Tonight I had the pleasure of waiting on one of the most annoying customers I have ever encountered. I don't know why, there was just something about him. Curt, an interrupter, but most of all, he was really aggressive, almost accusatory about everything. For example:
After I've recommended our signature dish, the corn: "MMmmhhh...corn doesn't really excite me." Like I'd recommended white rice or the plain toast.
When I asked if they'd like to order more food: "Well we were going to order the OYSTERS but you're OUT of THOSE." Like I had eaten all of the oysters myself in advance because I suspected he might want one.
Backwaiter Manuel agreed with my assessment of table 33, based on the tiniest interaction with him:
"Kitty, table 33 wants..." Manuel began.
"Table 33 is an asshole," I said. "I don't care what he wants."
"Oh, I know!" said Manuel. "I tried to bring food to his table and he said that if I wanted to bring him another table to put the food on then I could give it to him. He's so rude..." I mean seriously, Manuel doesn't need that. He works seven days a week, sixteen hours a day to support his Mamasita in Colombia. Come on.
Table 33 happened to be on a date with a very pretty woman -- like 7x prettier than him. It was a little warm in the room this evening, and microscopic beads of perspiration made his nose & forehead, his T-zone if you will, shiny. I imagined her pretty pout bracing as he leaned in to give her a sweaty faced kiss... Yech.
Must be a blind date, I thought, but later the hostess told me I was wrong:
"That girl seems to be enjoying herself!"
"No way," I said.
"I know! I watched him spoon feed her a piece of skirt steak. Seriously."
"Ew," I said. I felt sorry that the new hostess had to see that.
I could not wait to drop the check on this inexplicably odious table. Just something about the guy at Table 33. Eventually they paid, in cash, an amount that exceeded the total bill by something outrageous, like 40%. As this guest had been super rude all evening, I assumed he liked me about as much as I did him, and returned to the table quickly with his change.
"No, no," he said, when I tried to hand him back the bill. "That's all set."
"Oh," I said. "Okay...thanks. Have a good night," I said.
It was truly one of those puzzling waitress moments. The rude guy at table 33 just left me a ridiculous tip, better than my best friends (unless they are drunk), my boyfriend, and my parents. All I could think was: Am I on candid camera or something? Is the joke somehow on me? Is Ken sending in shoppers to see calibrate the quality of service is at Toro? Surely a guest that surly wouldn't leave that much money to a hacked waitress out of the kindness of his spirit or the goodness of his heart? Or what he thought a heart would do if he had one in that black, empty space in the center of his chest.
I remain confused. The money is nice to have, of course, but seriously? It feels hollow and strange to gross such a big tip from a table I so deeply hated. I think I'd have preferred a smile.
I suppose this means my integrity is still intact.