Monthly Archives: August 2017

Waiting on a Miracle

Artwork by Tim Brown

In this day and age, it may be hard to believe in them, but we have to open our hearts in order to see the true beauty of the world and be willing to accept the miracles that happen before us each and every day. They may not be as obvious as the parting of the Red Sea or changing water to wine, but miracles still happen.

It is Thursday night at the restaurant and a very slow one at that. In between the occasional customer, I long for something that will help the time pass more quickly. As if to make it move even slower, fate sends in two of the oldest people I have ever seen. Their wrinkles have wrinkles and they are basically two big age spots asking for a table. The woman looks to have been born sometime during the John Adams administration (the first president Adams and not the second president Adams) and moves slowly with the help of a cane. I have seen glaciers move faster than this woman and her cane looks as if it has become part of her, solidly attached to her right hand. Her husband looks even older and is pretty much a walking fossil from the pleistocene era. Had I not known better, I would assume he was on leave from the Museum of Natural History. Amazingly, he has no cane, but he is leaning on his wife, both of them depending on the strength of that cane to support them. After they sit down and produce some reading glasses with lenses that are as thick as her ankles, they eventually decide upon their meals, minus every bit of seasoning and spice.

As they are eating their dinner, I wonder what it must be like to be that old. I look at her cane leaning on the next table and it seems to be grateful for the opportunity to relax. I think to myself that if I am ever that old, I hope that when I go to a restaurant there isn’t some bitchy ass waiter taking notes about me so he can write a story about my life. I also hope I never need a cane. The couple is very sweet and I find myself hoping only good things for them. I make a mental note that that the next time I find a penny on the sidewalk that I want to wish for them to be healthy and happy. Do they even bother celebrating birthdays anymore? And what kind of holiday season do they have? After 200 years of marriage, do they still buy presents for each other? How do they shop? If they can barely make it to Table 11, I cannot fathom that they go to Target on Black Friday. Perhaps they do all of their shopping online, but that too seems unlikely since they are probably still trying to understand the newest invention in their home, the radio.

“Dadgummit, I can’t find Amos and Andy anywhere on this thing!”

“Well, dear, that’s because that isn’t the radio. That’s the other new invention we bought. It’s called a toaster.”

 
To read the rest of the story, click here and visit The Shift Drink.

3 Useful Skills for a Career in Tech I Learned from Waiting Tables

I have always said that we can pick up all kids of skills in the restaurant that can carry over to other jobs. Ben Singer thinks the same way and this guest post shows us exactly that. You can check out Ben’s website here. Thanks!  -BW

 

I spent years waiting tables as I attempted to be the next big thing in music with my band. I loved it. The camaraderie combined with late nights closing down the bar are some of my fondest memories, and I will forever associate the buzz of a packed restaurant with making money. Sadly, the band disbanded, and I moved on from the Service Industry to a career where I wouldn’t stay until 5 AM on a Tuesday drinking excessively. Naturally, I landed in tech. Though now a Client Relationship Specialist, the waiter in me lives on I perpetually ranting how random tasks are “just like waiting table.” Here’s a few:

Greeting a Table:

It’s an inherently intrusive to greet a table, as the waiter must interrupt an intimate group to conduct business. It’s an artificially created situation with an extended face-to-face exchange. Every server takes a different approach. I threw out a casual “How’re y’all ding tonight?”. I then react according to their response. Drunken enthusiasm is met with something aggressive. If they’re all business, I’m all business. I calibrate to the response. These 30 seconds are a chance to gauge the table and add some personality. Match the vibe right, everybody’s happy.

Today, I call up clients using our software to explain new features, updates, and to bitch about why they’ve yet to signed their contract. This is the same conversation as greeting tables with me intruding on their day in the name of conducting business. Taking the same 30 seconds for a mindful hello improves these significantly.

