Monday, October 28, 2013

#53 Work For Tips

Work for tips. I did this for over 20 years. And what a long, strange, hilarious trip it has been. I began my journey at the age of 14 as a banquet waitress and retired as a head waitress/trainer at the age of 33. I briefly came out of retirement for a short period when I was 36 but it only lasted a few months. Burnt out is burnt out, there is no way around it....even if the money is good. I will say though, it was both an enjoyable and eye opening experience serving people meals. I have had the immense pleasure of meeting some of the coolest, sweetest, most interesting people you could imagine. I have also had the immense displeasure of meeting some of the biggest, cheapest, most arrogant assholes on the planet. Tit for Tat I guess.

In every restaurant I have labored, I had made my way from the trainee section to the money sections rather quickly because of my work ethic, personality and smarts. Did I get flack for rising through the ranks faster than tenured servers? Absolutely. Did I care? Yes, back then I did. Did I allow it to stop me? Hell no. I always kept my eye on the prize. In fact in the last restaurant I worked, before my retirement, both the assistant and general manager went to corporate to request an exception be made in the nine month waiting period for a server to become a trainer so I could begin training new hires immediately. I had only been employed there three weeks. Was I flattered? Yes. Absolutely. I was also somewhat upset because when I was interviewing I specifically told them I just wanted to waitress. I did not want to train or manage.

It was also during that interview that I first heard the statement, "You are a career server." The manager meant it as a compliment. He was very impressed with my work history. I, however, did not like the sound of that statement at all. That statement was the catalyst for what was to become the beginning of the end for me. Four months after that statement was made, I hung it up. Trust me, it wasn't something I took lightly but there were a number of reasons why I needed to make a career change. One of the reasons had to do with the fact that I had become the breadwinner of the family. I needed health benefits, life insurance and a good retirement plan. Most restaurants either have no benefits for servers or benefits that cost way more than what they are worth.

Another reason was the economy. The economy began it's dive back in spring of 2007 and everyone was feeling it. The first thing people trimmed from their budgets was dining out. Business had slowed. On top of that, I came to find that even in restaurants that still managed to remain busy despite the downturn in the economy, people just weren't tipping what they used to. Servers began to feel the pinch. Physical wear and tear was beginning to affect me as well. I began noticing more some of the older servers suffering from physical pain due to a life of being on their feet.

One server would fight through tears almost everyday due to chronic pain in her knee. Another had to wear braces on both arms because she had severe carpal tunnel but could not take the pain killers prescribed to her and function on the job. Another server had to have foot braces made because her feet were so jacked up that standing on them for 5-8 hours affected her back. Serving was all she knew. In her late 50's, where else could she go and make the kind of money she made. I didn't want that to be me. The fact that for almost two years straight I felt severe pain in my feet when I got out of bed each morning and no medical explanation as to why this was happening alarmed me. Thankfully whatever it was has gone away but it would literally take me ten minutes every morning to walk without limping in severe pain. I was 31 when that happened. I felt that was too young to be feeling that sort of pain.

However the biggest reason I retired was because I was burnt. I have a very long wick, longer than most people, but when I snap....its bad. I was starting to lose my cool over the little things that never used to bother me. That alone made me realize a change was inevitably on the horizon. I fought it of course. I have a tendency sometimes to fight change, especially when it deals with something or someone that has been a major part of my life for such an extended period of time. It was during my last year of serving that I found myself  losing my cool more often than not. Only I was losing my cool on the floor rather than behind the scenes. That is not good for a server who counts on tips for the brunt of her salary.

Like I mentioned above, I had dealt with some real assholes over the years as a server but I always managed to kill them with kindness. They never got to me. I refused to let them bring me down. After almost 20 years, my patience was finally wearing thin. Dealing with the public for an extended amount of time can erode even the best of us. It was beginning to gnaw at me. I had found myself becoming increasingly rude and irritable. I remember throwing a lady's change at her because she was so nasty and miserable. I was becoming argumentative with my tables. I was becoming increasingly annoyed with all the "characters" I had to serve. I just didn't care anymore. I was exhausted mentally. Since I pride myself in trying to be a class act, my contradicting behavior needed to be put in check.

Time to begin a new chapter as they say. Nonetheless, I was scared and reluctant about this new chapter. Serving was all I ever knew since I was a kid. Where do I even go? Plus, I was already dealing with so much other chaos in my life. Did I really need to add more to my plate? When I found myself driving to work everyday with such dread to the point I was in tears, the answer was yes. Yes, I do need to add more to my already full plate because if I don't, the plate was going to shatter and that wasn't going to help anyone. So in November of 2007 I said good bye to serving. I said good bye to the entire food industry completely. It was time to close one chapter and begin another.

Thanx for the ride! And.... what a ride it was.

Right about here is where I am going to give everyone who has never worked for tips some insight into what working for tips entails. I may go long in this blog because this was such a huge part of my life but even if you have to do it in sections, you should really give this stuff a read.

