Monday, February 29, 2016

The Failed Doctrine of Trickle-Down Economics

The other night at my job, Chez Swanky™, it was just two of us on the floor, my good work-friend Mikey B and me. Things were pretty slow. Mikey B loves the biz and he's pretty knowledgeable. With little to keep us busy except ogling the tumbleweeds roll through the dining rooms and watching the hostess stand (Chez Swanky usually doesn't have an official door whore on weeknights), Mikey B and I commenced to chatting. The subject was tip-outs.
     We often don't have to tip out anyone but a bartender. They get 1½ %. We also have to kick back 1% of our credit card (not cash) tips. I don't like the latter but it's pretty much standard policy at a lot of your higher end eateries like Chez Swanky. I have no problem whatsoever tipping out the bar and 1½ %'s pretty reasonable. If more than one bartender's on, they still just get 1½ % and divvy it. But here's the thing: Chez Swanky being a small, independently owned fine-dining restaurant, it's not that unusual for owner Donny J to be the evening's booze-slinger. He still gets the tip-out.
     I mentioned to Mikey B that I didn't think that was right and it might even be illegal. Mikey B disagreed, although he conceded that I had a pretty good argument.
     It's not that big a deal to me, though. I make pretty good money at Chez Swanky and for the most part respect Donny J. I know he's not getting rich and it won't surprise me any if Chez Swanky closes down sometime in 2016 when the lease is up (although I think it's more likely that a new lease will be signed and we'll keep rocking). I don't at all begrudge him the tips he gets from patrons who actually sit at the bar. If I owned a bar (which I have no ambition toward), I could easily see myself picking up a little extra cheese (but not from my employees) behind the taps occasionally.
     Anyway, not a big deal to me and I'd probably never mention it to Donny J▬or anyone else unless I was asked▬except that a day or two after my convo with Mikey B, Donny J brought it up himself.
     He didn't actually ask me about how I felt about him getting tip-outs, of course. He asked me how I felt about having more bus help more often, which would naturally lead to me tipping out more. I'm all for it! He told me about a couple of ways it might be done and then asked me for my input. I shared it and, while we were on the subject and he'd kind of brought it up, told him that I was wondering if his being the owner and receiving tip-outs from the waitstaff might be borderline unethical and maybe illegal.
     Donny J stammered something about our tip-outs being pretty reasonable for that type of restaurant by industry norms (true) and a weak defense of his little bit of extra income that sounded a lot like the failed doctrine of trickle-down economics. Then he changed the subject and shortly after, our discussion ended, without rancor.
  Hi It's been a minnit. Sorry about that if you've been jonesing for some new material here on my struggling internet column. I'll try and find some solace in knowing that it's extremely unlikely anybody has been so hankering.
     Anyway, if you're reading this on the day it appears (and thanks for that, or whenever you might be kind enough to stop by) you might be able to vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary election tomorrow. If so, I encourage you to push the button for Senator Bernie Sanders. And speaking of politics, if there's a politician you don't like and want to call them a name that's rightfully theirs but they try to go by something else, please be aware that the Republican hopeful commonly know as Ted Crud (R-Douchebagville) is not really named Ted. His real name is Rafael. You should call him that. And he's from Canada, so ineligible to be President here anyway.
                         Cheers, _____-Joe

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Night Football Drinking Games ©2011, '15 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Yeah, it's another rerun. Don't worry; nobody read it then either!

     Do you ever play drinking games? For example, there's Monday Night Football. Watch Titans at Chargers, for instance, and every time Joe Buck or Mike Tirico or whoever, says, "First down San Diego!" everybody takes a drink. Then there's Fox News, where every time one of their resident douchebags says "Democrat" when they should have said "Democratic," or disses President Obama, your whole crew has to down a shot. I think it's safe to say that either of these drinking games will get anyone playing it fucked up pretty quick and there are a whole lot of other variations out there.
     I don't play drinking games, even when I'm hanging out with people who are. I binge at my own pace and get wasted just fine, thank you. Neither do I advocate drinking games. I think they encourage individuals who already like over-consuming alcohol to get even more hammered than they would if left to their own devices. But if folks are going to play them anyway, I want some of that market share! So here's an awesome new drinking game called These American Servers™. Play at your own risk.
     Everybody get out their internet-connected device. Log onto your favorite search engine. I like Startpage because of their privacy claims, and Google works pretty well too. Have someone call out a phrase or a title from These American Servers™. The first one to find a  reference to my internet column gets to make everybody else take a drink. Or you can deny the others a drink and have one yourself. Remember, and this is very important, you have to actually click on the link to These American Servers or your win isn't official.
     Try different search engines. If you want an easy, fast-paced game, go with Google Blogs. If you're trying to not get too blitzed too early, see what Yahoo or ixquick have for ya. They're not as friendly to These American Servers as some of the others are. Maybe you could see what Chinese Google has to offer.
     Whatever alcohol you imbibe when playing These American Servers is up to you. Perhaps the Chili's crew in Dothan, Alabama enjoy the game with 40 ounce jugs of Schlitz® Malt Liquor after work and you might have a good time with those. Watch out though. That shit is way more powerful than the weak-ass  "light"  beers that so many people are into these days.
     Please don't operate a motor vehicle if you've been playing These American Servers or while you're playing These American Servers. If you run across any rumors that poor, talented-yet-troubled movie director Wes Craven was playing These American Servers this past August 30th, please disregard them because they're probably not true.
     "But Joe," I might be asked if anyone actually read this, "I really want to play These American Servers, but ever since I read your excellent post from December of 2010 entitled "A Righteous Proposal," where you advocate a boycott of adult beverages until America ends its fucktarded "War on Drugs," I've given up drinking. Is there anything that I can do?"
     Well thanks for joining me, my hypothetical brother or sister. Just so you know, I haven't consumed any alcohol since that post went up either and I applaud you for being part of the solution instead of the problem. Together, we can make a difference. As a matter of fact, I do have a couple of suggestions about that. Instead of using Colt 45® say, or Jack Daniel's, you could substitute dankity-dank bong hits! Or maybe swap the booze for Caffeiene-Free Diet Pepsi®. Of course, if you go with that last one, you and your friends are probably some irredeemable wusses.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

That Tidbit of Intel ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     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 about 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.