I would usually come in about 5 minutes early which was the earliest I could clock in. The problem with coming in half an hour early is that the hostesses would seat me and I couldn't clock in. I wouldn't mind working tax-free except that you have to clock in to ring food into the computer. I also liked to check the 86 board and take a peek at the stock to see if we were low on anything that I should be aware of so that I wouldn't be caught off-guard later-on when we ran out of something.
Immediately getting double-sat stopped pissing me off after a while. This was easy to pull off as one table if each customer didn't want to play 20 questions about every possible drink they could get. The first table was almost guaranteed to ask where their drinks were as I passed them on my way back to the kitchen, despite seeing me standing at the table next to them.
Going back to the kitchen, something would need to be restocked. It could be straws, lemons, glasses, coffee mugs, spoons, creamer, milk, etc. Every little inconvenience adds to the time it takes to prepare simple drinks. This was magnified by the fact that our alley was probably 1/3 the size that it needed to be for as many servers as it had occupying it at one time. During busy shifts there was no place to set trays, food, drinks, etc and the entire service slowed down. Coffee and tea were brewed in the same machine, which was a terrible idea because tea was being made almost all day so if you needed coffee you could be waiting 15 minutes. If somebody wanted caffinated and somebody else wanted decaf, they were both getting whichever came out first.
Throw in the time it took for biscuits to come out of the oven and it could easily take 5 minutes before somebody got their drinks. God forbid you bring out drinks without Red Lobster's trademark cheddar biscuits. The time would be multiplied greatly if the bartender was being a slack-ass or handling take-out orders. Seriously, why is the bartender handling take-out orders? The male bartender (who I'll refer to as "Phil") usually didn't have a problem handling everything he had to do. The female bartender (who I'll refer to as Sandra) seemed to have permanent PMS and would ignore or trash my tickets. This, of course, added additional time to getting drinks.
After drinks came appetizers. This wasn't usually too big a deal and would help out greatly if one table wanted apps and another didn't. This would give me a chance to make salads for the non-app table while waiting on the appetizers.
As long as I had salads out I was good for another table. The hostesses except for Jenny didn't care about rotation and would purposely try to double or triple seat me because they knew it annoyed me. Management was okay with this because they didn't want customers waiting in the lobby. They didn't seem to realize that they were going to be waiting anyway; either in the lobby or at their table. Even if they did get greeted immediately they would be waiting on drinks. Towards the end of my tenure I stopped caring since I knew that I had another job lined up. I would let the new table sit for 5-10 minutes while I took care of what I was doing. If Jenny noticed this she would help me out and take their drink order and if she had time even make their salads. I told her not to worry about it since I didn't care but she insisted.
The other servers agreed that I always got more crazy customers than anybody else. Nobody is quite sure why.