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Fake Food Critic

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I was working as a waitress at the Days Inn in downtown Baltimore. While not really all that busy, we did get a lot of business, when the other hotels were sold out, during special events like when President Obama was elected, things like that. But mostly, we are hardly ever busy.

The manager of the restaurant, Denise, could have been Peggy Bundy's twin (remember Married with Children? If not, think of a thinner Roseann Barr). This woman could be really disgusting. She did gross things like saving chewing gum, or taking leftover, uneaten food off of a customer's table and eating it in front of us, chewing with her mouth open. She even drank whatever cocktail was left in customers' glasses. She didn't care. She was one of those people who hardly ever brushed their teeth, and only bathed when it was raining. Sometimes her peroxided hair would free itself from tiny gnats, as they would escape, flying off her head while she was standing at the hostess stand. This woman was a living, breathing, bio-hazard. Sometimes when business was slow, which was most of the time, the servers would gather to discuss the age of her mascara – I am not kidding, she was that disgustingly filthy.

Every Friday night, a man would come in to the restaurant, who Denise always met at the hostess stand, and would quietly walk him to a four top, in the back of the restaurant. She would order his food, even punching the order into the computer, and walking it to the kitchen, personally handing it to the chef.

She would then go to the bar and bring this man one pilsner of National Bohemian, serve it to him, and when his meal was ready, she would pick it up from the kitchen and deliver it personally to his table. Since she was the manager, she always handled the check, and he never paid. This went on for about a month, and finally we asked her about him. She told us that he was a food critic, and if we got good write ups in the magazines, we would get more business. It sounded plausible, but I never heard of a food critic announcing himself as such. And why would a food critic come to this dump? Every week? It just didn't sound right.

After about a month, I asked Denise, what magazine does the food critic work for? She said he works for Baltimore Magazine. Now I knew this was a lie. First of all, no one from Baltimore Magazine would step one toe is this dump, unless they were lost and had to ask for directions. Second, Baltimore Magazine does not have a food critic. Third, food critics are anonymous. Fourth, they don't come back to the same place, every week, ordering the same thing. Of course, we all knew this was yet another lie told by Denise, she could not tell the truth. But we just wanted to know who he was.

One Friday night in late September, as he was leaving, I sneaked out of the hotel to follow him. He got into a bright yellow Volkswagon Wolfsberg (1980) that had a lot of dents in it, and there was duct tape holding the bumper together. I wrote down the license tag number, and watched him as he pulled onto Pratt Street, and drove off. When I got back to the restaurant, my fellow servers, excitedly asked me, “Did you get it? Did you see which direction he drove off?” I told them that I did get his license number, as well as the description of his car.

One of my co-workers, Dennis, whose brother was a policeman, looked up the license tag and we found out that this man (so obviously NOT a food critic, lives with Denise in Dundalk, and it was her husband.) She had been feeding this man a free meal, once a week for almost a year. She was the manager, so she could do whatever she wanted, BUT she was not the General Manager, nor the owner of the Days Inn.

She was such a disgusting, walking health hazard, we were only too happy to let HR know what was going on. We called the HR Office, leaving an anonymous voice mail at 3 A.M.(we got my cousin to make the call, so none of our voices would be recognized), so that when the HR manager came in the next day, she would get our message, about how Denise was feeding her husband for free, every week, for a year.

The hotel had a strict policy about not allowing relatives eat in the restaurant, and how no one was allowed to eat for free, because that was considered to be stealing. The General Manager was crazy about people stealing from his hotel; if he caught anyone taking something without paying for it, he prosecuted.

We could not wait for Denise to get fired. She was a nasty piece of work, always getting someone in trouble over nothing. She could turn your stomach if you got to close to her, because she smelled like a trash dump.

Finally, the General Manger came into the restaurant on a Friday night, and he witnessed the entire ritual, that of the fraudulent food critic coming to the restaurant, and Denise ordering his meal and drinks, and not charging him for it.

The General Manager, after the fake critic had left, made his presence known. He asked Denise who that man was and why didn't he pay for his meal. She was stuttering and managed to tell that same lie, stating that he was a food critic.

The General Manager was smarter than the rest of us gave him credit for. He hired an off duty police man (Jackson) as a part time security person for the hotel. He now brought Jackson with him and said to Denise, “That's not true. That man is not a food critic. You have been allowing him to eat in my hotel for almost a year, free, never charging him. I want to know why.” She burst into tears. The General Manager said, “Denise Smith, you are hereby terminated, unless you can pay $3,000 to reimburse the hotel for all of those meals you gave away.” Denise just kept crying and would only say one word, “No” over and over. The mascara started to run down her cheeks from the tears and the streaking made her look like one of those Goth kids, but a lot more scarier.

The General Manager and Jackson escorted her to her car, parked in the hotel's garage. We were all following, at a distance, watching. This was justice. This nasty woman made our lives hell all the while she was in charge. We were enjoying this, it's not right, but we were loving the moment. This was the universe paying her back for being so nasty to everyone.

As she got into her car, the General Manager said to her, “Open your trunk, Denise.” She did not want to do it . She kept shouting, “No. No. Please, No.” Jackson touched the button to get the trunk to pop open, and inside was a whole case of Bushmills, two bottles of Canadian Club, and one carton of tiny heinz ketchup jars from the room service supply. Jackson pulled out his cell phone and called the police. They arrived within ten minutes inside the hotel's garage and arrested her.

There was a criminal court case and she was sentenced to two years in jail, was ordered by the court to reimburse the hotel for the value of all that she had stolen, and had to serve 2,000 hours of community service. I know this is not right, and I wish I was a better person, but I can't help it, I was so glad she got in trouble, because she was so mean to all of us. I feel like it was justice, not for the stealing, but for all of the lies she told on people, getting them fired for no reason, other than she hated them.

When she left, the General Manger promoted one of the wait staff to be the manager. It was a good thing. For the first time since Denise worked there, the restaurant made a profit – I guess it was because no one was stealing. It's so funny, now that she was gone, not only did we do our jobs like we were suppose to, but we were even better at them, because we didn't have her there micro-managing.



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Tags: arrestedbaltimorebusinessconfessioncriminalcriticDowntownfoodgeneral-managerhostesshotelmagazinemanagermealmicro-managingpolicepolicemanrestaurantstealingwaitresswork

1 Comment

  1. Geoff says:

    Well, it seems there is some justice in the world. A very interesting story which shows that telling lies can, and often does, eventually catch up with us. I actually stayed at a Days Inn in Liverpool, England, just a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad to say the room was of a high standard and very clean. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn't quite up to the same level.

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  • I was working as a waitress at the Days Inn in downtown Baltimore.
  • There was a manager there who did many gross things and was very disliked.
  • Every Friday night, a man would come in to the restaurant, who Denise would always take to the back of the restaurant, order his food, and personally cater to him. She claimed he was a food critic.
  • She had been feeding this man once a week for a year.
  • The General Manager came one night and witnessed the whole ritual. She was caught stealing with no explanation and served 2 years in jail.
  • For the first time since Denise worked there, the restaurant made a profit.