Monday, September 28, 2009
My first day at my new job went off without a hitch with the exception of one huge asshole who sat at table 24. Do they follow me? Am I an asshole magnet? My fellow co-workers were shocked that this guy treated me the way he did. "We never get people like that. I am so sorry you had to deal with him." Poor me, destined to deal with assholes no matter where I work. I may as well be a fucking proctologist.
So this place I work at now is pretty nice. Did I mention we have candles? Yeah, candles. Most of the folks that come in for the shows are prepared to drop a pretty penny for the cover charge and the two-drink minimum. But this guy was different. He plopped his fat ass at his seat. I gave him the shpiel about how he had to have two drinks while there and how helpful it would be to tell me both of them now so as not to interrupt him during the performance. "Do you gots Bud Light?" Being new to the job and seeing that he had a list of beers in front of him, I paused and told him I wasn't sure. I looked at the list and said, "No, sorry just Amstel Light and Sam Adams Light." He informed me that he would have an Amstel Light.
"Alright, sir. And would you like that for your second drink as well?"
"I dunno." Long pause as he stared at me. "I'll tell you what I do want though. Get the biggest glass you have. Fill it with ice. Then fill it with water. Then put a lemon in it. I want two of those right now." I make my way to another table and he calls me again. "Do you have any food?" I suppose he doesn't understand the purpose of the menu sitting in front of him.
"Yes sir, we do. I have hummus and pita chips, spinach artichoke dip-"
"No, no no. Food. Real food."
"That is food sir. We do consume that."
"Meat. Do you have any food that is meat?"
I was staring to hate this guy. "Then no sir, we don't have any food."
"What kind of food do you have then?"
I have now crossed the line from starting to hate this guy to actually hating this guy. I reiterated our food options and he finally agreed on the cheese plate and then berated me for not knowing the price without looking at the menu. He almost choked when I told him how expensive it was, but he ordered it. The table next to him told me "good luck" as I went to ring in his order. He yelled out to me he also wanted a shot of Jack Daniels. When I brought out his beer, shot and two waters (which he never touched) he told me he needed a Coke chaser and he was not paying for it because where he comes from you just automatically get a Coke chaser with a shot of Jack and he was not paying for it and he would not be paying for it. Got it, ass. Fine.
Halfway through the show he leaves his seat to come to the bar and complain that he is dissatisfied with his cheese plate. He was not paying for a plate of crackers with one piece of cheese. He would not be paying for it. Got it, fine. Meanwhile the other server went to retrieve said cheese plate and showed him several pieces of cheese that were still on it proving that it did have more than one piece as he claimed. "Well, I don't like swiss!" (It was edam.) "And I don't know what those other cheeses are!" (They were gouda and brie.) I guess he just didn't recognize his old stalwart cheeses of American, cheddar and Whiz.
We took the cheese plate of his bill. After the show, he walked around the room talking to some of his friends and ignoring me as I waited to accept payment. About fifteen minutes later I hear the other server calling after him as he walked toward the door. "Sir, are you going to pay your check??" Asshole laughed. "Oh my Lord. I totally forgot about it. I'm sorry. How much do I owe you? Hardy har har."
I ran his credit card and you know what the asshole did? On a $49 check, he left me ten bucks. I swear to God, I just don't get people.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today is the big day. My new career as a cocktail server begins. After hours upon hours of highly intensive training with skilled professionals who know the ins and outs of serving liquid libations, I am ready to have my first very own shift at the new job. I am freaking out. I dreamed about it the other night too. One of those horrible waiting tables dreams that all servers have. You know the one: where you have a whole giant restaurant as your station and every single table is wanting your attention. They all need drinks refilled and food orders to be taken and people want their checks. You have about twenty credit cards to ring in and you can't get caught up at all and you wake up covered in sweat. I hate that. Because in real life if I get that far into the weeds, I just go to the bathroom, wash my face, make a phone call, take a deep breath and figure "who gives a fuck?" But in the dreams for some reason I actually care. Hmmm, weird. Hopefully during my first real shift all my training will come to the forefront and make me a server superstar.
I trained for three shifts. For no pay. It's such a drag to be the trailer because you do all the dirty work while the server you follow gets half the workload and all the tips. The first night they threw me a twenty dollar bill and a glass of wine so I felt like it was a real score. Little do they know I would have done it for the wine alone. The job definitely has some real potential and can I just reiterate how satisfying it is to have no kitchen? Really really satisfying. The food is minimal and all we have to do is throw some over-priced dip on a plate, pop it in the microwave, serve it and ring it in. Cha ching!
Surely after a few days of serving potent potables, new stories will come my way that I shall pass on. Since this is a new job, I have tried my hardest to conceal the Bitchy Waiter that lies beneath the surface. But he is there. Lurking in the shadows of glass racks and giant containers of Goldfish, he patiently waits for the perfect moment to emerge. When will someone push the button? That button that makes him think, "this lady needs a fucking punch in the cunt." Wish me luck. I trudge ahead to make life better for the world, one table at a time.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Now that I have earned gainful employment at a new establishment, I finally feel free to write about my last job and how I was unceremoniously dumped from it. I won't say the name of the place because that would be completely unprofessional, but they really acted like a total piece of shit. Well, when I say "they" I really mean the owner. My actual managers were all pretty cool and so were the people I worked with except for one guy. Man, this guy was a total fruit loop and really really old. (Hey, Bill! Luv ya!)
