Monday, August 11, 2014

Faith in humanity: restored

I had a family of three today that just gave me a weird feeling. They were all very polite. Very friendly. They all made eye contact while speaking and said please and thank you. It was almost too polite and too much eye contact. I just had a feeling that I was in for a verbal tip.

Pictured: a typical indicator of a poor tip.
When they left, the man handed me the money ... sandwiched in to a prayer pamphlet. I smiled and said thank you and wished them a good day, while silently steeling myself the kind of tip I'm accustomed to from Bible thumpers.

So imagine my shock when I went in to the kitchen and pulled out the money ... and found they had left me two crisp, perfect fifty dollar bills. Their bill was a little under $75. Now, I know there are places where that kind of tip is nothing. But for three people at Generic Corporate Restaurant? Holy cow.

I chased them out in to the parking lot to thank them and tell them that they made my day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A fair trade.

So I've been back slinging hash for a while now, and I've been a little anxious, wondering if I was going to end up just depleting my savings and finding myself living shift to shift again. I felt like I couldn't possibly be making as much as I was before, and I was starting to freak out.


Yeah. Turns out that, while I did make $78 (after taxes) less this month than at my desk job .... I worked 75 fucking hours less. Seventy-five hours! That's more than three entire extra days of my damn life I got back.

I'm good with that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Logic fail.

Dat gonna be frah, raight?
In our eternal quest to make more money give customers all their options, a lot of us offer breadsticks to customers when they order a salad. It's a teeny, tiny additional charge - but it still counts as a "point" towards our upsells (which is part of what determines our shifts).

I've almost stopped asking, though, because I can't handle the stupid. I would say that nine out of ten people, when I ask, "would you like a breadstick with your salad?" come back at me with: "does it come with it?"

Think about it, folks. If it came with it, would I be asking you if you want it? No. I'd just bring it to you. Just like the tomatoes, or dressing, or what-the-fuck-ever else. I don't ask if you want a straw with your drink but I sure as hell bring you one. I don't ask if you want a napkin with your silverware. Since you're not at an Italian restaurant, we don't just chuck bread at you.

So if I ask if you want a totally separate item with your meal .... you can go ahead and assume it doesn't "come with it."

(Yes. I have my cranky pants on today.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Go be nauseating in private.

Anyone who has read more than, like, one of my entries should know how I feel about children. In simple terms, I'm not a fan. Waiting on crotchspawn was one of the things I seriously weighed if I could handle before resuming serving. Now of course it isn't the spawn's fault if it doesn't know how to behave in public, it's the parents' failure. Still not pleasant.

That said, it wasn't the spawn that was annoying today - she was too tiny to be anything but defenseless and wrinkly. She was so new I think I could still smell placenta on her. Her head still had a little of that "I was just squeezed out a vagina" cone shape. So I'm guessing this was Mommy and Daddy's first trip out in public with their new burden bundle of joy. And I understand wanting to be out in the world and show off - I wish I could take my dog everywhere with me, she's badass.

So I'm not faulting them for that. However, I am faulting them for sharing one salad between them and then taking up 25% of my section for two hours - and since my section was two booths and two two-seater tables (that nobody ever sits at), in practical terms it was more like 40%.

They weren't even talking to each other. They were just passing the baby back and forth and staring at it in wonderment. No, I'm not kidding. I heard them exchange maybe ten words the entire time. The whole "meal" consisted of mushily staring at their little miracle as they handed her back and forth across the table.

Okay, I get it. You made a little person. You'll have plenty of time to regret that later, but for now? Get the fuck out of my section and go stare at her like lobotomized idiots at home!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Things I forgot.


  • Accent Girl rolls her silverware crazy weird. I can't even figure out what she does, but it's all lumpy and weird.
  • When Lapdog gets stressed, he fixates on little things. The place can be going to hell and he'll suddenly go on a rampage about why there isn't a bucket of sanitizer out so servers can polish silverware if they have a spare moment.
  • How walking might make you more hot overall, but dear god the breeze it creates is wonderful when you're all damp and sweaty.
  • That Bug's laugh is still completely fucking annoying.
  • The way plates can feel fine when you pick them up, but by the time you get to the table you don't have fingerprints anymore.
  • Just how much goddamn salad dressing people can eat.
  • Bissels suck. 
  • That hostesses seem to be universally brainless once they clock in.
  • How my pillow smells disgusting in the morning if I'm too tired/lazy to shower before bed - actually, it's even worse now because it's a combination of restaurant and pizza.
  • On that note, how my skin feels juuuuuuust slightly sticky until I take a very long, very hot shower.
  • Swamp ass. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hit my stride!

