Wednesday, December 19, 2012

If You're Sure.

The last day in Vegas I did something I can honestly say I've never done before, and never thought I would ever, ever do, and hope I never ever ever ever ever ever have to do again.

We were eating at Hash House A Go Go.  The one in San Diego is a goddamn phenom, so I expected...well, that.

But in Las Vegas the HHaGG is in the Imperial Palace, The Asshole of the Vegas Strip.  We stayed there on purpose since IP has that cheap-seventies-charmingly-racist feel about it, which we were sure was soon to be murdered by some Big Hotel Chain so we felt obliged to take advantage of it for purposes of history and retro nostalgia. It is not that charming.  In reality, the IP looks like a 10 cent Chinese hooker threw up on Florida, and the suicide balconies look out over a widgetty-fidgetty discombobbersome construction site with a thin spray of squatty buildings and troll-sized Tinker Toys.

They're revamping the IP into some douchehole called the Quad, and I can't decide if that's going to be better or worse. 

The last two times we were in Vegas we stayed at the 7lamingo (I refuse to call a hotel whose name blatantly begins with the number seven anything but that) and the Sahara (RIP), and loved both. But we wanted to try somewhere new.  Because we are stupid. New things are bad.  I know that now.  Resist change!  Fight progress!  Don't tread on me!

I'm guessing the Hash House - much like its host, the Imperial Palace - gets repeat customers about once in fucking never, which means the servers do not have to pay attention to their tables.  This isn't a local diner-type joint.  No one gives a shit about you.  You are not even a person - you are a tip.  We had terrible luck in Strip eateries all weekend.  The second we stepped away from the strip service amplified by infinity, which isn't really a surprise, but it's frustrating. 

We sit down for breakfast and our server rushes up to us immediately - she was nice.  She was very nice.  This one time? She took our order.

And then she disappears.

Someone else refills my coffee.  Another staff member drops off our food.  I ask both of them for a glass of water.  Then I realized I don't have any syrup for my pancake, which is roughly the size of Caesar's Palace and in desperate need of a little goodness. My cousin doesn't have silverware, so I give her mine since I don't have syrup anyway.

I try to flag down our server doing the usual thing: make eye contact, smile.  Last resort is a friendly wave.  When I can't do that, I focus on trying to get the attention of another employee.  Eye contact.  Smile.  Catch their eye - nope, nope.  Not happening.  Hopes high, I start to stare down another.  And another.  And another.

There's this thing servers do - and as a server for years, I know all about it - called Lookin' Busy.  When servers don't want to get slammed with requests from guests, they just plow past tables and Look Busy.  Eyes straight ahead, avoid customers at all costs.

Someone does a drive-by to see if we needed anything but doesn't pause long enough for us to answer.  

The thing about Lookin' Busy is it's basically just moving real fast. Usually you aren't doing anything.  This is evident by the lack of things in servers hands, the speed with which they're walking. A server with four tables - when the restaurant has fucking expeditors running out food and coffee people doing nothing but filling coffee - sorry, but there is no reason she should not have done a routine check two minutes after we got our food to make sure we didn't need anything like syrup. 

I try again to get the attention of someone - anyone, for chrissake - and continue to get ignored. I have a high tolerance for poor service, but after getting it five days in a fucking row and then once again it happens here?  When I can gauge exactly how busy you actually are?  FUCK YOU. 

I raise my hand.

I sit there in the middle of the restaurant with my hand raised and count as three, four, five...ELEVEN employees sweep by, either avoiding me on purpose or in serious Look Busy mode. Finally my server comes out to greet another table.

She sees me.  She stops. Stares.  Squints a bit, as if she doesn't believe this is real. She takes a hesitant step forward.


"Hi!" I say, with as much fake cheerfulness as possible.  "Can I get some coffee, a glass of water, some butter, some syrup, and a set of silverware?  Please."

"I'm sorry, I didn't know you needed water--"

"It was the first thing I asked for when I sat down and I asked the last three employees who came over here."

"I', I'm sorry?  I didn't realize."


"I  I will get that for you right away."

"Thank you." She turned back to help the other table and went on her way.  Good for her, doing two things at once. Is it policy there to help only one table at a time or something?  That's a terrible fucking policy.

My sisters were mortified. "You are being such a bitch right now."

"The service here is fucking terrible.  We were blatantly ignored for ten minutes, and my pancake is fucking cold.  It's ridiculous."

"You know when you get mad at Dad for being rude to servers?  You were way worse."

"Good.  I meant to be."

"Yeah, this is a total Dad move.  I'm embarrassed to be sitting with you."

"No, because Dad would pretend everything was fine as long as someone paid attention to him, and he'd be passive aggressive about it."

"I cannot believe you just did that, it's so rude." 

"It was supposed to be fucking rude!  I want her to complain to her co-workers about the bitch at table 23 and how she had the audacity to raise her hand, and then I want her to be pissed at her coworkers for doing shit-all when they saw me."

"Well, that worked."


The server came back with drinks for the other table, and the trimmings for us.  "Here you go," she says, and sets things down.  "How is everything else?"

"I'll try it and find out.  And I'm sorry about being a total jackass.  I was really pissed off about getting ignored by everyone."

"No, it's fine. I'll get you guys whatever you need."

"Thank you." 

And then she charged us for food we didn't order.



daisyfae said...

yep. the 'look busy' maneuver is well known. what i could never understand is why it is preferable to actually DOING something? it's hard to look busy. sometimes harder than actually BEING busy.

did you tip? talk to a manager? curl up in a fetal position underneath the table and rock?

Rassles said...

I still made sure she got a 20% tip, especially since she was uber attentive (comparatively) after that.

It's just frustrating. I've had some terrible service before, but it was at terrible restaurants.

Sid said...

That's you being rude? Really? But you didn't even make your waitress cry.

Rassles said...

Well, I'm an ex-server, and what I did (apparently) took a lot of gall.

People react to things like that in three ways: get pissed, feel embarrassed, or get motivated. If someone is worth their fucking salt at all, they'll work harder after whatever their initial motivation is.

I could never make someone cry like that unless they were (a) racist, (b) homophobic, or (c) misogynist. Then I would let it rip.

MoLinder said...

wow. that sucks yo. i'm glad you got to experience san diego hash house first so you know how awesome it can be.
we're going to The Tractor Room when you're out here in april. it's owned by the same guys who created HH and it kicks ass.