I Hate Our Tip System

August 7, 2009

In a previous post, I detailed the workings of our tip system. In particular, the fact that we have to add the tip before we run the credit card. For some reason, despite this, the machine still prints out an empty line where a customer could, hypothetically, add a tip after the fact. This line causes a lot of confusion, and today it cost me money.

Today, I got a really stupid order. It was 15 chicken fingers–not chicken finger dinners, mind you, just 15 chicken fingers–five orders of fries, two cups of honey french dressing, three milkshakes, a coke, and a cheeseburger (guess someone doesn’t like chicken). The total was $44.75. I almost never get orders this big or this dumb.

The rather distressed-looking lady drove up to the window to pay. With a credit card. Great, no tip, is what I’m thinking. I run the card and bring the reciept over for her to sign.

As she hands it back to me, she says “I put a $5 tip on there for you.” Oh you did, did you?

“Uh…I’m sorry,” I stammer. “I can’t add the tip after I run the card.”

“What do you mean, you can’t?” she snaps. “Then why’s the line there?” Good fucking question.

“I know, it’s just our machine, it’s really stupid. I appreciate the gesture, though…” I’d appreciate it more if I could actually get the money.

She rolls her eyes and drives off.

This is the third time I’ve missed out on a tip because of this stupid system. It’s the fourth if I count the time someone gave me some cash when they found out. I’m done with this. From now on, I’m asking if people want to add a tip if they use their credit card on a big or stupid order. If they’re offended, too bad. I ask for everyone else, and I’m tired of losing money.

In other pissy news, my brother took the memory card to our PS2 over to a friend’s house, so now I can’t even play Psychonauts to cheer myself up. Fuck!

I’m Not a Bank!

July 25, 2009

So, good sir, why did you give me $7 in change? Initially I thought maybe it was all right because it was all silver, but I returned to my senses when I realized I now had enough quarters to win Pac-Man about 30 fucking times.

I also have something to say to our hearing-impaired friends in the audience–if you are half-deaf, do not get pissed when I’m forced to raise my voice so you can hear me. Furthermore, do not get pissy when I ask you to repeat yourself because you are whispering on the phone. Do not hang up on me before I can confirm your order and then bitch when it’s not exactly right. In fact, just go away and leave me alone.

Continuing with the stupid shit, tonight we had a solicitor. Has this happened to anyone else? Some guy came in and tried to sell us boxes of candy to ostensibly benefit a program for children. I was so stunned by the audacity of the situation that I stood there, slack-jawed. Sister A, however, was quick to throw him out on his ass.

It’s not that I mind donating to charity–that’s fine. But coming in and pulling a hard sell in a restaurant? Bothering employees and making customers uncomfortable? Why on earth would you think that that’s an okay thing to do? Due to his complete lack of professionalism or tact, I’m inclined to believe he was not actually gathering money for charity and instead was a con artist trying to scam a bunch of hard-working foodservice employees. I really can’t believe the organization he claimed to be working for, one I am well-acquainted with, would encourage its volunteers to behave in such a way. Then again, we have the Shriners, who create traffic hazards by standing in the street to guilt motorists into buying a newspaper they’re never going to read. So I could be wrong.

Final, happy note: I actually made about $9 in tips last night, which is damn good considering over the past month I’ve made about $3. Remember, this is carryout–tipping isn’t mandatory. It was like getting paid for an extra hour of work, which is great because we closed 15 minutes early.

That’s all for today, tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion!

Hosted tonight and nothing that entertaining happened. It was N’s last night but that mostly consisted of a couple random people making him a disgusting salad and a disgusting milkshake and he ate it anyway because it was the last night he was getting free food. There were no shenanigans, no fights, nothing. Meh.

As you may have inferred from a previous post, my family has been on vacation and I have been taking care of the house. People ask me “Why would you not go on vacation?” and I laugh at them because I am on vacation. Vacation from dealing with my family’s shit. Vacation from picking up the crap in a room and putting it away and it stays put away. Vacation from being asked where I’m going and when I’ll be back.

