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  • Takes A Long Time To Close The Matter

    | Raleigh, NC, USA | Bizarre, Food & Drink, Theme Of The Month, Time

    (I am a waitress. Around seven pm, a couple is seated at one of the two booths in my section. Since our very busy weekend ‘rush’ usually starts around five pm, I knew they would have waited almost an hour to have been seated.)

    Me: “What can I get you to drink?”

    Customer: “We will have a single glass of wine each, and entrees.”

    Me: “Absolutely. Is it a special occasion tonight?”

    Customer: “We are a married couple, and this is the first time in six months we’ve seen each other.”

    Me: “Oh, my!”

    (They were very low-demand, and after they finished the entrees, they lingered over a shared dessert and a pair of coffees. And lingered. And LINGERED.  Around 9:15 pm…)

    Customer: “Can we please have the check?”

    Me: *thinking ‘finally!’* “Absolutely!”

    (The average table turnaround time in our restaurant is 45 minutes. They have already been here over two hours, and since they are taking up one of our four existing smoking tables, my section is still steadily busy well past 9 pm. They don’t put down any form of payment, however. The check folder just lingers in the same spot at the end of their table for hours. By 11:30 pm there are no other customers in the place aside from a few at the central bar. The other closing waitress and I have already cleaned and restocked all the tables in the restaurant, and closed two of the four sections. Our manager sends the other waitress home, so it is me, the bartender, and two line cooks left.)

    Me: *making a show of closing down for the evening* “Here, let me refilled your decaf coffees, and just so you know we close at midnight.”

    (I try to stay nice, as they seem like a very nice couple, and they gave me the impression that they knew they’d taken up the table far longer than normal customers and would tip me accordingly. Normally, on a Saturday night, that table would’ve turned over at least half a dozen times or more, and be easily worth some $50 in tips. The folder still remains in the same place on their table. When midnight comes…)

    Customer: “Just to let you know that the restaurant is now closed.”

    (The last of the bar patrons is gone by 12:15 am. Chairs are on top of tables in every section except mine, because it ‘wasn’t our policy’ to do something as impolite as putting chairs on the tables if customers are still in a section. Our manager cruises by their table to remind them once more than we are closed. I vacuum the far sections of the restaurant. 12:45 am rolls around and they are still there, check still untouched. We have now been closed for 45 minutes, and they had now been there nearly six hours. I go back and talk to my manager.)

    Me: “All the other sections are closed and cleaned, the side stations are broken down and cleaned, and I just need this long-seated couple to pay so I can go home!”

    Manager: “Unfortunately, company policy means we can’t ask them to pay up, so go put the last of the chairs up, and finish your vacuuming, starting with their section. ”

    (The minute I click the vacuum on in the smoking section (nearly an hour after we’d closed!) the couple jump in their seats and then started complaining.)

    Customer: “How rude! Why haven’t you told us you were closing?! We demand to talk to the manager!”

    (I walk back to get our manager, who rolls his eyes at the list of complaints I deliver to him.)

    Manager: “Six months apart and the first thing they do is spend six hours here?”

    (He walked back out to the section with me and politely listened to the couple rant away, then took their check and knocked the price off of their dessert and wines (worth about $20 all together) before running their credit card. Eyes flashing, and still complaining about how rude the ending to the night had been and saying that they wouldn’t return, the couple left in a huff – finally! – just past 1 am, more than an hour after we had been closed. Needless to say, they only left me $4 on a check that had originally been around $50. My manager assured me that I wasn’t in any kind of trouble, and sent me home for the night once I’d finished vacuuming.)