I gave VYNL on the Upper East Side the best eleven months of my life. I was on time, respectful, fastidious, reliable and loyal. And if you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know how well I treated my tables. For the last three months rumors were swirling that we would be closing but no one would confirm or deny. We were told that maybe the restaurant would close for two weeks to remodel and then reopen as a Mexican food restaurant, but we would all still have jobs. And in the two weeks that we would be closed, they would do their best to find us shifts in some of the other restaurants that the asshole owner owned. Or maybe they would give us a stipend to tide us over while the remodel happened. That talk slowly faded away. Because the owner is an asshole.
After weeks of rumors the most persistent one was that we would close by the end of August. Here it was the middle of the month and we still had no official word. So I called the corporate office.
"Thank you for calling Chowdown Inc, can I help you?"
"Uh, hi. My name is [The Bitchy Waiter] and I work at VYNL Second Avenue. I keep hearing that we are closing next week but no one will tell me if that's true. Since I've worked there for almost a year, I feel like I should know if I will be unemployed next week. Can you tell me what's going on?"
Pause. Pause. "I dunno. I haven't heard anything about the restaurant closing."
"Really?" I say incredulously. "Because I would think if one of your five restaurants were closing then if anyone would know about it, it would be the corporate office. Don't you think that's odd?"
"Have you asked you manager about it," she asked me. Like I hadn't thought of that brilliant idea.
"Yeah, I did. They say they don't know either and I don't know if they really don't know or they're just supposed to say they don't know. You know? Can you understand my frustration?"
Pause. "You should ask John about this." John is the asshole owner who had avoided coming into our location for the last few weeks because he knew we would ask him this very question.
I told her I would ask John. "Can I have his number?"
Pause. Pause. "I don't know it." Seriously? This bitch thinks I believe that she doesn't have the number for her boss who is the president and owner of the company that she works for? She doesn't know how to reach him? It must make it really difficult to give him his messages, poor thing. "I can send you to his voice mail," she eeks out.
So I left him a completely professional voice mail-for real, totally professional- about how I just kinda needed to know if I should be looking for a job and could he please call me back when he gets a chance and all that. He didn't call back. So I called back two days later and left another really nice voice mail which he didn't return either. Because he's an asshole.
A few days later we were finally told. On Thursday they informed us that we would be closing and our last day would be Sunday. They gave us three whole days of notice and I only had one shift left. On my last day we were told not to tell any of our tables that we were closing and reopening later. They didn't want customers to know that it would be the same company with a different name and menu. I could totally respect that so I told every single table that we were closing and we were reopening later but it would be the same company with a different name and menu. I also told every table how little notice they gave us because I was totally playing the sympathy card. One regular we called Coach (hated him) overheard me telling someone we were closing in two days. His response? "Oh no! My turkey burger!" My response? "Oh no, my job!" That shut him up.
Two week later, I had not received my last paycheck, so I made a call to the corporate office. The clueless wonder of a receptionist said that she thinks they were mailed to another restaurant for us to go pick them up. Nevermind I didn't work at that restaurant and was never told that was where my check would be. "I think they were going to see if anyone came to pick them up and if they didn't they would mail them out to you."
I responded. "Why would I go to a restaurant I have never worked at to get my final check after I was fired? I don't wanna sit around for three weeks and wait until someone finally decides to put a stamp on my paycheck. Do me a favor. Call them and ask them to mail me my check tomorrow, please." I got my check two days later.
And VYNL Second Avenue can eat it. Along with the owner, John. They both suck.
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Monday, September 21, 2009
I may have found my new hero. Someone sent me a story (holla out to Bonnie) about a something that happened somewhere called Hallifax West Yorkshire in England-land. The link is at the bottom of the page but here is the gist of it written in a much more entertaining way and with much worse grammar.
Some family went to the grand opening of a Mexican restaurant and brought with them, as parents are apt to do, their two-year old child, Molly. Jeez, do parents have to take their kids everywhere? It's so annoying. The parents were obviously pretty stupid because they were going to a Mexican restaurant. In England. What the fuck is that? Chicken enchiladas with a side of scone? And English Breakfast margaritas? Whatever. I guess the restaurant was really slammed, or as they say in the Queen's English, "bartle bagged." (I totally made that up.) The family had to wait a long time for their food and I guess (say this with a Cockney accent) the lit'le tyke got a might impatient waitin' for 'er food and threw a bit o' a 'issy fit. (You can stop with the Cockney accent. You're really bad at it.) The article doesn't say exactly what Molly did other than get a bit "moany" and "grumbly" but I am pretty sure I know how she behaved. She wanted to wander around the restaurant and get in people's way and annoy other people who do not have kids. When her "mum" made her sit down, Molly began to scream at the top of her lungs and throw sugar packets and bread pudding spoons all over the fucking place. When the dad threatened to spank her arse, she cried until the food finally arrived making the waiter and every table around her hate dear sweet adorable Molly.
