Saturday, March 3, 2012

Don't Let Me Into My Zone

Waiting tables is awful. Anyone who has knows firsthand. Anyone who hasn't knows someone who has and has had to listen to them regale tales from the front line ad nauseam. The most lamentable aspect of the job, though, is the occasional encounter with someone that sees fit their desire to extend their bullshit beyond the couple hours society has deemed it acceptable to wreak havoc in a restaurant.

Two days after my last birthday, my organs still in full recoil, one such individual toted his family into my former workplace and did his absolute best to deal me what I could at the time only presume was God's true punishment for my excesses of the Friday night prior. Two days after that, he overstepped his bounds and decided to email my boss(es) on the same day I was offered a new job.

Fueled by irritation and, evidently, a good amount of Miller High Life I spent 30 seconds on Google, found my aggressor and broke him off something proper. Yesterday, almost four months later, I sent it to dude's faculty inbox. As the inaugural post on this page, I present it to you as well.

If this is the Raymond Britton that dined with his family at the Mission Inn Restaurant at the Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California on the night of Sunday, November 13, 2011, then the following is intended for you. Please read it and take it to heart, as I mean every word of it. If this is a different Raymond Britton, please feel free to disregard everything below this, but know there is someone from your state with the same name and an uncanny likeness that is frequenting quality establishments and acting like an utter jackass.

Dear Mr. Britton,

I would first and foremost like to extend to you an apology of my own that falls in line with the one the hotel most assuredly sent to you. It was, and never has been, my intention to provide inadequate service for any guest of any restaurant I’ve ever worked in. Thus I was sorry to hear that you left the restaurant and hotel unsatisfied with the execution of the event you planned for your mother, at least initially anyway. Upon reading the email you sent to my managers (wherein you went out of your way to belittle me, criticize my professionalism and present an inaccurate retelling of events), I was alleviated of said regret.

I no longer work at the Mission Inn, so it should be noted that I do not represent them or speak for them directly when I say that you, Mr. Britton, are an idiot. I want you to know that I normally hesitate to use this term to describe difficult guests, partly because putting up with them is the nature of the job, but mostly because there are almost always better, more precise words that can be used instead. You, for instance, are a condescending windbag. And the woman I presumed to be your wife is an insufferable witch. But no… as evidenced by the totality of your character demonstrated during and after your visit, in this case it is most accurate to insist that you both are simply, wholly idiots.

To be honest, when I heard of your complaint at the front desk, I originally supposed that your goal was to get something for free. Your email to my boss convinced me of as much. You said outright that I was obviously new to the food service industry, and while that may be true on a comparative basis (4 years experience is less than, say, 20 years experience), I will assure you that the first thing someone learns in this position is how to spot someone that just wants something for free. Had your grievances been legitimate or handled and resolved inefficiently or insufficiently, you would have asked to speak to a manager at the restaurant. However, since I’m the man and willingly accommodated all of your hypercritical nonsense, you thanked me repeatedly and then chose to complain later when I couldn’t properly defend myself. I am surprised that while you likely complain every time you dine out, you don’t yet know that this is a much less successful way to achieve your objective. Hopefully this is something you learned when the Mission Inn did not refund any of your bill. I would also recommend that before you gripe about not being credited for a $100 deposit on your check, you make sure that you actually paid a $100 deposit for your event beforehand.

Nevertheless, I’d like to address two of your specific criticisms regarding your experience.

Your email insisted that I was ignorant as to the proper protocol for presenting wine. I object to this immensely. I very deliberately presented the bottle to you, allowed you to taste the wine, and poured proper portions for your guests while being mindful of even the oft-forgotten minutiae (keeping the label pointed toward the guest, pouring for ladies first and host last, etc.). I’m not sure what else you expected, but if you were subscribing to some delusional notion that I was going to decant a $45 bottle of Markham merlot, you were grossly overestimating the weight of your purchasing power. I probably would have obliged had you asked and/or been polite. But you were an asshole. Talk to me when you throw down on some Caymus. I also object to your assertion that anyone in your party had an empty wine, water or beverage glass. You were my only table, and I paid special attention to this.

Probably the most asinine portion of your complaint (and that which most strongly reaffirms my contention that you are an idiot) was that regarding your dissatisfaction with the food quality. I will remind you that I served your party 7 filet mignons, all of which were prepared either medium well or well done. Three of these were sent back to the kitchen because your guests had forgotten to ask me to have them butterflied, nothing else. First of all, if you order a quality steak to be cooked past medium rare, you are an idiot. When you have it cooked past medium, your right to bitch about the flavor or texture is rescinded. Here is where you could learn a quality lesson about making assumptions: just as you assumed that I would provide sub-par service solely because I was young, everyone in the restaurant assumed that you were trashy because you were eating well done filet mignon. Being that your complaint is fundamentally grounded in the belief that I was incapable of providing service befitting of the class, dignity and grace embodied by members of your family, it does not backup your case when you willingly deliver a tell of that magnitude. You might as well have asked me which fork is for your salad and which is for your entrée. In the end, sir, what brings me the most solace is that you weren’t able to eat at our fine-dining restaurant as you had originally intended. At least no one had to knowingly serve a prime steak well done.

Ultimately, Mr. Britton, I can assure you with utmost confidence that your grossly inflated sense of self-entitlement and unconscionable lack of even the most primitive forms of social etiquette dually represent what everyone working in the customer service industry hates most about the customer service industry. On a grander scale, your unbridled ignorance regarding taste and your neglect toward common decency (to say nothing of your dim-witted observations about California) are what everyone in California hates about tourists from Texas and the mid-west in general. That’s not to suggest we wish you’d never visit, but more to recommend that you get your shit together before you do so as not to inspire our resentment in the process.

Anyway, take care douchebag.


K. J. Delaney

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