TIPS and Some Common Misconceptions:

1. Servers DO NOT just take your drink order and serve your food. This is a common misconception used amongst the cheapskates of the world that grasp for excuses to justify why they are so freakin' stingy with their money. Servers in Pennsylvania make the server minimum which is $2.83 an hour. It's been $2.83 since 1992. In most other states it is $2.13 an hour. Servers also have to claim a portion of your food bill for taxes regardless of what you tip. Yes, if you stiff a server, you are actually taking money out of their pocket. Did you know that? Now you do.

2. Servers are  pretty much responsible for cleaning the entire restaurant. And by cleaning I do not just mean wiping the counters, covering the salad bar or scrubbing the coffee pots. Have you ever gotten on your hands and knees and crawled under a booth to clean filthy, food splattered kick plates or scrap gooey wads of gum from underneath the table?'s fucking disgusting. Trust me. Servers have to do that. They have to scrub sticky booths, windex food smudged mirrors, and sweep and vacuum every single corner of the restaurant. Servers have to clean and wrap silverware. Restock supplies. Clean the muck and gunk off of condiment containers. Dust the light fixtures. Scrub high chairs and booster seats. Rotate stock. It's a lot of work.

I could go on and on and on about the cleaning part but I will touch on that more in the pet peeves section. Instead I will simplify cleaning with an analogy. Picture your house being filled with little kids, lazy teenagers and sloppy adults for an entire week. Imagine not cleaning your house for the entire week they are there. Now multiply the mess by 100. That is what a server has to deal with at the end of a busy day. There were nights my shift ended at Midnight-1:00AM but I didn't get home until 2:00-3:00 AM, sometimes later, because we had so much cleaning to do. And that was with a jump start. I'm not complaining because I made bank but I have also had my fair share of encounters with douchebags that assumed holding a pen and a pad was the hardest part of my job, thus why should they tip me. Fuck you very much!

3. Servers are also the frontline when it comes to your food. I personally have gotten into epic battles with cooks over how the food you have ordered is prepared and presented for YOU! Ever get in a fight with a stressed out cook on a Friday or Saturday night? Yea.... it's pretty intense. Where do you think I got my extensive, colorful vocabulary from? It wasn't from being around truck drivers I'll tell you that. I earned that badge years ago working in bars and restaurants going head to head with over worked, under paid short order cooks and arrogant, prima donna chefs.

4. It doesn't stop there. I have also gotten into heated arguments with dishwashers over how clean the dishes AREN'T. I have personally learned how to change the water in industrial dishwashers so I could wash the dishes myself because my theory was, if I wouldn't eat it or eat off of it, I sure as hell wasn't going to let you. I may be a sensitive, compassionate person off the floor but on the floor I was tough as nails. Most good servers are. You have no idea how much some of us really do care about your dining experience. You're welcome!!

Note- I will say, in the twenty years I did serve, I worked in 8 different establishments and for the most part, they were clean, sanitary and pleasant environments. However there were one or two that definitely toed the line of being less than stellar on occasion. Nothing like a surprise visit from the health inspector to make things right again. At least for a little while.

5. Not all servers are stupid. In fact, most of us aren't. Most days I made anywhere between $25-$45 dollars an hour when I was a server. I worked between 15-35 hours a week. Don't get me wrong, when a day was shitty or when a slow season was upon us, it was feast or famine but even then, not many jobs in my area could put up those kind of numbers even with a college degree. It was smarter for me to serve at that time in my life. Having an secondary education does not necessarily make someone intelligent and not having a secondary education does not necessarily make someone stupid. Don't judge a cover when you haven't read the book. Just sayin.....

6. Those of you religious folk leaving the Jesus leaflets that read "This is your tip"....yea, that Jesus leaflet isn't going to put food in my kids' mouths. We file those leaflets under G for garbage. I don't withhold your food because you are not Roman Catholic do I? Religion may pay your bills but it doesn't pay my bills, tips do. Save the leaflets for your retreats. I know where God is and I talk to him whenever I want. Don't need any "tips" on where to find him.

7. Finally, this one goes out to the French Canadians. They may automatically add gratuity onto your checks in Quebec, but when you are driving down the east coast in your big, expensive RVs to spend your winters in sunny Florida and you stop to dine in one of the fine establishments in the good ole US of A, look at your bill. Check to see if gratuity has been added onto the bill. Leaving a bunch of Canadian change and pennies on the table is not an EXTRA kind gesture to us. That is our tip! Canadian coins do not work in US soda machines. Banks won't accept Canadian change unless you convert it which costs money! Every restaurant I have ever worked in I've dealt with this. Every server I speak with has the same French Canadian story. My advice, take your $0.68 in change, bend over and shove it up your hole because I have to claim $4.00 on your fucking huge ass bill.

The Devil's Advocate Rule Of Thumb On Tipping- If you do experience a rude, nasty server who acts like you are inconveniencing her for showing up at the RESTAURANT where she is employed and relies heavily on TIPS to make a living OR a server that pulls a disappearing act so phenomenally spectacular that you swear you see a picture of their face on a milk carton after bringing your food, then they do not understand the concept of their job and should not be tipped accordingly. Even I have tipped less than the 15-20% expected when that happens. My theory is, if you want a job working for tips, earn those tips or get the fuck out of the way so someone else that wants to make money can give your tables the service they deserve.