When they got the check they noticed at the bottom of it that something had been typed in underneath the food. It said, "thankyyou littell fucker." Now even though there are some points deducted for spelling, it is clear what was being said. The check called Molly a little fucker. Bravo! Here ye here ye! My hero. This server is Queen of all Bitchy Waiters. Capital B. Capital W. Understandably, the family got in a tizzy for insulting their little precious bundle of cunt and demanded an apology and blah blah blah blah. I am sure they got the apology and probably a free order of fish n chips quesadillas too. The sad thing is the person responsible for the "offensive" remark got fired. Or "sacked" as they say they across the pond. The server was just speaking the truth. Had she lived in America maybe she could have stood behind the freedom of speech and all that crap, but seeing that she lived in jolly old England, they fired her British ass. Hopefully, that server will move on to her next position having learned something from her mistake. You can never insult the customer. What I mean is you can never insult the customer where they will find out about it. Say it in the kitchen, write on your pad, think it in your head. Do not print it on their check. Amateur.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009
The skies opened up today. Grey clouds parted and sun shone through as the finger of God reached down to touch me gently on the forehead. He brushed the hair and sleep out of my eyes and and said unto me, "Bitch, get your ass up. You gotta go to work today." Yes, someone swallowed all the bullshit that spewed out of my mouth during a job interview and they gave me a starting date for employment. The Bitchy Waiter serves again.
Today will be my trailing shift to see if the restaurant and I are a good fit. Basically, I will follow a server around while he tells me the ins and outs of the job and then at the end of the day I will do all his crappiest sidework for him and get no tips. Hopefully, there will be some minimum wage involved, but you just never know. Sometimes they will pay you with a meal or just a big hearty "thanks, but no thanks." But my new job is not in a restaurant. It is in a swanky cabaret club where I will be serving cocktails to poor schlubs who have to meet the two-drink minimum while they listen to a show. When I say swanky I mean swanky. Like they have candles and shit. And they don't have a kitchen which sorta gives me a semi-hard-on of excitement. Any food that is ordered is of the light fare variety and is catered in. Tingles of joy run down my spine at having no ketchup bottles in my immediate future. Now don't get me wrong. This is a trailing shift and could be my last one if they decide that I suck. At waiting tables, I mean. Or maybe I will get there and realize that the tips are really really bad and I have to be there for nine hours to walk with only $40. Only time will tell.
But this could be the beginning of a new dawn. An age where I enjoy carrying trays of over priced cocktails and I look forward to slicing fruit. I may have found my new calling as a cocktail server. I see myself eagerly trotting to work each night giddy with anticipation to wait tables because my new place of employment treats me with respect and the customers all love how I do my job and they throw piles of twenty dollar bills at me. I would then be known as The Happy Waiter or The Satisfied Waiter or The Euphoric Waiter. Or it could just be the same ol' same ol' job of waiting tables and The Bitchy Waiter will reign supreme forever and ever.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009
It has been brought to my attention that Suze Orman went onto the Oprah Winfrey show some time ago to give some sound financial advice to all the Oprah-ites who bow down to the feet of the great and powerful O. Suze Orman is the financial guru who has all the answers in the world when it comes to saving money and making money work for you. If you had any money to begin with, that is. Her sage wisdom that she passed on to people was apparently to reach into my pocket and take the spare change from it and then put it in their own. Uh huh, Suze told people to rape me hard and true, and not in a good way. She suggested that in order to save money in these uncertain economic times people should only go out to dinner once a month. Okey dokey, Suze Whoreman, good advice. I do the same thing when I am pinching pennies. Then she said that if you do go out, then skip the appetizer. Alright, Oozie Orman, I can see your point. I have done that as well. Then the bitch went one step too far. She said that when it comes time to tip you should just leave 10% instead of 15%. What is this Oozing Whoremonger of a bitch telling people to do? First of all, 15% is not enough of a tip; I want 20%. But she is telling people to leave 10%. Somebody needs to hold me down because I want to stalk this bitch and strangle her with her own ugly clothes. I want to pull out every one of her too-white tooth out of her head and then I want to do the same thing to the teeth in her vag. I want to take that thumb that she is always thumbs-upping with and stick it up her ass.
Let's just say I sell $1000 worth of food one night. If people leave 15% I would get $150 but then tip out the busser and bartender 3% of sales which would be $30 letting me walk with $120. If people left 10%, then I would only walk out with $70 because I would have to tip out on my sales regardless of what I made in tips. That is a big difference, Suze. Forty dollars less a night times five nights is a difference of $200 a week or $800 dollars in one month! Meanwhile, the douchebag that took her advice and only goes out to eat once a month and leaves only 10%? How does it affect him? Let's say the bill for him and his ugly fat girlfriend was $40. He leaves four dollars instead of six dollars saving him a whopping two dollars for that month. Or in other words, $24 for the year. Wow, what a difference that makes for him. Just by listening to that Pud Muncher, Suze Orman, he saved twenty-four whole fucking dollars in a whole year while I was robbed of $9,600.
