Living the Groupon Dream

My night starts with a deuce on table 24.

I walk up, introduce myself and thank them for joining us this evening. Before I can ask them if they’d like to begin their dinner with a cocktail, the woman reaches into her purse and slaps a Groupon down on the table, essentially broadcasting their intention to eat on the cheap.

Fuck me. It’s the last day of the month, I’m $250 short of making rent, and was hoping for a section full of 20 percenters tonight to help me get over the hump. Hopefully these couponers aren’t an omen of things to come.

She starts in. “Here, we have a Groupon. It says we get a free appetizer and a free entrée. And we only want water to drink.”

Awesome. While you’re at it, why don’t you rummage through that handbag of yours and see if there’s a pitchfork in there you can use to ram up my ass since you’re in the mood to play walking hemorrhoid.

I go into fake smile mode and choke down the urge to recommend – along with the chef’s daily special – into which of her orifices she can insert her Groupon. “Very well, Miss. Nice to have the both of you with us this evening. I’ll have your waters for you right away. In the meantime, let me inform you about a few specials you won’t find on your menu which the chef is featuring this evening.”

Without looking up she gives me the hand while her pussy-whipped husband sits there letting her do her thing. I’m sure he’s seen this act a thousand times before, the poor wretched slob. “We’re not interested in any of that. Just get our appetizer started and come back for the rest of our order. We don’t want to be rushed or have our food sitting in front of us all at once like you waiters do sometimes.”

And so it goes with the majority of these coupon-clipping fartweeds. If it isn’t Groupon, it’s LivingSocial or or some other online ponzi scheme promising restaurant owners unprecedented exposure to new customers in exchange for a substantial discount. Though sounding good in theory, most novice restaurant owners get seduced into participating in these promotions without really knowing what they’re actually signing up for. What ends up really happening is that the type of customers these sights attract are the one-and-doners who are more drawn to the deal than to the restaurant itself. They show up to get the most food for the least amount of money, only tip on what they pay for rather than the value of everything they were served and are often rude and defensive because they assume they’re going to be getting second-rate service due to their eating on the cheap. They’re also often the first ones to run home to their computers and tell everyone on Yelp what a shitty meal they just had for damn near free. Instead of building a new base of long-term repeat loyal clientele, the restaurant ends up giving food away, the staff gets screwed on tips and the cheap-ass customers move on to the next coupon never to be seen again.

Some fucking deal.

I return with their water. They’ve both closed their menus and are looking around, checking the place out. I ask them if they have any questions about the menu and if they’re ready to order.

The woman looks at me like I just dropped trough and took a dump on top of their table. “How much longer till our appetizer shows up? I don’t want you rushing us.”

What I really want to tell her is “Your appetizer will be right out just as soon as the chef gets through pissing in it like I instructed him to.” Instead, I inform her that the stuffed mushrooms take a few extra minutes to bake but assure her it will be well worth the wait to make sure they arrive at the table piping hot and golden brown.

“Well I certainly hope so,” she gurgles. “The service around here is a little slower than I expected.”

I apologize and excuse myself from the table, assuring her I’ll go check on the status of her starter.

On the way to the kitchen I pass the hostess who is in the process of seating me a four top, and I can see that one of the women in the party is tightly clenching what looks like a coupon that was regurgitated from her home computer hours earlier. It is then that I seriously consider whether slitting my wrists with one of the chef’s knives might not be a better way to continue with my night than the direction I’m currently headed.

Terry Everton is a cartoonist and “wage slave.” Read other articles by Terry, or visit Terry's website.