Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday Minimum Wage Memoirs: First in line, last to leave


We are 45 minutes into rush hour, but nothing disasterous has happened. Yet. Three of the four tables in my section are full and there is a line at the door. Eager to get another table, I scurry to the door before the hostess comes back to sit someone else. I plan to snag some fast eaters and big tippers. I plan to outsmart the system that is keeping me down and below $8.34 an hour.

Mistake #1--breaking Cracker Barrel Protocol: I should never have crossed over into the realm of the hostess. I should have waited for whatever providence would bring to my section.

As I arrive at the host stand, I see a nicely dressed man and woman standing there smiling, waiting to eat fast and leave a big tip. So far, so good. How many? Two. Smoking or Non? Non. Cha-ching, my plan has worked. I was picking up their menus and utensils when I am accosted by a stout elderly woman who had been standing on the other side of the aisle, and who had completely escaped my notice. With a shrieking voice she forcibly informed me that she and her amigas had arrived 18 years before the fast eater/big tippers. As she spews out this nastiness, she snatches the menus I have in my hand and reiterates, "We were here first!"

Mistake #2: not carrying mace to work.

I'm sorry ma'm, I guess I made a mistake. (Dramatic Irony) How many? I really know how many, because the perturbed trio stands glowering before me. However, I am now in a not so amiable mood. "Three. And we are ready to be seated." Smoking or non. "As far away from smoking as we can be. If I smell even a trace of smoke I won't sit there, my lungs will collapse."
At this point, mean Ched is rising up inside of me violently trying to make an appearance and make up for mistake # 2. However, calm headed Ched prevails and I take the menus back from the crazy "we were here first" lady and turn to seat them, leaving the fast eater/big tippers behind.

Mistake #3: Not abandoning initial plan, and seating them at my table.

After fighting the urge to seat them in the table closest to smoking, we arrive at my table, and I ask them if they want anything to drink. As she is sitting down, the leader speaks for her two sidekicks, "we want three iced teas with no ice and extra lemon with half sweet tea and half unsweet tea, and three coffees, half regular and half decaffenated, with extra sugar, real milk instead of creamer and three straws and extra napkins, and could we have fresh bisquits and hot cornbread with jelly, apple butter and honey when you bring the drinks back." After she spits this out, she sits all the way down and throws her oversized purse on the table which sends the peg game and tabasco bottle spinning. She reacts, with visible disgust, by pushing the salt, pepper, sugar caddy, and lamp to the far end of the table exclaiming how she can't believe how small the tables are and why we have those things in the middle of the table. I tell her with a forced smile that I've been working at the Cracker Barrel for 6 years and that she is the first to raise this complaint (mean Ched almost makes it out). "Well, they shouldn't be there anyway."

Mistake #4: not putting horse raddish in their coffee.

After returning to the table with everything they have "requested," I set all of it on the table and begin the scripting procees. Are ya'll ready to order, or do you need a few minutes to...
Ringleader cuts me off and demands to know why I gave them a breakfast menu. "It's 12:30, why would you give us a beakfast menu. We came in here for lunch." Her friends nod approvingly. We give a breakfast menu to every table, because we serve breakfast all day. Visibly flabergasted, she continues that she just doesn't understand. She muses that it's just the principle of the thing. Well ma'm, it's company policy, I just work here. I assure her that no one is trying to intimidate her into purchasing breakfast against her will. Are ya'll ready to order. Ringleader declares, "not even close."

Mistake #5: underestimating my ability to keep Mean ched in check. At this point, mean ched and cool headed ched are one.

With my blood now boiling, I give them 5 minutes, checkback, denied, 5 more minutes, checkback, denied, 6 more minutes, and alas, still not ready to order. 20 minutes later I look out there and Ringleader is flailing her arms about in my direction and telling me across the dining room that "they are ready to order now." I arrive at the table. "we thought you forgot about us. Where've you been? We're starving." Comment is not acknowledged.

What can I get for you today. "I think we're all going to order breakfast."

Mistake #6: not bringing mace to work.

That's right, not a typo. After denying the legitimacy of the breakfast menu pass out, they all order breakfast. One hour and a half later, Ringleader and her minions make their exit after 12 bottles of Maple syrup, 14 coffee refills and a two hour and 10 minute total service time.

Total tip from Ringleader cadre: $2.11.

Ched hangs his head in shame, and vows to never underestimate the ludicracy of his vocation.


To Be Continued...perhaps.


Missed the Previous Memoirs? Don't Fret!
1. Crazy Meatloafman/Crazy Ketchup Lady

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