Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Righteous Proposal ©2010 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     If this looks familiar, it's 'cause, as promised, it's a righteous repost! "A Righteous Proposal" was the final post of 2010 and it's even more true now than it was the day it first appeared. Enjoy!

     I had a nice 12-25 and I hope you did too. I thought I'd make that the subject of this edition of TAS being as how it's about that time again. But "A Sixtop Family Christmas" sounds like a bad TV movie they run every December on the My Pussy Hurts network (on some cable systems it's called the Lifetime channel). So I 86'd that plan and actually wrote "Selling Beer at Pro Football Games for Fun and Profit the Joe Sixtop Way!". I'll probably tweak that one a little and put it up here on TAS pretty soon, but it just isn't ready yet. So here's a good idea I had awhile back, y'all will be the first ones I've shared it with.
     If you work in the restaurant industry there's a real good chance that you're at least an occasional reefer consumer and an even better chance that you like to knock back adult beverages. You're probably unhappy with America's drug laws, especially how alcohol is pretty much legal and marijuana is not. You might have made the argument to someone about how much tax money could go into federal and state treasuries if the shit was roughly as legal as beer is, and you had a good point.
     Fuck that, though. Look how much money the alcohol industry spends buying politicians to cockblock any competing intoxicants. Look how much tax money comes from legal alcohol. Look how financially hurting America and its cities and states are. Think how fucked they'd be if every server that favored cannabis legalization quit buying alcohol. Ha Ha Ha! I think you see what I'm getting at.
     Please talk this idea over with your coworkers at the after-hours bar y'all go to for late nite happy hour after your shifts are over. Feel free to invite anyone who wants to participate, not just restaurant folks. If we get enough people and start by springtime, you and your friends will be purchasing Party Joint Menthol Light 100's by Philip Morris at Walgreens and woofing down hookahfuls of Humboldt Heaven along with your Miller Lites at the after-hours bar before Thanksgiving.
     If this thing gets going there's a chance you'll make just a little less money for awhile, especially if you're a bartender, but if you're anything like me you'll more than make up for it in savings from all the alcohol you won't be buying, especially the way you drink; at bars, prodigiously, tipping 50%. Plus you'll get out of your rut and experience life sober and without hangovers for a change. Who knows? You might like it.
     Happy New Year everybody!

  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's Good About My Work Situations ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     If you read These American Servers™ and really, most of your restaurant-centric internet columns, you're going to see a lot of griping and whining. Lord knows, there's plenty that's gripe-worthy and whine-inducing where I work. But last night—maybe I'm getting the Christmas spirit or just drunk—I started thinking about what's good about my work situations.
     One reason for the un-Joelike positivity was because I had a pretty good shift. I had a station that can be real good or a nightmare. Last night it was good. There were a couple of parties, several deuces and some fourtops. One of my fours had their food take well over 30 minutes to come out of the kitchen and no, I didn't forget to ring it in. The guests were real nice, low-maintenance and very patient. I had Dale the manager pay them a table visit and he comped their whole check. They left me $25. Another cool thing about last night was that our new GM gave me the option of being part of first cut or sticking around. Of course I opted to bail 'cause even though I work pretty hard I'm also a lazy bastard and I love to get the fuck out of there.
     But back to what's right about my work. Both my jobs are cool with working around my schedule. I have a day job where I don't have to arrive prior to 10:30 AM. I've got a night job where I don't have to get there earlier than four PM and usually not 'til five. I love that the night gig closes at ten on weeknights. I usually get a decent break between shifts. Sometimes I even have time for a nap! The day job is about ten miles from the night gig and my crib's right in the middle. It doesn't take me very long to get to either location.
     The management at both places seem to approve of my job performance (as near as I can tell), which is always a good thing. I've got a lot of regulars at my day gig, where I've been for years, and I'm starting to get some at my night job, where I've been for about six months. I usually get pretty good tips and I make enough to have my own place, a car and something to eat.
     Just about everybody I work with has a good sense of humor, which helps to have on the job. I like that both workplaces have a lot of diversity on their staffs. Most of my co-workers and managers are good people and I wait on and work with a lot of attractive young women.
     Like every restaurant, we get our share of jerks, the persnickity, douchebags, fucktards, cocksmacks, dumbasses, Arkansas violators, shitheads, fundamentalists, eurocrats, a-holes, scam artists, fart blossoms, idiots, bastards, lousy tippers, Kentucky butt-hockers, drunks, biznatches, morons, gawkers, cheap-asses, malingerers, Alabama turd-burglars, waiter traitors, fascist pigs, johnson skulls, right-wingers, unsavory characters and just all-around sorry-ass motherfuckers but most of the clients I deal with are OK.

