Stout and Bitters

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In eight years of waiting tables, I have never met a customer as miserable and bitter as you. You were disgruntled when you entered the downtown Huntington Beach bar, but whatever; it's my job to make customers feel comfortable and help them unwind. So when your party grew to three, I offered to move you to a bigger table; you looked at me like I was nuts for suggesting such an inconvenience. But when your party grew to five, it seemed I couldn't move you fast enough; you sighed, you rolled your eyes, you muttered—you did everything but snap your fingers and shout getamoveon! When I took your drink order, you muttered to your friend, “She didn't even card us.” I'm sorry you were hurt, but standard procedure only requires carding people who appear to be 35 or younger, and you aren't even close. Even though I had 12 other running tables of four or more, I still managed to bring your orders quickly, fetched extra napkins, refilled your beers, cleared your dishes and brought the check when one of your male friends asked for it. He said everything was great, but perhaps he was being flip. When I said, “Thanks and have a good evening,” you said—loudly enough for other guests to hear—”Fuck you.” I was sure I'd heard you wrong, and just as sure I hadn't. I stood there open-mouthed. Your lady friend attempted to clarify things for me by saying I was the “worst waitress” she'd ever encountered and that my attitude was “horrible” because I had told you where to sit. And then you swept out. I tried to get over it, returned to my other guests and worked just as hard as ever. Which is the moral of our story: you didn't ruin my night. You didn't pass your misery on to me, and I didn't pass it on to others. It was as if your bitterness was the Midas touch: everything else I did that night turned to gold. Guests who said they had overheard the exchange congratulated me for my patience. They told me I was terrific. And they gave me 25 percent tips. Thanks for making me more money.

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