Well, after my first two rough shifts ... I'm back on the horse. I've got the changes to the computer system down, I've now seen all of the new menu items and have gotten them cemented in my mind, and basically, life is good. Oh, not to say I'm perfect. Far from it. I still totally forgot that one guy's ranch and rang in the wrong item for that other woman (why does corporate make the buttons so similiar?). But now that I've got a few more days under my belt .... feeling good!

I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it, actually. I mean, my stamina is totally shot - a three hour shift kicks my ass. I can't imagine how bad it would be if I hadn't been doing the pizza thing since August! And the restaurant heat blows as much as ever - but feels good as well. I hate sweating unless it's because I'm doing something productive.

I'm slightly concerned I'll have a lack of stories now that I don't have my bitch on quite as often .....

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fell on my face again.

I was hoping day two would be better than day one. I had a section right outside the kitchen, which made things easier, but then I also had two tables out on the patio. Everything was moving along smoothly and then I got a woman and her two sons. They were nice enough when I greeted them and they ordered promptly, starting with the youngest son.

"I'll have chicken alfredo," he muttered shyly, not looking directly at me but instead at his closed menu.

"And?" his mother prompted in that "eat your vegetables" tone.

"And, um, a salad." he offered. His brother then ordered a burger and his mother ordered "shrimp linguine, and a salad with ranch" as she handed me her menu. I rang it in, I refilled their drinks, I brought their salads, all the usual stuff. They said their food was great; I fetched them a couple of boxes and gave Mom the bill.

The hostess then told me I'd gotten sat outside, so I scooted out and got their drink order. Came back in and Mom handed me her credit card. I ran it and took her slips back to her, and that was when she decided to ask .....

"Were those the lunch portions?"

Well no, no they weren't lunch portions because they didn't ask for lunch portions. I politely explained this and explained the best way to order next time if they wanted the lunch portions.

"Well, I thought you understood when he pointed at it in his menu," she said. See above re: him looking at the closed menu. But she wasn't snotty about it, so that was nice. I apologized for the confusion, and then, in an effort to avoid a problem like the day before, I went to Lapdog.

"Hey, you might want to stop by table 2. She doesn't seem upset, but she thought they ordered the lunch portions - they didn't - and she said something about it."

"Well, let's fix it." he whipped out his manager card.

"They already ate and paid," I said, expecting that to be the end of it. Oh, no. Lapdog decided he needed to pull back their ticket, change the price of their meals, and charge them the cheaper price. That took a few minutes, and I went to explained the lady what we were doing and said we'd need to run her card again. When I got back to Lapdog, he hadn't finished yet. I tore up the slips that were going to be voided, threw them away, and circled around again - at which point Lapdog asked for the slips I'd just torn up and thrown away.

See, it used to be that we could only void a transaction and re-run the card. Apparently Lapdog has figured out how to alter the charge that was originally entered - but he has to have the numbers off the original slip. So he told me go dig it out of the trash. That was fun, rooting around in the dish pit trash can trying to find bits and pieces of now-wet paper. I didn't find all of it; I didn't find the piece he needed. He lectured me about not throwing it away next time, then let me wash my hands and re-run the woman's card.

(It has just now occurred to me, as I was writing this, that Lapdog and I are both stupid. We could have re-printed the credit slip to get that effing number. But I was so flustered I didn't think of it. Balls.)

I took the new slip out to the lady, who was thankful - we'd saved her a whopping six dollars - and I started trying to re-group and deal with the tables around Mom and her boys. I had re-filled drinks and had just finished bussing Mom's table ($7 tip!) when Lapdog came storming back in the kitchen and hollered, "Who knows something about the table on the patio that didn't get service?"

FUCK.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Well, that could have gone better.

First real shift today, and while I didn't go down in flames, I didn't exactly hit the ground running either. I had the section farthest from the kitchen, plus a couple of tables on the patio, and that stressed me out right away - I assumed since I was "new" I'd have three tables right by the kitchen. The extra time to get to that station, plus the extra time it took me to ring in a few orders due to the slightly different computer system ... it put me behind and I felt that all day. Most of my customers were totally cool and tipped me well. And despite my stress, I was still glad to be there. But there was one table where I done screwed up. It could have been fixed, had they not been passive-aggressive ijits.

First of all, the woman wanted nachos, which aren't on the menu anymore, but there's still a button in the computer. So no problem, I thought. But when they went out, it turns out that we don't have the ground beef for it anymore and apparently we just send it out now without it which makes no sense to me because a) it's the same damn price as it used be and b) we have damn hamburgers so why not use one.

