Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My adventure in fairly poor service.

I was thoroughly spent after my attempts to be the very best waitress in the universe. I was exhausted from the strain of repeating 19 specials a dozen times a night, fed up with figuring out what the house wine of the day was, and just plain fed up with giving 100% to be rewarded with 20%. BAH!

My plan for recovery? Spend one blissful Friday night being a horrible server. Evidently I exaggerate because on my laziest day I still do a damn good job and nobody goes home hungry and crying. My actual plan was to read ZERO specials, give ZERO extra effort, tell NO funny stories and be rather... Beige. Watch out world, I thought brazenly to myself at 3:59 on a Friday afternoon, HERE comes mediocrity!

I did not disappoint. Instead of running bread to my tables I wandered over with it when I felt good and ready. If I felt the need to reapply chapstick or run to the ladies room I did so, regardless. I made up outrageous names for the house wines "tonight we have.... billowing ferns shiraz!" (to which one lady replied "I have had that before and it is wonderful!" PFFT!!) I didn't feel like finding a new tiramisu when one ran out so I simply omitted it from my list of dessert specials. I pretended that the cappuccino machine was broken (and luckily nobody else used it during this period of time!!)

By the end of the evening I had not broken a sweat and was in a blissful state of calm and relative relaxation. It was quite lovely and a very unusual feeling, to be honest.

And how did this little experiment work out for me? FREAKING FANTABULOUSLY!!!! I made a CRAP ton of cash- averaging 25% per table and really hitting the mother load on a 14 top who loved the new and improved me.
Sadly, being this much of a slacker on a regular basis would draw a fair amount of attention to me which I would like to avoid. So despite the fact that being a BIG slacker pays off big time I will have to avoid it as a rule.

A side note: unlike my last lazy experiment I was a diva superstar all night in the kitchen, running food, drying silverware, singing and dancing. All of my coworkers must have thought that I had been bitten by the helpful good employee bug... If they only knew...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

DEATH. Has entered the building....

"Death.... Has just entered the building..." my HWF said ominously as he, waiter Dan and I stood by the wait station.

"What. WHAT?" I asked, a bit perplexed. "Just watch" they both suggested, so I turned my eyes to the front of the building. A new girl walked in the door and made her way towards us. Actually, "made her way" is generous- rather, she moped and shuffled her way down the hall. Her mouth pouted petulantly and her heavily shadowed eyes were sorrowfully cast to the ground. She walked with the air of someone who has suffered greatly, and had known horrible troubles. She was clearly VERY sad (in a way that is clearly NOT sad, so nobody get too worried ok?)

I watched with a mixture of horror, intense amusement and honest shock that she managed to even get hired as she came closer to us. She was clearly attempting to sneak by the three of us without attracting attention but she was messing with the wrong group. "HELLO" said waiter Dan with the kind of intense cheerfulness that he can pull off (that I can not) "How are YOU?" She turned her eyes towards us in the manner of a deer in the headlights, literally squeaked and ran off. I fell down laughing "Are you SERIOUS!" I guffawed "NO WAY.... that is the best thing I have seen in YEARS!" They both assured me that not only were they 100% serious but so was this new girl, and that they were positive that I would enjoy her company.

I decided to get to know her so I asked her what her name was. She told me, with big pouty lips and an extra dose of sadness in her eyes. I was delighted to find that she had a very unusual name which meant "To build up to or reach a point of great intensity, force, or volume." Since she spoke in such a mousy little whisper I was a tad skeptical that this was a fitting name. I asked for details, wishing to know if it was a family name or just a bit of misfortune. AND SHE SAID (in mournful tones, growing more depressed my the second) "My parents had me pegged from the moment I was born..... They knew exactly what my personality would be like...." To which I enthusiastically thumped the reservation book and declared "Fantastic!"

She crept around all night, jumping at noises and freaking out at the crazy busy pace at which we all moved (it was a Monday. It was dead... Poor kid.) One of the other servers said to her "Hi." and she said (get ready) "Hi. Like I told you." WHaaaaaaaaat??

