Wednesday, July 29, 2015

That Tidbit of Intel ©2015

     So I guess it was about a year ago I quit my job at a restaurant I like to call The Valley of Despair™. God bless the staff and management there. My problems weren't with them. It was mostly just a horrific overabundance of shitty customers that burned me out. Not too long after that I scored a gig at a nice, upscale restaurant in the old-money part of town. Let's call it Chez Swanky™. It was a little more my kind of place to work and I put in a lot of effort to prove to the bosses and myself that I was good enough to belong there.
     The chef when I started there quickly took a dislike to me. Not so much that he thought I was a bad employee (I don't know his thoughts on that) but a personal dislike. WTF? Well, he's gone now and while the new, current chef and I are far from best buds, we're cool.
     I'm confident that business at Chez Swanky isn't what ownership needs it to be. The owner, Donny J▬someone I have a decent amount of respect for as a manager and businessperson▬is also the GM and he's been a little snappish here lately. I've started to feel that those in charge are unhappy with me. I've discussed this a little with some of my co-workers, especially my current best work-friend, Merrie, and they all seem to find themselves in similar straits, especially Merrie.
     One night when I was off, Zanie T, a young woman who works in our kitchen went out to a bar after work with some of the Chez Swanky waitstaff. I was later told by someone who was there that Zanie had confessed that the chef and owner would like to get rid of all their current servers and replace us with an all-new waitstaff. The co-worker who shared that story with me is someone I trust not to lie, but she does have a mild propensity for exaggeration. Also, she'd probably had a pretty good amount of wine that night. So I didn't totally trust that tidbit of intel. But I thought about it some. I've been a little paranoid at work lately and I'm not alone. The phrase "walking on eggshells" is frequently bandied about.
     So the other night I spoke to the owner. I dropped no names nor shared anyone's conspiracy theories. I just told him that I'm getting the vibe that he might prefer for me to move on. I told him I was giving him two weeks notice if he wanted it. He said that he'd rather not accept the resignation and bade me stay on. He pointed out a couple of areas I could improve on and made several positive comments as well. He also reminded me that if he'd wanted to fire me, he certainly could have. I rescinded the offer and I'm still there. I've never had a lot of trouble finding a job so I'm not too worried about that. I'm currently having a debate with myself what my next move's going to be.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gotta Speech These Folks ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Hello and welcome to The Endangered Species Grill. They call me Joe and I'm delighted to be your waiter this evening. May I begin by telling you about our features tonight? Great. We have a terrific appetizer for you: Buffalo tenders. Please be aware that, of course, our buffalo tenders are made from the flesh of real buffalos. They have just a hint of spice and go nicely with a cold beer, perhaps a Falstaff® or Pete's Wicked Ale®. Our featured entrees tonight are tenderloin filet of Northern White Rhinoceros atop Tibetan Faro in an Iberian Lynx cream gravy with Thylacine bordelaise. If that appeals to you, I recommend you order it immediately; the Northern White Rhino is critically endangered and we expect to run out this evening. We also have our split Passenger Pigeon breast pot pie with heirloom Poke Sallet and a gravy made from Bald (like me!) Eagle entrails. You might feel that $250.00 is expensive for a pot pie, even one as good as ours, but it's actually quite a bargain considering how difficult it is for our chef to obtain quality passenger pigeon breasts these days. And it pairs wonderfully with a nice, chilled bottle of Bourgogne Aligoté...
     Maybe you work in a nice, upscale, fine-dining kind of restaurant and you have to spiel like I just did to every table all night. It's not a problem; it's part of the job and we're glad to do it. But if I ran a classy, upmarket kind of dining establishment I'd make it mandatory that the hosting professionals would be able to speech the features, et cetera, just as well as the waitstaff is expected to. Especially the good-looking, 19-year-old Junior College co-ed that just double-sat you fourtops on the busy night where the food runner called in sick, the dishwasher is crazy backed up and the kitchen is in peril of going down in flames at any minute.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Long Ago When Cash was King ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Ok, this episode of These American Servers™ is going to start with a couple of jokes that I hope you'll find somewhat amusing. The first one is included strictly for SEO purposes and it's filthy. The second one is more family-friendly and, for a clean joke that's probably 90 years old (even though it was new to me), pretty funny.
     These three guys, Adrian Peterson, Goran Dragic, and Stevie Wonder walk into a bar. The bar is called Champions League and it's famous for excellent  Pączki. But these guys just wanted to get their drink on, and so they did. For some reason, after awhile the conversation turned to who had the largest genitalia, everybody bragging and making claims. Eventually a way to settle the dispute was arrived at: Everyone would whip their junk out and set it on the bar for visual inspection (I guess Stevie'd just have to take someone's word for it).. At the exact moment the johnsons were arrayed on the counter, who should walk in but German Chancellor Angela Merkel? "Would you care for a menu this evening?" asked the hostess.
     "No thanks," replied the leader of unified, democratic Germany, in perfect English, "I'll just have that delicious-looking buffet!"
     Have you Amber Heard this one? An arial and an antenna got married. The ceremony itself was merely Ok, but the reception was amazing!