Good advice. Thanks, Oprah for letting that horrid woman onto your show to spew such utter nonsense to the people who will no doubt take the pearls of wisdom to their pocketbooks. Suze Orman better watch it. If she turns up in my station some day, I hope she likes the taste of bacteria. Because I will dig to the bottom of the ice machine and find some slimy ass black mold and drop it right into her glass of cunt juice, or whatever the hell she orders to drink. Fellow waiters, I advise you to do the same.
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Friday, September 18, 2009
The Bitchy Waiter is needing some tips. I wonder how much money one of those people makes who has the cardboard sign and sits by the subway. Their sign always says "stranded in New York, baby on the way" or "lost everything in fire, please help" or "need money to buy beer." If I lived in a regular city maybe I could invest in a squeegee and wash the windshields of cars stopped at lights. Or have a garage sale, maybe. But I don't live in a regular city. I live in (supposebly) the greatest city in the world. A city where dreams come true and fortunes are made. The Big Apple. New York City! It's also a city that has about umpteen million restaurants that are all completely staffed and won't hire me. For the life of me, I can't understand why I can't find a decent waiting job. Maybe I should take my www.thebitchywaiter.com off of my resume, I dunno. Nah, that can't be it. It must be because they already have a bevy of servers with attitudes just as fine as mine and cannot afford to take on one more. Surely, that's it.
Eventually something will come along that doesn't involve overnight travel or four interviews or giving massages to the owner's wife's bunion covered feet. In the meantime, help a brother out...
Just click it...
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I am about to pull my hair out because I am so over the job search, but I shan't do that for my hair is far too gorgeous to pull out over a waiting job. Last week I went to a place that was, according to Craigslist, hiring. The application was so long I felt like I was writing my memoirs. It asked me to define great hospitality and then to tell a story of how I would exceed the expectations of a guest. For one thing, I think if you are eating at this place your expectations are pretty low to begin with. But I digress. I didn't have time to stay for the interview because I had another totally useless interview somewhere else that day, but the manager, Lisa, told me to come back the following day. I did. She took me to a table and we shot the shit for about ten minutes. She asked me how did I ensure a good relationship between the front of the house and the back of the house. I should have just asked her to bend over so I could blow the smoke directly up her ass. "You have to know every person's name, from the line cooks to the prep cooks to the dishwasher. It makes such a huge difference in the restaurant." She smiled slightly, closed her eyes, tilted her head to the right and slowly nodded as if to say "ain't it the truth, brother. Ain't it the truth." (Do that movement as described so you know exactly what she did.) After impressing the hell out of with my interview she said, "I wish I would have interviewed you yesterday. I really do. But I just hired ten servers yesterday and now I can't hire you. But when someone quits the training as they always do, I will call you. Thank you for coming in." I left thinking that that Lisa was a pretty cool manager lady. I also wondered what kind of place has to hire ten servers at a time. Red flag?
Fast forward 5 days and I am on Craigslist when I see the same restaurant is hiring servers. What the fuck? Did that Lisa bitch lie to my face or did she just lose my resume? I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and went back in to find out. I saw a different manager this time. I young lad by the name of Alex.
"So, do you have an application?"
"I filled one out last week and met with Lisa? She told me that she wished I would have been in earlier because she didn't need any more servers and she had already hired her quota but I saw that you're still hiring so I just, you know, wanted to see...what's up with that?"
Alex looked at me as I stared right back at him. "Oh, well, maybe if she didn't call you she decided to go in a different direction." Yeah, like the direction of inexperience.
"Really?" I queried. "Because I have 15 years of waiter experience in New York City. Am I just over qualified to work here? I just want to know. Because I keep going to interviews and not getting hired and I just want to know, for me, what I should be doing in order to get a job. Am I doing something wrong?"
"Uh...err...uhhh..I could go ask Lisa."
