Monthly Archives: April 2012

Industry Relationships for Dummies

One of my favorite gossip pieces in the work place is who is sleeping with whom. Before any of you reprimand me for having a sick sense of humor, read on.

Because many of us drink and participate in illegal drug-related activities to cope with the serving life, we often find ourselves partying with those that share our misery. Misery loves company, after all. In intoxicated stupors, we are sometimes attracted to or bonding with people we would never consider in a sober state.

You know what I’m talking about, the social events brought together by mutual bitching about work. Everyone is taking shots dedicated to hating their jobs. And soon, a completely unlikely couple seems to have everything in common. The couple finds they both have left hands, a cell phone, and neither have graduated from high school; it’s as if they found their soul mate! The bond is mistaken for intimacy, and the rest is for drunken stories to tell closest friends who promise not to tell. And by promise not to tell, I mean they tell their closest friends who promise not to tell. And soon, the whole restaurant knows.

It’s a flurry of stolen whispers from there on, watching the awkward exchanges between the two who either try too hard to act too normal or avoid each other all together. After awhile it becomes old news, or another outing occurs – rinse and repeat.

Sometimes the couple will attempt a real dating scenario, making it awkward for mutual friends when they break up. Other times they’ll be bed buddies until someone develops feelings for the other. Either way, intimate relationships in the work place (no matter the degree) are often entertaining for observers and the most complicated for those involved. Now add all that pressure to working in an environment filled with drama similar to the kind that you’ll find in high school. Sounds like a ticking time bomb, hence why I find the gossip more entertaining than MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant. What could be more amusing than watching adults (of all ages) scramble about like insecure, sweaty-palmed teenagers?

But there is hope! A very slim, small percentage (I don’t know the numbers, just know of some myself) that have managed to survive the drama that is dating in the restaurant industry. From their mouths to my brilliant alcohol-infested brain, here are a few rules for successful romantic endeavors.

  1. Don’t tell anyone, and I mean ANYONE, anything.

Don’t make it Facebook official until you’re ready to be under scrutiny and hear all the bad things everyone will think you “need” to know about your significant other. The beginnings of relationships are fragile and easily impressionable, so when presenting your relationship to the public be prepared to hear the worst about them (much of it probably dramatized) for other people will love to see you fall. A popular one I’ve heard is, “You’re dating him? OMG, did you know… [insert awful, dramatic information here]” Why don’t you give your relationship a chance to bloom before that happens?

  1. Leave the relationship at home.

This is really pretty self-explanatory. Just as it’s your best bet for success to leave your personal life at home, do the same with your relationship. Tiffs and affection are not something you want to bring with you to work; it affects your job performance, which in turn affects the amount of money you make. But if you’re not concerned about money, I am pretty sure your hippy friends are feeling cheated on by this strange box that has words on a screen you keep reading.

  1. Similar work ethics.

This comes down to have the same idea about the way to live life, handle problems, raise children, etc. If you don’t hold similar values and morals, you most likely won’t carry on a solid relationship. The last thing you want to do is fight or be criticized about the way you each do your job. You get enough of that from your managers.

  1. Strong ability to stay focused.

The restaurant industry is highly known for its requirements of multi-tasking. If shiny things easily excite you, you might want to reconsider working the same shifts. Good looking people (boobs and abs) are just as distracting as the disco ball on the dance floor. Imagine you found the most sparkly and shiny object/person—think Twilight—in the world and they’re thrown into the middle of your work environment; you’re going to lose your job for sure.

The list is infinite (feel free to add any ones you think I might missed)—trust me, I know—but rambling on will only discourage you all together. Following these few basic rules will not guarantee you success, but most definitely guarantee you a fair chance at it.

Restaurants/bars and relationships are a rocky mixture that can produce either disasters or miracles (I’ve had a few disasters and one miracle). If you can survive the sleezy, booze-infested, unmotivated co-workers, every once in a while you’ll find a slightly less sleezy, booze-infested moron who you can make a miracle with (no, I’m not talking about demon spawns, also known as children). Surviving a restaurant relationship is truly that—a miracle. Good luck!

How To: Coping with Selfish Bitches

It’s my first day back on the floor after my very first opening up of a new restaurant. Corporate company, fancy hotels, long hours – yup, I was officially a part of a great new opening and I even had a pin & black apron to prove it. And oh boy, what a frickin’ eye-opening experience it was! I was going to take on the serving world when I came home; my tables would be flawless and perfect. I would anticipate every need, refill every drink, pre-clear every dirty plate, napkin and silverware.  Slap a cape on me and you could call me Superfuckingawesome Serverwoman (Kickass Waitress is also appropriate). I was going to go back to my home store and be better than when I’d left.

The night started off fairly chipper: with sincerity in every “How are you,” “it’s my pleasure” and good bye, a bounce in my step for every entrée and drink that I delivered to my fellow co-workers tables, and a warm smile to every guest I encountered. You could say I was in a kind of serving euphoria; there was no job I would rather be doing than delivering food and serving these guests, my cape billowing in the wind behind me.

I was going on my 12th work hour that day when I finally met my kryptonite. The person that would remind me why I hated this job in the first place, what made me start this blog for coping, and why I often left wanting to kill myself.

Every server knows that lull you look forward to after the dinner rush, the few tables, and the extra time to meander through side work and flirt with your favorite hot bartender. It’s that time at the end of the night we get paid to be lazy for an hour or two. Well, that’s where Superfuckingawesome Serverwoman was at – ready to hang her cape up for the night when she got sat a party of fourteen an hour and a half before close.

Obligated to be the heroine for one last table, I tie my cape around my neck again. I quickly find out that this is going to be an “enjoyable” experience. They are the disorganized party who encourages every man for himself for food and drink; orders were taken sporadically and no one would let me walk away before asking four million questions about the same item that the last person asked about. Through all this, my beaming smile remains on my face. After all, a rowdy party isn’t something I have not dealt with before.