Servers get both the most and the least empathy from me depending on the situation because I HAVE walked a million miles in their shoes and I kicked ass doing it.

As I mentioned above, servers encounter many characters throughout their day. The most annoying character types we encounter can make our life a living hell. If you find you fall into one of the following categories, just know, as immature as it is, we bash the hell out of you behind closed doors. We are brutal. Nothing is off limits and we always have a great laugh at your expense. We also red flag you. Servers never forget their most pleasant customers, nor do we ever forget our most nightmarish customers. My advice, lighten up a little. It's a meal not a personal journey to hell where you take no prisoners.

The 5 Most Trying Characters aka Personality Types Servers Wait On:

1. Power Trip Charlie- Power Trip Charlie has insecurity issues in real life. He is most definitely not an alpha male but most likely an asshole whose arrogant personality is a defense shield for the fact that he doesn't have much of a personality at all. He probably suffers from some sort of penis envy and rejection from his fellow male peers due to his unbearable character. Charlie has big stories, mostly about women but little credibility because every time he tells one of his same 50 stories over again it changes a little....or a lot. Charlie believes everyone around him is stupid and put on this earth to worship him. You will most likely encounter Power Trip Charlie in the company of an homely looking woman, a plastic woman or a likewise insecure woman.

Charlie uses the dining experience as a way to impress his woman/family. When a server approaches the table, Charlie immediately uses the fact that the server works for tips as a way to get said server to jump through hoops, which in his mind equals god like stature. Look out people, we have a big man on campus! He uses his tip for power and masculinity to impress the woman who has accompanied him on this date. Charlie views people, especially women as objects or possessions. The thing is, most experienced servers realize they are not slaves nor objects and will not tolerate his scumbag behavior.

An experienced server will give Charlie the basic required service, which is quite honestly still better than he deserves. They will then turn to the surrounding tables, whom always overhear the obnoxious, loud, out to impress Charlie, and gain empathy from them. Charlie does not realize that not only is everyone around him appalled by his behavior or making cracks about him, but that he is making his server more money. Talk about mind fucking the oblivious. Get over yourself Charlie. You're not all that and a bag of chips. You're just a bunch of crumbs at the bottom of the bag.

2. Control Freak Janet- Control Freak Janet likes to pussy whip her men. She is controlling and diabolical but tries to hide it with the whole "I'm a good, sweet woman" act. The key word being "act". She feels her man is not capable of ordering or speaking for himself. If she does allow her man to order for himself, she makes sure to throw in her two cents by chastising him for the food he is ordering or perhaps the fact that he may be a fussy eater. She feels she knows better than him about everything in life and lets everyone around their table know it as well.

Control Freak Janet frequently chooses the dining experience as a time to pick a fight with her man for any reason, making both the server and the people around them very uncomfortable. Some men fight back causing her either to sulk, give him the silent treatment or embarrass him further. Some men apologize for her behavior thus causing a fire spewing fury making all parties involved, with the exception of  Janet of course, uncomfortable. Then there are the men that just sit there with a blank, zoned out expression that clearly says they have resigned themselves to the fact that this is their life and they just don't have enough balls left to do anything about it since Janet has pretty much clipped them off. I used to feel sorry for those men. I don't anymore.

Maybe some men enjoy being with a woman that consumes and erases their entire identity. Maybe they enjoy the whole "If you really loved me" guilt trip or the "I deserve a man that does this, this and that and you are not doing what I deserve because you are still trying to have an identity" guilt trip. It's your life right? We all have a choice on how we want to live out our lives. Cowards! If there is one thing that bothers me as much as a man disrespecting a woman, it is a woman disrespecting a man.

3. Chronic Carl and Carol- Chronic Carl and Carol guessed it, chronic complainers. This couple tends to frequent the same restaurants which is complete hypocrisy. Why you ask? Because every time they dine in your establishment it is the worst experience of their life!!! Oh the humanity! They rarely have anything good to say about anything. They complain about everything from the type of napkins on the tables to the amount of garlic in the Alfredo even though they order it every fucking week. In other words, they are miserable twats that probably get so tired of annoying each other at home that they have to come out of their hole to share the miserable wealth of their miserable lives with the unbeknownst and unsuspecting.

You could serve these people food made from God himself arranged on golden platters cooked EXACTLY to their specifications and they would still find something to bitch about. There is absolutely no satisfying these people. And to add salt to the wound, they usually do not tip well yet require so much of a server's attention with their ridiculous requests and chronic complaining that it affects the time she is able to spend on her other tables. Naturally just like with Charlie and Janet, empathy from the surrounding tables helps the servers plight, but take my word for it, it sometimes takes every ounce of strength a server has to not go bat shit crazy on Carl and Carol.

