Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Musings - My "Hates" as a Server

Hello one and all,

Allow me first to apologize that I haven't been able to update this as much as I have wanted.  My hope was that once I got past the beginning of the year I would have more free time to blog.  However, what happened was, in fact, the inverse.  I was scheduled endlessly at work and that, combined with the unfortunate flipping of my car at the high speed of 15 mph, sort of swallow my time and mental faculties.  Rest assured that I haven't forgotten about this thing and hopefully now that I have laid down some ground rules for my schedule (no more doom schedules with 5 doubles on them) and have time to experience the outside world (as well as sleep for that matter), I should hopefully both have more material to blog about as well as the time to do so.  Hopefully this funny picture of a squirrel will help make amends.

"Maybe I can make commercials like that Dos Equis guy..."

My "Hates" as a Server

As some of you may be aware, I am currently a waiter full-time.  While I would thoroughly enjoy continuing to further my education towards what I hope one day will be a doctorate, having young children to care for and a beautiful to buy things for required that I take some time to make the monies.  Before I moved back to school, I had served tables for a couple of years and had made fairly decent money at it.  Granted, I drank a lot of that money away so I don't know for SURE how much money I made, but I paid my bills and saved a substantial amount.  As a result, I went for a job serving tables at a local restaurant chain (which shall remain nameless) and got it.  Now, I had idealized images in my head of my return to serving tables.  However, within a few short weeks...I remembered why I went back to school.  First of all, I didn't get to dress up like this guy...

Secondly, there are a lot of pitfalls serving tables for a living that I had forgotten I figure, why not share those with "hates" as a server.  Before I begin though, there are some things that I like about serving.  I have been lucky enough to have some of the best regulars in the world at my stops in the serving world (with a couple notable exceptions that I will enumerate later) who I consider to be more friends than customers and who can single-handedly brighten my day if they show up.  I also make fairly decent money, especially considering the actual number of hours I work in a week, that I get to take home day to day.  Its nice to not have to wait for a paycheck.  There are also shifts where I do feel like I both A) did a great job and B) the guests knew/cared that I did a great job which does give a sense of accomplishment in certain respects.  Now that being said....I do have some things I want to say.  Most of this is just to get off my chest, but maybe it will help some of you realize that you are doing things that drive us (servers) crazy.

1.) People who have overly complex drink orders or order multiple drinks at once

Now, the exception to this is if you order a regular drink and an alcoholic drink.  You people are okay with me...if for no other reason that if you are drinking alcohol, you are probably going to entertain me a little and probably are going to tip better (the basic law of check average tells us this is true).  Now, for the rest of you assholes...please stop ordering decaf coffee at 2 PM in July to go with your half sweet tea, half unsweet tea....extra lime.  Then there are the water "with extra lemons and can you bring extra sugar too so I can make my own lemonade at the table" people who I have on more than one occasion considered charging for a lemonade when they do this.  My table is not a lemonade stand you cheap bastards.  Whenever people do this, I make a mental note of them in the hope that I will encounter them at THEIR places of employment and then I try to get free stuff from them shamelessly.  If you can't get by with one drink that has free refills and isn't some ridiculous ratio of sweet tea to water to unsweet tea concoction, then you don't need to go out to eat.  Also, the more complicated/stupid the drink order, the more likely you are just a douche that is going to hate everything we do anyways because you are too picky to be taken care of by anyone other than their mothers.

2.) Servers are emotionally unstable people....and folks who work in the kitchen are worse

"Here is your drink ma'am....please love me FOREVER!"