So he goes to speak with the lying cunt known as Lisa and he comes back to inform me that she wanted someone with Mexican food experience. Because I guess carrying a plate of enchiladas is somehow different than carrying a plate of steak. Or eggs. Or a hamburger. It's just different according to the skank of all Mexican restaurant managers, Lisa. I told Alex, "Oooh, now I get it. Well Alex, thank you for your time and good luck with the hiring." I strolled out with my head held high wishing all good things for their fantabulously craptastic restaurant. Which shall remain nameless. (Dos Caminos on Third Avenue and 50th Street.) I hope Lisa chokes on a chicken chimichanga.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I got a job. A one day job. Although it did not involve food service, it did involve a huge helping of humiliation with a side of shame. As you may recall, I was offered a position as a waiter/bartender/chef/entertainer on a train. I turned it down because it just seemed weird to leave my home and not be back for 36 hours, all the while being with people I did not know anything about. But when he called me for a one night job, I thought, "I'm broke so okay." So for fifty bucks, I agreed to this:
This guys owns a refurbished 1950's railroad dining car and he hooks that shit up to Amtrak and then drags people's asses around the eastern seaboard for tours of quaint towns while they eat gourmet dinners, watch the scenery and listen to high class entertainment. Well, on Sunday night instead of high class entertainment those folks got me. He told me that he didn't need me to serve food but he did want me to sing. Okay, better than filling ketchup bottles. I took an hour and half train ride to Poughkeepsie in order to meet his train that was headed back to to NYC. I would join him and be the songbird of the evening. I practiced my karaoke skills, ironed a shirt and washed my hair. I even fucking shaved for this shit. I envisioned stepping into this glamorous dining car and seeing people all dolled up in tuxedos and gowns while drinking Manhattans and sharing droll stories of where they summered by the shore. I would sing Frank Sinatra songs while they threw tips at me because they were enamoured by my golden vocal chords. What I saw was not anything like that. I got into the car and saw six people. Six. Two of them were reading books, two looked half asleep, one was sick and coughing up a lung, and one was 17 years old and mortified that she was there in the first place. All of them looked bored and none of them looked like they wanted to listen to me sing for the next hour. They were almost home and that is all they wanted. But I was hired to sing and I was going to sing. Besides, the thought of not having to fill the empty water glasses that were in front of all of them made me giddy with excitement.
I tried, people. I really tried. I tried to engage them, to make them laugh, to entertain them, to make them smile, to keep them awake. But it was 9:30 at night and the 80 year old lady was clearly up past her bedtime. I sang the few songs I had practiced. A little Frank Sinatra a little Tony Bennett. And then the guy who hired me started putting all kinds of karaoke songs on. Like just because I said I could sing then I must automatically know every goddamn lyric ever fucking written. I plodded my way through "Pretty Woman" and then "Twist and Shout" and two or three Billy Joel songs. "Dancin' Queen" came on next, but I knew things were really bad when he played "I'm a Little Teapot." The whole time I am begging the six people to join in or take a turn. I was actually relived when "Hello Dolly" came on because finally a song I knew all the words to. Don't judge. Then he put on "O Sole Mio." I looked at him like he was fucking crazy. Pavarotti sings that shit. Not me.
"I don't know that one."
"Oh, sure you do."
"No, I don't."
"Sure you do. Everybody knows 'O Sole Mio.'"
Really, asshole? Everybody knows an Italian aria that was written about hundred years ago? I don't think so and I proved to him that there was at least one person who does not know "O Sole Mio." Me. But it played on that karaoke screen and I faked my ass through it trying to make up Italian pronunciation as I went and apologizing to my audience (of six) for not knowing it better. Or at all. Here I am trying to sing some opera shit to people who don't don't care and all I was thinking was I'd rather being filling a fucking ketchup bottle.
We made it to Penn Station. He gave me my fifty bucks. We parted ways. But only after I told him to call me any time if needs me to do it again. Times is hard, sir. Times is hard.
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Friday, September 11, 2009
Looking for a new restaurant job sucks big hairy donkey balls covered in dingleberries. There, I said it. What especially sucks about it is that you have to expel all this energy for something you don't even want to do. And at this time of year, no one is hiring because every restaurant is closing up their patio and cutting shifts. Whenever I walk into a place the bartender or waiter says the same thing. "Hi. One for lunch?" Then I have to say that I am looking for a job and I see their eyes shift into a look of pity towards me. They take my resume to "put on file" but I know what that means. It goes into a drawer for a week and then it gets thrown out. I know this because I have been the one that throws that crap out. But I persevere.
Craigslist is a veritable feast for restaurant jobs, but you never know what you are applying for. I saw an ad today that caught my bloodshot eyes. It said "Waitstaff/Entertainers, Weekends Only." I can do that. I can do waitstaff. I can entertain. I sent my crap via the internets I sent my waiter resume, actor resume and headshot. (Don't judge.) Lo and behold I got a call. The guy starts to tell me about the job and I have to interrupt him to ask him which place he is from. Hello, I have emailed about a thousand places. He tells me that he needs waitstaff who can sing and he sees that I have extensive musical theater background. (Don't judge.) So I am thinking it is some lame ass singing waiter job at like a 1950's diner themed restaurant or something. He asks if I can make drinks. "Sure I can, I do it every night." I didn't tell him I meant at home. Then he asks if I can cook. What does he want? A singing waiter/bartender/chef? Jeez, what am I getting into? Then he tells me it is on a train. A train. Uh huh. For a flat fee of $250, he wants me to meet him at an Amtrak station on Saturday at noon to prep the train. Like I know how to prep a train. A salad bar, yes. Train, no. I would be serving food on a train going to Vermont and then entertain the patrons who, he informed me, are all old . And how would I entertain all these old people? Why with a karaoke machine, of course. I kid not. Then we would spend the night in Vermont and I would be home Sunday night at midnight. What is this? I would be gone for 36 hours. I don't even know this man. What if I get on the train and there is some serious Agatha Christie shit going on? Intrigue, murder and mayhem! And how do I know what kind of place I will be spending the night at in Vermont? He said he had a suite for the crew, but what if I end up sharing a bed with a hairy greasy cook named Bruce? And what if I after all this crap he decided to only pay me twenty bucks? And you know what's really fucked up? I actually thought about it doing it. I asked to think about it for 15 minutes and then I came to my senses and called back and said no thanks.