Life in the Weeds:

Eventually we all get slammed with more work to do than hours in the day. I thrive in these scenarios from days when unexpected rushes were met with a criminally understaffed FOH. What’s one to do when what we thought was a full section magically gains a 10 top magically where it was thought only 8 could be sat? My first time, a veteran server Alex observed the “I’m about to break down in tears” look on my face, and gave some sage advice.

“Ben, you’re in the weeds. Accept it. Put the blinders on, pick one task, and go! Smoke your way out, one puff at a time!”

The mind blowing-ly effective stoner Alex nailed it. Whenever overwhelmed at the office, I put the blinders on, make my to-do list, and smoke my way out.

Reset The Restaurant

Everything goes to shit in a slammed restaurant. God forbid you can actually find a manager when a table revolts over a 40 minutes ticket time. When the flooding recedes, suddenly the manager returns with the command “No one leaves until this restaurant is reset!” Groans ensue as the side work triples, but the establishment must be ready in case of another swarm of hungry patrons. When the swarm comes, that reset is a godsend.

After a day in tech jumping from fire to fire, I’ve ignored emails, failed to send out meeting invites, and my client notes are a pile of illiteracy. I’m “reset” once I could handle another fire drill of our systems going down without missing any notes. The same principle is at play, only what was formerly a restaurant is now my digital organizational system.

The service industry weeds out the weak. It’s high-intensity, but for those that are good, the money is superb. Despite my love, as I grew older priorities changed and returned to a traditional office environment. That said, I feel bad for those who never worked service industry. It’s the best education I ever got paid to do.

You can check out Ben’s website here.

What NOT To Do When You Go Out To Eat (guest post)

 

Today’s post comes from a waitress from down under, Lauren Nugent. It seems that servers on both sides of the world deal with the exact same things. You can visit Lauren at her website Nourished Spirits or her Facebook page. Thanks!  -BW

 

One. Ignoring the “wait to be seated” sign, and sitting wherever you please. This sign is there for a reason – so we can keep track of who sits where when. If you sit wherever you like and then complain about being ignored, you are the devil. If you are offered a table and then get up and move to another table (especially if it’s dirty or unset), you’re even worse. You are not at home, you cannot eat wherever you like. We’ll do our best to find you a table you like, but please try and be logical.

Two. Forgetting what you ordered when we bring your food to the table. Wondering why we’re standing there looking constipated? Two of the three plates we’re holding are piping hot and quickly branding our hands and arms. If we bring the wrong meal, we’re genuinely sorry and we’ll get that fixed up for you right away. But 9 times out of 10 we’ve brought the right meals, you just don’t listen or remember when we try to get your attention. And if we’re holding three plates and you rudely tell us there should be more meals coming – we’d like to remind you that we only have two hands.

Three. Not telling us about your dietary requirements, and then getting pissy at us when you can’t (or won’t) eat your meal. We take dietary requirements very seriously and we will always do our best to accommodate you and keep you happy and healthy – but if we don’t know about your severe onion allergy, how exactly are we meant to cater to it? You’re an adult, you’ve chosen to eat out, and it’s your responsibility to make us aware of your needs. Don’t waste our time and money by getting your meal remade – tell us, and we’ll get it right the first time.

Four. Clicking at us, yelling at us, waving at us rudely… If you wouldn’t try to get the attention of your mother like that, don’t do it to us. And if you would act that way to your mother, I feel sorry for her.

Five. Arguing with us that our workplace policies are stupid. Maybe you’re right – but that doesn’t change the fact that that’s the way things are done, and we’re not going to change it for you, especially if you’re rude or abusive. If the menus say “One Bill Per Table”, then that’s exactly what you can expect. If you don’t trust your friends enough to pay you back when you pick up the cheque, should you be eating out with them at all?

