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?”
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.
If your service is half as good as your writing everyone should be tipping you 25%
Keep writing, I’ll be donating to your tip jar (“,)
I actually liked working for tips, and have been more than happy to explain to a number of foreigners with whom I’ve shared online communities that it gives the service people a deep and direct incentive to please the customer first. My tips were very directly proportional to how well I did for my customers. My favorites were regular and predictable.
I believe in tipping like shit, if the service is shit, but I also don’t go back!!!!! Dr. Zamir sounds like he likes the service, otherwise, why would he go back? So he’s a dick to tip you like shit. You did the right thing.
Remember though you’re not the only restaurant out there. Not sure why you think your restaurant is tops above all others….you haven’t quite mentioned that yet.
Whoever said shit skills, shit job clearly has noooooo idea the skill set that goes into sevice
I am glad your nerve isn’t in my tooth…. 🙂
I love your stories of revenge! I wish I could do that at our bookstore sometimes, but sadly often the boss will just give scene makers what they want to make them go away. We shouldn’t reward that sort of behaviour!
Oh and I HATE when they say they’re a regular and they know the boss. I work here all the time, I would know if you were a regular, which you’re NOT.
I like your articles, but not your attitude about tips. Tips are not obliged, the clients pay the price for the food and the service which is written on the menu. If you get tips, it’s something extra, but not an essential part of your salary. I also worked in a restaurant. If you want to earn more you should look for a better job.
Keep on writing.
Disregard the last comment, I’m an idiot who has clearly never had to work for tips and my insistence that tips are “not an essential part of your salary” is proof of that. I recognize that people working in restaurants are under-paid, under-appreciated and overly stressed, whereas people that have “better jobs” are generally lazy, self-righteous egotists that truly believe they have, in their limited, closed-minded view of the world, truly come to understand “the way things work”. That they are an exception and not the rule is unknown to them, and they therefore place the blame for the rest of the world’s misery on all those that do not live by their own “words of wisdom”.
In Texas, we STILL get paid $2.13 per hour…I owe taxes every year, even with that…and we have Rick Perry…yeah…