Tuesday Tips (for Twits) #17

Here’s a tip: Don’t steal my fucking pens.

I don’t know from which universe you hail, but in MY universe pens don’t appear out of nowhere; I have to buy them.  I choose to buy decent pens that don’t explode or refuse to write; they cost me more than those shitty cheap pens, but I think they’re worth it.  Except that time and time again, I come back to the table to find my pen gone.

Newsflash: the restaurant doesn’t provide the servers with pens.  You’re stealing from us and the only way I’m going to forgive you is if you left me a tip that’s over $15.  That’s right.  My pens mean that much to me.  I hate getting out, I hate shopping, and I hate buying shit that I know is just going to get stolen again.  And I hate that you think it’s okay to take my pens.

I’ve chased people out the door, hollering, “Ma’am!  You have my pen!” and they ask incredulously, “Oh, do you need that?”  Uh, yeah.  I fucking need that.  I WANT that, because I PAID for it, and you were supposed to borrow it, not steal it.

Don’t steal my pens.  You just piss me off and cost me money.  And don’t think I won’t chase you out the door to get it back.

offensive pens

I could give customers these pens and I swear they would STILL steal them. (click to enlarge)


Filed under Tuesday Tips

23 responses to “Tuesday Tips (for Twits) #17

  1. You have to provide your own pen??? Talk about cheap corporations. Sheesh!
    Do you know how much a pen that reads “Restaurant name here” costs when bought in bulk? A fucking penny.

    I know. It’s not surprising; in the past year I’ve noticed the little changes to cut costs to them. They used to print fun Chili’s t-shirts and we could buy them for $6 a pop. Now we have to purchase black polos from Wal-mart. The receipt paper is much thinner than it used to be. They serve 9 shrimp with the Fried Shrimp dinner instead of 10. I could go on and on, but they’re just little tiny changes that might save them a buck here and there.

    Anyway, I don’t mind that I have to provide the pen I use to write with…what bugs me is that I’m expected to carry around another handful of them to lend to customers. Often I come in with 6 pens and leave with one. Then the next day I get bitched at for having to bum pens off my coworkers. It’s not my fault! I’m going to start buying the cheap shit and watch the pens stay on the table. Nobody likes cheap pens.

    • just bob

      Um look up olive and airlines. What looks trivial to you at a micro level adds up at a macro level. Two words: office space.

  2. ITA with WIG — plus it’s additional marketing for them.

    We used to have these cheeepie fake Mont Blanc style pens as promo items. People would steal them all the time. One guy let me borrow his pen, I knew it was one of ours so I said “Cool — you got one of our pens” he looked at me with this superior look and said “I don’t think so — this is a Mont Blanc. If your company is givng away Mont Blancs than you are definately overcharging for your services”

    I laughed. He was obviously being funny, right?

    No. He really thought he could make me believe that that plastic POS was a M.B. He even showed me how you can tell it’s not a fake.


    Holy shit. He has ego and/or self-image problems if he put that much effort into explaining why he has an expensive (fake!) pen. o_0

  3. We don’t do credit cards at the table so I don’t have people stealing my pen, but customers don’t think twice about asking if they can borrow my pen to do the crossword, balance their checkbook, write their shopping list or vandalize the table. They are shocked when I tell them they can get a pen at the register. I have A pen. I use it to do my job. No one gets to use it. Bring your own or get up off your ass and get one from the register.

    Lucky you. I hate when people ask to borrow a pen for anything other than their credit card slip because I know I can’t say I don’t have any – there are obviously several in my apron pocket!

  4. Antonio

    Oh man good stuff but I feel ya. You wanna have nice, reliable pens to write with and sometimes when you’re deep out of pens, you have to actually put down the pen you take orders with. Kinda feels like your soul is about to be taken away.

    Indeed. If I’m forced to give away my writing pen, I’m shit outta luck until I get it back, so I’d better hope I don’t get a big top. I have a good memory but I prefer to have a hard copy just in case I get sidetracked or need to refer back to the order. If the person also takes my writing pen, I go apeshit and then have to find a server willing to let me borrow one of their pens. I guess the upside to that scenario is that the other servers know I’ll at least give their pen back since I’m so anal about my own.

  5. I feel the need to apologize for the pen thieves of the world. Though I never steal my servers pen I have occasionally (often) borrowed pens from a co-worker and forgotten to give it back.
    We don’t mean to be the way we are… we just are.
    On the upside, after a few days/weeks I’ll realize I have a crap-ton of pens in my car/bedroom/living-room and I’ll gather them up and return them to those whom I borrowed them from.

    I think what really gets me is the number of times I’ve watched someone pick up MY pen from the table and say something like, “Oh, cool!”

    Yeah, that pen materialized out of nowhere just so you could take it home with you. Yep, that’s it.

    I’m kind of like you – if I steal a pen, it’s accidental and I almost always realize it and give it back before too much time has passed.

