The story so far:
Since I have some new followers, I’ll do a brief synopsis:
I graduated college in 2009 and moved to the Hamptons to live with my boyfriend, Billy (who I met in college), who grew up out here. I got a job as a waitress and had been more or less happily muddling along when it dawned on me that a blog might be a fun way to vent about all the crappy customers I have to deal with, and so The Hamptons Waitress became a thing. In the spring of this year I changed the format to make it more accessible to a wider audience. Because of that, a local newspaper got in touch with me about writing an anonymous column in a similar vein to my blog. Oh, and also Billy dumped me in the beginning of the summer—I think he might have been cheating on me, but it’s unconfirmed—and I moved in to my friend Leah’s parent’s pool house and she had an abortion and I maybe made out with her brother Silas and a bunch of other stuff.
I said yes to the newspaper, fully understanding that if I were ever found out I would be fired, which is what happened two days ago.
I did my best to keep the blog and the column separate, but now the cat’s more or less out of the bag and I figure some of you might be interested in reading my articles…maybe? They’re called Tales of a Hamptons Waitress.
Rebecca deWinter is a character from the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca is shallow, deceitful, vain, and cold. A really awful human being, which is why I thought she would make a good nomme de plume. I’m sure there are some similarities, but I comfort myself by thinking we are mostly very different from one another.
Oh, and Eloise is also a false name, and I write this blog and the articles without mentioning the restaurant where I work or any identifying physical information or menu items. So, you can guess all you want but I’ll never tell.
In the fall I’m going to grad school just a short drive from where I live. Leah and I are going to move into an apartment together and, in theory, I’ll get another job as a waitress and continue to write about my experiences…or maybe I’ll write a book. Whichever happens first.
Waitressing: CXXXVI: In Which I Screw Up
I forgot to put an order in last night. Oh man, for like half an hour too. I kept looking at the table thinking, “When’s their food gonna come out?” And then it hit me and my stomach dropped and my palms got sweaty and I freaked out. I had also ripped a bunch of old dupes off of my pad so I had to go pawing through the trash looking for theirs.
Their order would take about 15 minutes to make. I went over to them and apologized for the food taking so long, offered to get them another drink, some bread and butter. I’m not gonna lie (to you), I threw the kitchen under the bus. Hey, I’ve got my tips to think about.
I said something got dropped so they had to remake everything. I acted very embarrassed by this and they assured me it was okay, mistakes happen, and then they ended up talking to the table next to them for the rest of the meal, and it all worked out fine.
But, you know, for a while I hid at the wait station. I didn’t want to go near the table until they got their food, and I couldn’t stay in the kitchen with those guys mad at me (it always messes with the line when something needs to be re-fired). Plus, I’m very much an authoritative know-it-all, so the fact that I screwed up that big was like Christmas-came-early for those boys.
It definitely threw me off—it happens so rarely that when it does, I’m just like overwhelmed with a feeling of failure and have a hard time concentrating on other things. Case in point: I was carrying bread to table that just asked for it, but I was on autopilot or something and put it down on another table, immediately realized my mistake, blushed a bright shade of scarlet, picked up the bread and put it down on the right table, then said to the table who hadn’t asked for it, “Am I making you nervous? Your food will come out as you ordered, I promise. I’m just a little out of it.” Probably something you never want to hear your waitress say. Hey, I’m only human.
But the guy with the bread was happy, and the other table actually laughed and their food did come out as they ordered it so everything turned out okay in the end. But man, rough start.
THEN there was the woman who I’m pretty sure was on cocaine who sat by herself in my section and talked way to much to anyone who came within spitting distance. She had the tell-tale white granules underneath her nostril and her nose was running. Also, the owner dropped in and I got to deal with her table. It’s actually never that bad—you just have to know your shit and leave her alone for the majority of the time.
All in all though, despite my screw up, the night could have gone much worse. The weather is pretty grey today which means I’m working lunch and dinner because I’m on call. But my manager last night told me to just come in. Whatever, after NY I need the money, and then when I go home to Vermont on Monday transportation alone is going to cost me $200.
Waitressing: CXXXV: Another Bouquet Of Small Shit
It was not a bad night last night, despite the exhausting people.
I had a table of nine—five adults and four children. I get them all drinks and as I’m placing them down one of the men says he’d like a beer in addition to his water. I get the beer. The grandfather at the table then tells me they need an extra napkin, more Equal, and a child’s water. I procure these items while the rest of my section fills up. I could have taken the food order at the nine-top had they not sent me running for the things they forgot to order the first time around but now they’re shit out of luck. I have other tables I need to address.
"I’ll be back in just a moment to take your order," I tell them.
I greet my three other tables, taking two drink orders and a food order. I’m at the bar getting drinks when the grandfather comes up to me. “We have children so…we kind of need to get this show on the road.”
