Wednesday, March 28, 2007 by Ospite.
5 notations

It seemed a little darker than usual for a Saturday. The entire day just had an imminent sense of doom. As the time passed, the forboding grew to an eerie level. Lunch and dinner seemed to meld together with no break separating the sad monotony of table after table...bad tip after bad tip. I felt like I was barely working, just creeping along like a slug, taking orders, running food, forgetting odd items, looking at the checks as I printed them up. Tables lacked their appeal, that fresh new-face quality that normally keeps me from boredom.

It was almost as if the customers themselves didn't exist. Just their food and their money.

Maybe it was this that caused the pathetic tips. I couldn't pull a percentage higher than 12%. I was more sad than pissed. I started second-guessing myself as a waiter.

While the 40-something hag literally yelled in my face about her salmon that was too orange and not pink enough, I glazed over. I found myself emotionless.

When the doors were locked and I cashed out, I looked and the bills in my hand. $27. For the Day. For a Saturday. Average tip sat pretty at 8%. Ridiculous. I considered quitting then and there. Finding a new profession. I decided to sleep on it.

And sleep I did. When I walked to my car, I opened the door, sat in my seat, and woke up in my bed strangling a pillow. The world's most horrendous Saturday was a dream. The perfect dream for me to awake to and realize it's really Monday morning and I have a double shift ahead of me. I mentally prepared for the longest Monday of my life.
Sunday, March 25, 2007 by Ospite.
2 notations

Dinner rush, same old same old. We've all got the groove and the atmosphere was feeling upbeat. When we're running like a well-oiled machine, the patrons feel the vibe and everything is dandy. Happy waiters make happy customers.

Things were so smooth in fact, that I had the time to sit back, chill a second and decided to bus one of my tables as soon as they retired for the evening. It was then that I saw the only flaw in the evening: The Pit (or dish) was a little swamped and Kenny was in his usual perturbed-punk rant mode, annoyed with the world. This is normal, but the lax attempt for working had caused him to be the only cog not turning efficiently.

We began running out of side plates, salad bowls, and silverware. Customers got dirty glasses. What was smooth as obsidian felt like trying to skateboard in a gravel pit. My next couple trips to the kitchen allowed me to see the debacle that was the dish area. It was time for an intervention.

Several of us talked to the manager. He pulled Kenny aside:
"You need to pick up the pace man. We're all running smooth except for you."
"Well, I didn't want to do dishes tonight, I wanted to do pans."
"Your job is to wash whatever needs to be done. Right now, I need you on dish."

We didn't notice any change for the better. In fact, things seemed a little worse. We were all rush, rush, rush. Not until we realized we were each rolling our own silverware did it dawn on us: Kenny was nowhere to be found. We checked dry-storage, the walk-in, out back, bathrooms, everywhere. He was gone. He did not return. Needless to say the night only went downhill from there.
Sunday, March 18, 2007 by Ospite.
0 notations

As expected, I worked the dreaded double shift on St. Patrick's Day, the king of all drinking holidays.

Many of our staff had toyed with the schedule to hit certain pubs in town that started Guinness at 25 cents/pint at 10am. It pays to be hammered by noon.

The rest of us sucked it up and worked what we knew to be a slow day. When I cleaned off my car of snow on my way in, I realized it would be far worse than we expected. After our warm streak, no one wanted to venture out in the biting wind and one except those at the parade. But then again, I'm sure they were amptly fueled by the Jameson at that time of morning.

The flow of the day was slow but steady. I had a 3top of late 50s women who were a total blast.

"I was going to write down her number for you, but she said 'No no! He's married!' so I refrained."

"Probably wise. I am, and my wife would have hunted you down." Which of course got raucous laughter. They tipped my about 35%.

The majority of my tables all day were regulars, which was good because most repeat customers at my trattoria tip above average. That part too was nice because we did about 1/3 what we'd normally do in business for a Saturday.

I got "hacked and slashed" from the floor roughly 2hrs earlier than normal and listened to my voicemails.

1. My wife was hanging with a bunch of friends and wouldn't be home anytime soon.
2. A friend of mine was down from Canada to drink with us... I ran home, showered, and ran to a friend's house for much consuming of Jameson, Bailey's, Strongbow, Guinness, and combinations for bites and carbombs, and also the ritual viewing of Boondock Saints. Many thanks to The Renee for reheating her fabulous corned beef and cabbage so I didn't miss it this year!

Needless to say, I found a pillow for the couch and wandered home in the morning.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007 by Ospite.
4 notations

When people eat out they can look beyond certain things, like other people making their food, not knowing where the food's been, who's wearing gloves, etc. The one thing they simply cannot miss is a server who appears ill.

We really shouldn't be handling and serving food when we're sick, but we do it anyway...up until it's clearly visible that we are in no way healthy. Ironically, this is usually passed the point of contagious, but people don't care about details, they just know that their waiter looks like he hasn't slept in a week and is suffering from some horrible, un-named virus that will become the next pandemic.

When we don't work, we don't get sick days...we simply don't make money. But if we work when we're visibly ill, patrons will either ask for other waiters or tip horribly. At least the table turnover rate is good. Nonetheless, being a waiter and being sick is atrocious.

This atrocity has been my week. I walked into work and the hostess said,

"Hun, you ok? You look like last Sunday morning's hangover combined with roadkill."

"Gee thanks, kiddo. Now pretend I'm not here and only give me 2tops, because if I get anything higher than that, I might just collapse on the floor, and let me tell you, if I do, I won't get up. I simply won't care. The busser will have to carry me to my car." The sad part was, I wasn't really joking.

The shift was slow...thank God. I cashed out without saying a word to the onduty manager, crept out the door, drove slowly home, oozed into bed and flipped open my cell phone. The onduty heard my first words to her of the day,

"Hey. I'll be in bed for the next 36 hours. Don't call me. I'm skipping my next 3 shifts. That cool?"

"I was wondering why you hadn't brought it up earlier. I almost sent you home this afternoon but I cut the floor early, so you got out timely anyway. Will we see you Monday?"

"I'll call in Sunday with a status check."

"K. Get better!"

So, I'm back in the groove now. But to be honest, after taking off so much time in a row, it's hard to go back...

At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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