Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Slight Tension In The Air . . .

Last night I worked at Olive Garden and had a really good night. The only small hiccup was that early in the evening I was double sat and my 3 table section was full when the hostess came up and told me they were giving me another table. "What?!!" I cried incredulously. "My section is full and you just double sat me!" Courtney the hard-nosed hostess said "Sorry, they requested you and said they didn't mind waiting for awhile to get service from you." I wondered who such patient guests could be. With no time to ponder it more I ran out drinks to my other demanding tables. While doing this I took a peek and saw that it was my good friends Jay and Sarah. Yes! Because I was busy, I let them sit there another few minutes while I got my other tables started. Then I went over to greet them. Greeting tables at Olive Garden means saying hi and dropping off drink coasters on the table. Coasters are the universal sign to other servers that "this table is taken - back off." However when I got to the table ...

There were already coasters! Nooooooooo!

"Hey guys, nice to see you. Has someone already come by the table?" Jay and Sarah looking slightly awkward. "Linda already came by and we weren't sure if you were too busy or not so . . ." "No worries," I said "I'll talk it over with Linda and see which one of us is serving you." I fully intended to diplomatically point out to Linda that my friends had asked for me and was sure it would be no problem to take back my table.

"Hey," I said to Linda, one of the feisty veteran servers who also served when Jay was a server here many moons ago. She's also a single mom. "Are you taking table 8? I believe they asked for me." "Oh really?" she said innocently. "They were seated in my section so I just went over and greeted them." I waited for her to offer the table back to me. She said nothing. Like in sales, the first person to talk usually loses. Silence ensued. Finally I said, "So what do you think we should we do about this?" Well done Mark, a solution focused question with the emphasis put on her personal choice - nice!

"Well, I guess you should take them since they asked for you," she said after awhile. I gave a sign of relief - the sweet sigh of victory! "Here's there drink order. It's too bad because they just gave away one of my other tables so now I'll be down to just one. And you'll have four." Her intense eyes bored into me powerfully. "I could give you table thirteen when they leave," I offered weakly. "Um, sure," she said in a way that betrayed that surely that was not OK . I walked away quickly with the drink order before she could say anything else.

I'd won the standoff! That's when my conscience got to me. I thought of Linda with her one table just sitting there while I worked four of them - on a Saturday night no less. Also, Jay and Sarah wouldn't have the best service from me since I'd be so busy and they couldn't stick around forever as they were going out afterwards. Also, I wondered if Linda the single mom would key my car later on - I believed she was capable of it!

I just couldn't do it. I went back to her. "Linda, why don't you take it," I said, "I already have four tables and you know Jay as well." "Really? I couldn't do that," she said in way that said that absolutely she would do that - in a heartbeat! "Yeah, you take em," I said sadly. "OK!" she said and walked away.

I think I made the right decision (even under duress) and although I didn't get to talk to my friends as much as I wanted, I did help them get better service and I helped out a single mom. Also, I saved my car from violent attack and that's a good thing too, right?

May Light increase!


Anonymous said...

Good for you Mark! It may have been hard to let that table go, but you DID do a GREAT thing for a woman who's trying to support her children and that is awesome! Who knows, she may just be more cooperative next time because of what you did.

Have a great day!

Stacey said...

Awww, you're a good man, Mark Westman.