Can’t Buy Class, a Soul, or Good Manners

As promised, and I’ll leave it to you to debate whether they were worse than the V-Day dinner

I knew Sam and Toni would be a problem when they cancelled and rescheduled.  Twice.  In 48 hours.   I would have blown them off, kept the deposit as my contract allows, but, like most of my clients, these two were referrals – specifically from Jimmy & Sophia.  Thus, I try to avoid unnecessarily salting relationships.

I was about to walk into Sam & Toni’s condo building when I got the phone call asking if they could “push the start time an hour.”  I agreed but only because I happened to know a bar around the corner where I knew the owner and knew he would let me stash my perishables in his walk-in refrigerator.

“Just call me when you’re ready, but understand that I still need three hours of prep before the first course.”

Two hours later, I finally got started with my prep.  The first hour was uneventful filled with Sinatra, slicing and simmering, though I was actively ignoring the clamor coming from the other room.

Round about the time that I was setting the Pumpkin and Pine Nut Bisque to simmer, Toni whirled into the kitchen and announced “Refugee, we’re only going to be two this evening, I don’t want to inflict us on any one else tonight.”

Glad to know that I am not really a person to you.

“That’s fine, Toni; changes are inevitable” I said cheerily, knowing that the evening will go a little faster now.

“Open this champagne for me, will you dear” Toni demanded, ignoring my completely full hands; before continuing “and don’t worry you’re still going to get paid for four people even though we’re only going to be two.”

I put down my immersion blender and opened a bottle of vintage Krug.  More than half a dozen bottles were stacked shoulder to shoulder – the collective value of which was greater than that of the SubZero unit in which they sat.

Toni downed the glass, handed me the bottle and said “Feel free to cook with the rest of this.”

That bit of obnoxiousness just lost them a lovely Amuse Bouche of Lobster Claw and Shallot Confit.

About an hour later Sam came into the kitchen.  I was moving at my usual twenty minutes to service pace – like my hair was on fire and I couldn’t find water – when he announced “So Refugee, have you had a chance to go through the wine cellar to pull bottles for the night? I’m excited to know what we’re gonna drink.”

My patience had just reached its Hubert Peak.  I took a deep breath but continued to stir the bisque in an effort to mask my frustration before turning to Sam and saying “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding but our contract was only for the chef services, Toni indicated that she didn’t want sommelier services as part of the package…”

“Yeah, I know that” Sam interrupted, “but I figured that since we’re paying for four but we’re only two you would just throw that in.” His words were soaked with both privilege and entitlement.

I took another deep breath and couldn’t help the smile curling my mouth as I tried to explain the issue.  “Sam, the cost differential of cooking for two versus four is related to food not time, and I arrived with all of the food.  I would be happy to take a spin through your cellar and pull a few bottles – it won’t be the same as the sommelier service and it will delay the first course by a few minutes – but I’m happy to do it.”

“Door’s over there and we’ll just make up the difference in your tip, ok champ.”

I fucking hate being called “champ” – that just cost you the Dark Chocolate & Truffle Petit Fours

Three hours later, I had completed the contractually promised courses:

Salad of Asparagus “Linguini” with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta and Poached Quail Egg

Pumpkin and Roasted Pine Nut Bisque with Garlic and Truffle Au Jus

Lamb Tenderloin Medallions with Lamb Shank Confit Spring Rolls and Spinach & Artichoke Cassoulet

The Refugee Cheese Board with non-traditional & traditional Accoutrements

The big “get under my skin” moment of the dinner came when Toni inquired about the absent amuse bouche.  As I cleared the salad, she said “Refugee, that salad was divine, but isn’t it traditional to serve the Ah-Mu-Say before the first course?”

“Toni, the Amuse Bouche is gift from the kitchen but it’s kind of an optional thing and the first that gets cut when time is tight.  When I had to go through the cellar at the last minute I just had to cut it; but I certainly understand why you would expect that gift.”

Not only am I ok with not serving you an undeserved gift, I am totally fine with lying to you about the reason it got cut.

As I was cleaning and they were on the the cheese course, Sam came into the kitchen to give me final payment.  “That was just terrific, Refugee” he said while scribbling in his checkbook, “like I promised, there’s a little something extra in there for ya, champ.”

