Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cheerleaders: Their Mothers Aren't Much Better...

Holy crap! What a Monday night! I’ll try and start from the beginning and stay in order as much as I possibly can, but everything is so mixed up and there’s so much to tell I don’t know how well I’ll pull it off. I’m so completely...tired, coming off of being furious with these people, hormonal, and God knows what else right now, I’m just a big ol’ melting pot of emotions.

It starts out as our typical GD Monday night, slow as anything. This is the night I work not for the money, but to hang out and have fun socializing with the other employees. It’s mostly the same crew that works on Monday nights, so we all know each other and joke around freely. There’s no tension or hostility, Monday nights are the best atmosphere to work in, unless you want to make lots of money, then you’re just SOL. I’m in the back trying to work out who’s going to cover my Saturday night shift (I know I make my own schedules and it’s a boo-boo on my part, but come on, it’s not like I’m the only one who makes boo-boos), when one of the other hostesses tells Monkey Boy that there’s some lady on the phone about a party of 30. Monkey Boy goes in the office, and either he talked to her or she hung up, and looks in the manager’s log and sure enough, there’s something in there for a party of 30 at 7:30. It’s now 7 o’clock and we’re trying to figure out where they can go.

Basically, Monkey Boy sent me up front and told me to figure something out. My plan was to set them up in the 30’s and 40’s (a row of tables and a row of booths that were across the aisle from each other), that way, we could push as many of the 30’s together as we could so they could have one long table and a bunch of little ones back to back. No big deal, it’s a Monday night, we only have to wait for other tables to get up before we can say that we’re completely ready for the party, and that’s with a few extra seats incase one or two people had decided to tag along.

Around 7:00-7:15ish, one woman shows up. She comes through the exit door, and asks me where the restroom is located. I point back towards carry out and tell her it’s down the hallway underneath the American flag (yeah yeah, it’s actually a rodeo flag but she didn’t know that).
“Where’s the party of thirty being seated?” was her next question, after I had barely finished telling her where the bathroom was.
I’m thinking, “Okaaaay, ‘cause that was definitely the next question I was expecting out of you!”
I tell her and point out the area of tables that the party will be taking and she goes to use the bathroom. The other hostesses and I kinda laugh at her while she’s in the bathroom, “Because if she had just gone ahead to the bathroom, seen all the tables with menus and silverware set up, and put two-and-two together, she wouldn’t have had to ask that question!”

When she comes back from the bathroom, she asks if she can have a glass of water so she can take some Tylenol. I asked her if maybe she might prefer to go ahead and sit down at one of the tables for the thirty, because they were all set up and ready to go, and just have her server take care of her. She said that she would rather wait for everyone else and just have the water now. I’m still cheerful and willing to help at this point, so I go back in the kitchen and get her some ice water and bring it back up to her. She still doesn’t want to sit down at the table, she still wants to wait for the others, and me and the other two hostesses go on chatting about whatever we were talking about.

Ten minutes go by, the woman is still waiting for the rest of her party and, with the three Ho’s talking amongst ourselves, she wanders over to one of the party’s tables and sits down. We all thought that it was a little weird and out there, I was the teeniest bit frustrated because I hadn’t explained which tables were going to be the party’s and how the checks were going to be handled, but I wasn’t upset that she was one less person I had to deal with.

7:30 rolls around, and the Lone Woman is still the only one sitting at the party table. Our Team Captain for Monday nights comes out and wonders where the party is. We were wondering too, ‘cause, it’s an entire 29 people who are all late together, usually they tend to trickle in around the time that they tell the restaurant. At this point, we (the hostesses and a few of the servers) are joking about how many the rest of the party is the imaginary friends of this woman, and random other silly stuff like that. Nobody is really giving two shits about anything at this point; it’s Monday night, everyone’s mellow on Monday nights.

Finally, fifteen or so minutes late, the party shows up. We knew it was gonna be cheerleaders, we knew they were gonna be young. What we didn’t know, was that when they called to tell us it was going to be a party of 30, what they left out was the number of parents who were also coming.
“Is it set up for the parents too?” One of the mothers asked me.
“We were told it was going to be 30 people.” I tell her, which was as much of an answer as I could give.
“Oh well that’s just the girls, the parents are here too.”
“Well how many parents are there?”
”At least one or two for each girl.”
I wanted to slap her, but not that much...not yet.
“Well,” I said. “I kinda need a definite number.”
Blank stare. Like she’s never heard of a “definite number” before, come on! You’re all adults! You’ve eaten at restaurants before! Most places can’t just throw tables together for 60 people when they were only expecting 30, not on the fly like that!
“You can’t just accommodate us as we come in?”
I really wanted to smack her and ask if she even knew how a restaurant worked.

