Teach your children well

(Photo taken on the beach next to the restaurant where my daughter works)

For the last six summers, my daughter, JM, has worked at a local Gulf front seafood restaurant, first as a hostess and later as a server. Having worked as a server myself during college, I empathize with how difficult this job can be.

Long hours, unpredictable customers, low wages, and physically demanding, working in a service industry is not easy. With my own experiences, and listening to my daughter’s stories, I have great respect for restaurant workers, and am both an appreciative customer and a great tipper.

Unfortunately, not everyone is like me. This is a story JM shared with me a few years ago. Also unfortunately, it is not an uncommon occurrence.

I’ve been working at a local tourist trap restaurant for the past two summers. We get some characters. Of course, the ‘I have young kids demanding to sit immediately during a two hour wait’ parents and my favorite the ‘too drunk to find the bathroom’ sloshes. But the other night we had a new character…

A boy walks in and stares at my fellow hostess and exclaims ‘YOU’RE HOT!!’ and then tells his mom that he’s going to the t-shirt shop to check out the hot girl in there too. This seems like a nice enough compliment, but it was too strange. This kid was about 10, grown out of the cute young stage, but still too young to be hitting on 19 and 20 year olds. We think we’ve heard the last of this kid, well until his server comes up.

Server: Thanks for sitting the Beverly Hillbillies at my table!” (I’m not sure why all my stories involve Southern accents…?) And after taking their order Server comes back. ‘You’ll never believe what this kid said to me!

Boy: ‘Can I have a Bud Light?

Server (Thinking this is a joke): ‘No, not tonight.’

Boy: ‘Miller Light?’

Server: ‘No.’

Boy: ‘A glass of wine?’

Server: ‘No.’

Boy: ‘Ok, a martini? You got those?’

Server: ‘Maybe in another 10 of 12 years, kid.’

Boy: ‘If you don’t bring me one of those drinks in the next five minutes, I’m gonna punch you right in the face!!’

Server (stunned silence): ‘Look kid, you know what we do with trouble makers here? We tie cement blocks to their feet and throw them into the ocean with the sharks.’

Boy: ‘I’d like to see you try and pick me up! I weigh 120 pounds!’

Server: ‘With rocks in your pockets!’

Boy: ‘You know what, just bring me some fucking cheese sticks!!!’

Server (Angry stunned silence)

Now Server comes back to the hostess stand and relays this to us. I remember it was a big party split at two tables.

JM: ‘I bet he’s showing off for all the kids at the table.’

Hostess: ‘A mom is sitting at the table…’

Stunned silence from all.

I guess it’s kinda like when a baby manages to repeat a cuss word. It turns into a parlor game. Maybe his redneck family thought it was funny. Maybe some one else’s mom didn’t reprimand Boy. Maybe Boy was copying dad. I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t believe it. But I guess karma comes around a little quicker for some.

JM: ‘How did your table turn out?’

Server: ‘It was all worth it. The idiots double-tipped me because they can’t read!’

(Sidenote for non-restaurant people: In tables of 7 or more you typically have an additional 18% gratuity already added to your check. Some servers forget to mention that when they drop the bill off. This often results in a larger cash tip for the server. Oh darn!)*

People raise your children to follow social norms and function out in public. It’s financially beneficial.

*PSA – Since she told me this story, the restaurant she works for has changed its large-group gratuity policy, as have many other higher end restaurants. No longer are tips included in the final bill. Please, if in doubt, ask your server if the gratuity has been added, and if it hasn’t, leave an appropriate tip – typically between 15-20%. 

Submitted as part of Shell’s “Pour Your Heart Out” writing prompt at Things I Can’t Say. Please stop by to read the other posts, and give a little comment love.

13 replies »

  1. How did I miss this when you posted it the first time?

    I do not like Red Lobster. It’s the Nickelback of seafood. But it’s Bobina & Bug’s favorite place. Friday night (July 7, 2011) the three of us ate there because it was Bug’s last night with us for two weeks (vacation w her other mom).

    The table next to us had two girls in their late teens/early twenties with their mom and two little boys under the age of 3. All 3 women were showing every part of their boobs except the nipples and they were wearing shorty shorts. The boys were ignored the entire time.

    The table behind us had a dude, about 45 year old, and his young mail order bride (asian descent). They didn’t speak the entire time, so I liked them.

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  2. D works at a restaurant on the weekends and though I’ve always been a good tipper, I have developed an even greater appreciation for food service workers since he started working there!

    It is disgusting to hear stories like these in which adults are right there but keeping their mouths shut. It’s upsetting that those kinds of kids will grow up and our kids have to deal directly with them. :(

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  3. I always try to tip 20% if the service is good. It just isn’t fair that there’s an entire industry that underpays its employees, putting them at the mercy of people who either chose whether to tip enough, or who don’t understand how to properly tip. We had dinner out with my sister and brother-in-law the other night. We picked up the tab, so BIL said he would cover the tip. I watched him leave less than 15% for a server who was stellar in her attention and service to us. Luckily I was able to sneak in some extra cash so she was properly compensated.

    Most of the rest of us are paid a standard rate, whether our performance is simply good enough or above and beyond.

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  4. I guess I’m still a little naive, because stories like this STILL shock me. My kids would never, ever THINK of behaving that way, and especially not in front of me. What kind of parent accepts that?

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  5. You know, I was reading along, the whole time, wondering, “Where are the adults?” Never mind. Also, I’ve worked the service industry and tip very, very well.

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  6. If that was my kid, I would beat the piss out of him, and offer to let the server help. Unreal. I also didn’t know that they stopped adding gratuity to bills for larger parties? We always read the bottom of the check, since that’s usually where its indicated. Stopping by from PYHO!

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  7. What amazes me is that the child was allowed to publicly humiliate another human being. Or try to, anyway. And to threaten bodily harm.

    Had it been me, I would have called another server over, asked the young cretin to repeat himself, and when he did, I would have asked the other server to call the Cops – and I would have had the little shit arrested.

    The satisfaction would have been much more gratifying than the tip.

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  8. FRIGHTENING for that kid when he gets older – serial killer? I worked in the industry for way too long and the crap that you have to put up with is downright criminal. I once saw a story where a woman did every low-grade, low paying job known and even was a prostitute but she said serving tables was where she was treated the worse. I’m not surprised. Great writing here!

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  9. Wow, that kid need a bar of soap shoved in his mouth or something. I can’t believe someone would let their kid talk like that!

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