Servers with an attitude and other real-life tales

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Do you know what hes saying behind your back?

Customers who are unhappy with the service they've gotten at a restaurant or a bar can easily make a statement about their feelings by leaving a lousy tip. A tip isn't an automatic gratuity, you know; it's the acronym for "To Insure Proper Service." It's also a payback for improper service: in a worst-case scenario, an effective way of flipping the bird with a couple of bucks.

But if you've ever wondered what members of the hospitality industry — servers, bartenders, hosts and hostesses, busboys — think about you, the opportunity is coming at 7 p.m. Friday, January 20, at the Writers Place (3607 Pennsylvania, 816-753-1090) ... and no tipping is required. The event, "I'll Be Your Server Tonight," is free and open to the public. (There will be a tip jar available for making donations to the Writers Place.)

The last time this literary organization hosted a servers-tell-all event was in 2002, when a Sunday-afternoon soiree called The Customers Is Always Wrong packed the venue with current and former members of the service trade presenting — open-microphone-style — hilarious and poignant stories, essays, poems and songs about life in the world of tipped employees: the good, the bad and the ugly. The celebrity host for the evening will be waiter, author and blogger David Hayden, who recently published a book, Tips 2: Tips for Improving Your Tips.

I've got stories galore about my years in the service — the restaurant service, that is — where I crawled my way from lowly busboy and dishwasher to the heights of success as a waiter. You know, the kind of understanding waiter who once threw a tip tray at a cheap teenage prom couple, scattering quarters and pennies everywhere.

Hayden says anyone wishing to perform at the spoken-word event can contact him at david@hospitalityformula.com or by calling 816-363-3268 before Saturday, January 14. For any servers or restaurant staffers — past or present — the evening is a creative opportunity to get back at bad tippers, abusive managers, drunken dishwashers, martinet assistant managers, coked-out owners, violent chefs and all of the fabulous characters who can make working in a real restaurant so much more interesting than anything one sees on a reality-TV restaurant show.

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