Sunday, August 30, 2009


Five years of loyal service. Five years of creating friendships with coworkers and customers. Five years of biting my tongue, trying not to complain too much about how our restaurant was run. Five years of being under-appreciated but staying with it because I liked the people I worked with, I liked the customers, most of them, some of them, and I liked the money I made. Five years at Barney Greengrass in Beverly Hills, home of the best smoked fish on the west coast, hoping our industry potent clientele might one day be my ticket to the career of my dreams, and it all ends because of a Tweet.

I got in yesterday morning at 8:55 for my 9am start time and was immediately called into our managers office. They sat me down with somber solemnity. I knew what was going to happen, I just didn't know why. I had been called into the office before. Being late, thinking I was cut when I wasn't, writing the bar temps down in the wrong place. But this was different. The attitude was delicate and ominous. I knew this was the end and I was racking my brain to figure how I had screwed up. My boss said the word "Twitter" and pulled out a printout of all my Tweets. I had written about being attracted to actresses not wearing bras and comedians who were nice guys and TV couples whose real life mirrored their scripted life. I had also written about Jane Adams, from HBO's Hung, who neglected to tip me until she read my Tweet (read also All in all there were ten Tweets about celebrities on that print out. I was told that Jane Adams and "others" had complained to Barney's New York corporate (the department store my restaurant is located in) and they were forcing my management to let me go.

Let me remind everyone that we are in a recession and jobs are not easy to come by. Especially if one has been fired. Let me also remind everyone that I have a 10mo old daughter and I am trying to move into a baby friendly location with her and her mother. I sit silently in my car wondering, "What the fuck am I going to do?" As a waiter I make cash to pay my bills. I don't get pay checks. The money I make each week covers whatever I owe. It always works out. Now, there is no money.

I think about how f-ed up the situation is. I got fired for complaining on a public forum with no link to Barney's New York or Barney Greengrass about a successful actress not paying a bill and not tipping. My Tweet had no ill effect on her, on her TV show, on HBO, on Barney's or on Barney Greengrass. My little Tweet did nothing to stop people from shopping, eating, or watching her show. But her complaining about it cost me my job, my health insurance, my stability. So I decided to Tweet about the whole thing.

After numerous, sympathetic people Tweeted and re-Tweeted, it came to my attention that I could sell this story to some tabloid. Here is my dilemma, sell the story and contribute to the Jon and Kate gossip crap that I refuse to pay attention to in order to make a buck and ensure a little negative press hopefully for Ms. Adams and BNY, or forget the whole thing and look for a new job finding someway to spin how I got fired in my favor. Does anyone know the number for TMZ?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tipping & Twitter

I am a waiter in Los Angeles, which means I am waiting for something to happen to get me out of having to wait on tables. I work at an industry popular restaurant that sees it's fair share of celebrity clientele. When I first started there, I would get real excited when a Name would come in and I had to wait on them. "Oh Shit! It's Steve Martin, Rachel Weiss, Chris Cornell, Demi Moore, Duane "The Rock" Johnson..." I would try not to pay too much attention to them and then fuck up their orders because I wasn't listening to what they were saying. After 5 years, the charm has worn off.

They are all people, some nice some not. I recognize them and that's about all the thought they get, unless they are engaging. Most of the people I end up having a connection with I don't recognize until a co-worker points it out. "That's who that is? They're pretty cool."

It's a strange place to be, serving the people who are doing what you want to be doing, living how you want to be living. I want to connect on some other level, that as a peer. I want to say, "I really admire your craft. I would love to work with you someday. Any advice?" They have to know I am here attempting what they are successful at. All waiters in LA are trying to be something else. But that connection doesn't come. That understanding doesn't show. There is no memory or recognition of the life they lived before IT happened for them in the life I am living in front of them. I am the friendly person with no story, no depth, sent to take care of their needs. The ones I do connect with appreciate the challenge I have set up for myself here in LA and they admire my courage to attempt it. They get it. They remember.