She was fully awesome and I was looking forward to watching the continued insanity- I was very curious to see what her level of nuts-o was! My attempts to help her out were met with such bizarre levels of crazy that I gave up quickly and took enjoyment in watching the train wreck. Sadly, during her next shift the powers that be had had enough of her pouting and inability to speak above a whisper and let her go. So sad... So surprising...

Monday, March 22, 2010

RIP, Fallen Friends

I'm not so morbid as to write about actual dead coworkers. But: the cold hard fact of a job at Captain Rig's is that at any moment you could get fired. Or just get tired of the nonsense and quit. Blaze of glory!! Here is our roll call...

1- So, so many new people who walk thru the door filled with hope and innocence. A rough count of the people who have left before making it thru training: 9 And people who have made it thru training to quit about 1 Saturday shift in: 5

2- Total number of people with names like strippers to quit: 2 (much to my amusement and dismay.) I expect this total to climb to 3 shortly as pole dancer #3 walked in last night.

3: Youth of America: 4 (1 quit outright. 2 politely gave notice. 1 was fired after making the biggest mistake ever.)

4: The bad people: 4
-Karen (will need to find otherways to make $ to pay for much needed dental work.)
-The Nemesis (of my HWF)
-The Tattletale (good riddance)
-the Flighty Waitress (lots of drama here!)

5: 1 cook. BIG blaze of glory! Awesome!!!

6: 3 hostesses. Complete turnover of the front desk.

7: 3 random bus-people. Very confusing, as "we don't HAVE bus-people!"

8: I'm editing this hours later to add someone VERY important! Shrek! The big, bumbling be-speckled close talker who oddly lasted about 5 weeks. Egads.... And sadly, the very nice lady who helped me get thru my first few horrific shifts (she got a better job..)

Holy Crap! So in my 7 months there 33 people have been in-and-out- that is really astonishing. If only Ashley, Jan and Gina were on the list. I can only hope they are soon to follow! (haha, I'm labeling this under Avoidence of Work becasue getting fired or quitting is definately avoiding work!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Adventure in Excellent Service: Part 2

.....My evening continued.

After the Emo Princess fiasco I considered throwing in the towel and finishing up my night in a sub par state of angst. However, I had challenged myself to dole out the very Best Service Possible so I slapped myself a bit and carried on.

I got a table of "VIP's" so no check, but a bit of calculation proved that a 22% tip had been left (good, but if you get all that food for free this middleaged lady thinks that a few more bucks could be thrown down!)

Then I was seated with a John Locke (pre-smoke monster fiasco) lookalike and his buxom female friend. They were some odd ducks, let me tell you! He kept saying things like "I'd like you to bring me a Caprese salad- and I'll PAY for it!" Damn straight you will, bucko! I knocked their socks off with my fantastic waitressing abilities and I was rather disappointed to discover that they had left me a stingy 17% tip. Not really able to figure out why they had been such cheap little peeps I shook it off and got to back to it. Their table was placed in a manner that required that I pass it every time I went to another one of my tables. After a few passes by John Locke asked for more coffee, and when I retuned handed me a clump of folded bills. Hmmmm! Five more bucks (much better!) Another pass by their table resulted in another handful of wrinkly little dollar bills (this was a game that I encouraged, and could get used to! Tip me multiple times, bring it on!!) After all was said and done I had earned a solid 30-ish percent on them which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And justified, since they had been rather full of themselves.