This one is probably more a function of where I am in my life.  I have a stable home life with a loving family and while we aren't loaded by any stretch of the imagination....we get by fairly comfortably.  I am, generally speaking, older than most of my coworkers and, as a result, just don't care about a lot of the things they care about.  That being is amazing to me the type of person you have to be in order to be a server.  You really have to just put yourself on stage and out there over and over again....hoping that that will be good enough to get a good tip and make your livelihood.  However...this process also makes servers very fragile people in a lot of ways where if ANYTHING goes wrong...then they can just go completely off the rails in a hurry.  Every day, I see servers who come in and either got in a fight with their roommate or broke up with their boyfriend or had their cable turned off that morning and just watch them unravel during the course of the shift.  By the end of the night, they are near tears, screaming at anyone/everyone, and the rest of us have to basically do their jobs for them.  Now, the truly spectacular meltdowns, though, are saved for the kitchen guys.  I don't pretend to be able to understand the stress of working in a kitchen during a busy shift...but I am amazed at the amount of times I have seen a simple request from a server/guest/manager/fellow kitchen person turn into a profanity-laced tirade followed by them quitting.  While some of these things are funny, most of the time it just makes my life more difficult and hurt my money making ability.  I'm sure you had fun getting completely hammered with the kitchen staff last night, but you are 45 minutes late and I had to wait for you before they would let me go home.  I will now scream in your ear and hope that it will ring in your hangover-addled head for a couple of hours.

3.) Guests do....not....listen to you

This drives me crazy.  Contrary to popular belief, servers DO in most cases receive training on how to prevent mistakes in terms of ordering food.  They teach us how to repeat orders back to the guest in a way that helps insure that the order is correct as well as how to identify potential problems (an 80 year old woman on oxygen, for example, probably doesn't need to order the spiciest thing on the menu).  Does this solve all of our problems?  Hell matter how clear I am saying that medium well will have a slightly pink center...some dumb bastards nod at me with a blank stare on their face and then, when they get their steak and its exactly the way I described, they say "oh, I didn't want any pink or blood in it" and I just want to stab them with their fork.  When I say, "we have rolls in the oven, as soon as they come out", do not ask me 10 seconds later BEFORE I EVEN LEAVE THE TABLE, "Hey, did you forget our rolls?"  No I didn't....and now I will try to forget that you are a total dumbass and suppress the urge to go and slash your tires.

4.) Managers in restaurant chains are often extremely trite and useless

"I notice that you don't have 15 pieces of flair..."

Don't get me wrong....managing the group of crazies that comprise basically every restaurant staff is not a task I envy and I have zero desire to do it.  That being, I could care less about a lot of what they say.  So much of it is "So, you didn't mention your name TWICE when you greeted the table Eric.  We do that to help create a relationship with our gues.....(zzzzzz)".  In a lot of cases, managers don't MANAGE so much as just recite the answers/company line they have memorized to respond with to specific situations.  Now some of this is outside their control because the company makes them do it (which makes it understandable if not excusable), but some of it is just because they ACTUALLY think this little trite phrases and mottos are clever and insightful.  I don't give a shit about the length of my apron, I couldn't care less about whatever acronym you want me to memorize that helps me remember what I'm supposed to say when I drop off a check, just let me take of these people and I will come to you if I actually need something.

The next one is the big one...

5.) Even if do everything you are supposed to, if any one of the following: hostess stand, managers, kitchen, or bus boys have a bad will directly effect in a negative fashion the amount of money you take home

"Sigh....rolled three doubles in a row..."

This just infuriates me to no end.  I can be on my game.  I can be aware of my tables' needs, be on it in terms of friendliness and willingness to take care of people, and I can do everything I am supposed to....and still end up going home with little to show for it.  You see.....servers make $2.13 an hour plus tips...thats it.  We need tips in order to make our days worth while.  So when the kitchen screws up an order or the hostess stand (which is essentially run by 16 year old girls with a combined IQ of a bushel of potatoes) pisses someone off by sitting someone who came in after them or the managers don't communicate and a bunch of orders and guest issues get messed up....guess who the guests take it out on?  I'll give you a hint....its us.  Sure, they will tell you that they knew that you didn't cook the food and burn their steak and they may even smile.  But when you look at that credit card slip and you see that $3 tip on a $40 tab, they are showing you exactly how they felt.  Serving tables is in a very small minority of jobs where the inadequacies of your other coworkers contributes DIRECTLY to how much money you take home.  Teachers have to deal with dumb kids, sure, and that can reflect poorly on test scores which sucks.  But its not like if 5 kids fail a test they dock 20% of their pay....which is basically what happens with us.   If the bus boys are not cleaning tables quickly (or at all in some cases), then I can't have people sitting in my section, which means I'm not making money.  

So the next time you are in a restaurant, I hope this helps you realize what servers have to go through....especially those of us who aren't batshit crazy and are simply trying their best to get by. 