     Here's wishing a Merry Christmas to you and yours. If you're from a point of view that doesn't celebrate Christmas, I hope whatever you've got going on December 25th kicks ass! Just you reading this is Christmas present enough for me, but if you insist, you could LIKE These American Servers (product/service) on Facebook®, leave a comment here or start following it on Google®, something like that. The next episode's going to be a righteous repost, so see ya next year! Have a good one and God bless you everybody!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Warding Off Drowsiness ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Did ya miss me? You probably didn't notice that it's been a little longer than usual between episodes of These American Servers™ but if ya did, sorry about that. What I was planning on serving up was not only off-topic, which is cool, but you've been getting plenty of the subject I was contemplating if you read the sports section or watch ESPN. You've probably had more than enough of it; I know I have. Consequently, that post got eighty-sixed.
     Anyway, I don't know about you but when I feel pretty good I can do great things and make terrific money. When I feel like shit, not so much. I used to get really drunk on a regular basis so I spent a lot of time hung over. I concealed it well and few co-workers and even fewer managers and guests knew what was up. If I overindulged and felt bad the next day, it's all on me and I got no one to blame but myself. Right now I'm more talking about how some days you feel pretty good and other days you don't and there doesn't seem to be a reason for either as far as you can tell.
     It helps to get some exercise and enough, but not too much, sleep. What you consume has a lot to do with it as well and I mean normal foods and beverages, not just recreational intoxicants. If a lot of your nourishment comes from a drive-thru window you're probably going to feel kind of sluggish more often than you otherwise might. I've been trying to consume more healthy and less unhealthy these last couple of years, with some success.
     I don't get sick very often but about two weeks or so ago I got a pretty hellacious cold. I'm not a big fan of medicine but I figured I had to take something or the marginally adequate service I mail in every day was going to suffer. I went to my local Dollar General® store and purchased NyQuil®. Ha ha, just kidding! I didn't really get NyQuil. I bought a store brand. Some of the pills were dark green and meant to be taken at night-night time. These were alleged to knock out symptoms and help you sleep. Some of the capsules were orange, to be taken when sleepiness was something to avoid.
     The meds worked suprisingly well in knocking out my symptoms and causing or warding off drowsiness when the appropriate color-coded procuct was taken. The recommended dosage was two pills at a time but I only ever took one. Like I just told ya, I'm not all that crazy about medicine. I liked how the green ones helped me sleep but I really liked how the orange ones kind of made me feel better, and not just with symptom relief, during the day.
     They didn't get me high or anything like that. But beyond alleviating my ague, they made me feel better than I usually do in the late afternoon. I got well. I ran out of pills. Yesterday, I worked my dinner shift and felt kind of BLAH all evening. When I got ready to go in tonight, I had the same BLAH feeling again. So I came up with what I thought was kind of a bright idea. On the way to work, I stopped at my local ShittyMart™ and got some more pills, even though I'm not sick. I bought a two-pack (Tupac?) of the orange, name-brand product, DayQuil®, and took one of them.
     I made it through a fairly uneven shift pretty well and felt good, way better than I did yesterday. I need to try and find out if there are any unhappy consequences to long-term, frequent use of this stuff, but I think I've found a new "friend." And since I'm always trying to get some fame for my little internet column here, as an added bonus I'm pretty sure this is how such noted celebrities as Elvis Presley and Dr. Conrad Murray got their starts!
     What do you do to make yourself feel OK at work?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cash For Titles ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     In late June of this year I realized I was going to have to go and get another night job to compliment the daytime job I already had or I was going to be broke as hell. I scored another gig in July. I didn't get any tips from anywhere for the entire week of training. I was counting on a couple of hundred dollars for the training but I didn't get a training check. Someone in the office had fucked up and all my hourly wages were withheld to the IRS. This here paragraph pretty much sums up what happened. If you're fascinated and can't get enough, I urge you to (re-)read the most recent previous episode of These American Servers™, "THIS IS NOT A CHECK." But wait, there's more.
     I know I was cutting it close but the training check for about $200 would've made it so that I'd have enough to pay August's rent. Not getting it meant I wouldn't have enough. I had to think of something. What I came up with was pretty unsavory.
     First, I went to a neighborhood storefront called 24/7 Financial™, or something like that. I don't really know how their business model works, I just went there because it's near my crib. It's one of those legal-in-some-states establishments that prey on poor people. I don't really consider myself poor but right then I guess I was.
     They didn't seem to have anything palatable to offer me so I went to one of those cash for titles places where they loan you money in exchange for you letting them hold your vehicle's title. I'd used the services of one of these places before, an off-brand one that time, way back in the mid-90's. I know I borrowed $500 and got done with them in about two months or so. Other than that I don't remember too much about it.
     I knew where a TitleMax® location was, just a few miles down the road, and I went there. I wanted to know what I'd need to bring with me should I decide to make the deal with them, which I was pretty sure I would. I talked to a very nice, cute young woman named Monique. She told me that my title looked good and what else I'd need to make the deal; a recent light bill, evidence of car insurance, shit like that. I told her I'd probably be back soon.
     A couple of days later I returned, with everything Monique had said I'd need. She was off that day so I dealt with someone else. No problem, but I like Monique a lot better. I was approved for up to a couple of thousand dollars but only asked for $175. I was informed that the loan had to be in one hundred dollar increments so I got $200, $30 of which I gave back immediately as my first payment.
     I went back about two weeks later and made another payment. Monique was there this time. A couple of weeks after that, through a lot of good fortune and a little hustle on my part, I had enough to pay off the whole thing. I went to see Monique one last time. We closed everything out, she thanked me and invited me to return. I told her she'd been great and thanked her for making an unpleasant ordeal a little more bearable, but that I hoped I'd never have a reason to return. I'd gotten my title back from TitleMax.
     I could have worked more during the first half of this year. If I had, I wouldn't have needed TitleMax. If work hadn't of screwed up my withholding, I'd have been OK. I felt kind of scummy and ghetto going to a cash for titles place until I thought of how many of my friends and co-workers (a lot), some of whom I hold in high regard, patronize these kinds of places regularly and who the fuck do I think I am anyway?
     I got a loan of, really, less than $200. I paid it back in a little over a month. With the interest, TitleMax made about a $70 profit and my wallet feels like it's spent some quality time in a Georgia bathroom with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And you know how they drive your whip around the block to make sure it runs OK? The fatass store manager knocked the moulding on the door a little loose when he drove my car. Oh, well. Nobody forced me to go there but I still don't have to like it.
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     If you have any thoughts about the cash for titles industry and related services, be they good or bad, I'd love it if you'd share them with me and These American Servers™. In fact, I'd be downright thankful! Have a good one everybody.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THIS IS NOT A CHECK ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Lord knows there've been times back in the day when I've been a lot more broke than I am now or have been in the last decade or so. But I've never felt more poor than I do right now.
     The preceding pair of sentences was scheduled to bat leadoff in an episode of These American Servers™ that I've been wanting to present to y'all for several weeks now. For some reason I like that paragraph so I'm keeping it in the lineup. It was true when I first thought of it but now, not so much. I guess it's because I'm working more now and making enough to at least half-ass climb out of my self-perceived poverty.
     A natural disaster took out one of my workplaces about 18 months ago. I managed to get by for a good while but should've gone out and gotten another night gig way sooner than I did ("The Secret Shame of Joe Sixtop," December, 2010). Ultimately, I don't have anyone other than myself to blame for what happened to me, but the new PM job I got back in July should at least be credited with an assist.
     Back in June of this year I finally depleted all my meager savings. For a variety of reasons, picking up more dinner shifts at the restaurant I work at during the day was becoming increasingly difficult and since I really hate nights there, as an option I'm not sure it beats homelessness. So I went and got another night job. I realize that I'm very blessed to have been hired at the first place I went to with an application ("I Am Joe's Job Search," July, 2011).
     They promised to never schedule me earlier than Four PM, in deference to the AM job, but I'd have to train during the day. My awesome GM at the lunch gig, Brenda B, agreed to cover me that week, no problem. I was to get minimum wage for the training but I'd harvest no tips from anywhere for a week. Whatever cheese I had on hand was going to have to last me seven days.
     I was real careful with the cashish, and I didn't run out of gas or go hungry or anything like that. At some point during the whole ordeal, I can't recall exactly when, I borrowed $100 (since paid back) from my kindly sibling in order to keep the lights on. I never had to resort to consuming Purina® Cat Chow™, since the Always Save® brand is nearly as good, and much cheaper.
     I got through training just fine. During my last follow shift when I took care of all the tables while my trainer observed, I waited on an NBA bench player who was real cool. He left us $30 on a $63 tab ( I bet he wishes he had that back now!), none of which I got to keep. That's fair, but "OUCH!" right then for my broke ass. I passed all the tests and was validated to get out on the floor.
     Plus, I got back to my day job, getting tips again. I don't make all that much there and got small, shitty stations my first week or so at the new place. It'd be close but I'd get my training check and be able to pay August's rent, no problem.
     Except I didn't get a training check. I netted $279 the last time I'd trained at a new job, back in 2007. I was anticipating at least about $200 this time, but I got zip. The other guy who trained when I did told me he got a couple hundred bucks. All I got was one of those withholding statements that proclaims, "THIS IS NOT A CHECK," that I've usually only received when I was making mad tips.
     I perused the FICA information like it was a good Maeve Binchy novel. You know how you can fill out your IRS I-9 form so that they take all your $2.13 an hour out as taxes? I know some servers who do that, in order to pay off a tax debt or to get a fat-ass refund, but I most emphatically DID NOT authorize any of that. I needed that money. I was counting on it. Someone at the corporate office had made a mistake.
     Yep, I was financially fucked allright.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Expense Account ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I had something kind of fucked up happen a couple of months ago. I've been wanting to tell y'all about it, but not until it got resolved. Well, it got resolved, making it a rarity for my life. Now the only problem is putting the story into words and I haven't been able to do that yet. Look for it on here in about ten days or so. Meanwhile, here's a couple of things to think about.
     You've probably waited on people who are going to be reimbursed by their company for dining expenses. A lot of times you'll get a tip of around 15% on the credit card and a few extra dollars in cash. I'm guessing that these clients are only allowed to tip a certain amount and they add a little out of their own pocket. Some of them are probably former servers, and some of them are just nice people.
     I've gotten a lot of those over the years and you probably have too. Every once in awhile, you'll get somebody who's obviously not on an expense account do that, add a little cash on top of a credit card that's already got an acceptable tip on it. Not complaining, but what's up with that?
     The other night I waited on some guys who were on an expense account from Office Depot®. I know because they told me. They were in the mood for some alcohol and I set them up. We have a secret Sunday Happy Hour that you don't get unless you ask for it. These guys didn't know about it, so they didn't ask, but I set them up anyway. They totally cleaned their plates, so obviously they enjoyed their steaks, then they camped for an extra 45 minutes. They were the last clients in the building that night. I wound up getting only ten bucks on a tab that was just under $70. That's not horrible, but considering that they got a deal on alcohol and camped out, kind of shitty. I know where I won't be buying my inkpens and writing paper from any time soon.

