When I first thought about writing this post I was wondering what I should put in it, funny stories, one liners from t-shirts, news headlines, twitter posts or some heartfelt thoughts on the current crisis. Anyway, I couldn’t decide so let’s just see what comes out onto the page.
If people could just understand what reactions their actions cause maybe they would do things differently, or maybe not. I heard a funny story the other day about the owner of a restaurant (this was obviously before lockdown) who had a visit from 4 women, three in their early twenties/late teens and the other was 25-30. They told him they wanted a table for 4, he asked what name the table was booked in as there was an 18 month waiting list for a table. She said she knew the manager personally and he told her that any time she wanted to she could bring her friends in and he would find her a table.
Since the man she was talking to was the owner and he didn’t employ a manager he wondered whether or not to play along or just tell her to go away and tell her he didn’t employ a manager, or play along and then tell her she didn’t know the manager because the owner, him, didn’t employ one. He decided on the last option, and told her that the restaurant was full to capacity and there were bookings for the remainder of the night and for the next 18 months. She told him that if he didn’t find her a table she would call the manager and get him fired (yep, from his own restaurant, that was never going to happen) so he decided he would open up one of the tables reserved for VIP’s (at a cost of $4,000 per booking) since there weren’t any that evening. He also told her that he would give her and her friends 3 rounds of drinks on the house.
He waited on them personally all evening, the leader of the group gave him her credit card to hold for the evening to ensure the bill was paid at the end of the evening, saying to the other girls that the evening was on her. They continued to party while the first round of drinks was being brought to the table from the bar. He delivered the drinks and a menu (special menu for the table with no prices displayed as everything was for VIP’s who expected the best and were prepared to pay for it). No one said anything about changing the menu for the “ordinary” menu so he let them continue ordering drinks and eating what they wanted from the menu.
At the end of the evening the leader, when he asked if they wanted anything else, was told to bring them the bill. He printed it off, with the first 3 rounds of drinks marked as free, and took it over to the table. She looked at it and almost had apoplexy, she told him that if he didn’t want to lose his job he would cut 50-75% off the bill straight away as it obviously wasn’t right. He took it back from her and agreed he had made a mistake. He took it away and added the coffees they had all had which he had left off the bill deliberately. The original bill was under charged by $125, for 4 coffees, tip, tax and service charge. When she saw the revised bill she lost it completely and told him she would have his job when she told the manager what he had done. Even though he was only on minimum wage it would give her immense pleasure to see him join the ranks of the unemployed.
At this point he told her to call the manager (knowing full well she couldn’t) or pay up and shut up. With that she got up and headed for the restroom, he reminded her that he had still got her credit card and would be happy to charge the full amount to that card if she preferred. She still went to the restroom anyway and was gone for some time so he left the others at the table and saw to his other guests and staff. When she returned to the table he went back over and saw that she had applied fresh makeup and was looking really smug. She told him she had been texting the manager and he said she should be given the entire meal for free, with that he asked to see her phone and she handed it over. The text messages had been sent from a phone which was only flagged as Manager with the restaurant name added.
He went into the details for this phone and then said to her maybe he should just call it since it wasn’t the number he had. To which she replied that he wouldn’t give someone like him every number he used and he’s probably got 3 or 4 phones since he was a very busy man. With that he told her to go ahead and call him and if he confirmed that he had in fact authorised a 50% discount then he would reduce the bill by that. With this Karen’s face went red and she reiterated that he was very busy in one of his other restaurants. At which point the owner turned round and said to her and her friends that she should just pay the bill because he didn’t know her from Eve, he owned the restaurant which had been in his family since the 1970’s when they had emigrated from Greece, if she wanted she was welcome to look at the pictures in his office to prove this fact. He also told her that if she couldn’t pay the bill then he would call the police and have all four of them arrested for eating and refusing to pay the bill. He also told them he could always add on the cost of the table which was an additional $4,000 per sitting, if they were still unhappy. At which point Karen’s face turned green and she asked the other girls if they could chip in something as the total is more than she can afford.
They emptied wallets and gave her around $300 promising her more later on when their loans came through. Once the bill had been paid the credit card returned to its rightful owner the girls left. A few days later the owner received a call from the front of house that he had two visitors. He was busy in the office so told the person on the phone he would be out as quickly as he could since he didn’t have an appointment with anyone at that time. Anyway half an hour later he went out front to find a 50 something along with the older girl from the other night.
He introduced himself to the man and asked how he could help, the man said there had to be a mistake with the bill and he was there to sort it out. The owner said that, if he wanted to come into his office then he would show them the cctv footage from the table that night to clear everything up. The man was beginning to get wound up but agreed to this thinking it would be grainy video at best so he could negotiate a reduction. When they were in the office he told them he had just been reviewing the footage so it was almost ready to go. Just give him a minute to find the beginning and he would run it so they could watch. Because it had been a VIP table the video was shot in UHD and there was also audio. They all watched it in silence before the man turned on the girl and started berating her right there in the office.
The owner didn’t want to get dragged into a domestic dispute so he asked them both to leave. The audio had picked up the way all 4 girls had been berating the owner while he was away getting their drinks or food, or been seeing to other guests, and it was probably this that flipped the older Karen’s dad over the edge.