Mmmmmmmmm.
Anyway, the woman insisted, insisted, that it was fine, she didn't want beef or chicken, she just wanted some salsa. Okeydokey. The little girl didn't look thrilled with her macaroni and cheese, I assume because it's not Kraft kind, but instead our version on cavatappi noodles. But her mom helpfully told her it was
yummy and I thought all was well.

Mistress J was on expo, so I let her know all of this - she still has managerial powers, and I didn't feel like talking to Lapdog (oh, yes, Lapdog is still there. He comes with the building lease at this point.) about it. She said if we needed to we'd take something off the bill, just to let her know.

I made a point of checking back early and a little more often than usual - first checkback, everything was fine. Second, they had gotten very quiet but said it was good - I asked specifically about the nachos and the macaroni and was told they were fine. Third, they wouldn't even answer me other than to ask for the bill. In retrospect, I should have sent Lapdog to check on them. But I figured Mommy and Daddy had argued or something, because the kids were suddenly quiet and subdued too, and also because they had told me their food was fine.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the ticket after they left and had a two dollar tip on $55 - okay, that didn't surprise me after the nacho problem, and I wasn't upset or anything. What did surprise me was that they'd left passive aggressive notes on the check: "8.99 for chips and salsa??!" with the nachos circled (yeah, sure, there was nothing else on them ...) and then "NO CHX!!!!!" with the little girl's macaroni circled. I don't know if that meant there was no chicken in the mac and cheese or the little girl didn't want chicken - neither of which was communicated to me. Neither was their displeasure with the cost of anything.

I felt bad after they left, because I didn't handle it well. But I also felt like they should have spoken the hell up at a point where something could be done.




Friday, June 27, 2014

I don't need no stinkin' retraining.

Well, I've already pissed off a coworker. Not that I did anything wrong. BB was told I just needed a refresher and to let me work her tables and see what I remembered, what I needed help with, etc. So .... that's what I did. And then she bitched to MJ that I "took over" her section and that she's not a real trainer so she "felt put on the spot" and that she wanted to write more on my training log but she felt "pressured" to say certain things. Basically, she complained that I didn't need her help and then complained she didn't get to tell me what to do because I didn't need her help.

Of course, that didn't stop her from trying to tell me what to do - often in the most micro-managing way possible. I wanted to tell her "Bitch, the drink station has been in the same spot and organized the same way since I first worked here twelve years ago. I know how to serve an iced tea!" And of course, the things I actually did want an assist with, she was no help. For example the computer system is pretty much the same except a couple of the menu hierarchies have been changed - but at one point I couldn't find a button, and instead of helping me with where to find it, she just pushed me to the side, jabbed at the screen a bunch, and did it for me.

I was not sorry to be done with her for the day. She was never actually nasty, but she just rubbed me the wrong way. The following day I was once again "training" but this time with Accent Girl - who handed me her POS card and said "go bitch, go!"

So I went, and surprise! I can still do the job I did for years! Harley (new boss) had said we'd put me on the schedule next week, but I hadn't worked with her yet so I talked to MJ and together we went to the scheduling manager, who said I had to do five days of training. I politely said that wasn't what I was told and got back "Well, that's what I'm telling you now! OKAY?"

MJ rolled her eyes and said she'd take care of it, and got me put on the schedule for four shifts next week. Thank god. I don't think I could handle a week of videos about the little extra in extraordinary.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh god, what have I done.

You guys. Seriously. Somebody get me a paper bag because I'm totally hyperventilating right now.

I just quit my full-time job to go back to serving.

Okay, I'm just kidding. About the hyperventilating part, that is.

I have indeed traded in my desk with the mountain view for a greasy kitchen floor with a view of the grill cook's butt crack. I've dumped a regular 8 to 5 gig with a steady hourly rate in favor of an ever-changing, uncertain schedule with impossible to predict financial returns. I've swapped clothing freedom and soft, painless feet for a rigid uniform and aching soles. I've thrown out scheduled breaks and lunches and dealing with a 100% digital product for hours of unbroken work and greasy ranch all over my fingers.

Or, to look at it another way ..... I've traded in sitting in one spot, growing ever fatter, developing carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome, and hating the walls around me, for constant movement and built-in exercise (okay, and probably still hating the walls around me). I've dumped listening to the same damn people sitting next to me talk every damn day, and having to watch what I say to them, for a constantly rotating cast of characters who will just laugh when I say something perverse. I've thrown out dealing with corporate attendance policies and rigid, inflexible hours for sleeping in, staying up late, and having the same schedule as most of my friends.