Fuck you, your obnoxious wife, your pretentious habits, sense of entitlement, the horse you two assholes rode in, and what I know is a less than ten percent tip.

“Thank you, Sam; I’m glad you enjoyed it,” I said rather than my usual “It was my pleasure” because I’m trying to avoid lying.

“Say, I know you came in through the front door, but you mind leaving through the service exit?  Thanks, champ.”

Whatever gets me away from you fastest, you more-money-than-good-sense fucktard.

With my knife roll over one shoulder and my cooking bag on the other, I walked out weary, and a little bent but far from broken.  Curiosity got the better of me and I removed the check from my pocket…

My estimate was too generous – 3% tip.



28 Responses to Can’t Buy Class, a Soul, or Good Manners

  1. kitty says:

    yep. worse.

    I never imagined that I would have worse clients, but I surely found them.

  2. Shannon says:

    They wanted you to cook with expensive champagne? I would have been tempted to laugh, pound the entire bottle, and leave.

    I wish that I had thought of that – that would have been a statement making exit. I do feel badly about letting that terrific champagne go to waste. I stood on foolish principle and refused to drink it.

  3. Brando says:

    These sound like the worst sort of rich–the uncultured rich who try to appear cultured.

    I don’t question their level of culture – very ambiguous term though it may be – they just lack manners.

  4. lacochran says:

    Lighten up, Champ.

    Ha! Sure, Toots.

  5. Christina says:

    Obviously, wealth does not buy manners!

    Even if it could be purchased from Saks, I still don’t think they would buy it.

  6. Alice says:

    this whole thing is making me stabby. it hurts me. these people…. AUGH. these people. and the thing with These People is there is absolutely nothing in the fucking world that will ever be able to open their eyes even the slightest bit to the fact that they’re a drainsuck on humanity.

    Drainsuck on humanity just made it into my lexicon.

  7. citygirlblogs says:

    I’m sitting before my laptop with my mouth agape. The gall! The disrespect! Such entitlement! The repeated use of the term, “Champ,” was insulting, but the 3% tip was incorrigible! May you never, ever have to encounter this couple again! PS And may I have the honor to taste your pumpkin and roasted pine nut bisque someday *smile*!

    I have already told them that I was “unavailable” to cook for a brunch for them. Yeah, their money’s no good with me.

  8. And this is why I could never work that closely with “the public”. But now you know that you can be “otherwise engaged” whenever they have another soirée…

    You are so right about that.

  9. I love when new money tries to be classy. I once was on a date with a guy who requested the smelly-ay for suggested wine pairings.

    The only silver lining to your horrid night is that those two douchebags found each other. Proof every pot has its lid.

    Actually, I am pretty sure that they’re relatively old money, and thank you for finding the silver lining… although I like to think that the food was silver lining too in the sense that a couple of the dishes were first time out.

  10. scottstev says:

    The one thing I’ll half-defend is the mispronunciation of French terms. The only way you’ll learn is through trial and error. And I think it’s horribly gauche to mock someone who is simply ignorant of a foreign language and is eager to learn. However, this couple’s attitude was probably why no one has gently corrected them and let their foolishness shine right to the surface.

    The pronunciation was actually correct (or close enough,) it was just exaggerated.

  11. Worse. Definitely worse because they did it on purpose because, you know, they’re entitled to.

    Agreed, certifiable Asshatery.

  12. Scottstev, you make a good point about not mocking those who are willing to learn and perhaps fumble in the process, something I’ve done repeatedly as I cheer on Ron Howard and Chris Lee of the Phillies. I’ve now come to call all players by their last names. However, I’ve found that people like Refugee’s clients, and my date (who dismissed my quiet French lessons (yes plural)), think they’re above learning anything more than they already know.

    There are more than a few politicians we could add to that list.

  13. Titania says:

    I think you call those “nuveau rich” or something of the sort. That, plus no consideration whatsoever and a huge sense in entitlement, apparently…. ugh. Sorry you had to go through that.

    But I got the blog story out of the whole ordeal.

  14. Michelle says:

    Fucktard. perfect word for these douchebags.
    That’s just horrible. I was hoping you were just exercising your fiction writing skills, but no such luck. These creeps actually exist!

    They exist, and they are inspiration for creating new words to describe their behavior.