"Great! I’ll be right over!" I say, thinking to myself: I could have already taken your order if you guys had your shit together.
I drop drinks off at a table of three elderly people. “I’ll be right back to get your food order,” I tell them.
"You already said that!" yells the old man.
"I said I would be right back with your drinks, and here they are!" I say politely—or as politely as you can correct a customer who’s always supposed to be right. "I’ll be back to take your food order."
I take care of my nine-top, take care of my crotchety old people, and deal with two tables who one after the other ask me my name. The kitchen, the managers, etc., all failed to mention we were out of certain dessert I sold hard to one of my tables, and I’m going to assume the disappointment at me not being able to provide the dessert I assured them was absolutely delicious was the thing that prompted them to leave $15 on $144.
I mean, whatever. Over it. It proves my point that people tip how they will because I failed to bring a straw to one of my tables—I remembered as they were walking out the door—and they still left 20%.
At least all the food came out of the kitchen on time and looking good. Not one thing got sent back, so there’s that.
Waitressing: CXXXIV: Thank You Nice Irish (I’m Assuming) Boys
I had a table of two young gents. Pretty cute. Polite. Quiet. Smiled and actually made eye contact when they ordered. Nothing too crazy or requiring extra effort. The meal went smoothly. My point is, I didn’t go out of my way for them. I gave them the same level of excellent service I do my best to give everyone. In other words: they got the minimum.
I see them put money into the check presenter, along with a credit card. I go over.
"How would you like me to do this?" I ask.
"Um, well, the cash is the tip?" says one of them.
"Only if you want it to be," I replied.
"Yeah, okay. So the cash is the tip, and everything on the card," he says.
"Everything on the card. Cash tip," I repeat, just to make certain. They nod.
At the register I realize there is $80 in the check presenter. “Leah,” I hiss so they won’t hear me. Their table is right behind the wait station.
"What?" she asks.
"I had this whole conversation with my table about how the cash is tip and I should put everything on the card, like I made extra certain. But there’s $80 here and the check is only $90."
Her eyes get wide. “Oh shit, that would be awesome.”
"I’m going to double check," I tell her. She nods. It’s only right—what if they had meant to slip ones instead of twenties? It seamed pretty blatant, four crisp $20 bills, but still.
I run the card and bring it over to the table. I have the cash in my hand. “I put everything on the card, but I wanted to make certain about the tip. There are four twenties here—” The two men are nodding and smiling. “Are you sure?” I ask.
"Yes, definitely," one of them says. Or that’s the gist of it. I’m too overwhelmed with an emotion I tentatively define as gratitude to really pay attention. I can feel myself begin so smile involuntarily, a rare occurrence. Apparently excessive amounts of money is what makes me happy which is sad.
"Thank you so much," I gush. I feel weepy. I’ve been getting piss poor tips the past few shifts and the generosity of this one table has turned it all around. Humanity is kind and giving. People really are good at heart. I suddenly feel a fondness for young children and ponies. The thought of puppies makes me begin to tear up.
I’m standing awkwardly by the door when they leave. I smile some more and wave like an idiot. I think I’m in love.
Of course, me being me, there’s this niggling voice inside my head telling me how disgusting it is that I’m this grateful for a tip. Like, if everyone just did what they were supposed to and tipped between 18% and 20%, than a tip like this would still be amazing and incredible, but I wouldn’t be reacting to it like it’s manna from Heaven, which, honestly, it is. I made $120 last night. Would I have gotten there without that $80? Definitely not.
We had a heat advisory here yesterday. I spent the afternoon in the pool over at Sara’s and I have what I like to think of as a “cute” sunburn, i.e., nose slightly redder than the rest of my face. I guess in reality it just makes me look like an alcoholic.
After work we went back to Sara’s a got high and floated around some more and then I went to bed at 2 AM. The reason why I don’t smoke that often: the munchies. I had: more Samoa’s than I care to count, grapes, a peacharine (mutant peach/nectarine hybrid that is delicious), Ritz crackers with cream cheese, and when I got home I slapped a couple pieces of American cheese onto some white bread. It’s like college all over again, only without the 24hr dining hall.
Today would have been a day off for me, but this kid Chris asked me to work for him. I said I would but only if he would cover my Sunday shift. So in exchange for working thirteen days in a row, I get to have the entirety of Sunday to myself.
There’s much more to write about, but I don’t have the time at the moment. Since the past “wah-wah” posts where I was feeling sorry for myself, things have taken a sharp upward turn which is always a nice surprise. I’ll try to carve out some time this week for a full update because I know how riveting my personal life is for you guys.
Waitressing: CXXXIII: Things I Learned About A Really Drunk Woman Last Night
- She’s an artist.