If you’ve never worked in hospitality you can’t possibly understand how we feel. Daily, we are treated as third rate members of society. Well we have news for you – we’re not. Yes, hospitality is our job. But it’s not who we are. Many of us are studying to be doctors or lawyers; some of us have already graduated and are job hunting. We might have a day job in an office and rush to get to our restaurant job afterwards to make some extra money. Or maybe we work full time as a waiter – but outside of that, we’re strong people with interesting, sometimes difficult lives, who deserve respect.

The customers is not always right. You can not come into our workplace and treat our family like we don’t matter. We are people – we are worthwhile, smart, brave, hard working people. And we will be treated as such.

You can visit Lauren at her website Nourished Spirits or her Facebook page.

 

 

The ABC’s of Patio Diners; Part One (guest post)

Today’s post comes from Gina Bisceglia and you can visit her blog here and follow her on Twitter at @dharmamotorpool. I assume Part two will eventually show up on her own website, so stay tuned. -BW

 

The Type A’s.
“High-maintenance” doesn’t begin to describe these guests.

Drink order: iced tea with lemon -SWEETENER ON THE SIDE!
Signature moves: rearranging the table layout to best suit their compulsive tendencies, asking what’s in every single dish, and adding 5+ modifiers to every order. If it’s sunny out, they’ll want to sit at a table with half shade, half sun. If it’s even slightly chilly or windy, they WILL move inside within ten minutes (probably without letting you know where they went).
Annoyance factor: 4.5 / 5

Boat Folk.
These guests are fresh off the boat, and they’ll make sure you know it.

Drink order: water & cheap beer.
Signature moves: arguing that it’s acceptable to not wear shoes and/or shirts on the patio,insisting they need their food rushed because they’ve got to get back out on the water before dark. 99% likely to bring along several children in dripping wet swimsuits.
Annoyance factor: 3 / 5

Cheapskates
True, these guests are cheap whether they’re indoors or outdoors, but patio season really seems to bring out the best in them.

Drink order: water, or “are there free refills on soda?”
Signature moves: seating themselves (often at dirty tables), asking you for 4+ refills on their beverages, asking the price of every dish, tipping 10% or less.
Annoyance factor: 4 / 5

Dog (and cat and bird) People
Health code violation? What do you MEAN? We’re outside!

Drink order: nothing; we don’t allow them to order things if they have their pet on the premises.
Signature moves: insisting they know all the health codes & it’s perfectly fine to have pets in a restaurant, asking to speak to a manager, ordering food to go.
Annoyance factor: 3.5 / 5

Elephants Never Forget
They visited once five years ago & think everything is still exactly the same.

Drink order: that one beer you had on tap a few years ago that you haven’t carried since then.
Signature moves: insisting they should be able to order an item because “it was on the menu last time”, asking you for recommendations and not taking them.
Annoyance factor: 3 / 5

Forgetfuls
These guests aren’t forgetful so much as just plain ignorant and/or oblivious, but we’ll go with forgetful. Sure.

Drink order: vodka red bull.
Signature moves: smoking at the table despite the “no smoking on the patio” sign, seating themselves, pulling up extra tables and chairs without asking, “forgetting” to tip.
Annoyance factor: 4.5 / 5

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
aka bachelorette parties.

Drink order: cosmopolitans & every blended drink on the menu.
Signature moves: splitting the check 17 different ways, phallic-shaped everything, high-pitched squealing every few minutes, taking off their shoes so they can dance on the non-existent dance floor.
Annoyance factor: 6 / 5

Today’s post comes from Gina Bisceglia and you can visit her blog here and follow her on Twitter at @dharmamotorpool.

How To Help the Victims of Harvey

As you may know, I am from Texas. Although I haven’t lived there for over twenty years, all of my family is there as well as plenty of dear friends and even more memories. My husband is from Houston. As Hurricane Harvey came barreling through Rockport a few days ago, I couldn’t help but be worried about my hometown Victoria, Texas which was also in the path. As predicted, the storm eventually made its way to Houston and we all know what’s going on there. My husband’s sister woke up this morning to water in her house. His other sister has been evacuated and is hoping the water, which was inches away from her door yesterday, doesn’t rise any further, although it seems more likely that it will.