  15. f.B says:

    Everything about this smells wrong, to me. I think what turns my stomach most is the looks I imagine on their faces. The condescension. The communicative ignorance they inherited from their parents. The same disease they’ll pass on to their kids.

    Fortunately, they appear to be beyond breeding age and do not appear to have children. However, given their nature it is quite possible that these two would never have pictures of children even if they had them.

  16. A says:

    I don’t think it has anything to do with how or when they found themselves in a higher tax bracket. Rudeness and ignorance are found in all shapes and sizes.

    I would guess that it dates back a pretty long ways.

  17. Vie says:

    These people are such pricks. Seriously. That sense of entitlement, the general rudeness, the condescension, AND the lack of tip? Your title for this post is perfect. I admire you for being able to maintain your composure. Dealing with assholes like these two was the thing I hated most about my various customer service jobs over the years.

    I don’t know if it is too my credit or detriment that my ability to deal with these kinds of people has gotten much better over the years.

  18. Jean says:

    Oh, wow. You get props for being so civil, those two were quite a pair. As has been said, they certainly deserve each other.

    It’s kinda like more than a few awful nightspots in this city – the best part of them is that they keep all of the people I can’t stand in one place.

  19. Kate says:

    Wow! Can’t be easy to tolerate such pretentious assholes for an entire evening, but you made it. The post was great – the meal sounds devine!

    Fortunately for me, I spent most of my evening in the kitchen. The food was much better company than they ever could have been.

  20. Susan says:

    Holy f-bomb. They sound like such a delight. Definitely worse than the Valentine’s day story, as that was more a case of people airing their dirty laundry and looking for attention in all the wrong places. This? This was insulting and a very sad commentary on the lives of these people. I do have to agree that it is often a result of misappropriated entitlement amongst those who have oodles of money and no class or grasp on reality.

    Sorry you had to endure that, and the insulting tip at the end, but perhaps the low tip was a good thing, as had it been higher, you may have excused some of it and confused that for some sort of redeeming quality in them that clearly does not exist (sorry, that isn’t an insult to your intelligence by any means, just that it may have taken the sting away a bit – a sting that should remain).

    Susan, thank you for that well written and generally terrific comment. You’re so right that the sting needs to be remembered.

  21. Lisa says:

    Wretched, wretched people. Huge compliments to you for being able to be ultra polite. Ugh.

    I do love that it gave you the opportunity to use the word wretched, though. I have this image of you crinkling your nose just a bit as you say this to them.

  22. Julie says:

    This story literally made my stomach turn. I’m still shaking my head… I don’t even know what to say.

    I’ll go back to old reliable. Karma. It’s a bitch.

    I wish I lived in DC so I could burn their house down.

    They live in a condo building so you really don’t want all those other people to suffer right?

  23. Red says:

    Freaking unbelievable! I doubt I could have kept my cool as you did.

  24. Kristen says:

    Absolutely obnoxious. I actually had to go back and re-read parts of this post because I just could not believe that someone could be so rude and condescending. I have to say, I think this is worse than the Valentine’s Day dinner by far. At least the host of that dinner party realized her guests’ behavior was inappropriate and was kind enough to apologize for it.

    I have a feeling these people somehow felt that you were the one being rude in this situation by not giving them the “gift” they were entitled to or choosing wines for them without being asked. May you never have to cook for them again Refugee.

    The thing that strikes me most about this story is that the people that referred me to them are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. I have a feeling that they are infinitely more charming around people they consider to be their “peers.”

  25. Oh my GOD! I’m literally shaking with indignation for you! This is some of the most appalling behavior I’ve ever heard of and it speaks to your absolute professionalism that you didn’t take the champagne bottle and clock Toni right on the back of her expensive dye job. Those people are UTTER VOM!

    Had I done as you suggest, I am fairly sure that I would be acquitted based on the little used “He needed smackin'” defense.

  26. […] I basically consider this post a let’s-be-besties proposal, dude); Restaurant Refugee (this post is the one that sealed the deal); Hyperbole and a Half (does everyone already read this? I’ll […]

  27. I don’t know how I missed this post the first time, but good lord. They are the epitome of the phrase “showing your ass”. Boy did they ever.

    I ran into them at a restaurant function recently. They were just as classless the second time around as they could barely be bothered to return the hello that I forced myself to give them.

  28. […] ran into the worst clients and most awful couple ever the other […]

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