I just want to serve brunch. Is that too much to ask?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
So I went to the second interview for the big corporate restaurant yesterday. It was scheduled for 3:00 but I was at another restaurant at 2:40 waiting to meet with a manager and getting a little nervous. I finally had to bail and literally run to catch a bus and then run three blocks to make it to my interview on time. Believe it or not, punctuality is hugely important to me and to show up late for an interview is just showing a bad first impression. I made it at 2:59. Mr. Fancy "I Wear a Suit to Work" Manager came to meet me at 3:35. Nice. He asked me all the same questions that the other guy in Chef's Whites asked me last week. I wanted him to notice that I had cut three inches off my hair to show how serious I am about my future with their company, but he never did. And voicing it just seemed to fucking desperate. Even for me.
I asked them some questions and got some startling answers. At peak they have twelve servers on the floor. Twelve! I looked around the restaurant. "How many tables do you have in here?" I asked. He told me that each person has a three table section. At my last job I had the whole place to myself sometimes and had up to 12 or 15 tables at once. What do you do with three tables? hover? Chew their food for them? Wipe their mouths and their asses? Jeez. He told me that sales for a dinner can range from $1000 to $2000 and a slow lunch could be $500. That's not vague or anything. I also asked about the tip out situation. Not too shabby. You only have to tip out 3% of sales and I was really surprised that it was that low. (I worked for a corporate place once that shall remain nameless [Rosa Mexicana] and we had to tip out 40% of our tips. We were supposed to tip the food runner, the bar, the busser, the guacamole maker and the fucking coffee girl. Even if you didn't use coffee. They told me that on day two of training. There was no day three of training.) I fed Mr. Manager some bullshit about how long I have been a waiter and that they wouldn't have to train me to be one. They just have to tell me what steps of service they require for their restaurant. When I told him I had been waiting tables for almost 18 years, I could see the realization on his face that I had been serving food since he was in the fifth grade. That made me cry a little on the inside.
Finally, he told me he would discuss my application with the other managers and decide if they wanted to bring me in for a third interview. A third? I'm sorry, did I accidentally apply for the position of brain surgeon because I thought I was just asking people what food they wanted and then carrying a plate to a table.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009
There are lots of ways that servers can feel demeaned whilst slinging hash. Most of the time these feelings are thrust upon us by the wonderful people who sit in our station, but on occasion it comes from the restaurant itself. Bennigan's in Houston, Texas on FM 1960:
Someone at the top of the food chain, Mr. Bennigan I presume, came up with a wonderful plan to let people order food and then give it to them for free if it wasn't on their table within fifteen minutes. "15 Minutes or it's Free!" they called this promotion. Mr. Bennigan stayed up late one night and thought long and hard to come up with that name. The man is an utter genius, I tell you. This was a lunch promo and it sucked. Maybe they still do it, I dunno. If they do, I feel for the poor bastards who still work for that crap. But hey, then they have a job which is more than I can say so kudos to them for finding a restaurant that manged to stay open for business.
For each table in your station, you had to wear a stopwatch around your neck. So you potentially had nine of these things swinging around as well as all the "flair" crap you were supposed to wear; suspenders, stickers, buttons, whistles, butt plugs and flags. After the table ordered you had to re-read what they wanted and once they approved the order you took a stopwatch from your neck, placed it on the table, and started it. Then you ran like holy hell with fire under your ass to make sure this shit came out on time so it didn't come out of your tips. If anyone else was on the computer, you'd knock their ass down to get to it first. And people thought they would be all cute by ordering very well done steaks and burgers or anything else they thought would take a long time. No one ever ordered a side salad because that would be too easy. Plus it was Texas and people there don't really understand the concept of salad. Unless it's fried.
There was a routine you had to deal with when one of these orders came up. You had to alert the kitchen so they knew it took priority. And you had to give them updates. So every five minutes you had to run to the kitchen and give them a time for each order and then when it was three minutes before FREE FOOD happened, you had to "red flag" it or some shit. It was a real pain in the ass because all you did for lunch was run around to tables and check their fucking clocks and freak out. If you failed to give all the updates to the kitchen then it was not their fault if it went over time. It was the server's fault. And we had to pay for it. That sucked. If you did manage to give all the alerts and it was still late, then the restaurant would pay for it. I never had to pay for it. I made sure I gave every fucking alert because if it was late and I had done my part, I didn't give a rat's cheap ass who paid as long as it wasn't me. I ignored tables if I had to in order to keep track of the clocks. I remember one time, I was seconds away. I had a huge tray of food practically running to get to the table before the timer went off. I pretty much threw the plates at them but it made it on time. The customers were so pissed when that happened. They actually rooted for us to drop a tray or for the computer to jam or whatever else it took for them to not have to pay for their $6.00 burgers.