Instead, I told her I was going to go run all this by a manager and I would be right back. While I was gone, someone told me later, that some of the women were complaining about how we weren’t prepared to take care of all of them and this and that. I’m sorry, but if you’ve ever been to our GD before, then you can see that we don’t have room to hide a party room somewhere! We’re not a party restaurant, we don’t have the space or patience for large parties, and yet, they still insist on coming and then they start complaining about the lousy service their getting.

Now, we don’t really have a policy on what to do if a party is larger than what they initially tell us, so we do the best we can. Something that we’ve had to do too much recently (more on that another time, we’ll just say that the entire North East Junior Prom decided to come in one Saturday night), but we somehow mange to manage not too poorly.

At the time, there were four open tables in the 20’s, well three in the 20’s and one in the Teens. Three four tops and one six top, and these are right on the other side of a wall from the rest of the party, it’s not like their completely secluded off in a distant corner. I begin to set that up for an extra 18 people, thinking that because we came up with something on the fly and they didn’t have to wait for a half an hour (like a second party of 30 would have had to do), that it would be all right and if we needed more space we’d deal with that when we came to it.

By the time I get back from setting all that up, four of the adults from the party had gone and grabbed a table in the bar, and it was fine with me because it was less for me to deal with. One of the other Ho’s shows the remaining adults to the tables I had set up for them, and that’s the end of the direct interaction with the party on the hostess end.
The four people who had gone to the bar up and decided later that they were gonna move to a table closer to the rest of the party. Which is normally fine, we had an extra six-top available actually. Did they ask us or talk to us at all about moving? Nope. They just picked themselves up and moved over to a booth that wasn’t even one of theirs to begin with nor was it ever going to be one of theirs. I went and I told one of the servers that they had moved and she asked if someone could get drinks or something for them, and I told her that it wasn’t gonna be me and they could all rot there without service for all I cared. Moving like that, picking your own table, seating yourself, all those things I take personally. I take those as an “f--- you” because that’s saying to me that you don’t respect me enough to let me do my job, you don’t respect me enough to acknowledge that I’m here or that I’m doing a job that would take care of you in that way. So yeah, I refused to have anything else to do with the people who moved from the bar to the dinning room on their own.

The rest of the story gets a little fuzzy from here on out because I had to hear it from several different people who heard it from other people. The gossip in GD is good, but it isn’t perfect, there are still a few kinks, and it sometimes ends up like a game of Telephone, but it’s pretty good with the important details.

So here’s what I know: there was buying of alcohol from the bar and bringing it to one or two of the middle-school-aged girls, there was drinking/attempted drinking on the part of one who was refused for sale of alcohol because he didn’t have his I.D. with him, there was rudeness all around, and there was name calling. As far as the details go, I’m going on what I heard, what I was told, and what I can remember (because this all happened like five or six hours ago and a few little things have happened in between).

While I was talking with the other Ho’s about what kind of stupid you have to be to not include parents in the number of a group of kids, when we start to hear rumors about one of the mothers buying a White Russian (Light cream or milk, Kahlua, and Vodka), bringing it over to the party, and giving it to her daughter to drink. We started to ask around, mostly whoever happened to come by the desk, and it turned out it was true.

Then, we started hearing something about the gay guy. The gay guy was this skinny little thing who didn’t look like he was much older than the girls himself, and he was, as it turned out, the coach! This guy was so flamboyantly gay, he had the walk down to a T, and he was wearing capri's!! This is Glen Burnie, we are Ghetto Rednecks, we’re not used to flamboyantly gay, the guys in this area are too macho for that.

Anyway, this guy did not look 21 by any stretch of the imagination. He wanted an Appltini (or some sort of martini) and his server (who had been literally dragged from the bar, by one of their number, to come and take care of them, this is clear on the other side of the restaurant) asked him for his I.D. He tried to explain that he left it in his car and if she would put the order in and go get it, he’d go out and get his I.D. while she was doing that. Well, that was not gonna fly, not even with our dumbest of employees. Their server calmly and politely explained that without proper I.D., she couldn’t serve him alcohol, “No I.D., no alcohol. That’s our policy.” The table being right by carryout, the girl working naturally saw everything. We had enlisted her to relay to us what was going on later when we realized that something actually was going on with this party.