- She’s an artist in film.
- She’s a very famous artist in film.
- She came from a crazy party on the beach.
- She came from a crazy party at David Lynch’s house.
- She lives in Manhattan.
- She lives in the East Village.
- She does not know where Brooklyn Summer Ale is brewed.
- She has to catch a bus at 10.
- She’s going to Europe.
- She’s going to Paris.
- She is starving.
- She hasn’t eaten meat in a long time.
- She was told the food would be good at the party.
- The food at the party was fucking horrible.
- She likes my vibe.
- She thinks I’m cool.
- She can tell I’m cool.
- She can tell I’m only waitressing for money.
- Am I interested in being her personal assistant?
- The men at the table next to hers wish she would stop talking to them.
- The men at the table next to hers wish she would stop leaning on the table.
- The men at the table next to hers wish she would stop touching them.
- All the men at the party at David Lynch’s house were being gross and hitting on her.
- She tipped me $8 on $55.
To the woman in her 60s: I’m sorry the soup of the day displeases you, but do you mind not opening your mouth, sticking out your tongue and making a “gross” face while I’m mid-description?
- Woman: Do you have water?
- Me: *raises eyebrows*
- Woman: I'll have a glass of water.
Waitressing: CXXX: That Guy
I waited on Richard Kind. You know, that guy.
This is like one degree of separation from Barry Bostwick, which is another degree away from Tim Curry, so, if we add the fact that I’ve waited on Susan Sarandon to the mix, I’m close to achieving my goal of serving the entire cast of Rocky Horror.
He was very nice and said “thank you” a lot. Bizarrely he asked for diet black cherry cola which—I did not know such a thing existed but it sounds delicious. He seemed to know the possibility of us having it was about zero, but was very happy when I suggested diet root beer instead.
Waitressing: CXXIX: Ew.
Kinda slow last night. The fire works in Sag Harbor and at Devon Yacht Club killed us.
The only story from the front lines I have is the one about the middle-aged guy dining with the much younger Eastern European model-type who, I guess, reallllly wanted to eat some corn on the cob. We didn’t have any, but I thought we might because the night before we had run it with our special. I told them I would go check in the kitchen.
The man said, “I’m sure you’ll be able to dig up one corn on the cob for her,” and winked at me as he said it.
As if me finding one cob of corn is the thing that’s going to get you laid. Like I care and like I want to know I’m in any way facilitating whatever it is that goes on after you leave the restaurant.
And then he asked me if the artichokes were local. I said yes. (They’re not.) And then he made a big deal out of his wine selection: “What’s the most expensive glass of wine you have?” Hahaha because the more it costs, the better it tastes, obviously.
What a tool.
Also, I saw a fabled black fedora last night. Didn’t think that trend had anywhere else to go. Apparently I was wrong.
Waitressing: CXXVIII: Crisis
A table of five. Mom, dad, grandma, daughter named Rocky, son named Chasley. I go over to get their drinks because they had been sitting there for a few minutes, but when I get to the table the parents are distracted and don’t respond when I ask how every one is doing this evening.
"I need the keys. I have to go back to the car."
"Oh, is it parking? They usually don’t check after five," I say, attempting to be helpful.
"No, no," the dad says distractedly. "Here are the keys, honey," and then, to me, "It’s just a little crisis."
Ahhh, okay then. Maybe they forgot insulin for their child? I take the drink order from those present and when I come back to the table the mother is there clutching a brown paper bag.
"Rocky has a gluten allergy," she says. "Can you ask the kitchen to use these for burger buns? All you have to do is defrost them in the microwave and then toast them a little."
Oh, that’s all I have to fucking do? During the height of dinner service on July 4th weekend? Sure. Let me drop everything, ignore the rest of the people in my full section, in order to give your spoiled brat the burger bun she absolutely cannot live without. Jesus fucking Christ.
"Sure," I say. "No problem."
I ask the mom to just hold on to the bag while I put in their order and double check with the kitchen that it will be okay. I get caught up in one or two other things at other tables, and I pass by the family and the grandma sticks her hand out, “Here—can you take these buns for my granddaughter? Just have the kitchen defrost—”
"You’re coming back with my wife’s Chardonnay?" interrupts the dad.
"Yes, yes. I haven’t had a chance to go to the kitchen and ask—"
"Why do you have to ask?" demands the grandma.
"Okay," I say. I don’t have time to argue. "I’ll take the bag."
I go into the kitchen, pop one of the buns into the microwave and stare at the clock as it ticks down the precious seconds, seconds I could be pouring waters, making a coffee for table 12, bringing bread to 18, picking up the check from 14, checking on table 13 to see how they’re doing with their appetizers. Anything but standing in a hot kitchen watching a microwave.
