The worst person I waited on during my years as a waiter was a man named Fred. He was a “regular,” a widower, quite likely an alcoholic, very rich, and generally a poor excuse for a human being.
One of his favorite pasttimes was tormenting waiters. Unfortunately, he spent so much money in our restaurant that our owner/manager made us tolerate it, and had little sympathy for our stories about Fred’s latest affronts to our dignity. To make matters worse, he loved late dinners, which would generally begin about 15 minutes before closing time. To make matters even worse, he would insist that his waiter remain at his party’s beck and call until he was finished. And if it was an early dinner, that meant he didn’t care how many tables you had, you’d damn well better make his the top priority. He was a good tipper, but trust me - it wasn't worth it.
Of course, he and the members of his party were slow eaters, which basically meant (in the case of a late dinner) that you had to stand around doing nothing while waiting for them to finish, when you could be going through your regular closing routine (and get to the damn bar for a much-needed drink). And if it was earlier in the night, he and his fellow idiots would take up valuable space, sucking the potential tips from other parties right out of your pocket.
The first time I waited on him, his first words to me were, “it’s kind of dark in here – are you a boy or a girl?” I couldn’t help myself, and responded, “what will get me a better tip?,” even though as I was saying the words I worried about my ass getting fired that very night. He actually laughed, which didn’t make the rest of the night any easier. It finally got to the point that if he ended up in our section, we would literally offer to pay the other waiters to take his party. One night, one waiter paid another $50 to take the table, and later said it was the best $50 he’d ever spent.
And this is where the karma comes in. From time to time I’d pop back into the restaurant, and would ask “so, is Fred still around?” Eventually, he died, and the bartender told me, “and you’ll love this – there was a mix-up, and his body was accidentally cremated.” And this probably reflects poorly on me, but man, did that make me feel good. Because I honestly can’t think of any other person who deserved a fate like that more than Fred.
So…keep that in mind if you’re ever tempted to mistreat a waiter.