     I have this co-worker I like a lot. Her name's Merrie. Last night we both closed. After most of the crew was gone, Merrie and I each got two tables. My fourtop's bill was $216.00. We don't have to close out our credit cards immediately, so I merely glanced at the tip line on the voucher. The amount I saw was 30 dollars, which is not a disaster but I felt a little chintzy from people who were nice and seemed to have a really good dining experience but oh well. Plus I had a deuce that left me $20. Merrie didn't fare quite as well, getting about $37.00 total on her couple of tables she got during our late mini-pop. I told her I'd gotten a total of $50. Then when it was time to check out, I realized that the tip I had thought was $30 was actually $50. So instead of the 50 bucks I'd told Merrie I'd gotten, I actually harvested $70! But I kept my mouth shut about that realization.

     Are you familiar with a "fast-food" concept called Sonic®? Their servers are called car-hops. You park next to an intercom and place your order through it. A car-hop brings it out to you and asks if they can do anything else and negotiates payment. I rarely visit Sonic, but when I do, I always pay and tip in cash. One time I received a Sonic gift card for my birthday. There was nowhere on the voucher to leave a rip. I always have cash, so this was no problem to me. But last night the afore-mentioned Merrie told me that she'd taken her daughter to Sonic and paid with her Visa® debit card. For a good waitress who makes decent money, I'm often surprised by how Merrie never has any actual, you know, money with her. Merrie scrounged up some change from the floorboard and maybe got some jingle from her daughter  in order to leave something. But Sonic needs to put a tip line and place to total up the payment on their vouchers. I only go to Sonic once or twice a year (awesome banana splits!) so no big loss to them, but until they rectify the situation, I won't go there at all.

     I hope you had a happy Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, and wish you a Happy Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year if you're like in Taiwan or something). Cheers!

Friday, January 23, 2015

There Save for the Grace of God ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Do you ever enjoy a salty snack while you're consuming a long-awaited new episode of These American Servers™? If so, insert the Orville Redenbacher® product into your trusty Kenmore­® microwave, 'cause it's Popcorn Time!
 
     I ran into Sheldon Silver, a fellow waiter of my acquaintance, today. He shared a story with me about how he'd visited the little wannabe doctors' office at Walgreens® recently. He told how this super-wasted drunk guy was in there, yelling and falling down and shit. One female client of the place was scared to walk out to her car because she didn't want the guy to follow her. Sheldon volunteered to escort her and dude did follow them. The lady got in her ride and then Shel went back into Walgreens and the drunk did too. It wasn't a situation that seemed dangerous, just annoying. Eventually, some law enforcement arrived and dealt with the drunk.
     Sheldon allowed as to how he was a little non-plused by the whole ordeal, but mostly he felt sorry for the guy. Sheldon says he himself used to be a real bad drunk, so his reaction to the incident was sympathy.. I've also had some major alcohol abuse issues in my life—I haven't consumed any adult beverages since 2010—so I completely understand where Shelly's coming from. There's a little story that I couldn't decide if I wanted to tell or not and Mr Silver's little vignette made me decide to go ahead on with it. There save for the grace of God could easily go any of us.

