 tip from it). Further, it was just busy enough that Bo had to pick up tables on the floor. He got a great single diner regular who usually tips 100%. You read that right. His check is $50, his tip is $50. Don’t know for sure what happened but the odds were good. Later, Bo was still on the floor while the rest of us had been cut. In walked Mr. Martha, so-called because he starts his meal by ordering Heitz Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cab – $200+ – and if there are more than two diners, he’ll order another one later. He then proceeds to order from the more expensive dinner menu. Anyhow, another $100 tip was coming Bo’s way after I left the restaurant.

I admit I was jealous, but I don’t begrudge Bo his good fortune. He earned it. That’s why I also despise servers who complain when a good server ‘gets all the good tables.’ There’s a reason why when it’s a coin flip who gets the good table, the manager will lean toward the most competent guy/gal available. The managers want to protect this valuable asset. If they can be sure someone will give their prize customers a great experience, they’ll pick that person every time. It’s just good business (and managerial job security). And it’s a deserved reward for competence.

Carney’s was busy like the holiday season was already on us. Very pleasant and energizing. Tip pool yielded $253 a person.

Had a guy who brought in his own l’aventure Optimus Cab from Paso Robles. He wouldn’t shut up about how great it was, how awesome the vintner’s wines were, how he had such a great collection of them, how he would bring in the two top-tier wines and let me taste them next time. Coincidentally, I’d tried the wine years earlier, and even remembered it. I shared my recollection with him, and I was spot-on in my evaluation at that time (so he said). Even so, having demonstrated my knowledge of the wine, it didn’t stop him from continuing to ‘educate’ me about it. He ordered the big lobster dinner for two and had a nice check. At the end he said he ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ me and my service . . . Oh-oh! Yep. 15%.

Then there was the very dicey-looking late table – an old guy with a shaky gait and his extreme-facial surgery/possible-transsexual wife. They split a dinner and a dessert, and left a 25% tip. You just never can tell.

Frank the Bartender was in peak form (no sarcasm here for a change). He was calm to start the shift and an absolute dervish slinging drinks for us. Four separate times I heard compliments on the speed of cocktail service. It is a major strength at Carney’s.

But there’s a reason, I believe, for his peak form. My theory will be tested tonight. So if you can hang on, I’ll post the results after the shift. Hint: it involves Vicodin.