Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Monday, October 03, 2005

More tales from the Tower

Memo to the security department:

On our dinner break I went down to the staff cafeteria for a bite to eat. I was with two other staff members and two of us (one of them being me) had forgotten to bring our IDs down from the Tower. We had dinner and then as we were leaving the cafeteria, we were accosted by a little security man.

"Did you know you were supposed to wear your ID at ALL times back of house?"

"Yeah, yeah … " We keep walking.

(To our backs): "Put your IDs on RIGHT NOW!"

"Um, we don't have them, we left them upstairs."

"You are supposed to wear them at ALL TIMES back of house!"

"Yes, we know. We just forgot. We're heading back up right now though." (We do know, we did just forget, mostly in our hurry to get out of work and get some food).

"That doesn’t matter! What's your manager's name?"

I tell him.

"What are your E [employee] numbers?"

I tell him mine. The other girl doesn't know hers.

He whips out a little black pleather-covered notebook (police-style, seriously) and makes us repeat all the information again. Interrogation from someone with Little Man Syndrome. Excellent, just what we need when we're late for work already.

He finally lets us go.

The first thing I do is tell my managers to expect a call.

I wonder if this will earn me any demerit points.

My very first complaint:

I was slammed. I was given the biggest, baddest section for the busiest night we've had in ages (we did 352 people, where 310 or so is a normal busy Saturday night). Usually this section has two seniors in it or at the least a very capable busser. I had a competent but not very experienced busser. Things were going as well as they could be.

We got a new group on table 50. A shrewish middle-aged blonde woman, a timid looking younger blonde woman, a smarmy young man in a leather jacket. They look a little white trashy, but who are we to comment? They decide not to have dinner, just desserts.

One ice cream to share, a cocktail, a hot chocolate and a beer.

Now although it is in my nature to pass down judgement from on high, it shouldn’t really come into the workplace. However, we do have a minimum charge ($25/$20 per person for dinner/dessert), which covers the $18 ticket cost of coming up the tower. It’s quite challenging to spend less than the minimum if you actually want food, so it’s normally not an issue.

When a table is spending $10 or $11 each, I start to get a bit concerned. Especially if they’re the sort of people that look like they’re going to skip out on the bill. Even if they’re not, it’s always somewhat awkward discussing the fact that they’re going to have to buy something else, or I’m going to have to charge them for nothing.

Also, my busser has informed me that Smarmy Guy is an ass. So I keep an eye on them.

When their shared dessert is done and their drinks are low, I go by and ask if they would like anything else. Smarmy Guy orders another Stella Artois, the ladies decline anything further.

I pick up his beer from the bar, and on my way back discuss enforcing the minimum charge with the duty manager. Ordinarily, close enough is good enough for me, but I am quite keen to make a point with these people. The manager says I can do whatever I think is best.

When I get back to the table, Smarmy Guy already has a full Stella in front of him.

What follows is a dialogue between SG, myself and The Shrew about the fact that I should give them the Stella for free anyway, as it was an honest mistake (huh?). When I argue that it’s not a mistake until I put it on the table, SG says “Oh, you’re smart, aren’t you?” Yes, actually. At this point, I gently ask whether they know about the minimum spend, as they may want the extra Stella to make up the difference. SG says “But I might want something different later … like a Heineken.” Stop wasting my time, ass. I have 40 other people to look after.

Later, table 50 asks my busser about smoking facilities. The smoking deck is one level above us, and going there involves leaving the restaurant. She is worried about them doing a runner (as am I), so I go and speak with them.

I tell them where the smoking deck is, but also that it is restaurant policy that we hold a form of payment at the desk if they do leave the restaurant (note that we are not charging them, just holding a credit card for insurance). Smarmy Guy says “Why, don’t you trust us?” and I reply with the usual company policy line. At this point The Shrew starts getting particularly jumpy and defensive.

“Just get us the bill then!” I think she thinks she is displaying offence at my comment by suggesting that they just leave as opposed to being subjected to this sort of humiliation. I’d rather they did leave.

“Well ma’am, as I mentioned before, I will have to charge you $20 each if I arrange the bill now.” [Note I am charging them for just desserts, not the dinner they had originally come in for.]

“Well, we spent money downstairs at the bar! I have the receipt!” She yanks a receipt from her handbag and waves it at me.

“I’m sorry ma’am but it must be within this restaurant. I can’t accept that receipt. Would you still like me to arrange the bill with the extra charge on it?”

Meanwhile, she is spouting increasingly frenetic variations of “Just get me the bill!”

“Very well, ma’am.” I am so polite.

I spend the next few minutes trying to get my manager to sign off on the charge, which inadvertently gets me on the bad side of the hostesses, who can turn into the Uber-Bitches of Satan at whim. I am not in a good mood. I walk past the lifts, and notice The Shrew waiting for the doors to close, cigarette already in one hand.

Another exchange follows where she snaps at me when I mention that I have her bill ready. Maybe she should just mainline the nicotine, I think she needs it.

Reluctantly, I let her go. I go to the table and present the bill to Smarmy Guy.

He asks for a Heineken.

I nearly lose it.

He wants a f*cking Heineken.

They’ve just wasted not only my time, but the time of the hosts, managers, my busser and everyone other table in my section.

I explain, as calmly as I can, that I have already charged them $10.50 for nothing, as The Shrew (or as I say, “the lady”) insisted on the bill. He still wants the beer (“Don’t worry, I have cash!” in a don’t-you-think-we-can-pay? voice).

I order him the damn beer.

When The Shrew is finally at the desk with the bill (which doesn’t have the last Heineken on it), I ask the hostess to take the beer off their tab. I am still trying not to completely screw them over. The Shrew asks to see the manager, as she wants to complain about “this particular person here”, without “this particular person being here”. The cigarette obviously didn’t help her. I look at her and say cheerily “I’ll go see if I can find him, ma’am!”

The story changes quite abruptly from my side to hers. Apparently she never asked for the bill, and I also came running at her while she was in the lift, waving the bill and screaming like a banshee. I wish I was allowed to do that.

They end up paying for exactly what they had.

In my mind, the only people who get so worked up in situations like these are people who feel society is constantly wronging them somehow, people who are looking for a cheap deal or handout, or people who are actually going to skip out on the bill. The $4 concession that my manager agreed to was definitely worth getting those “particular people” out of my sight.


I am finally leaving the building after an exhausting night and a well-earned staff drink. One of the runners and I are chatting as we walk past the security desk at the staff entrance/exit.

Suddenly, a voice interrupts our conversation.

“You have to wear your ID at ALL times back of house!”

It’s a different guy, same message. My ID is “displayed as per policy and procedure” this time.

He forces my companion to put her ID on for the 3 metre walk to the exit.

Whoever wrote that memo did a very effective job.

1 comment:

takin chances said...

Wendy, how is it that you travel all over the globe? Are you a millionaress? I'm super jealous and would like to grow up to be just like you. : )

drop me a line on my blog -