4. Fussy Fran- Fussy Fran is the pickiest diner on the planet. And trust me, I thought I gave birth to the pickiest eater on the planet. My son is mild compared to Fussy Fran. Fussy Fran likes to rewrite entire menus. Fussy Fran could order Pasta Carbonara and after the rewrite what comes out of the kitchen is a salad with bacon bits. Fran is the type of diner that asks you not put tomatoes in the red sauce. Really? Because in case you didn't notice Fran, it's made of freakin' tomatoes. How the fuck am I supposed to take them out? Fussy Fran will make you pick all the dark green lettuce out of her salad because she will only eat iceberg. Fussy Fran is the type of person that asks for ten ice cubes in her water and two slices (not to be confused with wedges) of lemon on the side.

She only uses ketchup for her french fries so she needs her cheeseburger on a separate plate because one time she accidentally had some of the over-spray from the ketchup bottle get on the corner of her hamburger bun thus causing her to request an entirely new burger. (Yes, there are people out there like that.) And god forbid the kitchen break one of the dippy she eggs she ordered. Only she has the right to break the dippy egg with her toast. How dare we take her fun from her. Fussy Fran will read the entire menu twice, then proceed to order something that is not on the menu, at least not to the naked eye.

A typical Fran order will start with a cup of chicken noodle soup, light on the noodles, no crackers, two slices of warmed bread with promise margarine. For her entree she will have the Chef salad, romaine lettuce only, no ham, extra turkey, add pepperoni, no tomatoes or onion, one hard boiled egg no yolk, just whites, diced, not sliced. She will substitute the American cheese for shredded cheddar cheese and diced Swiss, then also add black olives, fresh garlic, and hot peppers to the salad. She will ask if the French dressing is real aka orange or if it is Catalina aka red. If it is real French, she will take that on the side as well a side of Ranch. She wants croutons on the side as well. After her salad, she requests a hot decaf tea with honey and lemon, sliced, not wedged and a glass of water (which will sit on the table untouched) to accompany her dessert. I'm not even going to get into dessert. The blog is long enough. You get the picture. I will say, Fussy Fran is usually a nice person and a tips accordingly, but she is definitely a time consuming, sometimes challenging diner to deal with.

5. The Freebie Family- This one doesn't need much explaining. The only real difference between the Freebie Family and Chronic Carl and Carol is that while Carl and Carol complain, they usually pay their bill without argument. They are just miserable people. The Freebie Family however, not only complains but will go to great lengths to get already eaten items removed from their bill. And no, offering them some free dessert or a coupon is not good enough because they don't eat sweets or they live 50 miles away and rarely get to the restaurant even though you see them at least once a month in your establishment and they do eat sweets....just not today fuckers!

Let me explain, most normal customers will inform their server within a few bites of their meal if something is wrong. Not the Freebie Family. They will eat their entire dinner then say it was cold, or raw or not what they ordered. Of course the evidence is already in their stomachs leaving nothing for a server to examine. A good server will question why they did not inform them sooner, to which the Freebie Family replies they were so hungry from waiting so long for their food (20 minutes average) that they had to eat it because they had the shakes and were going to pass out. Some families will complain about every single food item they ordered. "Everything was so horrible and wrong and awful that we struggled so badly to clean the entire plate but we were starving to death and had no choice but to eat the slop you put in front of us because we were about to eat the placemats." Please!

Depending on the manager on duty, The Freebie Family would either get their way or be denied. A denial always led to further escalation. Twice I have witnessed a manager call the police on Freebie Families for their eating food but refusing to pay. Guess what.....they had to pay. Twice I have also witnessed managers inform a Freebie Family that they were no longer welcome in the establishment because they were so abusive in their complaining. And I quote, "Since you obviously never have a good experience dining in our restaurant, I think it would be best if you did not patronize this restaurant anymore." The look on the Freebie Families faces were priceless every time! Sometimes the customer isn't right when they try to rip you off every time the enter the establishment. Those managers were my heroes!

If you are one of THOSE types here is some insight into what happens when you enter our establishment.

There is nothing more hilarious and disturbing all at the same time than a group of servers hiding behind the wall fighting over who has to wait on the most annoying customers ever.
  • We've drawn straws, picked numbers out of a soup bowl, and pulled seniority. We've made the poor bussers decide who should wait on them. The winners always had to provide protection to the bussers in case "the chosen one" decided to retaliate. Rock, paper, scissors anyone?
  • We've made heated arguments as to why we couldn't wait on the table that would make even the savviest lawyer take notes. "He smells like ass and I almost puked last time I waited on him. If I puke, I'm leaving." or "She is so freakin high on herself I had to pop a Xanie just so I could walk over to the table." 
  • We've sent unsuspecting trainees like sheep into the wolves den and didn't feel one bit guilty about it. "Hey Ellen, I'm really busy right now. Could you grab that four top for me? They tip well." (Trainees always said yes because they usually had the slowest or smallest section in the restaurant. Suckers!!)
  • We've bartered clean ups. "If I take them you have to vacuum and wipe down the dessert cases and wrap my silverware and take my kids for an entire week."
  • We've offered up cash. "I'll give $5 to the person that will wait on the winners in my section. You don't even have to give me one of your tables in return. ............Okay, I'll give $10 to the person that will help a sister out and take Jurassic Park and The Lost World in section 3. Anyone? Anyone? Come on!!" 
  • And if there were still no suckers for punishment, we would avoid the table completely until one of the managers would literally walk over to one of us (Usually me!! Why always me??) and either beg us or demand we take the table. This of course we cause me to snarl and yell, "FINE!! I'lllllllllllllll take THEMMMMM!" in my exorcist voice as I glared at the rest of the serving staff while they giggled at me. Then I would help myself to a nice big piece of peanut butter pie as a fuck you! 

