Merry Christmas, Bitches! Now Get Up . . .

Wowzers gang I am really, really guilty of ignoring my blog. This is partially due to my kid (who is apparently some half billy-goat/half monkey/ half man child) eating several of the keys off the laptops and partially due to me concentrating on live performances.

‘Yeah,  JerBear, but you could punch out a post here and there, you fat lazy bastard. Your life is so interesting and I want to know more about it’ you might say.

Okay so here’s a quick little bit of holiday cheer that I promised this cool guy I would write about some day:

This happened one year in the week leading up to Xmas, a time in the year when stress levels are high and patience is low. We were fairly busy and this party had been waiting on a couple of tables to open up so they could be sat. The envoy of the party was either restaurant savvy or just plain smart enough to figure out that the situation was that they were waiting on this other, smaller party of young ladies to get up in order to free up the tables they needed to be sat at. The hostesses, who were quite Ballin! at hostessing if I remember correctly, had been informed that the young ladies were finishing up and checks had been dropped. Going by this they sat a few 3 and 4 tops at the other tables getting up that were sprinkled throughout the restaurant instead of saving one and waiting for an adjacent table to get up. The plan was that the ladies would get up shortly and the party would be sat and the other smaller tables would get sat and everybody would get sat as soon as possible and everybody would be happy except the kitchen.

It was a good plan. It was the right plan. It was absolutely the correct course of action.

The only problem was the ladies didn’t know the plan. The hostesses never told them the plan. For some reason they thought they were allowed to sit there and laugh and talk and enjoy each other’s company for a little while at Christmas time at the restaurant they were paying to eat at.

All of this was happening outside of my section so I got to observe from a safe distance as the hostii kept getting more and more frustrated with both of these parties. I kept hearing from the hostesses how much the party at the door wanted to get sat and I kept hearing from the server how the ladies were just camping for spite at this point. The story got juicier when I heard that the envoy from the party at the door finally got tired of waiting on these chicks to get up and went over there to talk to them. I found this out when the server came to the back laughing hysterically and said (and I’m paraphrasing here) ‘Haaa!! That guy from the party at the door went  over to my campers and told them ‘Merry Christmas, bitches! Now get your fat asses the fuck up so we can sit down!’ I laughed so hard my tits almost fell off!’

Drama can be quite entertaining when viewed from a distance. I was enjoying watching this little story unfolding, until the hostess threw it in my lap by telling me (and again I’m paraphrasing) ‘Hey you know that crazy motherfucker that went over there and told those campers to get up? Well we’re about to seat them in your section. Have fun with that!’

Great. Since I hadn’t met or talked to any of these people I didn’t really know how to  gauge how they would behave. Generally people who get impatient enough waiting at the host stand to accost another table won’t be very understanding or patient with their server. As far as the other party is concerned, I am of two minds on the matter.

Camping is a bad thing for those of us in the biz. It eats into income by tying up tables that could be sat and made profitable during the limited time a restaurant is open. And the odd table of campers that know they are camping and pay rent for it are even more rare than the table with a small child that eats like Mr. Peepers from SNL and leaves a huge pile of bread crumbs and yogurt chips on the floor and then volunteers to clean it up. In other words it just doesn’t happen.

Naturally I don’t like it when tables camp. But personally and philosophically I feel like a table has a right to take as long as they need to eat, within reason of course. Like bad tips, camping is just one of the things you have to tolerate in this business.

So on one hand I could sympathize with the ladies-they had every right to be there  and if I was them I probably would have thought it was rude if someone came over and told us to GTFU. On several other hands, they really needed to GTFU. We were on a heavy wait, they had stopped eating a long time before the table at the door talked to them, they had been overheard saying that they were going to stay there extra long just to piss that other table off, and their server said they were kinda rude and didn’t tip worth a shit.

Angry tables don’t scare me like they scare some people. I get on stage and tell jokes so I don’t exactly have a normal sense of fear. But I still wasn’t looking forward to meeting and greeting this table that had the gigantic, Jupiter-sized balls to confront another table. Expecting the worst but hoping for the best,  I went over several ideas for what my opening statement should be in my  mind before settling on the following greeting right as I got to the table.

Extending my hand to shake his and smiling as warmly as I could, I said to the envoy of the party ‘Hey I understand you guys had to wait so long to be sat that you went and asked that other party to get up. First of all, I’m sorry you had to wait so long. But secondly, and more importantly, on behalf of servers everywhere I would like to thank you for saying and doing what we never could or would. I promise you that I will make you and your story internet famous.’

As it turns out I didn’t have to  be extra nice or diplomatic with this table. The envoy (and really the entire party) was as cool and nice as they could be. They really were. When he talked to that other party all the envoy did was ask them how much longer they thought they would be, and judging from the way he comported himself throughout the meal I would bet that he did it in the nicest, most nonconfrontational way imaginable. This whole party just oozed niceness. They were sweet people.