     Back in 2012 I went in search of a night job, still having a day job at The American El Chico, which closes too late for me to want to work PM shifts there. A restaurant I call The Valley of Despair has hours that work better for me, it's a big, successful chain and has a location not too hard to get to from where I stay, so I put in an application online. The next day I got a call from the General Manager at my nearby TVOD  and we set up an interview  for the next afternoon at Three O'clock.
     I arrived about five minutes early and was told to sit at a table near the restaurant's office. I could see the office from that seat. I looked around. I saw a well-dressed, fairly attractive, very businesslike-looking middle-aged black woman talking to a guy I (correctly) guessed was the kitchen manager. I suspected she was a lawyer and maybe the KM's wife. Their convo ended and she walked toward the office. She looked my way for a second and we made eye contact. I smiled and nodded. "Didn't you wait on me and my friend at The American El Chico last week?" she asked.
     I didn't remember her. "Oh yeah," I replied, "Good to see you again," or something like that.
     She told me that she had been a manager there many years ago and she liked to check in with them from time to time and thanked me for taking good care of her that day. I assured her that it was my pleasure and that I hoped I'd see her again. Then she walked into the office.
     After about ten minutes or so, she left the office and walked out of the restaurant and again we exchanged smiles and nods. About ten minutes after that, a guy (the General Manager) stuck his head out the office door and with a smile bade me enter.
     "Placenta tells me you've waited on her at The American El Chico and that you're good. Why're you leaving there?" he queried.
     "Actually, I don't plan on leaving them, I want to stay there lunches and I'd love to work for you on nights," I replied. Then we went on with the usual interview blah-blah-blah and I was told I was hired and could I show up for training in 48 hours and all that.
     On the drive home, I wracked my brain for a minute, trying to recall the woman who's name was apparently Placenta. After a little cogitation, I think I remembered her and maybe another lady coming in and having dinner and not more than one (really girly) drink, a Mangotini or Bahama Mama or something like that. They'd been pretty low-maintenance and tipped decently.
     So I went through training at The Valley of Despair and got out on the floor in real stations in a few days. I'd occasionally see Placenta in the restaurant. It turns out she was an Area Director for the company. We have an Area Manager, who oversees about four restaurants and is the immediate boss of my store's General Manager. Placenta Pills was the Area Manager's boss. I didn't see her often and when I did, it was smile and nod and maybe "how's it going?" again. My GM said she'd told him to hire me on that day of my interview and that's why he did, although he admitted that he probably would have anyway. Placenta Pills was not in our restaurant every day (or even every week) and when she was it was usually before I arrived to work my dinner shifts. On our very few, brief, interactions, Placenta Pills was never anything other than pleasant and courteous to me. I never saw her be anything less than that to anyone, although to hear my managers occasional comments, she could be a bit of a hardass with them.
     So I worked Saturday night. I closed, in fact. We close at Eleven PM on Saturdays and I didn't get out of there til about One. Placenta Pills wasn't mentioned by anyone in my earshot and she didn't cross my mind all evening. I love being off Sundays and that one I was. Yay! Placenta didn't cross my mind that day either. She did on Monday though. I didn't have to be at work until Five that day and when I got there, all I heard from my co-workers was "Did you hear about Placenta? It was on the news!" and like that.
     "No. I didn't hear about her. What's up?"
     It turns out that Placenta Pills and a friend had gone out to a bar (or maybe some bars, that's not really clear yet) and indulged in a major amount of alcohol and a negligible amount of food. Placenta and her drinking buddy had left one establishment in Ms Pills' 2003 Cadillac Escalade®—I've seen it and it's a sharp ride, or at least it was—got on the busy street, clipped another motorist and kept going. As near as my co-workers and I can determine, the hit-and-run accident was not very serious and its victim unhurt. Placenta was pretty fucked up and may not have even been aware of the mishap. I suspect she wasn't. Then Placenta got on the Interstate at a high speed and headed southbound. Tragically, she was in the northbound lane. She head-onned  a late-model Camaro® while doing at least 85. The 41-year-old driver of the sports car was killed instantly. His passenger, a woman of 31, had to be helicoptered to the hospital. Last I heard was that she was alive, but barely. Maybe you could spare a good thought for her, OK?
     Word is that Placenta cooperated fully with law enforcement on the scene and took the Breathalyzer. She blew something like a .21, which is pretty blitzed. I read an article on the local newspaper's online edition. Placenta made bail and has been suspended pending further notice from her job as Area Director by the company.
    