After that, those four got even more rude with the server. It was like every chance they got, they found something rude to say or a rude way to make a comment. Two of the other people (one of which had an I.D., and it was real, it just wasn’t her picture) at the table ordered the martini, and when the server stopped by later, one of the martinis was in front of the guy. The carry out girl had been watching and he had been drinking out of it. Someone did even overhear the table say “they’re on top of this” as far as checking I.D.s for alcohol goes.

I made sure and explained to the other Ho’s, who are relatively new, why we were so strict. GD is a relatively new company, we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this year, the company not our particular store. And one big, drunk driving or underage lawsuit could potentially bankrupt the entire company. Not just the whole store, the entire COMPANY could be gone in one lawsuit and there’s no way that we’re gonna be the store responsible for bringing down the whole company, so yeah, we basically I.D. everyone who orders alcohol.

One of our Team Captains, who wasn’t working but came in for food and got roped in to staying and helping out for a little bit, ended up going out to the table and taking the martini away from the guy, which sent the people into even more of a rage. They wanted to talk to him, but unfortunately for them at that point, food was coming up. Orders needed to be prepped and trayed up and run out, all for the party and this team captain was the one who ended up expo-ing. Monkey Boy had to go and talk to the now irate table, who were not happy that the “manager” who had taken their drink wasn’t back out to talk to them.

Our entire store is buzzing now, the party is all any of us can talk about. We’re all doing our work, let’s not leave that part out, but it’s Monday night and there isn’t much work to be done, so all we’ve really got to do is stand around and talk to each other about the party. Soon after Monkey Boy visits the irate table, the two other servers who are actually taking care of the rest of the party, realize that the party is being even more stupid. All of the people placing orders, are placing orders with each of the three servers taking car of parts of this party. Food is being ordered in triple. Big problem.

The kitchen is backed up, Monkey Boy tells the hostesses to stop the door, the team captains are expo-ing and running food, and the party is getting more and more rude by the minute. The enitre staff (the part that speaks English anyway) knows exactly what’s going on and where by now, everyone is filling in everyone else on any stray bit of juicey news that comes along. If one of the customers made one rude remark to one server, the rest of the staff knew about it within five to ten minutes. Our entire attention and focus has been this party since they walked in the door, and now that they were causing trouble with some of our own, the focus wasn’t gonna shift to anything else.

Some of the women, who still seemed to be stuck in highschool-drama-mode, didn’t like the fact that the staff were standing around talking about them, or so they presumed (they were right, but that’s beside the point). Some of the women began to complain that the staff was talking about them and rolling their eyes at them. So what? They came in with a large party that was double the number of people we were expecting, we get them sat down almost right away anyway, we’re accomodating as best we can as far as servers, drinks, refills and like go, and then they want to start complaining about the service? I don’t think so.

Ours is a tight-knit group, our GD staff. Even if we don’t like one of the employees, and a customer riles that employee for whatever reason, everyone knows about it and swoops down and automatically hates that customer. You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. We are very much like a big family, even if it is only a work family. So when the irate table from before moves to the bar, and starts calling the server a slut, whore, stupid wench, and other nasty names every time she walks by, of course we’re gonna talk about them and roll our eyes at them! We’re girls (for the most part) that’s one of the things we do best! It was so hard for the rest of us to keep our cool and not go chew out some of these people or throw them out ourselves!

Monkey Boy was once again called out to talk to the table, this time by both the table and the server. Several of the employees actually. We all wanted them kicked out for the names they were calling their server, when all she ever did was her job. Monkey Boy tried to talk to them, but they just didn’t wanna listen at all, they didn’t want to reason, all they wanted to do was argue and cause trouble. After Monkey Boy left their table, they went back over to the party and talked some more about what had happened and what was going on. They were all talking amongst themselves, making themselves even more angry, and we were all talking amongst ourselves. It was like being back in highschool, except the middleschoolers were the ones who were the most well behaved out of this entire party of 60.

The time for the checks came, we all knew that this was going to be a fun little adventure. We knew from the get-go that they were going to want separate checks, with each kids’ food matching up on the same check as her parents’ food. If racism hadn’t been brought up by the party before, it was now. One of the servers, while trying to figure out who had which check, asked one woman if she had the steak salad. The woman said yes, but when she got her check and it supposedly wasn’t right she said, “I know we all look the same to you, but you need to get your stuff straight, this is rediculous!”

