Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

| Toronto, ON, Canada | Working | October 21, 2013

(I’m a server in an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. I’m serving a party of 10 customers. Customer #1 has food allergies, and asks that her rolls not be on the same platter as the others. I pass that to the kitchen, who screw it up. Everything else she orders either gets forgotten, sent to other tables, or is delivered to the wrong people at her table, who eat them without realizing it. Some of her meal has to be reordered three times before she finally gets to eat. We’re approaching the end of the meal; the rest of her party is getting their dessert and she finally gets her meal. After she eats her ice cream, she finds a piece of plastic in her mouth. The ENTIRE table is getting upset, except, surprisingly, the customer with allergies herself.)

Customer #2: “We’d like to see the manager, please!”

(My boss comes over and says he solved all the problems when she got her meal, even though it was an hour late and didn’t include the missing orders. He also tries to convince her that the plastic is cabbage.)

Customer #2: “We think she should get her meal for free.”

Manager: “The best I can do is 15% off.”

All Other Customers: “WHAT?”

(They continue to argue with him, and I see all hopes for a tip from this group I’ve been working my butt off for disappear. He ups the offer to 20% off the $25 tab, but they aren’t biting. Finally, Customer #1, the woman whose food was the problem chimes in.)

Customer #1: “You know what, guys? Forget it. I’ll pay what he’s asking. They just lost 10 customers, though.”

(After the manager walks away, she turns to me.)

Customer #1: “Can I ask you a tactless question?”

Me: “Uh… sure?”

Customer #1: “Do you guys pool your tips or can we tip just you?”

Me: “Unfortunately, we pool them.”

(She beckons me over and gives me what amounts to a 25% tip.)

Customer #1: “That’s for you. YOU were great.”

(One after another, each member of the party comes over and sneaks bills into my apron pocket or my hand, with instructions to keep them for myself. I choke back tears. How cool was it to get an entire group that doesn’t penalize the waitress for kitchen errors!)

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