Thanks for a parting gift, here is a basket of opossums


Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Musings - My Struggle as an Ex-Republican

Hello one and all,

First of all, sorry about the lack of content over the last month and a half or so.  I know that you have all missed me horribly, but a number of factors have contributed to my absence from the blogosphere as of late (as well as from the world at-large).  First and foremost, my work schedule has been oppressive to say the least.  The upside to my job is that I don't work super long shifts and the money is fairly easy considering what I actually do.  The downside is that A) employee turnover is exceptionally high so, given that I am a constant, they like for me to work lots when people quit/get fired/disappear into the void, B) I'm pretty good at my job...which means they like for me to work extra lots, and C) my availability is pretty open (which I do in an attempt to engender goodwill)....which results in me working shifts that others find undesirable for one reason or another.  Hopefully this problem will sort itself out in the near future.  The second problem was that it was the holidays and I have a family that I love and want to spend time with.  It is difficult to deliver high level content when my daughter is in my lap making monkey noises and my darling Katie is wanting to have quality time with yours truly.  I apologize for nothing.  Finally, for the past several aforementioned family was afflicted with rounds of the plague which I managed to avoid sans 1.5 days of intestinal doom.  So I was on nurse duty trying to get them over their various ailments.

"Daddy, we need medicines...and pity!"

However, I found myself with a little free time this evening, so I thought a little bit about what to write and I decided to come clean with something that some of you may have not known and more probably needed a cogent explanation for.  You one point earlier in my life...I was Republican.  Not a pretend "my parents are Republican" Republican.  A card-carrying, president of a chapter of the Young Republicans and worked on campaigns Republican.  My transition away from that way of viewing the world and politics in general was a long one.  Some steps were very sudden, others were far more gradual.  To this day, I have tendencies towards conservatism in some respects and there are Republicans I have a large amount of respect for.  A list includes Richard Lugar, Mitch Daniels, Ron Paul, Lindsey Graham, and Colin Powell (not necessarily in order and the list isn't exhaustive).  Do I agree with these people?  Not really (at least not on most things and my views have parted over time), but I do have a large amount of respect for them for a variety of reasons.  However, I thought it could be interesting for you folks (and definitely cathartic for me) to throw out there where things went "off the rails" for me.  Maybe it will be useful, instructive, or interesting...but at least its better than making a facebook page for your pet.

1.) Social Conservatism is stupid

Don't get me wrong....people have religious/spiritual beliefs for a variety of reasons and from a variety of backgrounds.  I get that.  But for some reason, generally speaking, social conservatism has just categorically decided that Christian beliefs (or in some cases other religions) are completely incompatible with certain behaviors or other beliefs.  The obvious ones are abortion, birth control, and homosexuality.  Let's be clear...I don't anyone to be forced to be aborted.  I don't want condoms strapped on to the unwilling.  And I don't want Ellen Degeneres (sp?) and Neil Patrick Harris going around raping people.  But really...thats an awfully lot like what it seems like coming from the social if these things, just by existing, are being forced upon them when it isn't true.  This is especially troublesome given that a major part of Christian belief is based around free will and the "choice" to believe in God's love and in the fact that Jesus was who he said he was.  Christians aren't nearly as ardent against those who don't believe (at best, they are disdainful in most situations) than those who are gay ("Don't touch me").  That seems incongruous to me.

"You don't want to know what I'm going to do with this unicorn"

Aside from that problem, another problem with social conservatism is that the foundation for a lot of these social views are based in Biblical scripture.  Don't get me wrong...scripture can be cool.  But at the same time, Christians have, over time, adapted to the times and to the fact that the Bible was written within a specific historical context.  Some of the things that we forbidden by scripture were just a good idea from a health and hygiene standpoint (homosexuality could have prevented villages from having a next generation plus some specific hygiene associated issues and I don't even want to know what birth control methods could have been employed...that just gives me the willies).  Christians have understood this to be why is it that THESE practices, whose "okayness" is debatable at least by very reasonable people, have become so heinous as to rally the troops at every mention, while the following scriptures (which is in some cases is far more literal than those cited for the above issues) have fallen by the wayside.

If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.