I never thought I'd do this. I'm even back at the same restaurant that 99% of these blog posts are bitching about. But I couldn't take the desk job anymore. I felt like my brain was rotting from the repetition of my job - and since it involved staring at a screen and reading all day, I found that when I got home I didn't want to do a lot of the things I enjoy - reading, writing, playing games - or like knitting or baking, I couldn't because my eyes hurt, my wrists hurt, my back hurt, etc. I hurt just as much from sitting all day as I ever did from serving - just in different places.

Then there was the time issue. Eight hours a day, five days a week - it sounds simple and normal, right? But I found it chokingly, miserably restrictive. Going to the doctor or getting to the bank to deposit money was a huge ordeal. Time off was sparse - I had the hours, but it was extremely difficult to get approval to use them. The inflexibility drove me crazy. And, I'm sorry, but waking up early fucking blows. People kept insisting my biorhythms would adjust, and yeah, it got a little easier after a year or so. But my body clock never truly re-set. I might fall asleep at ten and wake up at 6:30 a little before my alarm clock went off, but I was never rested, always groggy, grumpy, and ready to fall asleep again - including falling asleep at my desk more than once.

And, of course .... there's the money. My company used the same payroll service as the restaurant, so when I logged in to view my tax info, I could see my restaurant W2s for 2010 and 2011. Now, in 2010 I was gone for two months or more, flitting off to New York and California and friggin' England. In 2011, I was out for most of two months because CL was trying to get rid of me and was cutting my hours etc. Overall, I was working 30 hours or less a week. Guess what? At my desk job, averaging six hours of overtime a week, I only made a thousand dollars more in 2013 than I did in 2010 and 2012 at the restaurant - oh, and of course, that's only what I claimed. Hmmm ... 30 hours or less a week for the same amount of money as 46 or more? Let me think.

All of those things were building and frustrating me over a long period of months. Meanwhile, Mistress J was keeping me up-to-date on goings on at the restaurant. She had been furious and about to leave, because CL's replacement was a douchebag who promoted people with less experience while treating her like shit. And then the company told him to get the fuck out, and replaced him with someone awesome. I've never seen MJ so happy with her job and her boss. So for several months I picked her brain - what was business like? Were they still as busy? Was the new manager still cool? Did she flip out over little things? What's sidework like now? and on and on and on until she must have been fucking sick of me. I also re-read a lot of my own blog entries and other serving blogs to remind myself of what it's like.

But finally, after months of pondering (and not finding any other jobs that didn't pay even less for the same pains), some things happened that just pissed me the fuck off. I was given a final attendance warning because I was gone because my father was having emergency surgery (two surgeries actually, and my direct supervisors were as cool as could be about it, but the higher-ups made them "follow procedure.") At the same time, a lot of changes were made to our procedures that made everything more time-consuming and less efficient (but more ass-covering for the management). I also found out that new, temporary employees were making more than established people like me even after my fucking joke of a raise. Then, supervisors and people who had been with the company for 10+ years starting leaving at a rate that was just plain suspicious considering the amount of work the company has been outsourcing to India.

So ... I took the leap. I put in my application at the restaurant, Mistress J talked to the new boss, and she hired me back without even meeting me face-to-face, just based on what MJ told her! I put my notice in at the desk job; my last day was today*. My first day of "training" is tomorrow - luckily they're not going to make me go through the entire process if I can prove I don't need it.

HAPPY DANCE
I'm slightly apprehensive, but mostly I'm just freaking excited. I'll be working with friends - Mistress J obviously, plus Work Wife and Accent Girl are still there (so are Barbie and the Bug but I'm much less thrilled about that). I'll be able to give up shifts, pick up shifts, and generally have the flexibility I need in my life at this point. I'll get some exercise which is great because damn - I've always been fat, but I've never been THIS fat. I'll eat better because I'm much more likely to have healthy meals when I can just order them since I freaking hate to cook. I'll get to stay up late/sleep in. And cash! Glorious cash! In my pocket every day!
Hot damn!

And, I'll get my vacation time paid out from the desk job and that will be my savings cushion, plus I may just empty out my 401k for savings too - I wouldn't have gone back to uncertain income without something in the bank. I'll also still be working my pizza gig because I just plain like it!

I'm sure there will be moments I'll regret this. I'm sort of terrified I've made a huge mistake. My dad is going to have a conniption when I tell him. But for now, it feels right.

Oh - and just as I thought, CL had marked me as "not rehireable" for no reason (literally, she put no reason in my file). What a bitch.

*Okay, today as of the day I'm writing - I'm not going to post it until I've got a few entries written up to keep the momentum going.