Top Ten Server Pet Peeves
1. We cringe when you ask for packets of crackers for your babies because you allow your baby to smash and throw them all over the flippin' floor. Then you ask for even more crackers. The kid is not even eating the crackers. Did you notice that? Crackers are not babysitters. It's not cute. Trust me. Servers have to clean that shit up after you leave. Not only does it suck but it takes forever to get all the saltine residue out of the rug and from underneath the booth.

2. Control your kids or stay the hell home. Allowing your kids to run all over the restaurant may give you a pleasurable dining experience because obviously your kids are not at the freakin table but everyone else in the entire building has to pay for that. I've seen kids bothering other patrons trying to eat. I've seen kids run behind the bar or in the kitchen. I've seen kids trash bathrooms. And the worst... I've seen kids almost cause near catastrophes when servers carrying big trays of scalding hot food had to play dodge the brat to not only save the food they were carrying but more importantly, save your kid from getting a serious injury or burn. I never allowed my kids to behave that way in a restaurant. No one should. Discipline your kids or get out!!

3. Snapping your fingers at us, yelling "hey" or "yo" or calling us like we are dogs is a sure way to get the minimum required amount of service possible. We will also make fun of you relentlessly in the kitchen.

4. If there is something wrong with your food or beverage, let us know as quickly as possible. Don't suck down a Long Island Ice Tea then claim it was weak. Don't chow down an entire rib eye then say it was well done instead of medium. We truly do want to fix anything done in error so don't eat it or drink it then complain. It doesn't look good on your part even if it is a genuine statement. For every honest person with a complaint, there are five that are full of shit and trying to get something for nothing.

5. Let us know ahead of time if you want separate checks. It saves about 30 minutes of figuring out who ordered what and disagreements over who ate what. (Trust me, there is usually always one in the party that will take advantage of the confusion to try and say they didn't eat or drink something.) It makes both your life and our life easier if we know from the get go. It also ensures everyone in the party is billed accordingly.

6. If a restaurant closes at 10:00 PM, don't come in at 9:55 PM and expect to us to stop cleaning or shutting down the restaurant just for you. I know when I go out to eat, I like to sit and enjoy myself. I don't want to be an inconvenience nor do I want to be treated like one. Find another restaurant that is open later. Trust me, you will enjoy yourself more. And the whole, "Well technically there is five more minutes until you close." line just sounds snarky. Yes, there are five more minutes until we CLOSE which means until we shut the place down.

7. If you plan on camping at a table all day long, leave a tip large enough to make up for all the tables the server lost because you decided to set up shop for the day. I admit it. I can be a camper too when I am out with a friend. Good conversation is worth savoring. But, I make sure to tip accordingly or move to the bar to continue the conversation after our meal.

8. Servers are not machines. We are people just like you so practice some patience please. We can only move so fast, especially when you can't tell us in one visit the 17 things you need but prefer to keep us running every time we so much as even make eye contact with you.

9. Unless someone is dying, get off your freakin' cell phones and order your damn food. Trust me, there is nothing more rude than a person yammering on a cell phone while the people around them are trying to eat their meals or serve you. If you have an important call, excuse yourself from the table and step outside like most normal people do. Most of us were alive when there were no cell phones and people actually focused on their meal or the people they were with. Technology does not give you an excuse to be an ass.

10. Servers are not hookers. We are here to give you an enjoyable dining experience. It's a restaurant not a massage parlor. Just because we work for tips does not give you the right to touch us inappropriately or make derogatory comments towards us. Don't get it twisted. And leaving a large tip does not give you the right to come into the establishment once a week and sexually harass us. Just like anyone else you would want to ask out on a date, leave your number or your card if you want, but keep in mind, stalking a server will not make your chances any better than it would any other person. If we call, we call. If we politely say no, leave it go.

11. Stop trying to pull fast ones. I once waited on a foursome in which one guy sucked down an entire milkshake, dropped a dead bug in it, then called me over to say he found a bug at the bottom of the shake. I'm not stupid. A fly lying at the bottom of what was once a full glass of ice cream and milk yet miraculously not covered in any milkshake looks incredibly deliberate. He totally failed at ingenuity. At least the guy that put the band-aid on his hamburger used a little more creativity. Still highly unbelievable but nonetheless creative. ( He was wearing the band-aid on his thumb when he sat down to eat. Ten minutes after the food was served the band-aid was no longer on his thumb but in his cheeseburger. Of course it was the cooks band-aid. Shocker huh? Guess he didn't realize he sat in the observant waitress' section aka mine.)