If a married person has sex with someone else's husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death.

MARK 10:1-12
Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.

The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman's period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.

MARK 12:18-27
If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy's genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her.

Again....just food for thought.  At the end of the day, I just can't judge people for their choices.  I can't hate someone or shun them or deny them legal protection/rights because of who they are attracted to.  I can say that I would not want a fetus that I had any part in creating aborted...but the science isn't there to say that a human life starts at X and it is very reasonable for me to see that sometimes people can make a decision that is different from mine and I don't fault them for it.  To be a Republican right now, I would have to, at the very least, put up with a lot of that sort of nonsense and I can't do it.

2.) The GOP is anti-intellectual

There, I said it.  The best thing that ever happened to the Republican Party was higher drop out rates.  I am SO tired of this part of the current way of conservative thinking...that somehow "Ivy League intellectualism is responsible for all of our social ills and we need to get some "common sense" solutions right now."  First, sound like a moron, and thats probably because you are a moron.  Second, you doesn't want their kid to go to an Ivy League school?  We have some of the best colleges in the world, many of which are classified as Ivy League.  While there are certainly arguments against elitism, its not like these places haven't earned their reputations without ANY cause.  If my kids get in to Harvard or Yale or Princeton, first I will probably have a heart attack at the cost, but then I will do everything in my power to get them there.  College isn't for everyone...I get that.  But the very thought that because someone went to a good college makes them unfit to make good political/policy decisions is arguably the stupidest thing I have ever heard.  The best way I have to illustrate this is here:  You take someone who is uneducated but bright, run them through a great school, and the conclusions they draw from this experience lead them towards being liberal.  What is more likely...that the school somehow indoctrinates students into being liberal (which is laughable given what tax bracket these folks can come from in a lot of cases) or that a strong education means you may know somethings that others don't...which leads to....yeah....

"Indoctrinating and de-common-sensifying students since 1636"

The other problem I have with this anti-intellectualism is that its just a terrible message to send, to kids and just in general.  Don't become a'll just want to prove global warming is real like the rest of these
"scientists"!  Don't study creationism and the history of evolution...that means you don't believe in God!  Don't read....otherwise you'll get ideas!  It really has come down to the fact that the educated are looked down upon by Republicans because, to be blunt, many of their "simple" ideas don't withstand intellectual rigor very well.  Conservatism is very much governing "with your gut" and that often isn't good enough for a lot of the educated.  Thats not to say that these conservative ideas can't be justified intellectually or academically (seriously, read some of Robert Bork's writings.  The guy is more right-wing than Palin...but he is flat out brilliant), but its easier to make the educated into an enemy that they don't have to understand.  It also preys on the resentment of the uneducated...many of whom, sadly, would have went to high school or college if they could have but didn't for one reason or another.  A lot of those folks become conservatives...and thats a shame.

3.) A lot of Republicans are just douchebags

I'm not saying that ALL Republicans are douchebags.  Far from it.  I have several friends who are ardent Republicans that I hold in very high esteem.  I admire many Republican officials and even some GOP media personalities (Papa O'Reilly is growing on me....I think understands his position as an entertainer and not an expert better than he is given credit for....still disagree with 98% that comes out of his mouth though).  But seriously.....Glenn Beck?  Sarah Palin?  Rush Limbaugh?  I'm not saying that there aren't liberal assclowns (I'm looking at you, Bono), but do you really want me to listen to Ann Coulter say anything?!  

"I disagree...with everything....forever....f*cking baby killer"

These pundits sole purpose seems to be to disagree with everything Obama (or any liberal) says AND/OR causing/fabricating controversies and lacing all of that with subtle (or not so subtle) racism/sexism/homophobia.  If that was where it ended...with the pundits being that way...then it would be okay.  But conservatives are not that far off.  From those who are older that come from a time when judging someone by their skin was okay and haven't changed their minds to the guy who was raised hating gay people so calls everyone they don't like "fag" to even those that use the word "liberal" like its a curse word....go away.  You are using political jargon to vocalize and extend your assholeness into a new realm.  I don't have time for contrarians and if I encounter them....I make a point of embarassing them.  Unfortunately...they are a higher concentration of these sorts of folks in the conservative ranks than I bid you adieu.