I have returned to the hospitality industry after a 25 year hiatus. I tend bar and serve at a local smokehouse and tavern. It’s a small place, seating about 50 people indoors, with a deck to accommodate more in good weather. I love this work. It’s like hosting a big party with a fully stocked bar and great food being cooked to order! And I get paid to make sure people have a good time! I admit I’m somewhat lame after working my shifts….
Recently, I was working a rainy Monday lunch. It filled up fast and I was soon running to keep up. A party of three came in and sat at one of our high top tables. A woman and presumably, her husband – certainly her lover, in their mid to late sixties sat with a younger man, perhaps fifty five. They were elegantly dressed and all three well perfumed. The younger man had a strong accent. I decided it was Italian as he fit the part- tall, dark, thick black hair and smooth skin. The woman did most of the talking.
She asked for a wine list. Being a smokehouse and tavern, we don’t really have a wine list so I started rattling off our house wines and some of the others I knew we stocked. She settled on a Kendall Jackson chardonnay for the three of them. She asked the price so I told her I thought it was $5.00 and that I’d check. Her husband asked for a beer instead, an IPA, my personal favorite. I cheered him on and brought their drinks. I had checked the price of the chardonnay and it was $6.00 rather than $5.00 but with a dozen other tables needing attention, I forgot to mention it, as I worked to get their order placed.
The woman drilled me on the preparation of the baked fish dish, the freshness of the seasonal vegetables, and settled on both, with a side salad and Roquefort dressing. It was just the way she said it. Bear in mind that a tall customer sitting at a high top table is often looking down on me as I’m not much over five feet tall. This woman used it to her advantage, looking at me through glasses perched on the tip of her nose.
“The salads aren’t pre-made are they?” She asked me haughtily. She turned to her younger companion. “I despise an ice cold salad.”
The meal progressed and everything was agreeable. Thank God. I continued to run back and forth trying desperately to keep ahead of the people who kept coming and coming….
When I checked with their table, the woman informed me she wished to purchase the beer glass. It was a standard “pint” glass with the Boston Red Sox logo on it. I told her I would check on a price. I did and was told that we didn’t sell them. We only had so many and couldn’t get more. So I told the woman. “Too bad. Its quaint.” She said.
When I presented the tab, the woman whisked it from the table. Immediately she noticed the wine price. “You said $5.00 for the wine.” She demanded. I couldn’t spend any more time on this party so I simply agreed to change the price. I left them the amended bill and continued to take care of my other customers.
Twenty minutes later, they had left and I got around to cleaning off their table. The beer glass was gone and the tip was tiny. You got to be kidding me.