 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Diet Coke® Decision ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     So working a lot of lunches at one place and dinners at another. I try to have all checks at the AM job ready as soon as everything is rung in. We're supposed to present all checks in check presenters at both jobs, but I don't. So when my customers are ready to go after eating lunch, I'm ready to turn and burn.
     The other night at the PM job, a nice, 30-ish couple and their toddler came in and sat at table Eleven. It's a two-top but pretty big so the two-and-a-half diners fit in OK. Like we're supposed to, I pimped some beverages to start off. The guy contemplated a beer—I could tell he really wanted one—but opted instead for some tea. The lady acted like she really wanted a Diet Coke®, but just ordered a glass of water. The kid got something in one of our kids' cups.
     Ms Lady had a Rose Parade grilled chicken sandwich and dude had an Alabama Football burger, the child had chicken tenders and fries. I rang in their order, printed their check and stashed it in my server book, just like I would have done on a lunch shift.
     Someone else ran their food. I did a call-back—within two bites or two minutes!—and they said everything was fine and  seemed to be enjoying their chow. I noticed the guy's tea glass was getting low, so I cruised over with a pitcher to silently refill it. The lady looked at me with a smile. "Can I get  that Diet Coke now?" she queried. She'd mulled, then eschewed, the low-calorie treat when it was first offered. You know how sometimes your guests will ask you to "bring it when the food comes?" She hadn't done that and didn't act like she had and it'd been my fuck-up. She was just asking for something she'd earlier declined. "Sure thing," I said and went and got her refreshment.
     Like I'm pretty sure it is at your job, we're supposed to ring in any beverages before they're made, much less served. And like you'd do, I went and got her drink and delivered it before I rang it up. Then something distracted me for just a second and I didn't ring in the D C.
     Soon, the family was through eating. They considered, then declined, my suggestion that they share a dessert, even after I told her how good chocolate goes with diet cola (and it really does). The guy just asked for the bill and I pulled the already-printed check from my apron and presented it immediately, with the Diet Coke not rung in.
     The ticket was dropped face-down and not perused. A piece of plastic from Capital One® was put on the table. I picked up the check with the credit card and went to settle things. No one at the table had looked at the ticket. When I got to the Squirrel® cash register, I remembered the unrung Diet Coke. With tax, our non-alcoholic bevs are just under three bucks. I though about saying "fuck it" and running the check as I'd presented it. They were nice and she hadn't needed  a refill. But we're supposed to ring up drinks, and fountain bevs are a big part of the company's bottom line. So I rang in her drink, ran the plastic and gave them the voucher. They left me a good tip.

     From the management and staff here at These American Servers™ (me), a Happy New Year is wished to each and every one of you who were kind enough to stop by for a minute and read this and, what the hey, to pretty much everybody else. Let's have 2015 be the best year yet for all of us!

                                  RIP Sandra 1945-2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Most Unjustified Customer Complaint Ever ©2012, '14 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I'm back. I was maybe going to abandon my little project here, but I'll think I'll stick with it awhile longer. But I don't have anything new ready to go, so here's a blast from the past that I kind of like. Nobody read it then, so if you stumble onto it this time it'll be new to you, right? Enjoy!
 
 
     Most every day, I work with Tracey H. She's young, about 23 I think, and hella good-looking. She's a very pleasant person to work with. She's real good with her tables and everybody likes her. Well, almost everybody.
     Tracey had station three on Tuesday. Nobody's guaranteed the same station every day but it usually works out that way. And as usual, I was working Curvesideto-go. Inside the restaurant was pretty busy but my to-go wasn't very happening. One of our door whores called in sick so I spent a good chunk of my shift helping the one who'd actually shown up. I bused a few tables but mostly just escorted hungry clients to wherever the real hostess told me to.
     One deuce was a middle-aged couple I brought to table 15 in Tracey's station. They seemed nice from what I could tell by our brief interaction. The only reason I remember them at all is because the nicely dressed woman had some 1980's Duran Duran-looking hair that kind of made an impression. The guy could've been Willard Romney or Lawyer Malloy for all I can recollect about him.
     The next day, Wednesday, the same couple, at least it sure looked like them, came and got seated at the same table—again, in Tracey's section—they'd had 24 hours earlier. I ran their food out to them. I remember this because Tracey later reminded me of it and because of that Spandau Ballet hairstyle. I didn't mention their previous visit. If I had, I would've heard about it later so I know this much is true.
     The duo sat at table 15 on Tuesday, when I seated them, and again on Wednesday, when I delivered their chow. Tracey waited on them both times. On Thursday, I answered the phone. Nothing unusual about that, I do it all the time. The caller was a woman who asked to speak to a manager. I told her I'd hunt her one down and asked who was calling. In a nice, even tone of voice, in which I detected neither rancor or irritation, she said, "This is Mrs. Philastus Hurlbut and I have a complaint." I wracked my brain for a second as to whether I'd recently fucked up a to-go order for anybody with a name like Philastus Hurlbut and couldn't recall such. Then I went and fetched key-hourly manager Veranda B.
     Veranda took the call on "my" phone, the one I take most of the Curveside orders on. I went about my bidniss, walking past Veranda and her discussion a couple of times. I overheard little snippets of the conversation, Veranda saying things like, "um-hmm," and "yes ma'am." After four or five minutes, the call came to an end.
     According to Mrs. Hurlbut, she'd come in on Wednesday with her husband. They'd been enthusiatically greeted and welcomed back by Tracey, who remembered them from the day before. However, on the previous day, the man who'd lunched with Mrs. Hurlbut wasn't her husband but her boyfriend. Apparently, this caused Wednesday's lunch to be a less-than-pleasant experience and later, a bit of dischord at home. Tracey says the two guys sure looked alike to her, mostly just recalling Mrs. Hurlbut's 'do, but upon reflection, she allows as to how the husband was perhaps a little heavier, darker complected, older and maybe a little less attractive than the boyfriend. I remember Mrs. Hurlbut and her Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark hairstyle had a dude with her both days but can't recall anything about him.
     Our company's always harping about how we need more regulars and remembering clients who've visited before and greeting them warmly is strongly encouraged. Tracey did nothing wrong and isn't in any trouble or anything. Mrs. Hurlbut contended that it wasn't any of Tracey's business who'd been in the restaurant the previous day nor her place to say anything about it. What the fuck ever. Tracey says she got a good tip from them on Tuesday and nothing on Wednesday.