I am finding myself enjoying their company, because although disorganized, they are extremely patient and entertaining. I am just beginning to relax when I meet my blonde, four foot nine kryptonite. As I approach the blonde midget, she is mid-conversation. I usually try not to interrupt my guests mid-sentence, but this lovely lady either truly didn’t notice I was there or was choosing to ignore me. Either way, I wanted to put the order in and go on with my night. So I cleared my throat and asked, “And what can I get to drink for you ma’am?”

She dramatically pauses in her conversation, sighs dramatically, and turns her already scorned face to look at me and tartly replies, “I’ll take a black cherry soda.”

No please or thank you, I nod and smile in confirmation, writing down her drink. She then proceeds to finger through the menu, even though I have already gone through nine people before getting to her.  The scowl never leaves her face, as if it pains her to order. She finally comes to a conclusion and I quickly write it down and begin to move to the next person. She stops me and points to an older African-American man at the other end of the table and informs me, “And we’re going to be on the same tab.”

Now, we all know how much splitting checks in the middle of a rush thrills us servers. But whether it’s a dinner rush or dead, splitting checks on a large party always seems to be a tedious task. You always manage to get one item wrong, which means you have to go back and re-split the check twelve ways again. So it is always my pleasure to say to my large parties that we do not split checks in our restaurant, because it is against company policy (for the main reasons listed above).

I inform her as politely as possible (with the smallest amount of smugness in my smile) that we do not split checks on large parties. She quickly retorts with, “Well that’s annoying.”

Her last comment sends me into a flurry of rage in my head. Well you know what, dear? It’s annoying that you have to come in an hour before we close, unannounced. It’s annoying that you had to pretend I wasn’t here. I am sorry we cannot change our company rules to accommodate your every wish and command. Doesn’t your SMART phone have a calculator you can use to divide the cost of the check by fourteen? The man at the end of your table is paying for your meal and you still have the balls to complain about how the check is getting divided, even when it doesn’t affect you? It’s annoying that you can be such a bitch, but here I am kindly ignoring that.

Before I can decide on which response will sting the most, the man that had turned around to watch her order interrupts, “Sorry about her, she’s just a bitch.” Trying as hard as possible to not enjoy this small victory, I turn my attention to take the last couple of orders and proceed to go put in the order.

I notice two more people show up during this time, so someone from the table stands up to grab my attention, “Can you grab their order when you get a chance?”

I quickly finish putting in the order, knowing that if I had paused to grab their orders when they weren’t yet ready I would soon get complaints about the food taking too long. In the meantime, I have sent another server to fetch waters for the table knowing that their concept of time is going to make them impatient. Superfuckingawesome Serverwoman thinks of everything.

I swoop in to greet our newcomers, who happen to sit next to my kryptonite. Our exchange is pleasant, but I can feel her scrutinizing the back of my head while I speak to them. Just as I’m finishing up, she rudely interrupts, “Where’s my tea?”

By this time, my patience is waning with her. One of my co-workers has already informed me what a bitch she had been while delivering the waters. As she probably failed to look around and see, no one has anything but water. On top of all that, she didn’t even order tea, she ordered one of our cream sodas!

Now let’s pause this movie, you are obviously dealing with a selfish bitch here. A couple things to remember when dealing with this type of guest: they are often very selfish, don’t see what’s going on around them (aka, they’re ignoring their own friends and family also at the table), and are often bitchy to make other people feel as bad as they do. My best cure to the selfish bitch fever is pointing out reality so they feel equally as stupid as they’re trying to make me feel. It is obviously different in every situation, but when you come across a selfish bitch you’ll know what I am talking about. They often complain about uncontrollable things or act like heinous bitches without reason. Once bringing to light their error in judgment, not only do you make them feel ridiculous but you make them feel ridiculous for acting like a self-righteous know-it-all they often will subside in their bitchiness out of embarrassment.

But you have to be careful; judge your crowd around you and weigh whether your comment will have the desired effect. If you are surrounded by selfish bitches, you will often find that they will accuse you of “mouthing off” and complain to your boss. In my case, I had the rest of the table on my side so swiftly responded with, “No one has their drinks yet. I was asked to take their order; I am going to put it in and run back to the kitchen and grab everyone’s drinks for them right now.”

With this comment, I have swiftly pointed out that I was only doing what they asked me to do. Not only that, I have let her know that everyone is my priority, not just her. And with a nice clean up, I reassure her that everything is going to be taken care of right away so there is no more need to complain.

And for the rest of the night, her attitude seemed to have disappeared. She was thankful and joked with me, and I left with a 20% tip.

Hello, my name is _________, I’m going to be taking care of you today…

So let’s be real, the restaurant industry offers the best of the best and worst of the worst aspects of life. You get to meet lots of genuine and entertaining people, you make all kinds of bitchin’ moolah that is often equal or more than some with degrees, and you can get by fairly well on only working 3-4 days a week. A short work week, flexible hours, lots of money – what more could a person ask for? A lot, I’m sure.

I know, I know. The service industry more often resonates with similar characteristics used to describe hell – and they are often accurate descriptions – rather than rainbows and sunshine. I will not deny anyone the truth about serving; it’s like getting a last minute root canal right when you have an unreasonable amount of fear and hatred for the dentist. It sucks to do it, but you need to get it.

Long story short, serving/bartending isn’t for everyone. But for me – it’s a well of opportunity. I’m here to help cope; with laughter, techniques, and stories that will make serving toes curl. Whether a lifer or using serving as a transition, coping with the assholes that call themselves human beings needs a place before we all become convicted serial killers telling our story of that final push into insanity.