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A Waiter's Life

As an experienced food server I found myself having just moved to Minneapolis, and I was underemployed. I was working as a personal care attendant for my friend who was a quadriplegic. While out one afternoon, I saw a Ruby Tuesday near the mall, and I thought I should work there! I wasn't dressed for an impromptu interview so I grabbed an application and took off. I filled it out as complete as possible and in my best penmanship at home. When I brought it back, properly dressed, I did get asked to sit for a quick interview on the spot. I was hired within 10 minutes.

The assistant manager who hired me was trying to settle down at one store as the de facto assistant manager. She had high hopes of getting her own store within a couple years. Prior to this she was a high ranking store trainer, who traveled around opening new stores for the company. She had only recently returned from her last gig, opening a brand new stand alone store on Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona.

Ruby Tuesday had great people to work with. I actually felt a kinship with them I had never had before. There were a couple mild stories from that store. One afternoon, during a lull in action Brian and I were talking about something. A very cute server we both liked walked up to us to see what was going up. We had just finished our conversation when she walked up. We were not talking about her, we were just done with the conversation. She wondered if the conversation was about her, and we said no. She kept asking what we were talking about, assuming it was about her the way we stopped talking as she approached. I finally said we were talking about her. She asked what it was about, and I said we discussed it and we agreed she had a great personality! Isn't that the one nice thing you can say about ugly people? She was kinda hot, with a great chest, she took it in stride laughed with us.

One particular night we had our whole group of guys that liked to go out drinking after work, we were all working the same shift. Well, us and one straight-laced waitress who didn't joke around at all. Work is serious, and she was serious all the time. One of the guys had recently got a second job at Kieran's Irish Pub. Working at Kieran's he started to pick up an Irish accent, in the same way that Madonna developed an English accent for a few years. He liked to use it at Ruby Tuesday at the tables sometimes. We all loved Kieran's and the Guinness they served, so we all developed Irish accents in varying degrees of authenticity.


A minute on Kieran's Irish Pub. It's one of the few places that I'll drink Guinness at because they serve it properly, they perform the perfect pour. They use separate fridges from other beers, so they can keep it at a perfect 42.8°F, and they have separate gas lines so they can dispense with the correct carbon dioxide/nitrogen combination. Most bars serve beer at 34°F with plain carbon dioxide. That may be good enough for fizzy yellow standard American lagers, but it's not good enough for the rest of the worlds quality beer.

The guy with the better accent, the one who had the job at Kieran's was now using his accent at every table. Soon, all of us guys started to use fake Irish accents, with lines like,

"...and what would the wee lass be having tonight?"

I really enjoyed that place, and that crew I worked with, but I needed more out of life than waiting tables. I had a friend that was going to hook me up to the fast lane originating mortgages in Phoenix. It was going to be a slow start, so I needed to transfer to the Ruby Tuesday store in Tempe, Arizona. Unfortunately, Ruby Tuesday does not do transfers. I needed to quit my job at Ruby Tuesday in Minnesota and hope they would hire me at Ruby Tuesday in Tempe. Moving out to the southwest without a solid job made my outlook appear gray and bleak ...like the future of an orphan with leprosy. As soon as I started at Ruby Tuesday in Tempe, I got my mortgage connection. He told me to go take a class at the Arizona Real Estate School, so I'd be primed and ready to go when the time was right.

So I had a couple months to continue waiting tables. The crew just wasn't the same, they were more a stand-off type of crowd than the warm friendly staff Ruby Tuesday had in Minnesota. There were a few interesting people - a NASCAR loving guy who just finished his Criminal Justice degree so he could become a cop. He typically acted superior over the rwst of us. There was the girl who loved Clinton and thought he was the most beautiful man ever, and the girl who loved her mother and would never marry a man who didn't love his mother more than anybody else on Earth. Wouldn't that make her the second most loved woman by her husband? I don't know many gals that would want to play second-fiddle to their mother-in-law. Doesn't seem like a quality foundation to start a marriage?

If you know Mill Avenue in Tempe, you'll know all about the street kids that hang out and live on the street with their dogs. The city had done everything possible to sanitize the area up from the cool eclectic area it was, and sterilize it with nothing but modern sopping and dinning chains. The only remement of earlier eclectic days was dirty smelly street kids who would hang out all day and night begging for spare change.

At Ruby Tuesday we had a very cute petite Latina hostess that I had a crush on. She was stuck at the front for her whole shift, and servers would relieve her for a moment, or to use the restroom. One day she asked me to watch the front. The dirty smelly homeless street urchins from the Mill Avenue Experience showed up at our entrance. They wanted to be seated in our restaurant to split an order of french fries and have free glasses of water for the next couple of hours. Hey it's Arizona and I know how hot it can get there. They felt they had rights to enter any establishment on Mill Avenue and be waited on hand over foot.