Monday, June 30, 2014

It Might as Well be Hockey ©2014 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Well, it's been a minnit since a new episode of my struggling internet column has dropped. But check this out: Tonight I went to work, I waited on some people. Most of them were pretty cool, nobody was an outright A-hole or anything. We had some business but nothing crazy. I made adequate money for my efforts. I got cut at a decent hour and went home. Except for the getting cut and leaving at a time that I liked, it was a pretty average shift.
      And that's the way it's been lately. The only thing that's changed since I last checked in with y'all is that I quit my day job and have picked up some lunches at what has heretofore been my evening job. I'm just kind of bored and burned out with it all. I don't seem to have the energy and enthusiasm I had last summer and I want it back! On the for-real, that got a little out of hand last year; I want a slightly more mellow version of what I had in 2013. Oh well, keep eating right and exercising!
I'm not quite ready to give up on These American Servers™  (or being one of them) just yet. Since I don't really have anything restaurant-related that I can even pretend might be interesting, I'm going to go off-topic. The first one's about politics and the second concerns sports. Stick around and pretend to enjoy!

      If you keep up with politics, you might be aware that there was a little bit of a contretemps about who was going to be the Republican nominee for United States senate from Mississippi this year. Like in a lot of southern jurisdictions, a candidate in the Magnolia State has to get at least one vote more than 50% from those who deigned to participate to be declared the winner. If no one scores that objective,the top two finishers face off in another contest, with all the other challengers eliminated.
     The incumbent, Thad Cochran, came in second, but the challenger, Tyler Pastornicky, didn't quite manage to hit that magic 50%, because another, minor candidate was in the mix and he got about three per cent to fuck things up for Tyler. So incumbent Cochran reached out to eligible voters who are traditionally more Democratic to help him out in the runoff. He also got popular Mississippi guy, former New York Jets QB Brett Farve, to do a campaign commercial. Apparently, the strategy worked, because Senator Thad won the runoff.
     If I'd been able to vote in that contest, I'd of been like, "Fuck that!" Why should I vote for some reprehensible right-winger and help him out? He'd have to promise a lot more than that he'd (probably) be only slightly better than his opponent. But now that Mr. Pastornicky and his minions are acting like such petulant little bitches about the results—kind of like George Bush Jr back in November of 2000—I'm glad things worked out the way they did. The senator will PROBABLY prevail in the general election (c'mon, it's Mississippi) but might be inclined to be (very) slightly less douchey, feeling that he might owe his newest supporters a little something. And if the Pastornicky contingent stays home in droves during that election, the (most likely extremely) conservative Democrat, Travis Childers, might actually get a narrow victory. If that shut the Republicans out of a majority in the United States senate, that'd be awesome.

     I really like baseball. It's my favorite spectator sport. But I really, really hate the new (this is its third season) ordeal where there are two wildcard teams. Major League Baseball has three divisions per conference. so three teams finish in first place. The two best teams that didn't finish first face off in a one-game, winner-take-all playoff for the right to play the best of the first-place finishers in a best-of-five series for the right to go to the conference championship. To me, this is some bovine cabins. One of the things that made baseball great was that the playoff teams deserved to be playoff teams. This new format is so bad, it might as well be hockey. It didn't happen because it was a good thing for the sport, it happened in the hope of some more dumb shit to put on cable TV and maybe increase the chance of selling a few more September tickets in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, There's a good chance my favorite team, the Saint Louis Cardinals, might benefit from this new ordeal, and it's pretty sweet to have your team in the post-season  every year, but I still don't like it. This diluted bullshit is seriously taking away my enjoyment of the regular season. How about you?
     Speaking of baseball, great former Cards manager Tony LaRussa retired after the 2011 season wherein his squad won their most recent world championship. According to ESPN, TLR has unretired and taken an office job with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Phoenix team's not very good. If they don't turn things around real soon, I believe Tony will take over as field manager for them, at least on a temporary basis, either this year or next. You read it here first!