There’s been some concern about me in cyberspace after my blowout in the luxury box at the Lakers/Clippers game. In fact, I’m fine. I’ve merely had a relatively busy three days, and was also spending time working on my screenplay again after abandoning it through the holidays.
The game was essentially a Lakers laugher. Personally, I ate enough free food to cause bloat pain. Drank four beers, too. The box was pretty cool. Previously, my only luxury box experience was at New Comiskey for a White Sox game. The Staples Center has done a better job with their boxes. The baseball game was a fun experience. It was a lot like watching a game from a great distance in someone’s really cool living room. The orientation of the box actually served to divert your attention from the field (unless you were watching on one of the numerous TVs). For this basketball game, you still have that effect in the ‘living room’ portion of the box: carpet; granite counters laden with all kinds of prepared food; two refrigerators stocked with beer, water, and soft drinks; a freezer full of ice; a sofa and comfortable chairs; flat panel TV and several regular tube-type models; art on the walls. The difference (and it’s a big difference) is that to the front of the box there are 20 stadium seats on three stepped rows. These rows extend into the arena, with open air above and below you, so you feel again part of the live event experience. A+ for Staples Center.
Buddy poured Merus Reserve at his condo while we watched Keith Olbermann act smug and act funny on MSNBC. The drive to downtown L.A. was extremely smooth: 40 minutes door to parking lot. Home was even better: 25 minutes. We all had a nice time. It turned out the banker feteing Buddy was actually his ex-banker. He had switched banks and was trying to steal Buddy back.
Since Wednesday, I’ve had some very good days on the job. Lunch Thursday was $109. Dinner at Carney’s Thur-Sat: $165, $220, $275. I continue to marvel at the resiliency of the local economy – at least my section of it.
We lost a busboy last night. He had put in his notice. We’re not sad to see him go. Peoro is Primo’s (our main busser) brother. He came from a neighboring restaurant where he had been promoted to waiter, then got ‘laid off.’ He was very frustrating to us servers. My take is that he never got it out of his head that he was no longer a waiter. Among his many irritating habits:
- Watching us count our money at the end of the shift.
- Taking orders from tables instead of sending the waiter to do it.
- Obliviousness to table maintenance. Getting him to fill waters was literally a matter of pointing to an empty glass and asking him to please fill it.
- Shyness about asking guests if they were done so he could clear their plates. This was surprising in view of his eagerness to approach diners to take drink, food, and dessert orders.
- Walking around to appear busy while never actually picking anything up.
- Refusal/inability to learn position numbers for running entrees (he was with us the better part of a year).
- Asking ‘Decaf?’ when we ask him to bring coffees. No. I want two coffees. If I wanted Decaf I would have said ‘Two Decafs.’ If I wanted one Decaf, one Regular I would have said, ‘One Coffee, one Decaf.’
- And my all-time busser pet peeve: Showing up to take dirty plates out of my hands after I’ve just cleared the whole table. Where were you 60 seconds ago? I’ve already done all the work. Don’t act like you’re doing your job showing up now.
He’s going to become a waiter again at a new Lebanese restaurant in a poor section of town.
Fair Approximation Of Peoro’s Table Maintenance
Last night I had another Elbow Man. He didn’t go to the Nth degree with it, but he trapped that damned thing for a good fifteen minutes after a 3 hour meal. And it was indeed the scenario where he was lording over the moment so his guests could fully appreciate his generosity. And it was indeed him who held forth that entire fifteen minutes. And it was him who made a joke about the tip just before he filled in and totaled his charge voucher. (Every waiter knows that any mention of the tip in any context means you’re getting a bad tip. A joke of ‘We’ll take that off your tip. Ha-ha!’ The boast, ‘Don’t worry, I’m gonna take good care of you.’ The question, ‘Is the tip included?’ All these comments and more are sure death.)
I’ve had a history with this guy. The first time he came in, he brought his own wine and we charged $25 each corkage. It turned out that one of the wines he brought was the label of someone I knew personally – a friend of a friend. It was a boutique-type wine very few know about. It also turned out he knew the vintner as well. So we traded stories and such. This diner is the kind who likes to talk wine. (Last night he chastised me for pouring too much of his precious Behrens & Hitchcock in everyone’s glasses: ‘Less is more.’ Incidentally, the level I poured was less than half a normal glass of wine as poured at Carney’s.) Anyway, that first occasion he complained bitterly about the corkage price. I gave him my usual (and quite valid) spiel that Carney prices her wines at less than double markup from wholesale, which is very inexpensive for a nice restaurant. She wants to encourage guests to take advantage of her award winning wine list. I also pointed out that while $25 might be a little higher than average for fine dining, I had seen many restaurants with $30, $40, even $50 corkage fees.
‘Well it’s ridiculous. With this corkage, I might as well have bought something off the list . . .’
Right. Now you’re getting the idea, dude.
Back to last night, he received the charge voucher (total before tip: $293), poised his pen over the tip line, and said, ‘Okay. So this means you get $29. Ha-ha!’
I just walked away. The tip was $45.