God I hated that place. I always felt like if they needed food that fast, they should have eaten at Taco Bell or brown bagged it. Just don't make me pretend to be a fucking race horse.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I have been doing the job search thing ever since my last restaurant pulled the rug out from under me giving me three days notice before I was unemployed. "Hi, employees. Today is Thursday. We are closing the restaurant on Sunday. We hate you and don't care about you and fuck you." Yeah. So I have not written about that yet too much because I am still angry, bitter, mad, vindictive and pissed off. In a word: bitchy. Anyhoo, I have been looking for the next food establishment that wants to take advantage of my full on people skills and help me spread joy across the land one table at a fucking time.
Looking at craigslist for a restaurant job is a joke. I love the places that say to send a resume because they only want people with lots and lots of experience. But send a headshot. A headshot? What the fuck is this, A Chorus Line? In other words, they only want to hire you if you're hot. True story, this: A few years ago I was applying for a server job in Chelsea were hot gorgeous men apparently grow on trees. I went into a place that had a help wanted sign in the window. I saw several guys filling out applications at the bar so I asked if I could have one. They told me they were not really hiring anymore. Hmmmm. I looked at the guys at the bar filling out applications and said, "uh, what?" What they meant to say was they were only taking applications from guys who spend their lives at the gym and have the bodies and faces of Adonnis. Now, I may not be a Greek looking God and all that shit, but I am not the fucking Elephant Man. "I am not an animal!" Whatevs with them. I want to do an experiment on craigslist someday and send in two applications for the same job and attach two different headshots. One of a hot model guy and one of a pimply ass weasel looking guy and see who gets called in. And maybe make the hot model guy's resume be pretty lame with like three months of experience but make sure his picture is a torso shot showing off his abs and chest. I'd really like to try that little social experiment, but I am way too fucking lazy to even update my own resume, so the chances that I will go through all that just to prove a point? Slim to none.
I went to an interview yesterday for this really corporate restaurant. I know how they work. I worked at the freakin' Marriott for seven years for Pete's sake. The interviewer was all dressed in Chef's whites like it was big deal or something. "Blah blah blah...what can you bring to our restaurant?...what makes you a good server?...blah blah blah." He asked me when was the last time I went above and beyond to exceed the expectations of a guest? That must be corporate restaurant question number three in the handbook. I told him about how on the last day at my last job someone left his credit card on the table. Well, I knew we were closing down and if he came back the next day we would be closed and he would never get it back. So I ran out to the street and took a chance and went South, running one and half blocks before finding the guy. He was happy and thankful. The interviewer was really impressed with that story and crazy enough it was actually true. Then he asked me to tell him about last time I found myself in a stressful situation and how I handled it. Told him some bullshit about how I "take myself out of the situation" and "breathe deep" and "ask a manager for advice." Whatever. The real way I handle a stressful situation is nothing like that. It involves a cocktail, going into the kitchen and screaming about what a fucking asshole my table is and then clicking into the realization that it's only someone's meal and it doesn't fucking matter. They will have three more meals tomorrow that can be better for them.
But I got a second interview for next week. This close to having another job that will fill me with joy and contempt. I mean contentment.
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Friday, September 4, 2009
I look upon myself on occasion and question where did I gain this stellar attitude towards my service job. How did it all begin that I imbibed such a healthy outlook for working in a restaurant? I flash back to the mid-80's. Madonna is on the radio, Cabbage Patch dolls are all the rage and this girl at school wears a pair of red jelly shoes every day. I was 16 years old and I have my first job ever. I applied for a social security card and started work in a small bum fuck town of South Texas. For $3.35 an hour, I was a dishwasher at one of the premier dining establishments in all the land. The finest place to enjoy a high quality steak that was cooked to perfection and served to you with a smile. Okay, not really it was Sirloin Stockade on Navarro Street in Victoria, Texas. You knew it was fancy because it had a salad bar. With three dressings.
I took the job because two of my best friends worked there as waitresses. They made all the money while I toiled in the back emptying grease traps, taking out garbage and mopping bathrooms. But I was in the food and beverage industry and knew I had found my home. A tear comes to my eye when I realize that this is where it all started. I did not deal with customers very often except when someone spilled something and they told me to go out into the dining room to clean it up. Within my first week, I knew that the job was a piece of crap. But all that money!! Fifteen hours a week at $3.35 was bringing me about 35 bucks week after taxes and I was rich! Rich I tell you! I was on the road to financial prosperity.
