The Rise and Fall
A few months back I was reprimanded for a server technicality: a lunch check should have sitting on the table two minutes after the guests received their meal and it was not.
I admit I was at fault, afterall I did not put it there. My manager said the guests were looking around for me waiting to leave and could not pay. The check instead was preset in my apron pocket waiting for the luncheon guests approval and nod that signifies the end of their dining experience. I was stuck in the back of the kitchen for longer than I wanted putting out a small fire, a metaphoric one. Despite the unexpected flames, I should not have made my guests wait to pay while I rectified a problem for another guest. My manager was right, the check should have been on the table, but am still not a fan of esuggesting payment when the guest is only two bites into their meal.
I have always worked in establishments that do not want to ‘turn and burn’ instead they want the guest to languish over a good steak and a beautifully paired cabernet. I became especially wary of early check dropping when them same practice happened to myself and a date. The check hit the table before our plates were cleared and my date felt rushed. I’ll never forget his reaction. It was, “Well, that tip just got lower.”
Since I was ‘called to the linoleum’ about the late check presentation I have thought about the matter from both sides. Why should I feel guilty for an ‘upfront’ payment? Grocery stores don’t wait for the food one carries out of stores to be consumed before the request for financial compensation. Music concerts and theatrical performances do not have patrons pay as they exit the theatre. Dining and haircuts are alone is that category.
I have come to terms with the fact that I am not able to find employment at a higher end restaurant at this time. Vegas is still crawling out of the recession much slower than older cities. I work for an establishment that offers cheap lunch specials thus the main reason to get them in and get them out. I can’t be insulting too many guests with cheap behavior if they frequent an establishment for a cheap meal.
I was mid lunch rush. I had a tray of drinks for my table in one hand and an appetizer for another in the other. I just starting to pass by table 501 when my manager stopped me in my tracks and asked, “Do you have table 501’s check?” His lower jaw was so tense I could have cracked walnuts in it. He was a deeper shade of red than normal, between embarrassment and day at the beach without sunscreen.
“Yes, it’s in my apron,” I said. The only reason steam did not come out of his ears was because we were both directly in front of my table. He took the appetizer plate from me so I could pull the bill from my apron pocket and hand it to him. I was initially uncertain as to why he was so distressed. Then I realized. While I was in the kitchen, he probably walked by my table 501. He noticed they were done with there meal and had no awaiting check presenter. He might have even asked my table if they needed anything else and if so I am certain the table answered, “We’re just waiting for the check.” A common answer. It is alot easier to say that than, “we’re just waiting for our credit card to be accepted.” which it was.
“Yes, it’s in my apron,” I said, “It’s just been processed”. he opened the check presenter I handed him to see the check, the visa card, and the receipts waiting to be signed. His face resumed it’s normal color and his jaw muscles relaxed a bit. He had thought I had ignored his demand to drop the check early, I had not. The check had been sitting on the table two minutes after they received their meal and sat atop the table until they wedged a credit card between the folds.
As he delivered the check and visa card to it’s rightful owners I thought about how many times a day my manager gets upset; over things that go wrong or things he believes have more likely than not go wrong.
I hope he exercises regularly and abstains from artery clogging cheeses.