Last week an actress came in and sat in my section. She seemed like someone who would get it. Someone who would remember. I think she is a very talented actress and have a lot of respect for her choices. She has done numerous indie films. Some cult favorites. She is on a cable TV show that seems to be doing well. I enjoy it. I love her in it. She sat by herself at a table. Very polite and unassuming. I tried to convey recognition and approval in my eyes without saying anything more than taking her order.

It was a simple, modest meal at a reasonable rate. $13.75 which is reasonable for where I work. I dropped off the check. She looked at it and opened her bag. Her face went beet red. "Oh my God!" She shuffled through the contents. "I left my wallet in my car!" It happens. I could feel her embarrassment radiating off her. "I am soo Sorry!" I felt like I was watching a character in one of her movies. This would totally happen to one of her characters. "It's alright. Why don't you go down to your car and come back up and pay. I trust you." I was smiling amiably. Her face was plastered on billboards all over town. It's not like I wouldn't remember who she was. She wanted to let the manager know she would be back to pay. I knew she would be back. She had to be...

She never came back. My shift ended and her unpaid check was transferred to two different waiters before the day ended and the check was voided out as a loss of $13.75 to the restaurant. Not a big deal to anyone involved but a definite surprise to all that knew the story.

Two days went by, and I was working a full day at the bar. One of our managers received a phone call from the actress' agent wanting to pay the bill. They said she had left town and they were going to pay the bill. I got to process the payment since I was there and it was my check to begin with. They paid the bill, $13.75, no tip. Not a big deal to me financially but the principle of the thing was ridiculous. I put my neck on the line by letting her leave without paying and end up getting screwed. And she couldn't have even screwed me herself she had her agent screw me. Granted the screwing was painless and undetectable.

I decided to Tweet about the incident. I know nothing about Twitter. I follow 21 people and 22 follow me. Mostly hot young girls that want me to look at their webcams. I had only posted five Tweets prior. I would talk about whatever celebrity came in that day. I figured the 40 people following me might find it slightly amusing. There wasn't much else in my life that felt Tweetable. I Tweeted about the actress and the leaving and the agent not tipping. Got it off my chest. Interesting litle anecdote. I went back to watching her show and enjoying her career choices.

She came back in a few days ago. She didn't sit down. She walked in with indignation and stood at the host stand telling the host, who knew all about her and what happened, how her agent or business manager neglected to leave a tip and how she was here to right a wrong. She had him do the math trying to figure out %20 of $13.75. He came up with $3. "Three dollars?" she said proudly, "Can you break a twenty?" The host sent her to the bar for change. The manger at the bar gave her change and she fished out $3. "This is for my waiter from last week." He pointed to me and said, "He's right there. You can give it to him." With her head back and her face beet red she walked over and gave me $3. "Sorry my agent forgot to tip you." The bitterness was saturating every word. It was clear she could not believe she was here for $3. She walked away without smiling. "Thank you." "I'm sorry!" more scorn than apology. She walked off and exited the restaurant. I felt bad for some reason. I was a big fan of hers and I wanted her to know how much it meant that she came back. That gesture said a lot about her character. I chased after her. "Thank you again for coming back to give me this." She stopped and turned her head with disgust and said, "My friend read about it on Twitter!" She turned and walked off.

I wanted to start laughing. I was more surprised that someone read my Tweet than I was by her behavior. Than I started thinking about her and how removed she was from this whole situation, which was her fault, until she was forced to participate by her own vanity. I wasn't a peer to her, I wasn't a fan, I wasn't even a person. I was a nuisance to her routine. I was her fly circling her head. She had no apology. She had no remorse. She couldn't see the humor in the whole thing. She made a big deal about fishing out $3 from her massive cable TV pay check in order to hopefully make herself look good. I gave her what she wanted. I Tweeted good Tweets praising her and her talents. She goes on making a living doing what she loves never having to go back to taking anyone's orders with a smile and I go back to taking it.

Twitter is a powerful tool! If I had the patience and time I would learn how to better let it serve me.