     Congratulations to the 2011 World Champion Saint Louis Cardinals and have a happy Halloween everybody!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Impoorment Program ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Like that title? I thought it was kind of funny. I was trying to think of a negative-sounding word to put in there so the acronym would be GIP and I just made up "impoorment." The real name of the new bovine cabins at work is, like, Guest Experience Enhancement Program or something equally lame, I honestly don't remember the exact moniker.
     When I first started at my current PM gig back in July, we had both a buser and a food runner scheduled every shift. We tipped out 1.5% of our food sales to them and it was well worth it. Toward the end of the night they'd be pulled from their assigned duties so the buser could proof bread and the food runner could tray up our butter pats. Sometimes the loss of these server assistants would cause things to get kind of hairy for the closers and last cuts, but oh well.
     Throughout most of August, rumors were heard and spoken about the impending implementation of the Guest Impoorment Program, or whatever it's called, but no one knew much about it. Then in early September a mandatory all-store meeting was announced. A little of the session was devoted to some upcoming menu changes but most of it was about the Guest Impoorment Program.
     The crux of the program was to get rid of the busers and food runners. The hosting professionals would now be busing tables, but the servers would have to step up their busing, which we were already doing a lot of anyway. And the waitstaff would have to run a lot more (of each other's) food.
     I've noticed a disturbing trend the past couple of years of restaurants not having an expo and instead having a manager doing the expediting. This is going on at both of my jobs. A lot of the time of course they'll have to leave the passway in order to go do something managerial. It was really great to have a food runner there to pick up most of that slack, and now those days are over.
     During the meeting, our GM assured us that tip-outs weren't going to increase. That's great! I'm going to have to work harder, have less help and you're not going to charge me more for it? Thanks, A-holes! The door whores took a cut in their hourly pay rate and now recieve our 1.5%. They tell me that they're making just a little bit more now than they were previously.
     The whole ordeal really sucks my ass. I don't like that this blatant cost-cutting was given a name, full of corporate weasel-words like "program" and "guest." I'm amazed that they neglected to throw "excellence" and "synergy" into the mix. The seating co√∂rdinators started off horribly as busers, but I've got to admit that they're getting better. If present trends continue, they'll be almost decent by Thanksgiving.
     And now all the servers except the closers have to each make two trays of butter before we can check out. The hostesses used to roll most of our silverware, and they still do some, but with the greeting crew's added duties of proofing bread and busing tables, the servers are having to roll a lot more silver than we used to. If the store could have just one person there most nights who'd run some of the food and bus some of the tables, that'd be great. Personally, I think I'd be OK with tipping out a little more if we could have that.
     During the aforementioned meeting, when our GM was discussing tip-outs, he named some competing restaurants and what tip-outs were at them. He dropped the name of the company I work for during the day. He averred that I was tipping out 3% there, which was news to me; they actually only have us tip out 1.25%!
As for our erstwhile busers and food runners? They don't work here anymore. They've just...disappeared.

