Being in the service industry, our job is to serve guests. Obviously. We are in the business of taking care of people. But guests are funny creatures. This post is about some of the best and worst types of folks I have ever had the pleasure-- or the annoyance-- of serving.
One of my all-time favorite incidents happened not too long ago. I was in the process of clearing a table and was headed toward the kitchen with a rather substantial pile of dirty dishes and silverware very precariously balanced in my arms. It was heavy and unstable, took all my strength to support it, and I felt like a game of Jenga. If you piled one more fork on me the whole thing was liable to come crashing down, with a head-turningly loud clatter echoing across the dining room. As I passed by another table, a guest dared to stop me. “Ex-CUSE me,” he said. I waited there with my hefty load, straining under the weight of it. My face was probably beginning to turn red and my arms were already going into muscle spasms. The guest just looked at me, then reached his phone out toward me, and asked, “Could you please take a picture of us?” I didn’t know how to respond, so I just stared back at him with my plates, and couldn’t help but burst out laughing. This seemed to send him into a temporary moment of awareness and he added, “Oh, maybe you want to come back in a minute then.” Genius. It was either that, or get a great shot of him posing with a pile of those dirty dishes.
We are in the business of taking care of people. But guests are funny creatures.
So, to continue the theme, here is a list of some of the guests we don’t like:
- Guests who point out typos and spelling errors on the menu.
- Guests who don’t tip on free food or drink.
- Guests who don’t tip, period.
- Guests who tip less than 20%.
- Guests who give you 20 bucks for a $19.75 tab and tell you in a high-roller tone to “Keep the change.” We love these guests even more if they wink at us when they say that.
- Guests who pay their tab all in change.
- Guests who linger at their table two hours after closing time. Especially cool if they say they know we probably just want to get out of there and go home, and then sit there for another hour anyway.
- Guests who think it’s possible (and there really are some) to get in and out of a full-service restaurant, having eaten, drunk, and paid, in ten minutes or less. That’s what Mc Donald’s is for. Or, for even quicker digestion, try an IV drip.
- Guests who are loaded. And I don’t mean wasted drunk, though that can be rather annoying too. (Like the lady who after several martinis, stumbled away from the hotel bar where I worked, lost her balance and fell over backwards. She hit her head on a glass door behind her and knocked herself out, then just lay there on the hotel lobby floor until the ambulance came.) But in this particular instance, when I say loaded guests I mean those patrons who come into a restaurant for a meal, laden down with bags and gifts and boxes and other assorted goodies to exchange. During the holiday season, we have had plenty of company holiday parties, ladies who lunch, family five-martini breakfasts… all revolving around Christmas. And while we really appreciate you celebrating your special occasion with us, do keep in mind that those big bags of gifts you pile up below your chairs tend to trip us. And the plates of holiday cookies you’re spreading out around the table get in the way of the plates of things you ordered, and that we’re trying to serve you. Not to mention, those lovely bright red ribbons and festive bows get wet and run and stain the fancy white linen tablecloths. And at the end of your meal, someone’s got to clean up the mounds of wrapping paper and empty boxes you leave stacked on the chairs when you go. It makes for a lot of extra work. That said, some of the best “table scores” I’ve ever gotten have come during the holidays. This past week alone I managed to pick up a Christmas tree headband, a bunch of light-up pins, a whole box of candy canes and half a bag of Hershey’s kisses. Bonus.
And who are the guests we do like?
Just to name a few: Big tippers, of course. And happy guests. We are especially fond of those who use phrases like, “Best we’ve ever had…”, “Delicious!” and “Everything is just great!” They tend to be lower maintenance and make our lives easier. And if you have to be demanding or particular about something, it goes over so much better if you put a creative spin on it. Like the guest who wanted her dirty martini just so. Our pleasure, because she ordered it by saying it had to be “filthy whore dirty.” Or the man who needed his gin “so cold you could skate on it”. Points for creativity.
In other words, if you want to come in to our restaurant, spend lots of money, keep us entertained for awhile, rave about the food, write a gushing review first on the comment card and then on Yelp, and leave an enormous tip at the end of your meal…
Go ahead, be our guest.