Valentine’s Day is upon us, and with it comes the expectation of cute gifts and lavish dinner dates.
Waiters at restaurants and bars see their fair share of drama, and with emotions heightened on the day, Valentine’s Day is often a disaster waiting to happen.
Three waiters share their experiences watching dates take a turn for the worse.
Jay Braack (35), shift manager and bartender at De Stomme Jonge in Stellenbosch
Jay thinks Valentine’s Day is horrible, especially for guys who work on that day. He shares an experience from 2014, when he was working at a seafood restaurant along the Garden Route.
A man had made a reservation for Valentine’s Day a week prior, intending to propose on the special day, Jay says.
“He visited the restaurant a week before his intended date to make the reservation. I couldn't help thinking the poor guy [looked like he’d] never asked a girl out, let alone asking for a hand in marriage.
“He got the best spot in the house – upstairs, fireplace, the best view, crappy romantic pictures on the wall. It was basically perfect for his needs.”
The team on duty were adamant they’d make it a night to remember for the couple.
“We got flowers; champagne glasses had been polished a millimetre thinner. Special plates were laid out, only the finest cutlery was used.
“We were given the job of delivering the ring using the ring-in-glass method and were constantly on the look out for the hand that would send the signal for us to sweep over with a crystal glass and a pinky in the air.
“It came. I glided over the floor. I delivered.”
But it wasn’t to be.
“I didn't even hear the words properly. I saw his mouth moving, and her eyes grew large. Much larger than the stone that was being presented to her.
“And then the silence was shattered. [She’d] clearly been offended in some manner and had rejected his offer and wish of eternal love and marriage. [She] laughed him off into the abyss.”
Jay says the staff then decided to take the disappointed man on a night out on the town to drown his sorrows.
Courtney Lawson (27), waiter in Cape Town
In a noisy bar on Valentine's Day things got a little hot and heavy.
The bar Courtney worked at was getting quite rowdy and the police had already visited, but a relentless couple paid no heed.
“A couple stayed after the crowd left at one in the morning.
“The bar had these high tables and bar chairs and this couple were having a great time making out.
The temperature kept rising. “The guy’s got her kind of up in this chair and she's wearing a dress and he’s standing between her legs, making out with her.
“And all of a sudden she pushes him away and he’s shocked and she’s [showing him zap signs], with her dress above her hips.
“Just then the cops walk in and start asking questions about the noise complaint, but the couple have gone back at it. And we couldn't stop laughing. It was hilarious.
Apparently the law wasn't going to stand in the way of that couple's night-time delights.
Robyn Murray (24), bar manager in Stellenbosch
The gifts that don’t keep on giving.
“Valentine's Day is a crappy one all round, as we tend to make less money,” Robyn says.
“I had a couple come in early one Valentine’s Day, and they’d clearly planned out their entire day because she was dressed to the nines and he looked dapper.
“They initially sat down for some cocktails and then later had shots. After ordering food, which he ordered for both of them, they proceeded to get hammered.
“At one point in the evening they were looking a bit worse for wear, and this is when all hell broke loose.”
Not buying a gift will get you in trouble, it seems.
“From their conversation it seemed she was getting upset because he hadn’t got her any gifts, and she was really excited about the day, thinking he’d get her something,” Robyn says.
“She was having a sparkling wine at this point and decided she’d had enough.”
So, the elegantly dressed woman threw her drink in her date’s face and stormed off.
“He ended up sheepishly paying before dashing out of there.”