One night, someone wanted chicken fried steak without gravy. Well they must have been a foreigner or retarded because everyone knows that you eat chicken fried steak with gravy on it. You just do. Well it went out to the table with gravy on it and I guess therein lies the problem. They gave it back to the waitress who gave it back to the kitchen who then gave it to me, the dishwasher. "Wash this off," my manager told me. "They don't want gravy." "Uh, what? Wash the meat?" I asked. "Yeah, rinse off the gravy, they don't want it." I thought they were playing a joke on the new kid. I laughed nervously, not sure what to do. My manager rolled his eyes and took the spray nozzle from my hands. It was one of those big silver kind that hang from a spring. He held the chicken fried steak with his other hand and sprayed the gravy off of it and then threw the soaking wet piece of meat back onto the plate. I stared at him in disbelief as he walked back towards the line. He tossed the meat into the fryer for a few minutes and then pulled it out, put it on a fresh plate, handed it back to the waitress who took it back to the table. Without the gravy, just as the customer wanted it.
I learned that night that we in the food service industry have a responsibility to make our customers happy. Whether it be giving them a simple smile, making sure they have the perfect ambiance or even just washing off their meat to get the gravy off of it, we are there to please. I thank you, Sirloin Stockade manager. Thank you for teaching me how to be the perfect bitchy waiter. God bless you.
P.S. I quit three weeks later because according to my diary, it was "interfering with my social life."
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Thursday, September 3, 2009
I can't stand people who order cocktails and ask for a little extra liquor. And then when I give it to them, they act all surprised that I charged them for it. Sorry, drunky, but you gotta pay to play. Why do people think extra shots are free? Would they ask for a burger but say "can you just thrown onan extra patty for me?" No, they wouldn't. Well some would, but they are douchebags. Most of the time, a cocktail is measured and in some states it is illegal to give more than the maximum amount in one drink. Obviously these alcoholics need to drink at home or go to those lame ass places that don't have a liquor license and they can just BYOB. Then they can drink themselves into an alcoholic stupor and get a taste of alcohol poisoning (which is not as fun as it sounds. Trust.)
Picture it: Houlihans's Times Square. We would get tons of idiots who wanted to have a fancy drink before seeing Cats or Phantom of the Oprah. They look at the menu with dumb ass names of the cocktails. Someone actually got paid to come up with these names? "Oooh, can I have a Bahama Mama? No, wait make that a Jamaica Me Crazy. No wait can you make a Lemon Drop shot? Wait, maybe a Blue Indigo Go Go...I dunno! What's good?" I smile and say, "they are all equally delicious" as I think, "they are all equally overpriced." So they finally decide on some stupid ass drink like the Very Very Banana Berry and say "but make sure there is plenty of liquor in it." Fine. I go to the bartender who was mean, bitchy, crazy, a habitual liar and I hated her (if you're reading this, Hi Vivian!) and say how important it is for this very special guest to have extra liquor in their drink. So she makes it a virgin. But then we took the straw and poured the liquor directly into it so that the first sip they would have would be pure alcohol. And then it would be gone. It worked every time. I got such joy at watching them take that first swig and be shocked by the alcohol content but not wanting to complain because they knew they asked for it. Their eyes would roll and their moths would pucker and I would say, "is everything okay?" And they would squeak out "yum, delicious, thank you." Off I go knowing that the rest of their drink was nothing but "fresh" fruit that came from a bottle of syrupy gunk, ice and artificial flavorings. Have fun at Les Miserables...
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I am dedicating this post to my favorite television waitress of all time. She is the brilliant and perfectly bitchy, but in a nice way, Florence Jean Castlebury. Better known as Flo, she worked at Mel's Diner on the hit television sitcom Alice. It ran from 1976 to 1985 and I watched that shit every week. Yes, I was alive to watch it. I am an old bitchy waiter. Flo was trashy, funny, slutty, easy, bitchy, and tacky. In other words, my hero. She wasn't afraid to tell her boss to fuck off, but because she was on television she had to settle for "kiss my grits." If someone told her that the food sucked she agreed with them and I never once saw her do an ounce of sidework.
I loved her so much I went as her for Halloween a few years ago. When it comes to a Halloween costume, I don't fuck around. I went to town on it. At the time, I was working for a mammoth hotel industry with very strict rules about what to wear and how to behave. I won't say which one in order to protect their vision of how an employee of theirs should behave while working for them and afterwards. It was Marriott. I asked them one October if we would be allowed to dress up for Halloween. They foolishly said yes. They probably thought I would wear a silly hat or put some stupid ass ears on my head. No no, uh uh. I dragged my ass up to work an hour early and went full drag. Bra, panties, slip, wig, earrings, make up, the works. I sashayed into the dining room and their jaws dropped. I was Flo. I spent the whole day in character. My tables didn't know what to do with me. We served a lot of attorneys and judges and businessmen and they could not handle me. I called them "sugar" and "sweetie" and told them what they wanted before they told me. They were filled with discomfort that there was a man dressed up like a lady and he was flirting with them. The next year, we were not allowed to wear a costume. But that year I had a blast. And I won the costume contest too. Best tip of the day.
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