     How are tip-outs handled where you work? I'd love to hear from ya about it, either in my comments section or in your restaurant-centric internet column, if you've got one. Have a good one everybody, especially the allmighty Saint Louis Cardinals and excluding the bitch-ass Arlington, Texass Rump Rangers! Cards in five (or four)!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Eagle's Claw ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Back in April, work sent me to help train the Front Of House staff at a store in West Virginia that was being reopened. I tried to do a good job and I guess some of the employees benefitted at least a little from my tutelage, but really, I'm not sure the other trainers and I were very effective.
     I'm a pretty nice guy and I don't ride their ass or go off on them, no matter how bad they suck. I'm basically not inclined that way and besides, it's my job to coach and teach, not harangue and punish. We had this one guy, Bama, who's the worst restaurant employee I've ever seen in my life. Allison wasn't as bad as Bama, but she was pretty lame.
     Her appearance put me in mind of a model for drunken, dead Franco-Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), and that's not a compliment. She's very plain-looking, to put it kindly. But her looks were a lot better than her serving skills.
     I had a buttload of opportunities to suggest ways she could improve, but I only remember one of them. I walked past a table she was serving beverages to. She eagle-clawed every one of those drinks. In case you skipped class that day in server school or you're an art history major who Googled drunk-ass, dead Franco- Italian artists, eagle-clawing is when you grab a glass from above by its rim instead of from the side near its base.
     ANYWAY, first chance I had, I spoke to Allison about her bevie-serving technique. I was real nice. I started by fabricating a couple of positive things to say about her job performance. Then I patiently explained how bad eagle-clawing looks, how it's against Health Department regulations and how she probably wouldn't like getting a Mountain Dew® served to her like that.
     She nodded in apparent comprehension. She'd gotten the message. She wouldn't be eagle-clawing her glasses anymore. Cool. I felt good that I'd actually gotten through to her about something. Until not five minutes later I saw her serving drinks to another table, and every one of those drinks got clutched by ... The Eagle's Claw!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Slippery Slope ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I did something tonight I'm pretty sure I've never done before in all my years waiting tables. I accidentally dropped a piece of cutlery into the trash back by the dish hole and instead of at least trying to fish it out, just said, "Fuck it."
     I was pretty busy when it happened and it didn't help that a cook had just gotten all smartass when I asked for something it's his job to provide. I was still a little angry about that. Plus I'd taken a nap between shifts—something I do fairly regularly, usually without ill effects—and awoke with a groggy feeling I couldn't shake; in fact it's still with me even as I'm composing the drivel you see before you now. The fucktarded way they have the trashcans back there is real conducive to letting shit like that slide too.
     You might not believe it, but I've always striven to be a conscientious employee and I kind of surprised myself by how I dealt with that fork. There probably have been times over the years when I've chucked utensils without noticing, although I'm sure it hasn't happened often. There may have been occasions when I noticed I'd tossed a piece of silverware and tried to retrieve it unsuccessfully, but I honestly don't remember that ever happening.
     One good thing about tonight was that my "zone buddy" was my new all-time favorite co-worker Brianna, whose beauty is only surpassed by her kind heart and winning personality. I know that statement must read like sarcasm, even to me, but I assure you it isn't. She and I commiserated as we detailed our stations after we'd been cut. Her day was worse than mine. At least I'd been at a different shitty job in the morning, and gotten a nice break in between. I don't know why I didn't tell her about the squandered utensil. Maybe saying it aloud would make it seem less like an abberation and more like the first step down a slippery slope. If I had of told her, she'd probably have giggled and said, "Don't worry about it Joe. I do that all the time!"
      ANYWAY, one of my tables tonight had used a three dollars-off coupon that you get if you attend a football game at the stadium where I'm a part-time beer vendor (Yo, Beer Man" January, 2011). I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to deal with one of those tonight. When I was getting everything together so I could do a checkout, I had the ticket with that coupon stapled to it on top of my paperwork. A co-worker named Dontrelle walked by and saw the coupon.
     "You got that at the game, didn't ya?" he grinned. He goes to a lot of those games, inclucing the one this past weekend. "Every time I go I scoop up as many of those as I can. I know you get a lot of 'em, walking around there with that big ol' beer tub all day!"
     I guess I'm kind of naive, and I didn't know what he was talking about. "What do ya mean?" I asked.
     "Dude," he replied, "use one of those about once a day on a cash ticket. Don't do it much more than that so the office don't get suspicious. It about pays for that nice-ass cell phone I got!"
     I chuckled a little, said, "Whatever, dude," and bade him goodnight as he walked out the door. Dontrelle doesn't seem like the shady type, but ya never know. He also doesn't seem like the dumb type who'd voluntarily divulge something like that to someone, me, he doesn't know real well. Who knows? Maybe it's a sneaky set-up and Dontrelle is a member of the company's loss prevention team. Or maybe he's just a snitch-bitch on a fishing expedition. But I very seriously doubt either proposition. I know I don't feel so bad about that fork anymore though.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Joe Sixtop Saturday Night ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I was scheduled off Saturday night, but I need money so I picked up. The guy I covered for had scored ducats to something and really wanted to lose the shift. He feels like I did him a favor and I don't think I'll disabuse him of that perception. He usually closes, so I closed. It was my first weekend night closing here.
     I rolled in a couple of minutes before five. The shift change had been approved, but of course it hadn't been put in the computer so it was kind of a big ordeal to get me clocked in and able to ring stuff up.
     After I got that out of the way, I was ready to get sat. In my station. Not somewhere way on the other side of the building. But the hosting professional had seated a ninetop of women way on the other side of the building. In a station assigned to a server who hadn't arrived yet, wasn't even scheduled 'til 5:30.
     My hostess started explaining to me how things work and why she "had" to seat them there. I already know how things work and I don't give a fuck why she had to seat them there. I'm all about taking care of business. I hate rudeness, but I cut off her dissertation mid-sentence. "What do you need me to do?"
     I picked up the nine. The hosting professional said she'd try to not seat my actual station while I had the party if she could help it. My ladies were nice, and surprisingly low-maintenance, so when their food had been delivered and I'd done a checkback, I told the door whore that I could handle a duece or two in my real station if she needed me to. She sat me three twotops in rapid succession.
     That was a little more than I'd volunteered for, but I managed to hang in with it OK. I gave my nine ladies their six separate checks. Cool. I almost had them out of the way and would be able to give my full attention to my actual station. On my way to the register to run the credit cards, I glanced at my station and saw that my sixtop had been sat. FUCK!
     Couldn't the seating co√∂rdinator have consulted me? Couldn't the customers have been held off for five minutes? I asked my "zone buddy" to greet the table and get a drink order. She did. I dropped the vouchers and some inkpens for my ladies, made the bevies for table 28 and was finally caught up.
     About as caught up as possible at this place anyway. Working here is a lot like having a server nightmare while you're awake. I waited on lots of people that night and they all seemed to be at least reasonably happy.