Waitressing: CXXVII: Things That Make Me Sad
When the parents ask the nanny what their children’s beverage preferences are.
Waitressing: CXXVI: No One Wants To Help You
Last night it was 11:30 and we were doing the money. It was a slow night because of the fireworks—I mean I hope that’s why—and there was no one in the restaurant, just myself, Leah, Sara, Henry the manager, and Pete the bartender.
Suddenly the door burst open and these two young women came clomping in on unsteady heals dragging luggage.
"Are you opEEEEN?" one of them asked. They spoke with that vocal fry, where their voices went up exponentially on the end of sentences into a kind of whine.
"Sorry, the kitchen is closed," said Henry.
"Well fine. We’ll just use the bathroom IF NO ONE WANTS TO WORK." She yelled the last part and then she and her friend clomped off and went into the same restroom. Only girls and girls doing coke and guys doing coke go into restrooms together.
Henry started laughing. “Really? Did she just say that?”
Sara said, “Oh my go, I can’t believe that.”
"YEAH, NO ONE DOES WANT TO WORK!" I yelled loudly after them.
Twenty minutes later they came clomping and giggling out of the bathroom and headed for the door. On their way out, one of them said, “We were your best customers tonight!” And then she cackled like a witch.
"NO YOU WEREN’T!" I yelled after them.
Fuck people. It’s going to be a weekend.
Waitressing: CXXV: Almost Famous
This older man motioned me over to his table the other night at work.
"I’m having an argument with my wife," he said. "Only you can settle it."
I quirked my eyebrow. I’m never that thrilled when customers attempt to involve me in whatever emotional drama is being acted out at their table.
"Does Candace Bergen eat here a lot?" the man asked.
"Yes," I replied. "I waited on her two nights ago."
"Aha! See, I told you so!" crowed the man. His wife shook her head.
"How does she look these days?" the woman asked me.
"Look? She looks good. Very elegant and distinguished." Which is true. If she’s had work done, then whoever did it was very skilled. And I love her voice, which is pitched low and soft. But I didn’t say that to these people.
They went on to discuss the last time they saw her and whether she’d had plastic surgery or not. I stood there mentally rolling my eyes until the man dismissed me with, “Be sure to say to her for us!”
"Oh, I will," I said.
I think everyone out here is a little obsessed with celebrity. Well, the whole of America is, I guess. I mean, the people who vacation here for the summer are always going to parties and whispering about so and so and name dropping.
Speaking of name dropping, Steven Spielberg dined with us this past weekend. You should have seen the craned necks and heard the hushed whispers when he walked in. Dude, he has a house out here.
I try to act like I’m above it, but I still have the dupe I used to write down Bradley Copper’s order taped to the inside of my waitressing book.
Service people, we know all the shit: the music mogul who’s nasty when he’s been waiting in line too long at Starbucks, the young actress who was mega-bitchy to the sales girl who used to work at LF, the singer’s wife who had over-the-top demands during the Hamptons Film Festival, the reality TV star who doesn’t tip well (big surprise).
At least I recognize how silly it all is.
Waitressing: CXXIV: Face Palm.
"Soda!" yells the boy, maybe four years old.
"You can have anything BUT soda," cautions the mom. "Too much sugar. How about a root beer float? Wouldn’t that be yummy?"
"What’s a root beer float?" asks the little girl.
"It’s root beer with vanilla ice cream in it!" coos the mother. "We’ll have one root beer float and two straws," she says to me.
Wouldn’t a root beer float have more sugar and MORE FAT than soda? Am I missing something?
In the same vein, at another table a boy asks for diet Sprite. “Ah, we have diet root beer and diet Coke,” I say.
"How about ice tea?" suggests his mother.
"Okay," say the boy," but I want LOTS of sugar."
"Give him lots of sugar," the mother says to me.
Sure lady, whatever you want.
Waitressing: CXXIII: Idiot People
Saturday, around five o’clock. We look outside and see five people moving tables together. None of them have come inside to talk to us. They’re putting them in a very awkward place that we would never use to seat a large party.
"Eloise, go out there and say something!" said Leah.
"Eff that noise. They can do what they want. I’m not getting involved."
So Erin goes outside to essentially be like, “What the fuck are you doing?” Then, through the window she looks at us and rolls her eyes and mouths “Oh my god.”
She comes back in. “What the hell?” I ask.
"There are five of them…but there might be six. I was like, ‘Okay, but you have seven chairs so I’m gonna take this one…’ And they also told me they have to leave in twenty-five minutes."
"I hope they like salads," Leah says.
Honestly, who goes to a restaurant and then begins moving furniture to suit their needs without first asking someone if it would be okay? I mean, if you want to play it like that then you can go ahead and serve yourselves the friggin food. Jeez.