Monday, June 18, 2012

A Counter Encounter

I am an unusually good tipper.

I often leave 20% for the waiter or waitress. And have been known to go as high as 25%. Why? Because I spent a better part of my youth in the food service business.

As a cook. As a bartender. And as a food server. It is not easy work. And there are many pain in the ass customers who simply have no right to walk into a restaurant. Those people often have their food spit upon. You'd be shocked to know how much spitting takes place behind those closed kitchen doors with the porthole windows.


Last night my wife escorted my youngest daughter to a postseason volleyball party. That left my oldest daughter and I to fend for ourselves. And so, after a lengthy discussion of dining choices, we ended up at The Counter on Ocean Park Blvd. We've had many pleasant meals there before and come to expect nothing less.

When we arrived the waiting list had grown quite long. We opted not to wait for a table and dine right at the counter which was sporting several vacant seats. No sooner had we sat down than an older gentleman saddled up beside my daughter. And no sooner had he seated himself did his hacking cough make itself evident. Not only was he coughing, Typhoid Murray was also sneezing. Granted he was sneezing into his sleeve but it knocked our collective appetites down a peg or two.

That was only the beginning.

The waitress behind the counter proceeded to serve me a Diet Coke that had as much life in it as Coptercat before he got his propellors. So I returned the flat soda and told her I'd rather have a pint of their Stella Artois on tap. Well, that was equally fizzless. And tasted like it had been drawn from the Salton Sea.

When I returned that, and mind you I was as jovial as possible, making light of the situation at every turn so as not to make my daughter uncomfortable, I asked for a bottle of Corona. After two unsatisfactory drinks, she reached in the cooler and pulled out a Corona that had already been opened and was sporting a lime wedge. She said it was a mistake.

I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it had just been opened, but it too was flat, much like the EKG would have been had you hooked electrodes up to this woman's brain. But my daughter was feeling embarrassed and I didn't want to exacerbate the situation.

We put in our order for a couple of burgers and a platter of their signature fries/onion rings. The burgers arrived 15 minutes later but the platter of fries/onion rings did not. Turns out our rocket scientist of the food service world forgot to put that part (which some Counter aficionados would argue is the most important) of the order in.

So we ate our cold burgers and shielded our plates from our hacking neighbor. When the waitress brought the check over, she didn't apologize. But she took the time to point out that I wasn't charged for the flat Diet Coke or the equally lifeless Stella.

Had I my druthers she wouldn't have charged me for the cold burgers and the influenza as well.

The total came to $26.93.
And I did what I never do.
I stiffed her.
I could have left nothing but I thought taking the trouble to give her 7 cents made more of a point.

I also gave her a piece of vocational advice which will serve as the snappy ending you've come to expect at the end of all my personal rants...


Curious about Burgers said...

Curious if you complained to the management and if they did anything about your complaint?

glasgowdick said...

@ Curious. As a matter of fact, I did bring it up with corporate management. One of their reps offered a gift coupon. We'll see if they make good on that.