Everybody tipped pretty well. My last table of the evening was a sixtop of young guys, average age about 19. They were pretty nice, so I wasn't expecting real shitty tips from them, but I wasn't anticipating more than 15% either. But they tipped great! I must of gotten at least seven dollars apiece from them. Then I had a lot of closing stuff and cleaning up to do.
     We close at eleven on Saturdays. I clocked out at 12:30 or so. My sales were around $600. I walked with about $110 after tipout. It's the first, and so far only, time I've broken a benjamin at this place. I've worked here about two months.
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     If anybody has any comments, feel free to leave 'em. I'd especially like to know how your Saturday night was, and/or if you think I should of capitalized the word "benjamin." Have a good one everybody!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Knocked Up and Single c2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Allright, what was I telling y'all about last time? Oh yeah. Your boy Marvin and this pregnant Wendy chick he worked with ("I Want To Guard Your Dreams and Visions" August, 2011).
     Wendy was mostly a daytime server there and Marvin was exclusively nights so their paths didn't cross all that much. Whenever Wendy did work a night, she was probably a double and thus early out. Marvin was usually a closer. They worked together for several months but never shared what could reasonably be deemed a conversation.
     Except for just the one time they did. It was a weeknight and Marvin was closing. Nothing unusual about that. What was unusual was that Wendy was closing too. Marvin can't remember ever seeing her close a night any other time and he's certain it was the only time they ever closed together. Wendy was an early out but stayed for one of the scheduled closers. Apparently she really needed the money.
     The shift was uneventful and went pretty well so most of the sidework was done by 10:15 or so. Marvin got out a broom to sweep his station before clocking out. Wendy had the station next to Marv's and was already sweeping. "How'd ya do tonight?" one of them asked the other. Marvin had done OK and said so.
     Wendy sat down in a chair while Marvin continued sweeping. She allowed as to how her shift had been decent but a little disappointing.
     She looked kind of melancholy when she told that so Marvin said something a little optimistic, like, "Tomorrow'll probably be better," or words to that effect.
     That's when the conversation turned. Marvin can't remember exactly what Wendy said but it was something like, "It's hard to look forward to tomorrow being knocked up and single."
     Wendy wasn't huge yet or anything, but was obviously pregnant. Marvin hadn't known her situation or her relationship with her baby's daddy. "Aww, that's gotta be rough," he said, "I'll try and think some good thoughts for ya," not really knowing the right response for her assertion.
     "Well, it's my own fault," Wendy continued, "I knew he was a bad boy when I met him. That's why I liked him. He had a leather jacket and a motorcycle too."
     Marvin chuckled to himself a little and thought, but did not say, "So you fucked Fonzie from TV's Happy Days. Way to go!" He did remind her that there were plenty of laws regarding her predicament and that if dude wouldn't step up maybe she should consult an attorney.
     Wendy got up and commenced sweeping again. "Yeah, maybe. If I knew where he was."
     Marvin really hated it for her, but had no idea what to say. They finished up and left.
     Over the next few weeks their schedules overlapped occasionally but they never closed together again. When he saw Wendy, Marvin smiled big and asked how it was going, but basically their relationship stayed the same as always; cordial, but pretty much non-existant.
     There were several registers in that restaurant, including two that were next to each other on the Front Of the House side of the line. They sat on a counter with shelves beneath them. A lot of the employees kept their personal effects, like coats, on the bottom shelf. Several of the waitresses stashed their purses there.  This had apparently been going on for years without any problems.
     One afternoon when Marvin came to work the place was abuzz about how some of the purses had been rifled through that morning and stuff was missing. The restaurant was a corporate store but didn't have cameras everywhere or indeed anywhere. Rumors and speculation abounded but nobody knew anything. Law enforcement was contacted.
     Marvin was off the next day and when he returned the following evening, the case had been solved. Even though his restaurant didn't have cameras, a nearby Shell™ station did. They caught Wendy trying to gas up with a credit card she'd swerved from a co-worker's purse.
     One of the women who'd been ripped off was a day-only salad cook who Marvin didn't know, but he was pretty tight with the other three. He'd dated one of them a few times and got along real well with the other two. Of course they all hated Wendy now so Marvin said he hated her too and hoped she went to jail. But secretly he felt real sorry for her.
     A couple of weeks later, it was payday. A lot of servers there didn't care about it, of course, not really giving a shit about a check that would be for maybe five dollars, or even less. Marvin expo'd and hosted a few times a month, so his checks, though rarely even $100.00, were a little more meaningful than most and he tried to pick them up when they came out. The checks were kept in a box in the office. There was another server in front of him at checkout when Marvin requested his paycheck from the manager.
     "You know where it is, just get it," he was told. So Marvin delved into the box. Each check was enclosed in an envelope with its recipient's name and address on it. It took Marvin a couple of minutes to find his envelope and a couple more to make sure he hadn't missed one of his previous ones. During his search he spied a pair of envelopes addressed to Wendy and he took them too. Marvin brought all the checks home. He opened his, but didn't open Wendy's. He put stamps on hers, and dropped them in a mailbox.
     Marvin doesn't know how much Wendy's checks amounted to, if anything. She hosted now and then, so maybe some of those hours were on there. If any of Wendy's victims found out what Marvin had done, they'd be pissed, and justifiably so. Marvin knows that taking those checks was probably a rules violation, maybe a serious one, but oh well. Last Marvin heard, Wendy faced no felonies, but several misdemeanors. She was observed by a former co-worker hostessing at a nearby Chili's™ while awaiting her next court date.
     How do you feel about what Marvin did?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Want to Guard Your Dreams and Visions ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     You're lucky. You've got real friends. For the purposes of this episode of These American Servers™, let's define real friends as actual, live individuals with whom you probably share some common interests, but whom you definitely like and care about and can reasonably believe they feel the same about you. Sure, people drift apart sometimes for various reasons and friendships don't always last forever, but you at least want to keep in contact with your friends and hang out with them sometimes if proximity allows.
     Then you've got your internet friends. You haven't met them in person but you feel like you know them from chat rooms, message boards, computer gameroom convo, email exchanges, commenting on each other's blogs, stuff like that. If you're bereft of internet friends and don't want to be, just leave a comment here on These American Servers™ from time to time, and you've got me, Joe Sixtop!
     Then you have your work friends. Sometimes they evolve into real friends and the line often gets pretty blurred, especially among women. Anyway, work friends are people you're pretty tight with at work, and maybe you've got each other's backs a little more than the rest of the crew but you rarely if ever interact with them outside of work and when y'all aren't co-workers anymore you drift apart real quick.
     For Marvin, Wendy was about a step or two less than work friend. They were cool, and worked together fine, but their relationship, though cordial, was pretty much non-existant. Not that there was any animosity; there wasn't, just very little personal interaction, for whatever reason. She was cute all right but a lot of the other waitresses were cuter and usually at least a little closer to being Marvin's actual work friends. She did have kind of a rockin' little keester on her though, so Marvin surreptitiously glanced in that direction now and then. During one such observation, he noticed that Wendy was pregnant.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Even God Gets Bad Reviews ©2011 by David Hayden all rights reserved