12. I always appreciated customers who informed me up front if they drink a lot of soda, coffee, water, etc. or require extra-extra ranch dressing, salsa, napkins or the like. It it actually saves us from making a bunch of other trips because we will be sure to provide you with all the extra you need either in one shot, or it will at least clue us in that we may have to do extra running. (Which is fine. It's our job. Just nice to know.)

13. Please let us know if you have allergies. No matter how careful or clean a restaurant is, there is always going to be types of cross contamination. We can not only better inform you of risk factors, but we can also relay this information to the cooks as well as keep our own eye on how your dish is being prepared.

14. Servers are not your punching bags. If you are having a bad day when you walk into the place, obviously we are not the reason for it so don't make us go through your own sick version of Norman Bates doing a psycho on Janet Leigh. And DO NOT  fling stuff at us! Seriously?? Your table has now won the prize of becoming the table we "trip" in front of with the water pitcher or the three glasses of soda. Yea...fuck you Norman! Now I AM the reason you are having a bad day. Go cry to your mother about it.

15. Servers hear a lot of personal stories we really have no business knowing. Some customers offer up a lot of TMI if you know what I mean. First off, if you are out with your significant other and you two are having relationship issues, please don't bring us into it. I'm observant and intuitive with people so I can usually perceive a lot about couples based on body language, eye contact and conversation. However, I sure as hell am not going to tell you what I think. I'm not an idiot. I want a tip. (The overly lovey dovey couples usually have the biggest relationship issues and eventually split believe it or not. Trust me on this.) Also, we really have no desire to know about rashes, bowel movements, medical history, fungus, sexual fetishes, erectile dysfunction, mother in law problems, cat dander, bug bites in weird places, or anything else along those lines. Some things should just be kept to yourselves.

16. Finally, nothing is more pathetic and disgusting than watching a person leave a tip on the table, then witnessing someone else from the party come back to the table, pick up the tip and proceed to pocket it. Seriously?? You're going to be THAT person? Loserville...population YOU!

In closing, I must say, my experience as a server was definitely more positive than negative. I met some wonderful people who opened my eyes to many opportunities. I've had deep conversations with kindred spirits (we seek each other out and can usually tell within five minutes of a conversation if we are kindred). I've listened to stories of travel, seen children grow up right before my eyes. I've sadly said my goodbyes to regulars who had passed on. I've had customers give me presents, and extra big tips when special events were coming up in my life. I've had customers and co-workers genuinely care for my well being and that of my family. Customers and co-workers whom went out of their way to do kind and sweet things for me. I've made lifelong friends with some of the people I have met while serving tables. For all that, my life had been changed for the better.

I will never forget those people not will I ever forget all the good times I've shared with coworkers. We kept each other sane on insane nights. Serving taught me patience. It also taught me the reality of putting in a hard day's work. I will always look back fondly at those days of my life. Serving had a big impact on the woman I am today. I think I did okay.

A Walk down Memory Lane 
Wish I had more pictures

Friendly's Gals....Me, Alicia and Amanda with her sister Michelle.
Alish, me and Lisa. We hated those Friendly's uniforms! 
The Ground Round crew minus of few members of the gang! <3
One of the reasons you will rarely see me wearing this color. Ugh! LOL!
Look at these two shady guys! Ferdinand's. <3
Momma Aka The One and Only Kimba Watson. Worked with my dear friend at Friendly's, The Ground Round and Ferdinand's. I am her work stalker. LOL! Love this woman! 
Chris, Me, Carolyn and Kelly.... Ferdy girls @ Tavern on the Green.

Evan's Roadhouse. Came out of retirement to work there while unemployed. 
And to think, I had to wait on some of these characters. Evan's Roadhouse. 

"All things come to an end, but good memories last forever."



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#75 Get A Tattoo

Commitment.... it can be a terrifying word or a reassuring word depending on what it pertains to. Personally I like the word. To me it translates into serious, as in I am serious about you or I am serious about us or I am serious about doing this or that. Commitment means follow through. It means actions to back up words. Words are great but actions speak volumes. It means something matters enough to you to engage in a commitment. However, combine the word commitment with tattoo and well...... it made me very uneasy.

When I was younger, I swore I would never, ever get a tattoo. It was all about commitment, and when it came to tattoos, I was a commitment-phobe. I loved tattoos....on other people. However for me personally, I did not want to commit to anything being permanently engraved on my body. What if I changed my mind? I do that sometimes. Also...What if I went to an artist that totally fucked up my tattoo? I would be stuck with an ugly tattoo that I no longer wanted for the rest of my life. No thanks. Finally, the biggest reason why I would never get a tattoo was simple. Needles sometimes make me faint. I was afraid they would hurt really bad too.

