Stories Of Restaurant Employees Who Had Their Just Revenge
Welcome back to Off The Menu, where we bring you the best and strangest food stories from my email inbox. This week, we return to stories of righteous restaurant revenge. As always, these are real emails from real readers.
When I worked for a small Italian restaurant, there was this server, we’ll call her Robin. Robin was ... special. She got pregnant while working with us and loudly announced it to everyone who would listen. Starting from her fourth month, she would use her “condition” (her word, not mine), to get out of any and all side work. Now, stocking heavy racks of glassware/plates/etc., I can understand. But she had an excuse for everything, including rolling silverware. She would finish her shift, make her excuse, count her tips, and leave, causing everyone to have to split her side work and silverware every shift. Needless to say, everyone hated her for this, as she was in fine physical health otherwise (she bragged about running 5ks and doing yoga for her whole pregnancy, so I’m not assuming anything here).
You’d think this was the story. You’d be wrong.
The joy came after she gave birth, when she started using special “mom” status to get out of work/side work/entire shifts, not to mention the constant bragging and boasts about trips to NYC to have her baby attend modeling gigs (which we later found out only meant trying out for these gigs, landing exactly none) and how cute and special her child was. It got to the point where management told her she wasn’t allowed to call out of any more shifts on the day she was supposed to work them. At the time, the accepted practice was to call the server phone tree and get someone not on the schedule to cover your shift first, then bring it to a manager’s attention, then change the schedule. Calling out was for the deathly ill or genuine emergencies only. She abused this, often calling out on Fridays and Saturdays and being very vague about the reasons.
The final straw came about when she called every server on the tree to get a same-day shift covered on Saturday, claiming that it was an absolute emergency, and she absolutely could not work. I was on day 11 in a row, and had the night off, but was working a lunch shift. I was stoked to finally have a night off after so many straight days pulling doubles, and my bosses were cool about cutting me early to give me as much of a day off as possible. She calls the restaurant in a panic, saying no one will cover her shift and it is an EMERGENCY and asks who in the restaurant is on lunch and not a double, and who can become a double to take her shift. Turns out ... just me.
The manager on duty explains that I’ve worked almost two weeks straight with no day off, and this is my only night off for six more days after. She starts to cry because EMERGENCY, and the manager just looks at me like “your call, kid.” I picked up the shift, saddened at my loss of Saturday night, but looking forward to decent money. Typical Saturday night business, line out the door, all that.
Who waltzes in with her husband, child, and mother? FUCKING ROBIN. The “Emergency” was that her mom was in town, and every restaurant nearby was booked up, and they needed to be sat soon because blood sugar or some bullshit.
I almost set fire to the restaurant with the glare I was giving her, and was just about to go lose my job cussing her out, when the manager from that morning comes running out of the bar area and just loses his shit on her. He asked her how she could possibly walk into this place after what she pulled earlier that day. She got fired on the spot. Her poor husband looked gobsmacked and just shook his head. When she started to protest, the husband finally spoke up and said, “Can we just leave? I can’t believe you would do this again after getting fired from Olive Garden.”
Manager and I shared many beers that night. Delicious, free beers.
In high school, I worked at a casual chain restaurant. One New Year's Eve, it was my night off. I was on my way to a party, and wanted to bring a pie from work, because I knew the mom of our host really liked them.
So I hung out for a few minutes chatting with the server I had a huge (and unrequited) crush on. Meanwhile, this drunk redneck asshole came in and started banging on the counter to get someone's attention (a great move in any situation, really). He'd called in a pickup order and was clearly in a real hurry to get it. Sadly, the order wasn't quite ready, so my not-girlfriend offered him a coke and said it'd be out in just a minute (we weren't really supposed to offer them drinks or anything, but she was trying to head off a situation). Of course, that wasn't good enough; he just started tearing into her, calling her stupid and incompetent and, well, lots of other things. Granted, he didn't get too far, because the manager stepped in about three seconds into the abuse.
I figured he had it under control, and since I had my pie, I left -- but not before hearing the drunk redneck call the server ... I mean, we all know what he called her, I don't have to repeat it, right? [Editor’s Note: Gonna guess this rhymes with a football play.] So I walked out the door, and sitting right in front of the door (in a handicapped space, no less) was the guy's truck, still running. I opened the door, hit the lock button, and closed it back up. This was back in the '80s, so no chance he had a remote.
I found out a couple days later that the guy assumed he had done it himself, because he came back in and sheepishly asked to use the phone to have someone bring him his spare keys. I bet his takeout was cold as hell by then.
I worked for a Domino's Pizza located just north of Baton Rouge while in college back in the mid '80s. This was the time when they had the “30 Minutes Or It’s Free" promotion. Cops would u-turn to get behind us thinking that we would be speeding to get the pizzas delivered on time, but we (the drivers) were not dinged for free pizzas (thanks to a safety memo from corporate because of the rash of accidents with drivers trying to get the pizzas delivered within 30 minutes).
One of our worst regulars was the son of one of the local university professors. This MFer lived roughly 5 minutes down the road from the shop. His would be the first pizza delivered, since he was so close. But no matter how fast you got it to this tub of lard, he would argue that it was late by a few minutes. Despite what the time stamp on the box said, the manager made us give him his pizza free. This was becoming a Friday night habit for him.
Finally the assistant manager and I decided to teach him a lesson. On the night he called, she put his pizza aside until there were three other deliveries in his direction. Then I grabbed all the pizzas and put them into the "hot bag" except for his. I delivered all the others first, while his sat on the passenger floor of my truck with the lid open. By the time I finally got to him, it was well past 30 minutes late and not very hot or fresh. Since he always stiffed us on the tip, I just smiled and handed him his crappy cold FREE pizza.