     It's too bad that there should be several links in this, but I don't know how to do that. Anyway, do you and your coworkers ever go to any bars after work? Yeah, I thought so. Us too. Ya know that bar that has that same decent but not-all-that-great cover band playing almost everytime y'all go there? Just imagine that one night you show up and instead of their usual guitar player, they've got...Bruce Springsteen! This is a guest post, so it's kind of like that. I'm proud and honored to have the opportunity to serve it to ya. Enjoy!
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Public Policy Polling is one of those companies that calls up a random sampling of folks and asks them if they approve or disapprove of the President, Congress, etc. Recently they did a poll I found interesting. They called up a large number of Americans and asked if they approved or disapproved of the job God was doing. Only 52% of people polled approved of the job he was doing. When reached for comment, God had this to say:

"52%. You think this stuff is easy? I made two of you and now I have 6 billion of you whining to me nonstop. You all thought you were hot stuff when you cloned a sheep. Big Deal. I invented sheep. When was the last time any of you performed a miracle? The miracle on ice? Whoopdeedoo, I invented ice. The only time anyone thanks me is when they win an award. Don't thank me for your crappy movie. The last movie I liked was Good Will Hunting. I swear to me that if my approval rating drops below 50% you are all on your own. How do you like dem apples. Oh yeah, you all like apples a lot."

Good thing God doesn't have a Yelp! page.

The point I am trying to make here is that everyone has their critics. There is something about restaurant people that lead us to take the criticism to heart. The same tendencies that make someone successful in this industry also make them sensitive to those who critique them. I fall into this trap far too often. I dread the table that comes in and complains about my service. I might defend myself to the fullest against every complaint letter, but afterwards I really take it to heart. I am fortunate to know that I am not alone.