If there is one thing I have learned in this life it is to never say never.........

In April 2007, I became a different person. My ex-husband and I had separated a year prior at the beginning of April in 2006. Our wedding anniversary was April 26th. The first year I dealt with it poorly since I was still so fresh from the split. The date was fast approaching again, and while I was good with everything, I still wanted to have a different memory for that day. My co worker Carolyn was talking about getting another tattoo on her shoulder. She had several (9) cute little tattoos all of which were very nicely done

A light bulb went off in my head. That's it!! On April 26th, 2007 I was going to get a tattoo. That is definitely something I will remember. A very dramatic decision for me indeed but I tend to dive head first when the light bulb goes off and it has rarely done me wrong. This was huge!! I realized I could do whatever I wanted to now. I could spend my money on me. How exciting!! As for my anxiety over the pain...screw it. I spent 24 hours in labor without meds and had a complicated birth with my daughter. I can handle pain. A little tattoo needle ain't got nothing on that. I could do this. I tell Carolyn she inspired me to get my own tattoo. We decide to go together so I won't have to be alone my first time!

I actually had an idea of what I wanted to have done. I wanted to get a tribal butterfly around my belly button. I didn't care if tribal tattoos were overdone, unoriginal or cliche like some critics say, I loved them. I found them to be sexy. Very, very sexy! As for my choosing a butterfly, well, butterflies are free to fly!! I was about to spread my wings. It was a long time coming. I had been released from a fifteen year cocoon of mixed emotion. It was time for some much needed personal growth. Chrissy was about to begin her journey. Symbolism people!

I spend the next two weeks scouring the internet for the perfect tribal butterfly. Finally, after much searching, I found the perfect one! I print it up and save it for my consultation. The following week, Carolyn and I arrive for our meeting with the artist. He frowns when he looks at my picture. I stare at him, confused and a little disheartened, waiting for some sort of explanation as to why he is looking at my butterfly like he is. He looks up expressionless and proceeds to question the size of the tattoo I have chosen for my first tattoo. He asks me if I am I sure I want to go that big first time? I inform him it took two weeks of research to commit to the print out he was holding in his hand. I was not changing my mind about the tattoo I wanted.

He then questioned whether my stomach would be the best place to get my first tattoo. In fact he highly recommends since it is my first tattoo NOT to get it done on my stomach. It is a very sensitive area he explains. Being that I am not willing to go smaller, the pain may be greater for me since I have no idea what the needles feel like to begin with. Add the sensitivity of the skin around my belly button and he is concerned I may ask him to stop. He does not want to start something I may not want him to finish.

I mull over the information he just provided to me for a few minutes. I really wanted to try and conceal some of the scars on my stomach. This is fucking up all of my plans. I am now anxious. I just may chicken out after all. I really don't want to. I really want this. I really need this. The only thing standing in the way is my insecurity. If a man judges me based on the scars on my body, in the long run do I really want to be with a man like that? No, I don't. I am not a Barbie. I like to get down and dirty. We can't all be glamour pusses can we? I'll leave that to the pros. It's both perplexing and quite sad how much we allow the media and the shallow people of the world control our self esteem. Fuck em!

I decide to get the tattoo on the ..........wait for it..........wait for it...............the small of my back. Yes, I am getting a tramp stamp people. I ain't no tramp though. Besides, I think they are very sexy too. The tattoo artist finally complies to my request although he does mention one more time concern about how big the tattoo is and my tolerance for pain. I tell him we will cross that bridge if need be and I'll just have to suck it up. It's all set now! I am really going to do this I think. I feel rebellious! LOL!

Before I leave, I ask him one other question. Can I have a drink before the tattoo to calm my nerves? His answer....NO! It thins the blood. Damn! In the back of my mind I debate still doing it but the day of I decide not to. He would know. Maybe the fact that I am so nervous will numb me from the pain. (I can convince myself of just about anything I swear.)  I meet Carolyn a week later at the tattoo parlor. I am stoked. This is really going down! She says she will go first so I can see what it is all about. As I look on, she is so calm. She doesn't flinch once. I feel better already.

My turn. I assumed I was going to lie down for the tattoo. Wrong. I have to bend over the the chair. Awkward but it's all good. He tells me he is going to remove two bars from the tattoo print I brought because they didn't make sense to him. He knows what he is doing right? I comply. I wish I wouldn't have now. The two bars he was talking about are what made the butterfly look like a butterfly. I guess to men, butterflies don't make sense? (I get it turned into a complete butterfly a few years later. It's not as balanced as I would like it to be but Joe did an amazing job fixing it. I plan to add to it soon. It is my work in progress. Just need more money. Who doesn't.)

What I really wanted. 

Anyways, back to the bending over of the chair. "You had me at bend over." LOL! Nah, not this guy. He turns on the needle and warns me not to flinch. As soon as the needle hits my skin....I flinch. I wonder if he noticed? Yep, his reiterating not to flinch verifies he noticed. I take a deep breath. I don't want to mess this up. He starts doing the outline. It burns and stings a little but it isn't too bad. After 15 minutes I do not even notice. This isn't so bad I tell myself. Not bad at all. After 45 minutes he asks me if I would like a break before he starts the shading. At first I say no, but he recommends I take a break. Hey, he's the professional.

