The night was tonight, six hours ago to be precise. It was almost ten at night and I was scheduled to be off of the floor once the overnight server showed up. Right at ten with the other server nowhere in sight, a large man walked in; I greeted him. “There will be sixteen of us,” he informs me. I silently laugh inside because this should have been the other server’s table.
“Nooooooo problem!” I always try to be cheery. Customers seem to think my perky attitude is cute so I milk it at work. “It will just take me one moment to get your tables ready.”
People start pouring into the lobby from outside. They almost all have the same hefty build and hook nose; my guess it’s a family outing. I rush off to push four tables together, set them and seat my now LOUDLY complaining guests. I give them a minute to settle in. The overnight server is still not here so I take their drink orders. Eleven of them ordered shakes which we have to make by hand because our machine broke earlier this afternoon. Instead of lying and saying we were out of ice cream like a sensible person, I hurried off to check on my two other tables first before fetching the other five gallon drum of ice cream I knew I would need from the freezer.
It took me almost nine minutes to make all of the shakes. I made sure to make every single one look fantastic since the wait was so long. I carried them out on two trays, and as I approached the table I heard, “It’s about fucking time. Did she have to milk the god damned cows herself?!” I ignore the comment; it isn’t the first time I have heard this and it likely won’t be the last. I don’t exactly work on the “Good” side of town.
“Sorry about the wait on those folks. Our mixer broke earlier and I had to mix these bad boys by hand!” I smile and try to keep the mood light. I do my job and pleasantly hand out the shakes. From the start I can see a little old lady eyeing me from the middle of the table. This little old lady is not Betty White. This woman looks like she might have some bullet holes under her clothing. This woman has seen some shit in her lifetime.
As I make my rounds getting closer to Eminem’s grandma, she turns to me and literally yells: “I NEVER SAID I WANTED MY SHAKE RIGHT NOW! I WANT IT WITH MY MEAL.” This woman’s reaction was so over the top and rude that it left me a little stunned. I couldn’t help but to stare blankly at her for a second.
“I am really sorry ma’am. I assumed that you wanted your shake with everybody else since I was not given any instruction otherwise.” I am polite but blunt; she never said not to bring it out and I really do not enjoy being yelled at.
“I want it with my dinner.” She is quite a bit meaner than anybody in a pink sweater with a cat on it should ever be.
“No problem ma’am. I will make you a new one when your food is ready.” I am walking behind her at this point with her shake that she isn’t ready for on the tray. She turns around as I pass her and takes her shake off of the tray. At this point in time I know exactly how this table is going to behave. They will be rude, demanding, want extra stuff for free, and I am dreading it. I just want to go home and play with my dog. I silently hope my coworker gets herpes. I say nothing about the shake even though I should have charged her for it because it really isn’t worth the argument I know will follow. I go to hand out one of the shakes (only three more to go!) when a large gentleman sitting opposite me raises his hand in the air as if this was a classroom.
“Yes sir?” I ask sweetly. Keep in mind I still have three large shakes on a tray in my hand and am using my spare hand to give them out.
“I want a bacon barbecue burger with extra bacon. I want it rare with no pickles, lettuce, no onion, extra barbecue, extra mayo and a side of…” At this point I cut him off. I don’t have a great memory so I make up for that by taking detailed notes with short hand. But in order for that to work, I need to be able to write it down.
“Sir, could you just give me a second to hand these out and I will be more than happy to take your order?” I asked sweetly, though it was pretty clear this was not a request.
I handed out the last shake, grabbed my notepad and began to audibly recall his order. By some miracle I got his burger specifications correct, but he was not as excited about this as I was. Oh, no. “Why did you interrupt me if you didn’t need to write it down?” he said. I quickly glance around for a sympathetic eye; they are all staring at me wanting an answer.
“Sir I was busy handing out the refreshments and I am not great at recalling orders correctly from memory. I needed to make sure I got it right.” I explain myself in a pleasant but no nonsense manner. I am not going to stand here and kiss ass for the ten dollar tip I assume they will leave me; ten if I am lucky.
I get a few more orders in before I come to the only person my age, late twenties. He is staring at his cellphone so I try to get his attention. “Alright trouble, what can I get you tonight?” I live in the Midwest and most men here like this kind of banter from a waitress. I can usually have a lot of fun with guys because of the ability to joke around. I realized when he looked up at me that I misjudged my audience.
“Don’t call me that.” He gives me the dirtiest look I have ever gotten from a customer and I decide to shut the hell up right then. I finish taking orders and don’t say another word.
As I am putting in their orders I got a few other tables, and since I am the only one working I seat them, put my party’s order in, and then give drinks to my new tables. My party’s food takes a half hour to come out. They stopped me to complain literally every five minutes; I had to start avoiding them.
Once their food is up I start bringing it out right away; I don’t want to hear that any of it is cold. I hand everything on the first large tray out (six meals) before informing them that I need to make another two trips. “They don’t have a tray big enough?” a new contender snips at me; this is a much older man, possibly in his eighties.
“No we do not sir, and even if we did, I don’t think I could lift that much. Food for sixteen people, that would weigh an awful lot,” I answer with a chuckle. Elderly men are my bread and butter; I feel comfortable.
“If you can’t do the work maybe you need to stay home where you belong.” Now I very rarely have to deal with sexist comments, and when I do I see them as ignorant and easily brush them off. This, however, got to me. I very wisely decide to keep my trap shut and go back for more food.
The overnight server finally showed up; she misread her schedule. She helps me bring out the other trays while I hand everything out to everybody. As I get to the last person I feel a wave of relief… until somebody speaks. “Miss, where are our drinks?” I look over to see the middle-aged lady that looks like a fat Rob Schneider. I look at their table confused; they have their shakes. “I told you that we needed six Cokes, four Sprites, three milks and three waters with lemon.” The woman smiles sweetly at me but she never said a word to me about any other drinks. Nobody did except the gangsta granny whose shake I brought out.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I must not have heard you. I will go get those for you now.” I write them down while I can still remember what she said. I don’t want to ask anybody at this table anything twice.
“What did you just say to me?” She leans over the table, twisting her neck to glare at me. Once again I am totally baffled, standing there like a deer in headlights.
“I said that I must not have heard you and I’ll go get the drinks.”
She nods slowly. “Yes, yes you will.” She is so condescending it infuriates me, but I stay cool. I say nothing and walk into the back. Once they can no longer see me I flip both middle fingers into the air towards them; I wave them around enthusiastically. The cooks behind me laugh and I get the drinks for the rudest family I have ever met.
I bring all of the drinks out on one of our big trays, not wanting to make two trips. I set the tray down and start handing out drinks and everything goes fine. I check back on my sixteen top five minutes later and see most of them are done eating, so I begin asking if I can clear their empty plates. They do not like this. “Stop trying to rush us!” the first person I asked snapped at me. I put my hands up and stepped away.
I transferred their ticket to the overnight server and wished her luck; I was done waiting on them. She texted me about a half hour after I left. They all got dessert (the servers prepare the desserts) and left two dollars as a tip. Their bill was well over two hundred dollars… some people.