End of Season Reflections

I should have written this post a month ago, when season really ended, but for reasons that have no reason, I continue to work many hours, although my pay has diminished to half since Mother’s Day. Anyone who has worked the SoFla or Keys hospitality gig knows this season of riches/summertime slumber routine. I’ve been doing it for almost four years, and it still blindsides me every year. And if I think it’s bad in June, just wait ’till August and September.

Thus, I took the slow time at work today to reflect upon the bad, the unbelievable and the good of Season 2011.

The Bad: It Takes A Thief

I never suspected, for a second, I was being conned. It didn’t cross my mind that anything was out of the ordinary–not the first time, not the second, not even when it happened a third time. I could beat myself senseless for having had no sense each time a thief took advantage of their perfect moment to commit their perfect crime.

Papa Thief

He was young and handsome and as well spoken as he was dressed. His two children were adorable, as are most kids in holiday mode at my daytime eatery. This great dad gave the hostess as well as me a bona fide room number. Unfortunately, we were so busy on this particular weekend day, I didn’t look him up before he loaded up his plates and those of his kids with every breakfast buffet morsel to be had. You know the end of this story–name doesn’t match the room. Name doesn’t match any room. Name is that of no one. “Would you know him again if he comes in tomorrow?” asked my manager. “In a heartbeat,” I told her. She voided the sale, “Just this once.” Papa Thief knew better than to return a second time.

Charge-the-Card-and-Bolt Thief

Order the most expensive items on the menu. Charge it to your heavy black granite or whatever material it is credit card. Leave the pen and check presenter just so on the table. Thank me profusely for a wonderful lunch. Then laugh all the way to the beach thinking about me having to cover the paperwork you should have left in the check presenter. Oh, you are a clever one, my pathetic little thief.

Teach Your Children Well Thief

Right, you ate earlier and you want your kids to enjoy a “kids buffet.” Right, the pubescent 14-year-old girl is under ten years old. Right, you’re only drinking coffee as you eat a plate of pastries the younger of your two kids brought you from the buffet, because who would question a cute kid at the buffet? Right, say your kids have to go to the restroom as you leave cash that is two dollars and change short of the actual bill in the check presenter. Don’t bother saving for college for your two wide-eyed urchins who couldn’t look me in the eye. Save it for the bail bondsman.

The Unbelievable: Tipsy

Every French-speaking guest I served tipped me at least 15 percent. Every single one. Every German guest tipped $0.00 to $1.00 on $65.00-plus tabs. Every Dane pretended not to speak English and misunderstand the “suggested gratuity” chart and tip nothing. Every Brit tipped more than 20 percent so as not to be lumped in with the Danes and Germans. Every Scot and Irish lad and lassie asked if the tip was included, and tipped appropriately when I told them it was not. Hispanic men demanded the most service and tipped the least. Hispanic women tipped very well as long as their men weren’t around. Americans still confused the hell out of me with their profuse thanks and lousy tips, just as much as they did with their $20 bills on top of an auto grat for a large party. Just goes to show–you can’t believe anything you hear about who tips what.

The Good: Cheers to the Unsung, Even if They Were a Pain

Cheers to the needy business travelers who actually filled out positive comment cards on my behalf. Cheers to the picky food critic who ran me to death while whining every second who then wrote a note on her check that said the food was lousy but her server was a “10.” Cheers to every surly, miserable guest who surprised the hell out of me with a generous tip–even when I was likely just as miserable and surly toward them.

But RG, what about the guest who stirred your heart and fanned the muse flames? What about…I don’t know…your being above all that, you know, for the sake of the moral of the story? What about…?

I hope the stories and guests and all the rest who inspire my writing return soon. A certain flock does make it a point to roost in our midst during these rainy-season dog days, and I am quite certain they never, ever visit during season. But they are ever so subtle, so quiet, that they are easy to miss, to overlook, to almost ignore.

May my season’s fog lift for once and for all, or at least until October, so that I don’t miss seeing and hopefully appreciating the tiny bit of quiet humanity that they bring to SoFla summertime.






6 responses to “End of Season Reflections”

  1. Sophia Avatar

    RG, as a server myself I read the thief anecdotes with a sad sense of familiarity. The worst are the first and especially the last — I always wonder what those parents are teaching their children. Sometimes they even have the gall to come back again. I wonder what their children would say if I could explain just how the tip-out system works — that when their cheapskate parents stiff me, partially or completely, on a check, I have to pay to serve their parents. There should be a special place in hell reserved for those people, and for the people who treat hardworking servers like you poorly. Just because we’re servers doesn’t mean we’re servants, or deserve to be treated that way.

    Hope the summer treats you well. I always enjoy reading your updates =)

  2. L. Avatar

    I love your stories and observances of life…may your summer be full of peace and happiness.

  3. Kim Ayres Avatar

    So does this mean you’ll have more time for writing, or less as you have to work longer hours to make up for the shortfall in tippers?

  4. savannah Avatar

    having been burned a couple of times when we had our club, i am so feeling your pain! the one thing we never did was dock a server if a customer bolted on a check. i’d worked the floor when i was young and had to cover one too many college professors spik-outs, so i KNEW the pain of a short paycheck. hang in there, sugar! xoxoxo

  5. Ex-Restaurant Manager Avatar

    It still amazes me at times how different South Florida is from the North. When your season is coming to a close, ours is ramping up. We’re just now slightly past peak, but still rolling along. Being out of the restaurant business, I don’t have to deal with tipping, but I do have to deal with the blue-hair lookie-loos who bitch and moan about the prices.

  6. joeinvegas Avatar

    Hope you enjoy the summer and get to do some fun things