So I sit down and start reading my book (Summer Knight by Jim Butcher for those of you who care about these things) and as I predicted the two groups are quickly seated. I glance around and note that there are a few people who look like they might be leaving shortly and I am next up. Three chuckleheads walk in. One of the parties leaves and the rather portly black lady who was working the floor (boy howdy does that sound wrong) said she was going to bus the table and, "…then I can seat y'all." This should have been my first warning sign however I am an elitist pig and took no notice of her use of a plural when it was clear I was not plural. She bussed the table. As she approached us, they were standing a little in front of me an to the left, I closed my book and stood, only to watch in amazement as she seated the chuckleheads. What the fuck? I literally stood rooted to the spot for a second in disbelief with my mouth open. I was already headed towards the door when she indicated she was ready to seat me. I told her not to worry about it as I was going to go somewhere else. There was then an exchange about me sitting at the counter, which I HATE doing as the stools are not built for someone of my height leaving me VERY uncomfortable, and I pointed out to her that I was leaving because she had decided to seat the chuckleheads before me. Her response was, "They were here before you." To which I replied, "No, they weren't." (My mind added, "I've been sitting here since you seated the family of Patsy Kline loving cetaceans over there." But I did not say this because I am a nice guy and that would just be rude.) She responds with, "Well you should have told me." To which I responded with nothing but a look of utter disbelief. I did not, and do not, have to words to express how dumb of a statement this was, to my mind. YOU, Aunt Jemima, are supposed to be the highly trained food service commando here and keeping track of which person was there first is pretty basic stuff. On top of that you had already said good morning to me when you seated the dwarf star to be sitting at the four-top over there. I don't like doing the job I get paid for (this is purely on principal because I am a tortured artist and stuff) I am sure as heck not going to do your job for you!
Then, as I walk out, the cherry on top of everything else, is Mrs. Butterworth wishing me a blessed day as I leave. Oh HELL no! You do not get to assuage any guilt you might feel about being a complete fucktard when it comes to doing your, lets face it here people, incredibly simple job by being all Christian and wishing I have a blessed day. It was all I could do to stop from turning around on her and telling her exactly where she could stick her blessed day in exacting and excruciating biological detail. I walked out and went to the Dutch Kettle** instead.
Now under normal circumstances this would not have ticked me off so much however in this case there were three things going on:
- The last time I was in this Waffle House the exact same thing happened except that I took it like a good consumer and did not fuss.
- I had taken my supplements about 30 minutes earlier. If I do not get food on top of them in about 30 minutes I get a little twitchy and irritable.
- I was already having a bit of a crap day as I was fighting dust and crap on my camera's sensor and I could not get it clean.
Here is the text of the letter I sent this morning:
April 29, 2008
2825.5 A 61st Street
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to inform you of a situation I encountered in your restaurant this past weekend which has forced me to decide that I will no longer patronize your establishment. Now before I go into the specifics I want to say that I very much enjoy the food and atmosphere at all of the Waffle Houses I have ever been in. So much so that when ever I am in Galveston I make it a point to have at least one meal at your restaurant. Invariably, in the past, the staff has been professional and friendly, even on days where they are swamped.
This brings us to what happened this past Sunday. I arrived at the restaurant sometime after 10 in the morning. I brought a book with me as I have been in this particular restaurant on Sunday morning before and had a bit of a wait. I certainly do not mind waiting to be seated at restaurants, particularly ones that I quite like, but I thought I would go ahead and be entertained rather than just stare at the walls. There were two groups already waiting when I arrived and they were quickly seated. While I was waiting for another place to open up a group of three young men entered. As soon as a table opened up the hostess seated them, completely ignoring me. I am 6’3” and over 250 pounds so I am not easily overlooked or lost in a crowd. I had closed my book and was in the process of standing when the hostess approached the group so, to give her the benefit of the doubt we might assume she thought I was part of the group. I was absolutely stunned as this EXACT thing happened to me the last time I was in your establishment.
To be honest I was so surprised by this happening again that it took me a couple of moments to collect my wits. I informed the hostess, who was now attempting to seat me, not to bother as I would be going somewhere else for breakfast. When asked why I told her my reason to which she responded that they had, in fact, arrived before me. Once again I was caught off-guard as the hostess had acknowledged my presence after she had sat the two groups which were waiting before my arrival. At this point I should have just left however one of my character flaws is that I feel the need to have the last word. I, very politely considering the circumstances, pointed out that they had not arrived before me. At this point a simple apology would have sufficed. Had the hostess just admitted she made a mistake everything would have been fine but rather than do this she informed me that it was somehow my responsibility to inform her that they had not arrived before me. At this point I left. I was already hungry when I arrived and did not have a rational response to her idea that the customers are supposed to police themselves. In a perfect world this idea has merit, however as we have all been on the road with our fellow man I think we know in practice this devolves to foolish optimism.
I have never worked in food service however I have had several close friends who have, up to and including being the general manager of several restaurants, therefore I do have some understanding of stress under which wait staff operate. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt in most cases. There are so many things which can go wrong and are completely out of their control. I understand this and am willing to overlook quite a bit however what I do not tolerate is poor service. I have now experienced what I would consider VERY poor service at your establishment twice in my last two visits.
Once is a mistake. Once in a while is a mistake. Twice in a row is something else entirely. The first time I just took it like a good consumer, operating under the assumption that it was a mistake. After all it was Sunday morning and the place was busy. The second time? Something else entirely. If your restaurant has a policy of seating groups before individuals during peak hours then the hostess should explain the policy to me. At which point I can make my decision on whether to stay or be treated as a second-class citizen. I think it is pretty clear what would happen had this been this case. Regardless of the cause for the poor treatment, the fact remains that on my last two visits to your restaurant I have received very shoddy treatment and therefore I will no longer be patronizing your establishment.
I sent a copy to the corporate headquarters as well. I will let you know what, if any, response I receive.
* The Kettle Breakfast o' Doom (tm) is an omlette with American cheese, bacon, ham, and chili, an order of hash browns, three pancakes, and an order of corned beef hash. No, I have no illusions about why I am overweight, why do you ask?
** The Dutch Kettle was okay.