He never ordered from us again.
When I was in my early 20s I worked for a place called the Downtown Deli and Greek Cuisina in Portland, Oregon. They had a fine dining restaurant on the first level, and a popular nightclub on the second. The place was absolutely insane on weekends. You could buy plates for $.25 apiece, which you'd then smash on the floor whenever your drunken stupor suited you.
On this particular night, I was manning the fine dining restaurant down below. I had several tables, some of them perfectly polite older people wanting some admittedly delicious Greek food, and a few three and four tops of 20-something refugees from upstairs who needed to fill their stomachs before moving on to the next bar.
Two tables in particular stood out that evening: a three top of young women who were drunk, but awesome customers just having a good time and enjoying some friendship and calamari, and a four top of drunken frat boys filling up on the huge appetizer plates we offered. The frat boys were hitting on the ladies, who handled it with absolute grace but were clearly not interested in hooking up. This did not sit well with the frat boys, who became obnoxious to the point where they were tossing ketchup covered fries at the poor ladies until they were asked to leave. Which they did. To my horror, without paying their $100 plus bill.
Two things worked in my favor that night. First, our security detail was quite formidable: they were all players on the PSU football team, all over 6 feet tall and built like brick shithouses. Second, these women were pissed and quite happy to inform us that these guys had told them where they were going next: another popular club right across the street.
Our bouncers went over there, talked to security, found them, FUCKING MACED THEM, dragged them back and made them pay their bill. I'll never forget that dude signing his credit card slip, tears streaming down his face as our bouncer (who had him shoved up against the wall, allowing him only enough movement to sign the tab), said "and you'd better not forget the tip, motherfucker. Make it a good one."
One of the regulars at a place I worked never bought anything. This guy never had money for any beer, and certainly none for a tip. Nonetheless, when we had music, he was always there. (We had a lot of local folk bands, Grateful Dead cover bands, Celtic bands, and open mics. It truly was a hippy haven.) He would ask the bartender (who was usually me) for the overrun in the beer tray under the taps. Another of the owners, a less scrupulous type who thought nothing of flaunting liquor licenses, told me to give it to him because the guy would whine incessantly to the owner if I refused, and he didn’t want to deal with it. The ick beer was free, and as I said, the guy didn’t tip. This happened a few times, with the owner always telling me to give it to him. The next time we had an open mic, I put a bar towel in the tray. When Freeloader came to get his runoff beer, he was furious to discover the towel. “You did that on purpose!” he yelled at me.
“Yeah, it’s not legal.”
“How else am I supposed to drink?”
“Buy a beer.”
“I’ll tell the owner!”
“Want me to wring out the towel?” I asked as I picked up the corner of said towel.
And he did go tell the owner, and I got in trouble (what?). The beggar watched smugly as I took the towel out and poured him a bear from the dregs. The next time he came up, I ‘accidentally’ spilled the tray.
Between my sophomore and junior years in college, I worked at a Steak N’ Shake in a college town in Central Illinois. One night, I was working the overnight shift, and we were slammed. Every table was filled with students, and most were wasted. One table in particular was making me insane. A bunch of fraternity boys -- super entitled and super drunk. One of them kept grabbing at me every time I walked by and bellowed goatish laughter every time I told him to knock it the fuck off. Even his buddies were telling him to stop, but that just seemed to embolden him.
After the umpteenth ass-grab, I was walking to another table to deliver some milk shakes. He reached out at me, but before he could touch me, I grabbed a shake off my tray and dumped it over his head. All that strawberry ice cream and whipped cream slid right out of the glass and plopped on his head, oozing down his face. It was perfect. Even the cherry got glued to his forehead for a brief second.
His friends doubled over laughing. I hurried over to the table who had originally ordered the shakes and apologized profusely. I told the woman whose shake I had dumped that I would make her a new one and comp it. She said, between wheezes of laughter, that, yes she'd take another shake, but no, she wanted to pay for it. It was the best show she'd seen in a long time. She and her friends tipped me $10 on $12 worth of shakes.
All in all, a good night.
At the tail end of high school, I got my very first job as a concession attendant at the local movie theater. I was usually put on "prep" duty as opposed to register work (which I vastly preferred), but everything was made in plain view and I could always hear the conversations the register folk were having with customers.
A buddy of mine, let's call him "Dave," had been talking to me about quitting for weeks (working at a theater really can drain your soul over time), and one day, he finally lost it. A woman and her four shrieking children come up to his register and order popcorn for everyone in their group, even the toddlers (side note: if you ever allow under-6's to hold popcorn bags at a theater you are The Worst because there is a 100 percent chance that shit is going to end up completely on the theater floor for the ushers to deal with).
Easy order. Dave gets the popcorn off the warmer rack and hands it over, only this won't do, because she doesn't want popcorn off the rack, she wants it fresh. This is annoying, but not an unusual request, so he obliges and she goes on her way with kids in tow
Five minutes later she's back. The popcorn has "gone cold" and she wants it replaced. I don't know how familiar you are with popcorn, but one of its inherent properties is not "holds heat really well." Dave, surprisingly, replaces the popcorn and off she goes again ...
... only to show back up 10 minutes later with the same request. At this point, Dave tells her that he can't do that a second time. This IMMEDIATELY causes this woman to fly into a rage out of nowhere. Dave stands like a stoic, absorbing it all without responding until finally, once she's done ranting, saying "wait here, please.”
He goes to the back, grabs a trashbag, and proceeds to fill it completely with popcorn. He then takes the back elevator to the second floor overlooking the concession area and shouts:
"HEY! MA'AM! HERE'S YOUR FUCKING POPCORN!"
He opens the trashbag and lets it all fall down on top of her. Then he comes down stairs, clocks out, and walks out the door, never to return.
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