My final table for the evening started out just fine and dandy. A two top, obviously an old married couple who simply wanted to get down to the business of eating with no falderal. The husband had some problems getting the dish he wanted for dinner formed into words and out of his mouth. Pointing to the menu I helpfully inquired if the dish in question was the one I was guiding him to? Looking closely at the menu he confirmed that was indeed what he wanted: a formidable stack of italian meats and eggplant, smothered in layers of gooey cheese and blanketed with marinara. I delivered said items to the table promptly and everyone looked pleased as punch. Returning a moment later to confirm the gastronomic ecstasy they indicated boundless pleasure in their dinner choices. I returned once more with water and everyone was still as happy as a clam (really? how happy IS a clam? they have very small brains... or no brains at all?) When plate clearing time came around I was pleased to see that the dinners had been eaten down to the last morsel- more happy customers! I picked up the plates and the man said "Was that.... Chicken Marsala that I ordered?" Looking at him in a bit of shock I said no, it was the Magical House Specialty as he had requested. "Well" he replied bitterly "that is not what I wanted at all and I don't even know what was IN IT." I rattled off the list of ingredients, thinking at the very least the absence of both chicken and marsala sauce might have made him aware of his error. "NEVER" he muttered "would I eat EGGPLANT." "Well" I replied thoughtfully "there is a great deal of eggplant in what you just ate so perhaps you have found a new favorite since you CLEARLY enjoyed it?" "You know" he said in hostile tones "I should get this meal for free since it was your mistake..." "HA. HA. HA." I laughed brightly, wishing to deliver a swift kick to his face. I got their check. I comped one of their beers, which brought the bill to exactly what it would have been if he had received what he wanted. I examined his licked clean plate for any signs that he did not enjoy his dinner, and found none. I was not at all surprised to discover that they left me a 0% tip on a $55 check. Surprised, no, a little teensy bit pissed off? MmmHmmm. I asked you if said item was what you wanted, you said yes. I checked on you not one but THREE times to see if all was well, you said yes... You ate the WHOLE frigging thing..


At the end of the night, it all balanced out. I averaged an even 20% due to Captain Douchswizzle and his inability to differentiate marinara from marsala. And good times were had by all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Adventure in Excellent Service: Part 1

Quiet times had once again descended upon the restaurant. And by quiet, I actually mean extremely DEAD.

Needing to do something to amuse myself I declared boldly (to no one in particular) that I would become dedicated to the pursuit of giving the most excellent service known to man. I would lay it on so thick that people would be handing me 100% tips without even thinking about it. I would become insanely wealthy and quit. In actuality, I was just curious to see that if stepping up my game a bit might actually have any consequence. (being that I consistently average 22-25% minimum- which is pretty good.) Being that my patience with Captain Rig's was wearing thin I decided that a one day trial of Excellent service was about all I could handle. After that I would go back to by old ways of spitting in peoples soup and screaming "WHATCHA WANT" to take an order.

(I also decided that if I were to find myself laden with Canadians that all bets were off.)

The night in question was slow enough to guarantee that I would be able to perform my act of Excellent waiting- and that the kitchen would not be too busy to be slow and screw me all up. Things progressed nicely and I found that although people were astonished to listen to me recite by memory the 17 specials, and were pleased to have instant water refills, immediate crumb wipe-age and absurdly detailed descriptions of the desserts my tips stayed put in my same 22-25% range.

Part of the way thru the night I was seated with a mother/teen daughter combo. This is not always the most promising situation but my Mom and I enjoy dining together on a regular basis and always appreciate good service (and tip accordingly, obvi.) So I brought my infamous "A Game" to this table and regaled them with my knowledge of San Manzano Tomatoes, attended to their every request with a flourish and a smile and was altogether delightful. Typically little teen girls like me, because I am not so old as to be an uncool parental authority figure. This girl however was deeply imbedded in some sort of emo subculture and was clearly very sad and depressed about her 13 year old life. She moped about, shaking her hair over her face and brooding over Twilight and death (I don't know. I'm just guessing!) After to attending to them like some kind of freaking superhero waitress I went over to clear their plates and to offer them an excellent homemade (at some others home) dessert. The Mom said to me after I dished out the tempting offer of a luscious tiramisu "You know.... There is something about your voice that REALLY bothers me.... Maybe it is just because you are SO loud!" Horrified and deeply offended I looked at her, agog. Thinking back on every interaction I had with them I realized that I most certainly had not been loud, brash or anything but extra nurturing and friendly. My hackles were up! Biting back all kinds of inappropriate things I plastered on my biggest, toothiest grin and said "I'm so sorry that you were offended by mo tone or volume. I must make sure that when I talk that even people who are listening to their ipods can hear me...." (with a sideways look at the princess of the ear buds, who scowled at me and buried herself deeper into the banquette.) Clearing their plates away the Mom continued "The little princess did not like her dinner but didn't want me to say anything." Looking at the offending dish I discovered that as inedible as it had been most of it was gone. "I'm sorry to hear that" I said dryly "What seems to have been the problem?" I was addressing the emo princess but she wanted nothing to do with me, and she turned up the volume on her ipod while rolling her eyes in disgust at the incompetence of adults. (at this age, if I had acted like this i would have been sent to sit in the car. Oh, after having my ipod ripped from my person, my hat removed from my head and my bad attitude washed off my face. but we don't discipline our children in these times...) "Oh nothing...." sighed the indulgant Mom "she just didn't like it...." Knowing that I had no chance for a good tip at this table I calmly reached out and removed a bud from emo princess ear "Hey" I said with the utmost friendliness "If you don't like your dinner and you don't tell me.... There is NOTHING that I can do about it! So... You just remember that for next time, ok?" Gently replacing her ear but I gave her a hearty pat on the shoulder (to piss her off? or because I wanted to slap her sour expression off her face? I'm not telling...)