  6. Lauren

    Honestly, I would just keep one nice pen for yourself, which you never give to a customer. That has been my policy for years. I have one nice pen and about six shitty pens for my tables. If you buy in bulk, you can get some decent ones like pilots or zebras for pretty cheap. Don’t buy bics, you’re right that the really cheap ones tend to explode. It’s weird how all servers eventually become pen nazis, but those things are valuable to us!

    I do buy Pilot pens, sometimes in bulk if I remember when I’m at Sam’s Club. It’s not really about the cost so much as it is about people taking the pens and thinking nothing of it. I find it to be rude.

    Most of my coworkers have Bics and I fucking hate them.

  7. rachaeluv

    I hate this! My manager never has enough sharpies at work for marking cups, so I always bring my own —- especially so I don’t have to share w/ co-workers, who are always misplacing theirs (or hoarding ten in their apron). Anyway, today a customer asked to borrow my sharpie and I reluctantly lent it to her. I never got it back, so I stole one from work. No way am I going w/o a pen! I have nightmares about this crap!

    Bahahah!! I can imagine your panic at not having your marker. I feel your pain…

  8. Dear FMT, I think its crazy you wrote about how annoying it is when people steal pens at work. Either guests or other servers, its still not right, but it happens all the time. Just last month I got so fed up with loosing my pens. I bad bought 40 pens I keep in my car for work and before I knew it all my pens were gone after each shift. Its not like I was dropping them or being careless, but then I noticed that EVERY single server in the restaurant had my pens. And not just one or two, but 5 or 6. I got really pissed and started calling people out, but they just said they happened to have the same pens, or that I should be more careful with them. Anyways, I found out how my pens were dissapearing. When servers would walk by my tables and see a customer had left my pen on top of the signed credit card slip, they would snatch my pens up. At this point I considered going after them, but then decided bitching them out was not worth losing my temper, and then my job. Now what I have done is gotten 4 pens, and put my name on them, also wrapping my name with tape so they cant be peeled off. Its been a few weeks now and I still have all my pens, but now all the other servers are complaining that they keep losing their pens. Guess they dont have anyone to steal them from anymore.

    I do like the photo of the pens with funny things on them, wish I had thought of that.

    Yeah, coworkers are more likely to steal pens than customers. I’ve actually nipped that problem in the bud by buying pens that look nothing like anyone else’s. When I see one in another server’s apron, I give them so much hell that it’s not worth it to them to keep it. They’ve stopped taking my pens.

  9. chelb33

    Cripes, my bar only grosses 225k a year and I afford to buy some fricking pens. http://www.nationalpen.com . I bought 500 this year and we encourage the customers to steal them because we know someone will steal it from them and our business info is printed all over the damn things. I got really nice medium point click pens for $87. Really…….$87 for 500 damn pens. How much corporate greed is absolutly necessary Chili’s???

    I know they want to cut costs wherever possible, but I’m honestly more upset about them cutting our fun shirts than about not providing pens. I mean, come on — we were covering most of the cost of the shirts. Everyone got one shirt free, and paid $6/each after that. And let’s be honest: with all the crap one spills during the course of a shift, one shirt is not gonna cut it. Everyone I knew had at least three shirts, and we often wore them outside of work as regular clothing (and free advertising to the company!). Then they switched to stupid polo shirts that I wouldn’t be caught dead in after shift.

  10. Corporations rarely think innovation as the answer, rather, they cut any expense necessary to maintain profits. Like was said, cut one shrimp and you don’t think much. Serve that dish nationwide to thousands of people and that one shrimp becomes big dollars fast. I work in the automotive industry and they find ways to cut costs like this. Fifty cents a vehicle isn’t much, but when you make a quarter million cars a year…

    I understand them wanting to reduce costs and increase profit, but I think they could at least provide us a couple pens. I’d even be happy with paying a few cents to buy some from them instead of paying more at the store.

  11. Anton

    I’m still hung up on the fact that your job doesn’t supply pens. I can’t believe that! How incredibly petty and onerous.

    I’ve actually never worked a serving job where pens are provided. Ever.

  12. Jill

    I’ve only had a few customers steal my pens, but my coworkers and BOSSES, actually, are the absolute worst. Seriously, I bought bright, hot pink pens thinking that my all-male management staff wouldn’t be caught dead with them. Nope. Every single one of them had one of my pink pens in their pocket by the end of the week. I even saw one of them get some girl’s number with my pen! I almost stole it from the bimbo, she was falling over on her heels, she wouldn’t have noticed. Ugh.

    Yeah, I tossed out that “guys won’t steal pink pens” notion long ago. They couldn’t care less.
    I thought about putting my name on my pens, but my incessant nagging when I discover them with one of my pens seems to do a great job.

  13. ihopserver

    i use the cheap cristal pens but i keep them in my breast pocket since we use oxford shirts and that prevents them from popping.

    i always carry four pens…some people think it’s excessive but i think it’s better to be safe than scrambling around looking for a pen cuz you got a party of 14.

