By Marie Beachdale
Sunday, July 29, 2012, Surfside Beach - Because I have been a waitress for so long it takes a lot for a customer to really surprise me, but two days ago I had a diner who did just that.
It was a quiet lunchtime at the restaurant when two young women walked in to eat. The first thing I noticed was that one of them, a blonde with a poker-straight bob, was entirely overdressed for not only my restaurant, but the 100-degree weather as well.
Her outfit was an indication that she was on her lunch break-- her long black pants and sweater with a bright pink bow were far from the normal beachgoer attire I am used to, but I was happy to see a local.
Her friend, a tan woman with dark hair that held perfect curls, was quiet and polite, smiling much more than the blonde, who looked like she should be a drill sergeant and not wearing a sweater with a pink bow.
They didn’t strike me as the type of table that would leave a memorable impression. Sure, the blonde was a little loud, but they were friendly enough. They ordered two waters and took some time to look over the menu.
When I returned to the table a couple minutes later, the blonde gave me an apologetic look and said,
“I usually never complain about anything, I’m sorry, but I really don’t like the water here. Can I get a bottle of water instead?”
After explaining to her that we don’t serve bottled water, she decided on a soda.
It was no problem at all, and, quite frankly, I understood her complaint. I’ve learned that at the beach, some days the water is fine, and others it tastes entirely too much like the sea. I dropped off the soda and returned a few minutes later to take their orders.
After the women told me what they wanted for lunch, the blonde spoke up again.
“Okay, I really don’t like this soda either, it has the same funny taste. I can’t believe you don’t sell bottled water here. Maybe I could run across the street and buy a bottle to bring back?”
“Absolutely, that would be no problem,” I told her. I was willing to bend the “no outside food or beverage” policy to make her happy. I saw her look quickly at her friend, and then back at me.
“Actually, maybe you could go get it for me?”
I thought her question was a joke, but she wasn’t smiling.
“Sure, I’ll go grab one, no problem,” I said.
I started ringing in their order and realized how ridiculous this woman’s request really was. She wanted me to leave my workplace while I had other tables, march outside in the heat and get her a bottle of water, apparently with my own money, because she didn’t offer me any for the cause.
Seriously? “Waitress” is not a synonym for personal assistant.
As I left the restaurant on my mission for a bottle of water, I focused on the tip. Surely running somewhat of an errand for a customer would yield at least 20%, right?
When I returned with the bottle of water, the woman was appreciative, but didn’t ask how much she owed me for it or anything like that. I explained to her that I would happily take the soda off of her ticket, and the women ate their lunches without further complaints.
When it was time to deliver the bill, I considered adding in the price of the bottle of water into the total, but decided against it. After removing the soda, their lunch came to $15, and the blonde was paying with her credit card.
I noticed when I dropped off the final receipt to their table, the blonde wasn’t overly friendly, but I didn’t think much of it. My hopes were still high for a good tip.
As I picked up the check folder from the table, I noticed something written on the receipt. On the line where diners usually enter a tip amount on a credit card receipt, the blonde bitch with the bow had written:
“No tip, because my bill should have been $13.99”
I fought the urge to chase the blond down and tell her how demeaning it felt when she asked me to run an errand for her, and tell her I wanted my $1.50 back. She needed to brush up on her math skills-- after removing the soda from her bill and adding tax, it came to $15 and some change. Where she pulled $13.99 from, I will never know.
My coworkers and I started at the receipt, dumbfounded, as if it would magically change if we all looked at it hard enough. It didn’t. I never thought I would be so angry about losing $1.50.
I learned two things that day. Customers will apparently never cease to amaze me, and I will never again complain when someone brings their own beverage into the restaurant. At least they are saving me the trouble of leaving work to get one for them.
Want to read more columns from The Sassy Server? Click here.
You can follow The Sassy Server on Twitter at @ASassyServer.