I delivered the check for the table, now speaking to them in the very most hushed of whispers while looking in the other direction (passive aggression, anyone? with a side of fries?) I did not care because I know it was a lost cause and I figured if I wasn't going to make bank then I better have a laugh. Upon picking up the check I was genuinely shocked to fine a tip over 20%. Go figure!

To be continued...... Will I have more drama on the night of good service? Will I end up making any cash? Wait and see!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Inside the head of a MAD MAN!

Captain Rigatoni was most disturbed.

Sitting in his lair (aka:office) he twisted his large, gold rings around his twinkie like fingers while ruminating over recent events. He was not sure what had him so on edge... But something did and he fully intended to do something about it!

Leaping up from his chair, in the way that only an unfit angry man can he strode to the kitchen filled with agitation. Suddenly, something caught his eye though a crack in the door. Intently he peered out and was disgusted and baffled to see that his staff of clowns had parked out in the back lot. AH-HAH! THIS must be the reason for his discontent, he thought to himself, his STUPID staff was doing things all the wrong way AGAIN! GOD, were they EVER on their A Game? Would he ever be able to get a moments rest, what with having to babysit the lot of them 24/7?!

"HEY YOU!" he shouted angrily to the first waitress he saw, pleased to have found someone so quickly on whom to vent his anger "WHAT are you all doing parking out there? WHY would you do such a thing." "Well" calmly replied the waitress "We are parking there because you told us to." "WHAT?!" he cried, eyeing this small, middleaged waitress with extreme displeasure "I NEVAH would have told you to do such a thing! NEVAH! Now answer me again: WHY are yous parking out there." Annoyingly unphased by his attempt at intimidation she sighed a little and with the kind of calm patience that made him want to kill someone she said "Well.... We are parking there because you told us to do so." This was not going the way he had planned at all. She was making him look like an idiot in front of everyone with her terrible, disrespectful lies! Luckily, at this moment in walked his Mama. He knew that for sure, she would have his back and save the day! Then he could kick that middleaged waitress right out the backdoor where she belonged with her insolent, ignorant LIES! "MAMA" he said "This here waitress is tellin' me that I told all of them to park out back. I did no such thing so what's she playin' at?" Looking at him with resignation his Mama said "Well Rigatoni, you did tell them to park out there." At this point Captain Rig was seeing red and could not believe the betrayal from his own MOTHAH!! From the distance he thought he heard the sounds of self-satisfied laughter (which made his blood boil) but there was nobody else in the kitchen at that point.

Right at that moment into the kitchen trundled Jan, dragging by his ear her faithful man slave. The man slave was a well trained employee of Captain Rig's and was Jan's poopsy-woopsy. She loved the way that he sucked up to the Captain in a way that was terribly disturbing to the normal idiots working there. She loved the way he massaged her rolls of fat after the hard hours she put in on the job. Oh she just loved everything about her man slave, especially the way that she could throw him at Captain Rigatoni to cheer him up, collecting tons of brownie points in the process. The Captain was delighted to see the man slave and jumped right over to where he was standing. With his fat finger he poked the MS in the ribs, causing him to giggle and nervously jump around. "You like working with these idiots" chortled the Captain, poking and tickling at the MS who continued to jump nervously from foot to foot, giggling all the while "you like what I have to put up with around here, DONTCHA!!" Agreeing with his every word while slobbering delightedly at the attention the MS nervously dodged the ever more violent pokes that the Captain was giving him. Tiring of their little game the Captain finished up the bizarre interaction by putting the MS in a headlock and mussing with his hair. "You go now" he bellowed "I know I can count on you to do a good job!" Running away as quickly as possibly the MS went to hide once again in Jan's formidable shadow, while trying to master the art of basic English.

