It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m standing at the reservation terminal listening to the owner’s latest scheme to become the next Emeril.

“This could be big – real big,” Fluvio announces

“Which pasta company are you gonna be the spokesman for?” I ask.

He tells me.

“Never heard of ’em. Do we even use their pasta?”

“We do now,” Fluvio replies, grinning.

“When do you film the commercial?”

“Next month,” he says expansively, “Mario Batali better watch his ass.”

I have a vision of a gigantic Fluvio staring down at me from a Times Square billboard. Hey, it could happen.

“God, if you become famous you’ll be even more insufferable,” I quip.

Fluvio chuckles evilly. The phone rings.

“Hello, The Bistro, how may I help you?” I chirp brightly.

“I want to make a reservation for February 14th,” a slightly accented voice demands.

“Let me just get over to that day sir,” I say turning to the reservation computer.

“That’s Valentine’s day,” the voice huffs. No shit Einstein.

“What time would you like to make the reservation.?” I ask.

“Seven o’clock. I want a window table for two.”

Since most guys make Valentine’s Day plans at the last minute we have plenty of open tables.

“And your name, sir?”

“Dr. Zamir.”

Zamir, Zamir, hmmmmm. I flip through my mental Rolodex of bad tippers. Ah, here we are.

Five months ago, Dr. Zamir left me $12 on a $175 check – 6.8%. I remember him. My memory is long. My patience for justice – infinite.

Time to bring the pain.

“I’m sorry Dr. Zamir, my first available table is at 9 o’clock.” I offer sweetly.

“9 o’clock?” Zamir sputters, “that’s way too late!”

“It is Valentine’s Day and those slots filled up early,” I lie.

“Can’t you do something for me?” he begs.

“I’m so sorry sir.”

Giving me a “what the hell?” look Fluvio points to the open seven o’clock slots on the monitor.

I lower the phone, extend my middle finger towards the mouthpiece, and rotate it for emphasis.

As Fluvio starts to protest I call up Zamir’s client history. He’s been a no show for several reservations.

Fluvio smiles broadly.

Looking through the window a casual passerby would have seen two grown men hopping up and down, Italian saluting a phone, gleefully mouthing the words “fuck you, fuck you,” a dozen times.

I put the receiver back to my ear smiling, “I’m sorry sir but that’s all we have at this time.”

“Ok,” Zamir sighs, “I’ll take it. But I want the window.”

“We’ll do our best sir,” I reply, putting the doctor in a lovely seat by the men’s room.

“if any earlier tables open up you’ll call me right.?”

“Of course Doctor,” I lie again, typing “do not move to earlier time” in the notation field.

“Ok bye,” Zamir says hanging up abruptly.

“Happy Valentine’s Day asshole,” I say into the silent handset.

“Isn’t Dr. Zamir a proctologist? Fluvio muses.

“I don’t know. In a perfect world he would be.”

“Figures,” Fluvio grunts walking away……….

Some people emailed me after the NY Times article that, even for good service, waiters didn’t deserve more than a few pennies. “Shit skills, shit job,” was their attitude. This story is for you.

Bad tippers shouldn’t be surprised when requests for nice tables on important days go ignored. We save those tables for nice people who know the deal.

You can figure it out. Shit tips – shit tables.

Hey, at least I gave the doctor a table. I have a heart.

But tippers like Dr Zamir only get 6.8% of it.

Have a nice day.

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