My blogs and book have given me the opportunity to speak as a peer with some of the top people in the industry in my city. They all remember the negative letters. I had one of the top chefs in my city detail several of his to me recently. I consider this man nothing short of a culinary genius. He created the greatest meal I have ever put in my mouth. Yet some anonymous online comments made him question his talents. I spoke with the General Manager of one of the premier restaurants in the city who could quote verbatim her most recent negative Yelp! review.

I have forced myself to stop reading the reviews for my restaurant. I can't look my guests in the eye the same way after reading them. There is no context to the reviews. They have no idea of the circumstances behind the things they complain about. They just complain to anyone who will listen without providing the opportunity for response or defense.

The sad part is that we take it all to heart. The Chef I mentioned was a James Beard Award Winner, but someone who typically dines on Chef Boyardee™ is allowed to critique him. The General Manager I mentioned runs a restaurant that does over $6 million a year in sales, but someone who wandered in with a Groupon™ can make her doubt herself. I was voted the best server in my city last year, but someone who has never strapped on an apron can tell me how to do my job.

It is part of the business. We cannot stop the people who criticize us. That is their right. We can choose how we respond to it though. We can trust that as professionals we know more about how to do our jobs well than they do. We can build on criticism or we can let it tear us down. As for me, my approval rating isn't 100%, but that puts me in some solid company.

     

                

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dumb Chatter You Hear ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I waited on some suits from the McDonald's® Corporation recently. They seemed to have a good experience but I didn't. I wanted to tell about that (and I probably will someday) and also a little about what my Mickey D's-working buddy has to say about his job, and somehow it devolved into this. Enjoy!
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     Nice couple, decent tippers. In their early sixties I'd guess. I haven't seen them in about five or six years, since I moved away, and I'm totally unable to recall either of their names. They seemed to like me pretty well because they'd usually only come in on nights I was bartending. When I'd get a few spare minutes or on a slow night, they liked to talk to me. Not the dumb chatter you hear from some clients; it was usually pretty interesting. They were both professional pilots.
     They owned an airplane and for the right price you could ride in it or they'd fly over an outdoor stadium during an event with your advertising banner in tow. That's about all the wife was licensed to do with airplanes but the husband claimed he was qualified to fly a Boeing 747 full of passengers if Southwest Airlines or whoever would only give him a job and I have no reason to doubt him. Most of their income seemed to derive from his flying Lear Jets for corporations whose regular pilot had called in sick.
     The wife was licensed to do one thing the husband wasn't: fly helicopters. He'd tell me that except for a few things common to aviation, such as the lingo from Air Traffic Control, or knowing what an altimeter is, I was just as capable of flying a helicopter as he was.
     That's kind of how I look at so-called "fast food" employees. If you're a server at Ruth's Criss™ or Bob's Big Boy®, or like me, somewhere in between, you and I are both servers, however very little that's worth to either of us. If you work at Burger King™ say, or Wendy's®, I think there's no collegiality between us whatsoever and you probably agree. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with either hustle, of course. They're just way, way different. Except for a few commonalities, like Health Department regs, we're like helicopter pilots and airplane pilots.
     I have a friend, my neighbor Jakey G, who cooks and works the drive-thru at McDonald's. I asked him his thoughts on the subject—like most people, he's totally unaware of These American Servers™— and he doesn't consider himself in any way a server or our respective jobs very similar.
     How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sunday Sucky Sunday ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Really, I wanted to call this episode "Sunday Shitty Sunday" but These American Servers has a policy against using titles that couldn't be published in a mainstream daily newspaper. In the unlikely event that anyone actually reads the pseudo-pornography contained herein, well that's on them. Of course, if I flog your blog, I'm pretty cool with just about anything, which will no doubt make the author of the delightful Fuck My Table breathe a little easier.
     Anyway, the end of my third full week after training at the new PM gig was tonight. It's the first Sunday I've been scheduled there. It was a pretty shitty evening.
     I got there a few minutes before five, checked my station and clocked in. Shortly after, I got sat with an attractive lady, I call her Mrs. MILFord, and three children, none older than seven. They were all nice but kind of ran me. I got four dollars on an $18.00 ticket. Not that bad, but it got worse.
     Then two of my fourtops got pulled together for an eight. They rolled in slowly, one couple at a time. They requested our secret Sunday two-for-one Happy Hour. I fucking hate two-for-one, whichever side of the bar I'm on. To me it's a big "Fuck You!" from management to their service personnel. But we offer if it's asked for, so they got it. I rang 'em in and the bartender made a tall double cocktail and I got duals of all their wines and drafts, just like I wanted. No problem.
     Some of the guests ordered another round and I rang that in. The other bartender, Jenna, poured my double cocktail but made just one of everything else. I asked for the rest of my order, and eventually got it, but not before being lectured and scolded by the snotty little bitch.
     The clients finished up and paid. After they left I saw that I'd gotten 15 to 20% on each of the four tickets, which would have been fine if they hadn't sat at the table for well over an hour after settling up. These people are from the wealthy suburb where the store is and I'll remember them fondly the next time I refrain from voting for any Republicans. "Ha ha, this ballots for YOU, bitches!!!"
     A little later my new nemesis Jenna was at a register. I needed a check presenter and she had one next to her. I was pretty busy, but of course still said, "May I?" I wouldn't snag it if she had just hunted it down for her own clients.
     She said something smartass, I don't recall what. So I went and sought a book elsewhere, even though Jenna hadn't needed the one that had been next to her.
     Some other crizzap happened tonight. I got two really shitty tips, for example, and a manager said some stupid, unhelpful, irritating shit to me while I was kind of weeded. I'm composing this a couple of days before it'll get posted, so I might edit or add to it. But right now I've got to stop. Telling y'all about tonight's shittiness is a little like reliving it and it's bumming me out too much!
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Woah! That's a little more rantageous than usual for These American Servers, but it's all true, so there ya go. Just so you'll know, Monday and Tuesday were a lot better and I'm off tonight. Now I just need someone to pick up my Saturday (8-13-'11) PM shift. Any of y'all want it? I mean, it can't hurt to ask, right?
Have a good one, everybody! ☺