As I was enjoying my day off yesterday here in New York City, I found myself walking on Houston Street. (By the way, they pronounce it wrong here and say “How-ston.”) Even though I was 1,600 miles away, my mind was in Texas. I thought back to my very first restaurant job in Victoria at Sirloin Stockade and hoped that the building that is there now is safe. Someone sent me a photo of my favorite burger place in Victoria. Dairy Treet was where I would always stop before visiting my grandma, Mamo Rita, who lived a few blocks away. I’d get two burgers and we’d have lunch at her apartment. Seeing it battered and torn apart brought a tear to my eye. I thought about my first waiting job at Bennigan’s in Humble, Texas and wondered if it was under water. My aunt and uncle now live in the house that I lived in with my other grandmother in 1990. Mammaw Lillian helped me memorize that Bennigan’s menu and quizzed me so thoroughly that she knew the menu just as well as I did. My aunt and uncle evacuated several days ago, so we don’t know if their house is flooded yet or not. It probably is.

Texans need help.

If you can find it in your heart (and wallet) to spare a few dollars, your donations will not go unappreciated it. Ten bucks is what I gave and if everyone who sees this did the same thing, we can collectively make a difference. It hurts my heart to see my hometown devastated this way. It will be years before things are back to normal, but it will never be back the way it was.

Below are several trusted links that will let you help others. Thank you so much. -BW

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, which is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are asking for donations.

Carter BloodCare covers hospitals in north, central and east Texas. To donate, call 877-571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999.

To help animals suffering from the disaster, visit the Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society.

The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off in person or mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Tex., 78238.

The United Way of Greater Houston flood relief fund will be used to help with immediate needs as well as long-term services like minor home repair. Visit their website to donate or text UWFLOOD to 41444.

For more options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas.

Woman’s Attempt to Shame Restaurant Owner Backfires

Once upon a time a woman named Jo Ann Page posted a video on Facebook in an effort to make a restaurant owner look bad but all it did was make the world think she was a miserable dried up human being who was looking to stir up some trouble.

Short version: her sister ordered takeout from the wrong restaurant and Jo Ann didn’t want to drive all the way from the “other side of Sycamore” to get it. And then Jo Ann called back to cancel the brisket but it was already done and the restaurant owner said “what do you want me to do?” Basically, he was telling her that the food was already made so now she’ll have to pay for it. When she went to pick it up, she was armed with her cell phone camera to record the “ignorance” and prove a point. The main point she proved was that she didn’t want to walk all the way from her car and be forced to use stairs. She entered the restaurant with an attitude and it went downhill from there:

My experience at a restaurant in Dekalb yesterday! Unbelievable forward to 2 minutes then watch it and not to mention I have never been to this restaurant in my life I didn't even know it existed only reason I was video taping was to tease my sister about me going all the way over there. Didn't imagine all this to happen. I should have cancelled all of it and never went .So sad .

Posted by Jo Ann Page on Thursday, August 24, 2017

So who was ruder? Yes, the owner was rude, but can’t we all tell from her snide comments that she served up a major side of bitch sauce when she was on the phone with them earlier? Why else was she so willing to record the interaction? The only justifiable reason was that she knew she had stirred up trouble and wanted to get some Internet fame. Well, here you go, Jo Ann. I assume you want the world to see your video since you shared it on your public page. However, if you should get cold feet about your fifteen minutes of fame, I went ahead and downloaded the video too. That way, if you eventually decide to delete it, we can still see it.

If she was trying to shame the restaurant, she did a shit job of that, because she never tells us the name if it. All we see the is the owner of the restaurant standing up for his business, himself and his daughter. And although we never get to see Jo Ann’s face, she did a bang up job of showing us what kind of person she is.