So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

So, we got about 4 inches of snow here Friday afternoon through the early hours of Saturday.

For many folks, that’s a laugher of a snow storm. For us, it was the most snow we’ve had since one freak afternoon about 7 years ago, we got 7 inches in an hour (we were told by the experts that we got more snow in that hour than they get in the Rockies). We usually get a dusting or two every year and, every other year, we might get an inch or two that sticks around.

This snow was a bit unusual as it was good fluffy, powdery snow followed in the evening hours by light, but steady amounts of freezing rain and sleet. This meant that we ended up with a nice crust on top of the snow. Thankfully, we avoiding the major ice accumulation that others in the South got.

So, in the morning, I decided to see how the roads were and I went for a spin to the local MAPCO to get coffee and a nuked honey bun. Folks, I couldn’t even get out of my driveway! And my driveway is flat. I was spinning my wheels and creating little troughs of brown ice. Fortunately a couple of neighbors came by and gave me a push and off I went.

Having lived in Colorado for a year with an 1979 RX-7, and having driven a lot in Nothern Germany where black ice is a constant concern, I felt confident that I wouldn’t literally be going for a spin. The streets were bad but if you took your time, it was passable…barely. the thing is, I have a very similar car to the RX-7 (which isn’t the best car to have in such driving conditions). It’s a small, 2-seat convertible that only weighs about a little over a ton…rear wheel drive to boot. In Colorado, you’re driving on packed snow a lot, which was easier than driving on hardened mounds of snow topped with increasingly congealed ice.

But I made it without incident.

I called to see if we were going to be open and, sure enough, we were. About half of our staff called out, so we were down to an 8 man floor. Still, I wasn’t expecting a lot of business because our city was almost completely shut down.

But I wasn’t counting on the fact that many of our guests have 4-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, and surprisingly, apparently know how to use them. I say surprisingly because most of the vehicles have only seen off-road and bad conditions on Lifetime disaster movies.

We actually still had 110 on the books. And we ended up doing probably over 150 easily (at the end of the night, I didn’t look).

What surprised me was that I got hit with two really bad tips, both just a hair over 11% post tax (maybe 13% for the pre-tax). Service was just fine. Kitchen held up their end just fine. People were “nice”. In fact, tips in general were lower than usual until the end. I didn’t see 20% until one of my last tables, but I did get three of them by the time the night was over. You have to understand that only a few of my tables generally tip 15% or less. Tonight, it was the majority.

It’s weird – maybe this is like what valets talk about when they bitch about rainy nights. They aren’t bitching about the conditions, they’re bitching about the tendency of people to be cheap. It’s counter-intuitive. You’d think that people would appreciate valets having to run around in the rain, but many people apparently don’t. You’d think that people would appreciate waiters who risked life and limb to serve their sorry asses. heck, I only hit 1 curb as I drifted helpless to one side of the road when I hit solid ice. In fact, I was stuck there until someone happened by and gave me a push.

But I had the last laugh of the tables that gave me $30 on $311 (post tax) and $25 on $250 (post tax).

Thanks to the volume, I grossed $310 and walked $290. You might have sucked, but I didn’t, bitches. and I still averaged about 19% on my post tax sales (about 3 % points lower than usual).

So there!

Oh, PS, thanks to the two Canadian girls from London, Ontario who tipped me 17.5% pre tax! In cash!

Not “in cash!” because I didn’t have to claim it (I did and I claim all of my cash tips), “in cash!” because they actually had to count the money out and figure out how much they were going to leave me. They weren’t just writing in a 10% or 12% credit card tip like we are used to Canadians in this part of the country doing. For me, a 16% post tax tip from a Canadian is like a 20% tip from someone else, so ladies, I appreciate your generosity a long way from home.


One response to “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

  1. waiterextraordinaire January 31, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    That is a good night for sure. When the weather is cold and snowy here people go out which you would think would be the opposite. Of course if they stayed home that would be 6-8 months of the year.Then no one would wait for a living…

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