In the Weeds: Where the F is my Black Card?
This is one of my favorite scenes from an all-time favorite movie. In Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” this early scene sets the pace for Tarantino’s dialogue-heavy trademark style. Mr. Pink refuses to tip and his rationale is at once riveting and revolting. I first saw this movie before becoming a server, and I must say I agreed with Steve Buscemi by the end of his diatribe. But looking at it now, I’m amazed by the lack of research. The entire scene hinges on the fact that servers make minimum wage plus tips. Of course, this is not the case, but who would know? I certainly didn’t know until I started serving tables at $2.35 per hour. I arrive at work at 4 p.m., and by the time a couple finally gets their back sides into a cozy booth at 6:30, I’ve made exactly $5.87. I’m not complaining, simply educating. Servers do not make “minimum wage.” I didn’t know. Now I do. And now you do, too.
Other happenings from the weekend: I lost an American Express black card. This is no joke. An American Express Black Card’s official name is the Centurion Card. It’s made of titanium and it’s issued to only about 400 people worldwide who charge more than $250K annually. Female servers routinely run these cards across their breasts for good luck. Mr. X was in a hurry to get going after 3 bottles of wine and a $750 dinner and asked for the check. I brought it, he gave it a quick glance, and handed it back to me. I went directly to the computer but found an empty book when I opened it. I figured he was just drunk and went back to the table to politely explain that no card was in the check presenter. He said, “I put the card in there. You better find it.” Hives began to form on my neck. I launched a full-scale NATO search party. An agonizing 15 minutes went by with no sign of a heavy Amex card. I was at the table giving my mea culpa to Mr. X and his guests (even though I secretly thought it never left his wallet) when a fellow server came to the table saying it had been found. It was in the pant cuff of a server assistant who had been pouring water at the nearest table when Mr. X put the card in the book. It slipped out when he handed it to me, and we didn’t hear it hit the wood floor or it would have sounded like this.
The restaurant bought the entire dinner because of the inconvenience. Was this the right thing to do? Who knows? It was a one in a million shot that the card fell from the check presenter, slid down the leg of a server assistant, and made me look like a tool. But that’s what happened. Mr. X was plenty pissed (Amex black card holders are not the type to wait around for anything) but he still pulled $110 from his wallet at the end of the ordeal just for me. I was touched. I guess nearly crying while holding a flash light and looking under every nook and cranny in the restaurant qualifies as “something special” to people like Mr. X . . . and Mr. Pink.