This robust moment of bullying had helped the Captain to clear his head but had also exhausted him. To his office he went, shaking his head and muttering obscenities to all the cooks as he past them by. Couldn't leave them for a second, he mused to himself, because they'd be trying to put him out of business. Once back in his office he realized that he had some mail on his desk! Delighted, he pounced on it like a fat kid pounces on cake. Unwrapping the biggest package first he was giddy to discover that he had been mailed an Award Of Excellence. He, the master of the universe was finally being given the credit that he deserved! Never one to pass up an opportunity to shamelessly indulge in public self promotion he immediately summoned the entire staff to the kitchen. "STAFF" he said in his most preachy, big-news-is-coming voice "I have won the most important award in all the land." I wanted to tell you all this so that you know how powerful and wonderful I am. AND I wanted to tell you that this is what happens when EVERYONE does that job that they are supposed to do and EVERYONE is on their A GAME!!!" Not noticing the baffled and bemused expressions from most of his staff (with the exception of Jan and her MS who were jumping up and down, hyperventilating from excitement and high blood pressure) he solemnly led a round of applause and retreated to the depths of the restaurant to polish his new plaque.

And the moral of this story is: (we should all have a Man Slave) Just kidding! The real moral is that when one wins an award, of any caliber, the supposed slacking and ineptitude of the staff is momentarily forgotten.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cakes, Cleavers and Car Trouble. Or: I'm BACK!

I was on route to Captain Rigatoni's not too long ago, all shiny and well dressed (as usual) running punctually on time (as usual) and with a smile on my face and a freaking song in my heart (aren't I just the picture of perfection!) When I heard a pop.... I pulled my car over and sure enough, I had the very most flat of flat tires. I was not too bothered by this as I was raised to be an independent and clever woman, one who does not need any stinking AAA. I got my jack, and my winter coat. I dug out my tire iron and the spare tire. I got to work. Much to my dismay the lug nuts would NOT BUDGE! Inwardly cursing my mechanic for tightening the little buggers with the air wrench thing I realized that I would have to call for some serious help (AKA my poor put upon Dad. The middleaged Huz was at work.) The entire situation proved to be challenging (it was cold. my phone service was questionable. My Dad was very hard to locate.) But to make a veeeery long story short and reasonable the tire got changed. Being that I am a gifted and responsible employee of Captain Rig's most Magical Bistro I got on the hop and drove like a lunatic to arrive a mere 37 minutes late.

As I made my walk of shame into the restaurant I noticed that I was feeling a touch unwell. Thinking back on my day I remembered that I was running on no lunch, and that the cold weather and tire changing nonsense had put me into an icky state of low bloodsugar-itis. I am a scrawny little thing, who needs to be fed every hour on the hour to keep the hypoglycemia at bay. If I miss a meal, watch out... Not only do I get crabby but I get clammy, shaky and eventually just fall down and pass out, or become disgustingly nauseated. That's where I was at upon my arrival and I was rather hopeful that I would be able to snag some juice and crackers before being called into service.

As soon as I walked in Marissa and my Human Work Friend jumped on me. "You're just in time" they said with barely disguised disgust "We are being summoned to the kitchen for a Very Important Meeting!" Now, when one is summoned for a VIM one absolutely does not stop for a life saving smackerel of something. Looking longingly at the basket of bread, I woozily made my way into the kitchen and propped myself up against the salad cooler (and was promptly admonished for leaning on the salad cooler...)