They had no rights with me. I never signed up for that show. I have seen them do this too many times to other servers. I had seen them camp out, then when paying customers show up they refuse to sit anywhere near the smelly underclass of Mill Avenue. So, you'd watch them all split an order of something cheap - like fries, and demand water for hours. When they would finally leave you'd get a whopping 8 cent tip. Fuck that! I wouldn't want that done to me, and I'm sure as hell not going to do it to a coworker.

They started,

"May we have a table for six?"
My reply was simple, and I wasn't going to give an inch.
"Not a chance!"
"We're here to spend money, you have to seat us."
"I have more than enough money, I don't need yours."
"Are you refusing to let us spend our money in your restaurant?"
"You can't do this to us!"
"I can refuse service to anyone, and I am refusing you!"
"You can't do that."
"Call a cop"!
I have no idea where the hostess was at this point. I was having fun with the situation. Then a waitress came up front to see if I was ok. I handed her a quarter and told her she was coming out ahead.

The sad stinky street emu's continued,

"What can we do here?"
" You can leave, I recommend P. F. Chang's China Bistro across the street. They have a policy that requires them to give everybody the same respect and attention to anybody that walks in the door. We do not have that policy, so leave."

I can only assume they went to P. F. Chang's for the next few hours to stay out of the hot afternoon that Arizona provides. As the situation resolved, they walked away as the hostess showed up. She was watching from around the corner the whole time. Also, right behind me was the assistant manager. I thought I might have earned some trouble, but he said I was now in charge of handling that situation from now on. I was really starting to like this job. I like to set people straight.

Drunks at the bar were the bane of existence for the average bartender, especially when all they want to do is give you a hard time. Number one rule for a patrons at a bar - Don't Fall Asleep at the Bar! It was around 3:00, that time of day between lunch and early dinner where hardly a soul was in the place. So, this guy was annoying the shit out of our female bartender. The assistant manager and I took turns watching her back so nothing gets out of hand. This drunk annoying fella fell asleep right at the bar. I had been paying attention to his pestering of the bartender, and I wanted fairplay. I asked, "Do you want me to take care of this situation, or do you want to handle it on your own?. You are the bartender, it's your bar."

She was curious of my reputation for handling situation, and setting pople straight. She told me to go for it. I asked him very quietly from his side, "Are you awake sir", he didn't answer. I glanced at the bartender, and she gave me the look to continue, she wasn't fully aware of my plan. I asked him quietly again from his other side in case he had a bad ear, "Are you awake, you cannot sleep at the bar", he didn't answer. She looked at me again with a "continue on" look on her face. I asked him once more, almost at conversational volume, "Are you awake", he didn't answer. Now that I've asked him three times with no response. I can step my game up right?

I asked the bartender if she wanted to be here for this or if she wanted to go to the kitchen. She stayed. A small round cocktail tray at the other end of the bar was available, so I went down and grabbed it. I smacked it on top of the bar as loudly as I could, right next to his mellon-head. He woke and fell out of the chair, but not down on the floor. He just about jumped clear out of his socks though.

He was mad as hell for waking him up and yelled,

"Why did you wake me up?" (because he was sleeping - duh).
I explained to the napper, that it was against our policy to allow people to sleep at the bar. He said,
"I wasn't sleeping"
"If you weren't sleeping, how could I wake you up?"
"I wasn't sleeping, I was just resting, I'm tired?"
"There's no resting in the bar allowed at Ruby Tuesday, you'd be better off if you rested across the street at P. F. Chang's"

Sense a pattern with Chang's?

I was working a busy Friday or Saturday night. While in the kitchen I heard another server complaining about a guest that was rude and obnoxious to her. The way she talked about it I had to check this guy out, I was expecting Ted Underhill to be there. I performed a walkby, and I think he even snapped his fingers at me as I brazenly walked past and ignored him.

I grabbed some food to deliver to the table directly across from the Underhill table. The music was turned up, nice and loud for the evening. After I set the plates at the table a stepped back to see if everything was perfect for them. I made sure my ass was inches from the Underhill's table without actually touching the table. I blew out a nasty fart I had been saving up. The reason I didn't want my ass to actually touch the table was, I was trying to avoid detection, and I felt the table vibrations would have given me away.

I made a few more trips to the section to refill water or check on tables for anything I could think of. I usually timed it when I had another abundance of intestinal gas waiting to explode out through my colon. That table's whole section was ...like a NASCAR pit crew so much gas was passed. That meal for the Underhill's had to have been as appetizing as the refreshments table at a community college production of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Servers have access to all sorts of nefarious shit and frequently completely out of view, so they can royally screw with your digestive process, or your credit cards. I usually didn't need to resort to anything like that, but I can still ruin and otherwise perfect evening out.

According to Raytheon CEO, Bill Swanson's book "Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management," - One of the key rules is, "A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person."