Despite the fact that I have done very little, I have greatly enjoyed my freedom. It would only have been improved if I could actually go somewhere, but frankly, I like just being able to loaf around and do what I want without being questioned. Yes, I spent most of today watching old Zero Punctuation videos, but fuck it, I had nothing better to do and I enjoyed myself.

I’ve also greatly enjoyed having my privacy. That includes Boyfriend staying over, though I’m not going into details about that. It also includes wandering around in my underwear, dancing around and singing along to Barenaked Ladies, scratching my ass, whatever. The point is, this has been a vacation for me, and one far more fulfilling then going up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my mother and two 15-year-old boys.

Long-winded exposition aside, here’s my actual point: you know that feeling, when you’re on vacation, and you know you’ve only got a couple days left and then it’s back to the boring drudgery of your daily life? That slow-onset, soul-crushing depression? Yeah, that’s where I am right now. And while this experience to some extent strengthens my resolve to move out, my shitty job and lack of transport are still major obstacles to overcome.

The only bright spot in my day is the fact that this blog’s views jumped from 8 yesterday to over 60 today, so thanks to whoever put my site on StumbleUpon. And thanks to you general 8-10 people who actually seem to check this site regularly. I apologize for the lack of entertaining things today, and for the general bitchery, but like I said, I have the blahs. Tomorrow is a proper carryout day, and you know what that means–bitches who want 20 milkshakes, rude people, and hair-tearing frustration. Should be a good time.

People are Jerks

July 22, 2009

Last night was refreshingly busy. Unfortunately, my side of the increased business included almost nothing but rude and impatient people. Most of my customers were merely brusque, but two stick out: Fry Lady and Condescending Father.

Fry Lady seemed all right to begin with. She came in about mid-shift and asked to look at a menu, made a smallish order, and proceeded to sit at the counter to wait. Unfortunately for her, the rest of the restaurant was busy, and we had most inept (least ept?) grill cook working tonight.

For some reason, Teenage Cook cannot handle more than two orders at a time. Or he can’t handle making carryout orders at the same time as in-house orders. I’m not sure what his problem is, really, except that he always does carryout orders last.

Teenage Cook was coupled with New Cook, who was working the fryer. New Cook is pretty fast, at least as a fry cook, so the fries the lady ordered were done well before the Signature Burgers. This meant they were sitting out, getting cold, while Teenage Cook was making every order but mine.

Now, from the counter area, customers are able to see into the kitchen. Fry Lady could see those fries sitting there and was understandably perturbed. She came to the register to speak to me.

“Are those fries still hot? They’ve been sitting there a long time.” More like three or four minutes, but at this point, I was still on her side. It does not take 15 minutes to make 2 burgers and an order of fries. I went to check and see if they were still hot—thankfully, they were, and I informed her as such.

“Are you sure? Because I don’t want them if they’re not hot.”

“I assure you ma’am, I just checked them, and they’re definitely still hot.”

“If you’re sure…I don’t want them if they’re not hot!” Yes, you just told me that.

About a minute or two later, my food finally came out. I boxed it up as quickly as possible and rushed it out to her. Despite apologizing for the wait, needless to say, I was met with more bitchery about the fries. She snapped at me, practically threw her money at me, and stormed out.

Worse than Fry Lady, however, was Condescending Father. This “gentleman” is one of my least favorite regulars. He always pulls up to the window in his black SUV with his four bratty children in tow. Said children like to hang their heads out the windows like dogs and scream at me.

Despite having ordered from us repeatedly, CF doesn’t know our menu (though he thinks he does), apparently thinks we’re McDonald’s, and always speaks to me in the most condescending tone imaginable. Imagine a typical Midwestern upper-middle class WASP speaking to a mentally challenged five-year-old and you’ve got his inflection.

