Monday, February 28, 2011

Waiter in Training

Training for a new restaurant job sucks ass. It just does. Especially when you have been a hash-slinging waitress for as long as I have. I feel like I have been waiting tables since the dark ages. I distinctly remember working at a restaurant where we had to milk the cows and then churn the butter for our opening sidework. Closing sidework involved filling the ketchup bottles, sweeping the bathroom and then clearing the restaurant of all the people who had died that day of the Black Plague. You ain't waited tables until you have done it during the Black Plague. Not easy. I remember training for Bennigan's and how intense it was. The manager told me that the Bennigan's training program was known throughout the country and once I had it on my resume, I would be able to get a waiting job anywhere. And what's really funny is that I was actually impressed by that hot air statement and had it on my resume for a while under special skills: Bennigan's training program. Pathetic. Back in those days, I was so eager to please that I actually memorized every single ingredient on the menu. At the time, I was living with my Grandma (not this one) and she would quiz me every night. My Grandma knew that damn Bennigan's menu better than I did. She could have been one fine waitress up there, but she was all busy being my Grandma and making me pies.

A few years ago, I was being trained at a restaurant here in the city. My trainer was a fetus. I know I had aprons older than he was, but I still had to follow him for three days to "learn the ropes." He gave me such useful tips as:
  • When a customer orders coffee, you should ask them if they want milk or cream with it so you don't have to make two trips.
  • If someone orders a hamburger, ask them how they like it cooked.
  • Always say thank you.
What gems those are. I patted the fetus waiter on the head, asked for a floor plan with the table numbers and pushed his toddler ass out of my way. At my new job, my trainer thankfully quickly realized that I knew what I was doing. After about ten minutes when he saw that I had already made coffee and knew the fancy Aloha computer system, he let me on my own. By the end of the first night, he had let me take his station, take orders, run food, close the checks and bus the tables. He had a sweet easy night because I did it all and he got all the tips. But whatever. The manager saw that only one day of "trailing" was needed and I was already on the schedule.

I guess there are pluses to having eons of experience, one being I can get through training quicker and start putting tips in my pocket sooner. The downside of all that experience is the sore knees, the closet full of food-stained dark shirts and the fact that when I sweat I smell like a goddamn fajita even though I haven't served fucking fajitas since the mid-90's. Ah, well. The good with the bad I suppose.

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Dirty Disher said...

Jesus. I hope he told you where the ranch dressing was.

Dustin said...

Man, this entire post is full of lulz.

I feel you though, it's always so humiliating being the new guy again and shadowing behind someone who you could serve circles around. I just bite my tongue and get the training shifts out of the damn way as quickly as possible so I can start making money for myself rather than the trainer.

Corporate restaurants are the worst because they're training programs are RIDICULOUSLY long. One of the perks, however, is that it really drills the menu into your head so you don't look foolish in front of a table during your first night on the floor by yourself as "the new guy".

Ah, training...

Tony Van Helsing said...

These trainers always use the lowest common denominator when assessing their staff. Therefore they assume that everyone is a dunce and treat them as such until they get your measure. No point taking it personally.

Anonymous said...

Ok Bitchy, I give. I have twice pee'd myself reading this blog start to finish. I've never in my entire life have read such spin about working as a server. Classic! Bravo! Keep posting please, as it's made my days at work much more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

I once trained a guy whom I gave the benefit of the doubt as far as knowing basics. His first day out of training I found out he did not know the difference between gin and vodka, could not balance even 3 plates, and COULD NOT MAKE CHANGE. Seriously. Basic arithmetic escaped this guy. Jesus. I've stopped giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Pancake Grrrl said...

I love the trainers who only do it so they can make the new people run their food, do their sidework, and roll their silverware. We get new people all the time who don't know a fucking thing about actually waiting tables because their "certified trainer" just took advantage of them.

Sarah said...

I recently changed jobs in april and was correcting my trainer, and taking care of his tables because they weren't prebussed as well as I would have liked, or he forgot something, etc. He told the manager at the end of the shift that I trained him, lol. I hate training so bad.