    My coworkers think I’m OCD (maybe) or a freak (more likely) because I carry at least ten pens on me at any given time. And like I said, I’m not willing to lend them any. They ask why I carry so many, and I answer, “Because you fuckers keep stealing them.”

  14. thatgengirl

    I always used to think of this sketch when people stole my last pen.
    That’s funny because I have worked for companies that supplied pens, and I would get in trouble for not using them. My OCD wouldn’t let me use anything but one specific brand.

    HAHAHA And now I’ll think of that sketch every time, too. Damn it.

  15. Armond

    I have a -really- nice pen I got for x-mas last year that has my NAME on it.

    I’ve learned to get cheap pens and hand it out to people- and then only I use my good pen

    I have a semi-nice pen for me to use; I never use the same kind of pen that I give to my customers. Don’t know why, because I certainly could. I just like having one that’s “mine”.

  16. I too hate when people steal my pens!!! I’ve worked a few places that provided them, but most restaurants don’t. The pens I use cost 1.25 a piece and believe me if I catch you with my pen you will regret it!!! I had a customer steal my pen and go across the street to the bar. I called the bar and had my friend who worked there confiscate my pen for me.

    Badass! I bet that customer was like…holy shit, they mean business. ;)

  17. ihopserver

    thoughts on tipshare???

    As long as it’s not excessive, I personally don’t mind. I tip out 1% of my sales to each the bartender and the busser, which usually amounts to about 5% of my tips going to each person. They each do their jobs very well; if they weren’t doing their jobs well, then I would have something to say about paying them my hard-earned money. If they do their job, I don’t mind giving up a bit of cash (usually somewhere between 4-12 bucks a night) in order to facilitate my job and its duties.

    If you’ve been reading the Bitchy Waiter and saw how the new job (from which BW has since been fired) does things, you’ll see that tipout can go to the extreme. Those sorts of setups are absolutely absurd.

  18. ihopserver

    i got a new serving job…i’ve always known about tipsharing but at ihop we didn’t have tipshare… bussers get minimum and we obviously don’t have a bartender… i guess in the evilness of corporations ihop wasn’t that bad. our tipshare is 3% but we’re I’m at tipping goes like 5 people=$5.00 no matter if they had five steaks and 5 top shelf margaritas…

    I feel ya. Sometimes I wish we did tipout based on TIP percentages instead of sales, but I just know those getting the tipout would get shorted. So many people don’t claim their cash tips…it would short the bussers/bartenders/other tipped out staff because they wouldn’t be tipped out based on the extra cash tips.

  19. TMS

    I had some really nice pens with Warner Brothers characters on them (Bugs Bunny, Taz and Marvin the Martian), that I bought before I ever started serving. When I got my first serving job one of my co-workers told me “Those are nice pens, but if I were you, I’d get some cheap POS pens otherwise those will disappear.” I took his advice, went to the dollar store and bought a pack of cheapo pens (I think it was 20 pens) and would only bring one WB pen to write orders with, with at least five cheapo pens in my apron, using those when I would bring back credit card stubs (or if another server asked if they could borrow a pen). I actually saw people look disappointed when I didn’t leave my nice Bugs Bunny pen on the table, needless to say I only ever had 3-4 of the cheapo pens stolen, and kept my WB pens for quite a long time.

    Good call; those pens sound sweet.

  20. Fucking pen thieves, I hate them. I’ve started keeping MY pens in one pocket, and customer pens in the other. They can have the cheapass dollar store pens — I’m not handing over my smooth-writing purple ink pens to the douchebags.

    That’s what I’m going to start doing, because just this weekend I lost three more pens into the purses and pockets of customers. Fuck that.

  21. jeni

    i have given up on this cause. i buy MYSELF nice, pretty pens, and then a bunch of bics. they dont explode on the norm, and are cheap enough. i give them to the table WITHOUT THE CAP. who the f steals a pen with no cap? lol. nobody. and if they do, then i HOPE it explodes on them. or i give them ones with broken clickers. while i write down their order with my pretty pink pen :)~
    i am very possesive of my pens. i have confronted many guests about them having my pen.

    I was just talking with a coworker about that!! I was like…who the hell steals a pen without a cap? Nobody, because you’d get ink all over your pocket or purse. I recall laughing maniacally just thinking about the instant karma that awaits someone who steals a capless pen. When it comes time for me to buy new pens (and that day is fast approaching) I may just buy those cheap pens and “lose” the caps. :)

  22. Brodt

    I know this is old but….
    I got out of restaurant work about 8 months ago. (I was expoing at this dump, my boss/owner had the nerve to try and steal tips from me, I walked)
    But at previous place, I had a great pen strategy: I used neon pink/purple gel pens when I dropped the check. I had to worry about my (female) coworkers stealing them, but adult customers, middle-aged men especially, wanted nothing to do with them, and I always got them back.

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