“I want four kids chicken nuggets…” Chicken fingers. “All with fries, and those come with drinks, right?” Wrong. “Fine, I want four…no, five vanilla cokes…”

“LARGE vanilla cokes!” one of his children screams from the back window.

“Yeah, LARGE! We want LARGE vanilla cokes!” the others begin chanting, as I’m trying to take this order. CF does nothing to quiet them. “And then I want a kids cheeseburger meal…”

“I’m sorry, we don’t have a kids cheeseburger meal.”

“Fine, then just give me a cheeseburger and another two fries. And put my ketchup in a container instead of packets, will you? Thanks.” His “thanks” is as condescending as the rest of his speech. But the condescension isn’t the worst part. The worst part about this guy is he’s a Starer.

Starers are a subspecies of Campers who, as the name suggests, sit and stare at me the whole time they’re there. This is understandably annoying and unnerving at times, and is the biggest contributor to my anxiety at work. I’m not sure why they do it, other than the ones whose stares turn to glares whenever I stop moving or go to help another customer. Weren’t these people ever taught it’s rude to stare?

While these two were the worst, almost all of my customers today were rude, as I said. I don’t understand it at all. As long as you’re polite, I am 100% on your side. I will see to it that your order is perfect. I will yell at the cooks for taking too long. I will do all sorts of stupid things, like I did last night for the guy who wanted a single milkshake split into 3 small cups ten minutes before close. It was annoying, but he was friendly—almost apologetic—and he tipped me for it. Condescending Father? I hope his kids enjoyed their butter-less rolls.

The only good part of last night came at closing time. A couple guys pulled up right after we locked the doors. I opened the window and told them we were closed.

“Awwwwww…really?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.”

“We just wanted two milkshakes.” HA! No, sorry, Sister A (one of three sisters who waitress at The Restaurant) had already cleaned the milkshake machine three times because I kept getting milkshake orders. Still, they persisted.

“You close at 8:00, right?”

“That’s right.”

“It’s not 8:00 yet! We want milkshakes!” Oh no, don’t try to pull that one on me.

“I’m sorry, it’s 8:00 in here. Come back tomorrow.” And I closed the window. I love saying “no” to people like that.

Sorry for the long post. I’m sure Thursday’s will be shorter, though it’s N’s last day, so there may be some shenanigans. Be sure to check and see!

I believe I’ve mentioned several times that The Restaurant is in a slump. When I first started working there about a year and a half ago, slow nights were the exception rather than the rule, and there was no such thing as a dead night. Waitresses made money, carryout girls could regularly expect to make anywhere from $3-$10 on top of their normal salary from keeping the change, and the back dining room was always open.

Then gas prices jumped to over $4 a gallon, and people started freaking out. Food costs and minimum wage went up and by winter, so did our menu prices. Only by 5 to 20 cents per item, but the Social Security Brigade still bitched endlessly about it. Once the Powers That Were finally decided to inform the American public that we were, in fact, in a recession, things got even worse. People stopped tipping carryout, and even worse than that, people stopped tipping waitresses. Worst of all was that fewer and fewer people come in.

Now slow nights and dead nights are the rule. All the good, experienced people are leaving and being replaced by teenagers who don’t care about their job. Morale is down. I started bringing a book or doing a crossword puzzle simply because I had so little to do most nights (I’ve since stopped as carryout at least has picked up a bit). The back room stays closed most nights I host, except for the occasional annoying group of two who want me to open it just for them and then sit at a table for six, or the occasional teenybopper cheerleader convention.

Owner, in a cost-cutting measure, frequently short-staffs the kitchen, leaving the night manager to fill in wherever. Service suffers overall because of this, as the normal job of the night manager is to fill in where people need help. The top two places this occurs are either helping the counter/back room waitress fill orders when she gets slammed, or grabbing the register so the carryout girl actually gets a chance to get her orders put together and her milkshakes made.

