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Out of My Hands

January 30, 2008

If there is one thing I really cannot stand about waiting tables, it is not having any control over who walks in the door when.  Or to narrow that statement down further, I hate it when it has been a slow shift and, after I have prepared everything to get ready to go home, people walk in right before we close.  On the one hand, I understand where my money comes from (and I do make decent money here).  But on the other hand, if it has been slower and I am in a mindset to go home, someone coming in at the last minute throws everything off balance.  Instead of going home in the next 15 minutes or so, now you have to stay for another hour.  Just for one table.  Just for a few more bucks.  Having completed all of my side work I can only sit brooding while my table talks and laughs and enjoys themselves oblivious to the inconvenience they have just caused for their waiter, the kitchen staff, and the manager.

Last night was one of those nights.  Actually, it was really slow all day long (probably due to the nasty weather), and I had just one table left about 30 minutes before closing time.  At this point I have made around 50 bucks in 8 hours, which is terrible compared to my average.  I am tired of being in the place and aching to go home, grab a beer, crash on the couch and turn off my brain.  Days like these, you want to be walking out of the place by 9pm.  Of course, right as I am thinking that we surely won’t have anyone else come in, I see the door opening and four college students are coming in.  I act without thinking.  I rush to the front of the restaurant and before these people can even open their mouths I tell them that, sorry, we closed early because it was so slow.  Their mouths open, disappointment on their faces.  Before they can formulate some sort of argument on why I should serve them even after I told them we were closed (and believe me, this has happened before, as if I would really change my mind and gladly serve you after I told you to go away), I turn around and walk to the back.  They stand there looking pathetic and stupid (or looking like that to me since I’m upset and want them to go away so I can go home) for a moment more before turning around and leaving.  I feel triumphant but nervous at the same time;  the manager does NOT want us doing that.  But because they didn’t come in the kitchen staff was even able to finish early and everyone left 15 minutes after nine.  4 people left a little disappointed, but 6 of us left very happy, eager to be going back to our families just a little bit ahead of schedule.