So....I go outside with my pants half down, paper towels hanging out of  my waistband, my jacket around my waist to cover my ass and have a cigarette. I felt really sexy let me tell you. (Sarcasm!) After my smoke, I go back inside and assume the position once again. It's shady time. For some reason I believed the outlining would be the most painful part of the tattoo. Wrong again. The shading hurt like a mutherfucker. I felt like I was getting a really painful brush burn over and over again in the same spot. It hurt even more as he progressed.

I didn't go numb like I thought I would. I keep taking deep breaths which make me wiggle and flinch. This causes more scolding. I look at the clock. It's been 45 minutes. I can do this right? Just when I think I cannot take the pain anymore he tells me I am done. Thank the good lord in heaven above because any longer and I may have just passed out from the pain or broke my face from clenching my jaw so much. I was feeling dizzy and a little nauseous. A headache was on the horizon.

The tattoo artist asks me if I am ready to see my new art. I smile! Yes!! I am! He holds up a mirror so I can see my new tattoo. I really like it but I notice it doesn't look like a butterfly. If I wasn't so tuned up to the pain I would have made him put the bars in but at this point I had enough and figure I will get it adjusted another time. I still really like it though. It's very cool. He gives Carolyn and myself our tattoo instructions and sends us on our way. I am not to take anything for the pain right now because it can cause bleeding. I remember I have class tonite so I wonder how this is going to play out.

My first tattoo! 

By the time I get home, the sensitivity has already started to wear off. I will be okay I reassure myself. I go to class that night. As my Human Resource Management professor is lecturing the class about the process of doing a job analysis to create accurate job descriptions, I sit back in my chair and irritate my back. Shit! Did I just ruin my tattoo? I jump up from my seat and head to the restroom. I have it all to myself thank god because I literally stood in front of the mirror, dropped my jeans and removed the gauze from my tattoo. It was bleeding a little but otherwise, it looked fine.

I realized at any moment someone could come walking in to the bathroom. Imagine their expression walking in to see a woman with her pants down to her ankles in a half twisted position, standing on her tippy toes with her naked ass sticking out so she could get a good look at it in the mirror. That would definitely make for some interesting conversation. I hobble into a stall, pants still at my ankles to put the gauze back on my tattoo. Don't feel like being the butt of a funny story, literally. I do that inadvertently enough as it is.

The next two days go well for me. Then the itch comes. No one warned me about that. The artist did say it was going to peel or shed and that I was to leave it alone but he did not explain that the itch would be the equivalent of Chinese water torture. HOLY FUCKING ITCH! I must have rubbed three tubes of ointment on it just to rub the itch. I felt like a crack addict looking for his next fix. I may have rubbed my back off the door frame of my bedroom like a bear would do to a tree to relieve the itch more than a few times. My son caught me doing that and just gave me a look like "What the hell is my mother doing now?" Nothing could satiate the itch but time. And it felt like forever.

Finally after all the shedding and itching I show my father my artwork. He knew I got one but we were not to tell my grandfather. He is way old school. I was the first born grandchild so it would be frowned upon way more for me than it was with my two youngest cousins. And anyone that knows my grandfather knows he was not afraid to voice his opinion, politically correct or not. My two youngest cousins had gotten tattoos and he had many comments to make about them. I was his little golden girl, the first born of his first born.
My grandfather could be so modern yet so old fashioned. When he found out I was pregnant with my daughter first thing out of his mouth was "You're not going to marry THAT guy?" LOL! Four years later he was on me to marry him because we were Catholic. Go figure.

My father's reaction however, was too cute. He looked at it and says astonishingly, "Is that real?" I'm like yea dad, it's real. He thinks it is really nice. He keeps saying he can't believe it is real and that it is so nice. My brother even likes it which is surprising since I am the "uncool dorky" sibling. Of course he throws the old "tramp stamp" phrase into his admiration. Wouldn't be my brother if there wasn't a twinge of sarcasm laced in there somewhere. In my family, we are all graduates of Smart Ass University.

Several years later in April of 2012 I get my second tattoo and also have my original tattoo reworked into a butterfly. I would like to add more to my "tramp stamp", perhaps a tribal vine coming from both sides of the tattoo with little dragonflies. Maybe another quote too. I would also like to get a wrist tattoo and maybe something on my foot. I love cherry blossoms but am a commitment phobe about color. LOL! I am still torn about adding more to the quote I got across my shoulders. I don't want to take away from it. I guess when the time comes I'll seek out advice. In the meantime I will keep searching for inspiration.

The rework. It is more like a butterfly with a phoenix rising from the ashes feel now. 

Never Say Never.............


As Stevie Nicks sang ," Blame it on my wild heart." Sometimes it gets me into trouble. LOL!

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