Apparently it didn’t matter to her that the server had to figure out where 60 or so different checks needed to have all the right food and go to all the right people, the server still had to know exactly what she and her daughter specifically ordered and then find her in the crowd of people waiting for their checks to give it to her. I forget why exactly, but Monkey Boy was once again out front talking to one of the women who was “in charge” (yeah right, she was in charge of all the angry complainers who couldn’t get away with whatever they want), and she wasn’t happy. She seemed to be getting angrier with every word that came out of Monkey Boy’s mouth. Nothing he could say seemed to make her even less angry. At one point, I heard her say, “And what’s with this attitude we’re getting? What did this group do?”
And I thought, “Bitch are you serious??”
I couldn’t believe that she thought that we were going to sit and take all of their crap without an attitude of some kind! I heard her telling Monkey Boy about how no matter how mad the customer makes you, you still have to do good customer service and this and that. She’s going to sit there and tell one of our managers how to have customer service and handle crappy customers?!

We bent over backwards and basically ignored every other customer in the restaurant to take care of this party, and rude comments, name calling, and giving alcohol to minors (something we could loose our liquor license for) are the thanks we get in return. Add to that, complaint after complaint about how we were unprepared to take care of them, blah blah blah blah blah! No one in that party seemed to realize just how a restaurant worked, how much the size of their party and the fact that we weren’t expecting that many had to do with their problems! That and they were idiots about the whole alcohol thing.

Not one of them was very mature about any of this! It was like they were barely out of highschool themselves or something! The actual cheerleaders themselves were on better behavoir than their parents! The mothers (there were only one or two guys there, so I’ma say mothers all I want ‘cause that was who was causing the most trouble) were the ones who were stuck up and thought that they could say and do whatever they wanted. They were like spoiled, rich brats who have everything handed to them and when something they want isn’t given to them, they trow a tantrum. That’s what this whole thing was, it was an entire group of grown women having temper tantrums at the same time.

After they all finally leave, three hours after they came in, I find out that a lot of the women refused to pay their checks because of how they were “treated” and racism and all that bull. I don’t know how many checks there were initially, or how much the grand total for the party was. All I know is that after they were all gone, there were 13 un-paid checks that added up to over three hundred (yes, $300) dollars worth of food and drinks. All because one server was doing her job and ID-ing someone who didn’t look like he was over forty years old.

Monkey Boy called up String Bean and told him the whole story. String Bean told him to get statements from anyone who had direct contact with the party, or almost direct contact (was watching the entire time, servers and stuff were able to keep closer watch over them than the hostesses). The reason he wanted statements was because the one main Bitch (if you’ll excuse the language, I’ve really got no other words for her at this point) that Monkey Boy was dealing with towards the end had come back into the restaurant to get Monkey Boy’s and the server’s name as well as the corporate number.

Naturally, all of us were talking long after the party left. We wondered about how far she thought she would get with corporate, especially if we sent them everything about the story first, with our different sides of it. She’s crazy if she thinks she’s getting more than gift certificates out of it, corporate’s not gonna listen to her when they know that the guy didn’t have his I.D. (they were trying to play it off ot Monkey Boy that none of them was ever carded, please! That’s such a load of bull, the carry out girl saw the server card them!), it’s just not gonna work out her way.

I think that’s about everything that went down. If I think of anything else, I’ll put an addendum down at the bottom or something. This is just over 8 pages long and it’s as much as I can remember with this party. I have never written a blog entry this long before. These people take the cake as far as lousy, rude, mean, and crappy customers go, they really do! While it’s true that this whole situation could have been handled differently and/or better on our end, but we managed as best we could under the circumstances. I’d be willing to bet money that if that party had gone to any other restaurant, and done and said the exact same stuff they did to us, if they treated another restaurant the same way, they would have gotten a similar, if not exactly the same, reaction as they got from us.

Oh, yeah, if I haven't mentioned it yet, the cheerleaders were all MIDDLE SCHOOL AGE!! Their parents weren't much of an example of how to behave at restaurants at all!

Oh yeah, the three servers who took care of the party for three hours, made $0, $9, and $11 in tips. For that kind of crap, they might not as well have even wasted their time. They could have had so many other tables in there while they were taking care of this party, they could have made twice that, at least.

Addendum: 4-15-06
I found out Wednesday, that String Bean had a meeting with the leader of the cheerleaders on Tuesday, but not how it went. I found out last night (finally) how it went. Apparently, the owner of the gym, or wherever the cheerleaders are from, came to meet with String Bean, apologized and paid the balance left by the angry mothers. Apparently, some of the mothers also called up to apologize. I'm also told that String Bean didn't do any apologizing on behalf of the restaurant, I didn't realize it, but he can have a backbone when he wants with the customers. Go String Bean! (I still wanna quit by the way... ~_^ )

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