And the reason they were in such a hurry to sit down? Pops was getting on in years and physically needed to sit down and get his blood sugar up or something like that. I’m sure they would have waited all night if they could have, but someone in their party had a pressing need to get the party started. The envoy was just looking out for his grandparent and I can totally respect that. It reminded me of when I got to take my grandma out to eat when she was still alive. Being who I am and doing what I do we never really had to wait that long but if she had needed to sit a table and start eating then I, too, would have done anything in my power to make it happen.

So now, publicly and permanently, I applaud and salute the Envoy for nicely asking how much longer that other table was going to stay. You crossed a ‘line’ and did so with class and civility.

 

Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear

 

NOTE: For the record I don’t think it’s ever really a good idea to confront strangers at a restaurant over something like this. Yeah it’s cool that a table that was camping for spite was asked how much longer they were going to be doing that, which is something we sometimes wish we could do, but ultimately it just caused bad feelings and bad tips for the other server. So I don’t recommend it. As much as we might not like it, campers have the right to stay as long as they want within reason. God I’m going to catch a lot of heat for that but I stand by it:)

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Merry Christmas, Bitches! Now Get Up . . .

  1. No easy way to get rid of campers, but as a guilty party I’ve done it a few times – if we’re having a good time, why not continue? (I try to tip extra to keep the server happy if not the boss) But never for spite.

    • There’s normally three main ways to get rid of campers but this guy decided he was going to invent a new way.

    • Laura

      If I camp, I’m usually having drinks too, so at least that check (and tip) is going up! Sounds to me like these campers wouldnt have tipped anyways, if they were so willing to punish the server for something out of her control.

  2. I tip extra when I camp, but if it’s busy I try to usher my family out so that the server can get another table and waiting parties can be sat. It’s inconsiderate to purposely take up space that is needed by other customers when you don’t really need it.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a customer politely asking another customer how long they will take, especially in this instance. In this guy’s shoes I probably would have approached the table and explained our predicament. “I know you’re having a good time and I don’t want to offend you, but my grandfather is having a difficult time standing, and we’ve already been waiting quite a while for the table you’re currently occupying. His blood sugar is also low and it is imperative that he eat something as soon as possible. Would you be willing to show a little Christmas cheer and allow us to take this table?”

    Approaching it like an asshole certainly would always result in bad news for the confronted guest and the server (tip-wise) but I see nothing wrong with calmly explaining what’s up and why you want the table.

    Glad your table was awesome and that he had the balls to do what he needed to do to make grandpa comfortable!

    • Yeah this guy was actually pretty classy and I’m sure he was as nice to them as he was to me. I just painted him like he might be an asshole so it would make a better story.

  3. Skippy

    What are the other 3 ways to remove campers – inquiring minds & all.

    I would never approach another table of customers for this reason, even if they were doing it out of spite, but I might just trip the ringleader on her way out. Inconspicously of course. heehee

    If we are having a good time and want to camp we only do so if there is no one waiting, the server does not have to clean our table in order to clock out and we always tip extra. I would never camp if the table is needed, but also hate being rushed through my meal because there is a wait. Drives me batty.

    Nice to see you Jer. 🙂 As always.

    • Good to hear from you again, too, Mom!

      The three traditional camper-handling, tent-striking techniques are:

      A) Hyperattentiveness: Continually checking up on them (‘Service Doesn’t Stop With The Check’), AKA being up their ass so much that they will hopefully get the hint.

      B) Cropdusting: Passing gas as you pass by. Not the most effective, but . . .

      C) Sit ‘N Stare: If everybody else is gone and all your work is done take a seat in an adjacent table and stare at them until they hopefully get the hint.

      NOTE: None of these actually work but it helps to think that there actually IS something you can do. Also, for the record I am not opposed to camping. The best meals are shared with family and friends and some times it takes time to do it right. Be pleasant and pay your rent and you’ll never garner an angry blog post from me, but if you are one of the two chicks that one of my coworkers waited on the other night that broke out the marshmellows and ghost stories and camped from 4 to 9:30 and left a dollar and some change then please go get a life:)

  4. NO EXCUSE for campers!!! I hate the holidays because on the RARE occasion my mom can wrangle me in for a big extended family dinner out somewhere it happens EVERY time.

    Having grown up in the industry, I know better. Shit sucks.

  5. I am lucky enough to work at a place where my boss allows me to politely ask “Excuse me folks, I’m about to go home, would you mind if I closed this check with you?”
    Camping is annoying, but it’s one of the many things in the biz where we have to smile and eat it.

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