I’ve been doing this long enough, and worked enough Saturday afternoons alone (we’re near a park, so think 12 orders of chicken strips and fries and 12 milkshakes to go with that for a Little League team), that I’m generally okay without managerial assistance. Sometimes people have to wait a bit at the window or the register, but I’m pretty good at multitasking. But I watch these new carryout girls struggle and drown when they can’t get help, even though busy for carryout these days is nothing like what it used to be. None were trained during a time when it really was busy, and most of them freak out if they have more than two orders and one person is at the register.

I hope things get better, I really do. I fear if business doesn’t pick up soon, Owner may sell The Restaurant. And as much as I bitch about it, The Restaurant is a piece of history. It’s older than my parents and largely unchanged. It’s probably the only truly “authentic” ‘50s dining experience you can get in this area—Johnny Rockets doesn’t count, and their service is terrible anyway.

Are other people feeling the strain of the economy? Any of you servers seeing fewer customers and lower tips? Managers having to find a way to cut costs? Hell, have any of you customers noticed restaurants being less and less crowded? Please share if you are!

This is primarily an industry blog, but at times I intend to discuss other subjects near and dear to my heart (such as horror movies, as per my previous post). One such subject is live-action children’s programming and cartoons. Namely, how bad it’s gotten.

I may sound like a codgy old fart, waving my cane while opining about the “good old days,” but hear me out. Disney has become a cesspool of Generic Teenager(s) Dealing With Life shows, Nickelodeon has followed suit, and even Cartoon Network has added a live-action block to their lineup, filled with generic faux-reality shows and other unoriginal imitations of adult shows.

Yes, Cartoon Network is phasing out cartoons. And the cartoons that air today on all three networks are bland, unoriginal, uninspired, dumbed-down pieces of shit. Correction: on the Disney Channel, the cartoons are the same as the live action shows, except the main character has superpowers or something.

What happened to Nicktoons? Where’s Doug, and the Rugrats, and even fucking Ren and Stimpy? Where’s the Animaniacs? I can understand Bugs Bunny no longer being relevant, even if it does sadden me, but fuck, where’s Spider-Man and Batman? What happened to the Cartoon Cartoons on Cartoon Network? The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Lab, Johnny Bravo. Hell, I’d even take Cow and Chicken at this point. Disney had DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, Rescue Rangers, Aladdin…sure, they always included Disney characters but at least they could be relied upon to be well-animated, family-friendly without being completely superficial, and at least somewhat smart.

What happened to the Nickelodeon gameshows? Family Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple? Where are shows with a creative premise, like Are You Afraid of the Dark? or The Secret Life of Alex Mac? Even the Spunky Teenage Girl/Boy Dealing With Life genre was more interesting when I was growing up–I loved Clarissa Explains It All and Pete and Pete. In fact, Nickelodeon pretty much ruled as far as the live-action side of things went. I’m not sure what happened, or when it began to decline, but goddamnit, it needs to stop.

It’s not that we didn’t have shows like what’s on today–Boy Meets World and Saved By The Bell come to mind. But we had more variety, and the message of every single show was not “Grow up, grow up, get a boyfriend, get a girlfriend, have sex, be a living fucking Barbie doll, fuck school (ok, well maybe not that one), fuck creativity, fuck imagination, conform, and while you’re at it, buy this shit because Miley Cyrus likes it.”

When I have kids, what the hell am I going to show them? And don’t tell me “Turn off the TV and read a book,” because you’re preaching to the choir–I’m a big reader and my kids will be as well. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t watch TV growing up or that I expect my kids to go without. I suppose I can hope that some of these shows will be on DVD by then, because if the industry doesn’t shape up, there’s not going to be anything left worth watching.

For more information, check out the following articles:

Cartoon Network Ditching All-Toon Format

Cartoon Network’s Non-Animated Push Comes With Risks

More News About the Network Formerly Known as Cartoon

For ways to act, check out STOP THE MADNESS