Captain Rig crashed into the kitchen, very much in I-Just-Swallowed-A-Beehive mode. Faaaaaaaantastic. Glaring around at us in a tizzy he started in (and I knew we were in for a long one.) He reached into the dessert cooler and produced half of a cake, which had had something of an accident and had essentially slid off of itself earlier in the week. (we had been allowed by his majesty to eat some of said cake on that particular day- it was very good and we were all secretly glad that it had structurally failed.) Anyway, I digress. He pointed at the cake with a large meat cleaver and demanded the cooks to tell him why it had not been turned into some other type of dessert and sold. None of them happen to own a magic wand that transforms failed desserts into Ace Of Cakes like masterpieces so they were unable to answer his question. This displeased Capt Rig immensely which encouraged him to spend at least 15 minutes repeating the same question over and over again "WHY THE EFF DID YOU CLOWNS NOT MAKE THIS CAKE INTO SOMETHING THAT WE COULD SELL? WHY THE EFF DO I PAY YOU? WHY ARE YOU ALL SUCH IDIOTS?" This went on for long enough to put me into a stupor, one which was not even relatively pleasant. At this point I had reached the cold sweats and shaking part of my desperate need for food and was wondering what my punishment would be if I passed out and fell upon the floor.

Just as I had decided that vomiting on my shoes was the thing to do I was horrified to hear Captain Rig shout my name (he knows my name. mental note to legally change name as soon as possible) I shook my head in a weak attempt to revive and asked him to please repeat. He pointed and glared at the red faced cook behind the line and then he pointed at me. "SHOULD I" he intoned, slowly so that I would be sure to understand "FEEL SORRY. FOR THESE IDIOTS.... WHO WASTE! MY! MONEY! And EFFIN! RUIN! MY! BUSINESS!" I peered over at at the cook, who looked inches away from tears. I could feel the stares of Marissa and my Human Work Friend on the back of my head as they collectively held their breaths. In my hypoglycemic state I had a clear vision of what would happen if I said "Yes. You should feel sorry for them because you emasculate and demean then in a way that is unprofessional and unacceptable." I imagined how red faced and bug eyed Captain Rigatoni would get and how he would gesture wildly to the door and order me to GET! THE! EFF! OUT! I pictured myself high fiving the cook, grabbing my bag and shouting "Don't let the door hit me in the ass on my way out" or some such ridiculous nonsense. "Hey" hollered Capt Rig (in reality) "WELL, SHOULD I????" I looked at the cook, who looked back and from behind Captain Rig's back gave the tiniest shake of his head. "HEY!" shouted Capt Rig, fed up with my meandering nonsense "ANSWER ME!" "Welllll" I said, valiantly trying to see a loophole "I suppose that you wouldn't need to feel sorry for anyone who.... wastes your money.." And there was a huge sigh of relief from everyone around me who gave a crap. Not entirely satisfied with my answer Cap Rig jumped over to the sad looking cake and stabbed his meat cleaver into it. "WASTING MY MONEY, FOOLS" he ranted, stabbing and cutting in a manic frenzy "NONE OF YOU ARE ON YOUR A GAME!!! YOU DO A TERRIBLE JOB! GONNA RUIN MY BUSINESS!" After a few moments of ranting, hacking and frothing he was spent, and thankfully retreated to the dark, dank recesses of his office.

I RAN and had some juice. Revived. Shook my head in dismay.... And wrapped up the chaotic night by having an amusing conversation with Marissa and my HWF about what exactly they pictured me doing during the stand off with Captain Rig. Evidently they imagined me doing something startlingly similar to my groggy daydream.

This set off a several day tirade from His Highness about what a terrible job all of us do (pretty normal) about how we are never on our "A Game" (same message, dfferent phrase) and of course the standard stuff about being idiots, clowns, etc. Stay tuned to find out how long this rant lasted, or what it might take to snap a crazy man out of his madness....

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Still Here!

All of you out there on the internet probably think that finally I did something so bad at work that I fell into the infamous 7th circle of hell trap door.
Alas, it is not nearly as exciting as that. Just when I began to get back on my feet from Restaurantitis round 1, I was hit again with Epic Sick round 2. ARGH, the violation!
Anywhoo, thru my codine induced fog I have not been able to write, speak, or waitress with much skill or talent. But fear not friends, I'll be back this weekend with tales of horror from the Happiest Place on Earth! Whoot!