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Fun Drinking Game ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     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 douchbags 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 Starting Page 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 Ruby Tuesday'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 British singer Amy Winehouse was playing These American Servers on July 23rd, 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 bourbon, 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 20, 2011

I Am Joe's Job Search ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     There's not much to tell. Some of you might know that I went to a training store in West Virginia and spent most of April there. A day or two before I was asked to make the trip I went to a chain restaurant location near my crib and picked up an application.
     Turns out, I knew Courtney, their hosting professional. She'd worked with me as a server at my day job. She's a nice person but a shitty server, so I'm glad she's got a gig she looks to be better at. "Joe! Great t'see ya! Application? Sure thing. Bring it back tomorrow and I'll make sure you get to talk to a manager," she enthused, "I'm sure they'll hire ya!"
     I didn't want to work at that store. It's in a part of town that isn't all that prosperous. I wanted to work at the location over in Ashcroft Heights, where the clients tend to have money. But all that was going to have to wait awhile. The next day I got the call to go to West Virginia; I'd leave in a week.
     So I made the trip. I was there for three weeks. The money I get for the training gigs is pretty sweet and this one was the best yet. When I got back I found that I still had all my days but it was going to be tough to get many nights, which is cool 'cause I hate nights there, but I'd need more money again soon.
     I worked my days and a few nights. I sold beer at a couple of concerts. I denied myself Fritos® corn chips, opting instead for the Piggly Wiggly brand. I was careful with my cashish and was OK into July. But I had to do something soon or August was going to hella suck. So I filled out the application I'd gotten from Courtney and made the short, easy drive over to Ashcroft Heights.
     The hostess took my app, told me to wait there a minute. She reappeared and took me to see Dale, assistant manager in charge of the waitstaff. He and I sat at table eleven and did the interview. It was OK that I was only available nights. He asked if I could come back the next afternoon and talk to the GM. I could.
     My interview with the GM went pretty well. He asked me back to the office computer to fill out the real application. He told me what my training schedule would be the following week and asked if I could work that out with my other job. Again, I could.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Don't Say Words That Hurt ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I worked Curveside™ at lunch today. I was pretty busy PLUS I get $7.50 an hour for doing it, so not such a bad shift for me. I had a few corporate picnics, including one that was really hard to put together. It was all one check fortunately, but I got totally stiffed on $139. I didn't like that of course but oh well. The couple of coworkers I casually mentioned it to were way more upset about it than I was. There was something else happened that really pissed me off.
    Some lady with a real Minnesota-sounding accent called in an easy to-go order. She just started yapping about what she wanted, but we've got a script and I went with it. I got the idea she wasn't digging it, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do, right? I quoted a very favorable pick-up time, a mere twelve minutes into the future and she informed me she'd arrive in three. I assured her that we'd do everything possible to get her chow out quickly.
     About five minutes after our convo, she pulled up. I stuck my smiling face out the door and told her it'll be ready in just a sec.
     "You guys aren't on your A game today, are ya?" she said.
     "What do you mean, ma'am?" I responded pleasantly.
     She alleged that she'd called earlier and been put on hold interminably, which is possible but unlikely. Then she told how she'd called a second time and been hung up on, she thinks by me. Hung up on is even more improbable than that first scenario and if it happened, I promise I ain't the one. Then she repeated her mantra, "You guys aren't on your A game today."
     I went back in and quickly checked her order and bagged it up. I brought her food and her ticket to her. Even though to-go works out of a till, I had cash in my pocket and made her $11.50 change out of 20 right there. I quickly stepped back; I didn't want a tip from her since she felt so compelled to keep harping about how bad my store and I suck.
     Somehow through it all I managed to channel the spirit of author David Hayden, who's wise advice is to never turn it back on them (no matter how richly they deserve it!) and remained calm, courteous and professional through the entire exchange. Of course, if the sign outside said Joe's Rib Crib™, I'd have told her, "No Charge. Now please get the fuck out of here and don't ever come back."
     I'm not sure why I let this little ordeal bother me more than I'd normally expect it to. She's probably not really evil and doesn't deserve the colon cancer I spent a few minutes psychically wishing on her fat ugly ass. She's from another part of the United States where people tend to be more rude than they are here, which isn't to say we're better people; we're not. We just tend to demonstrate a little more superficial surface politeness than y'all do.
     She was smiling through the entire few minutes she was there. I detected no cruelty or even displeasure in her voice. Other than the content of her comments, she might have been literally exclaiming pleasantries about the weather instead of figuratively plunging a knife into my gut and twisting the fuck out of it. I might have felt differently, maybe worse, if she'd been young and pretty instead of old and ugly. What clients say and do that bothers me might not be a problem for you, and vice versa. I tasted some anger for a minute but I believe I handled the situation pretty well. I'm totally over it now of course and I'm only bringing it up because it kind of ties in with something that went down a little later.
     In spite of a couple of stiffs, I made nice cheese today. I was feeling pretty good as I pulled into my neighborhood Shitty Mart™ after work to get a newspaper. That's where I saw my former coworker Jannica and her three kids. She'd been a pretty good server and I got along with her fine, but most of the employees didn't like her. I'm vaguely aware that she had a lot of drama in her life that she brought to work sometimes. She'd eventually been fired, by GM Brenda B, who's a good manager but a great person, so I'm sure there was justification, but that's not my business or my problem.
     Jannica and I chatted for a couple of minutes. She seemed genuinely glad to see me again. Come to think of it, I was probably the best friend she'd had at that job. At the counter, I paid for my media fix, and looked behind me to say "see ya,"or whatever, to Jannica. I noticed she was purchasing a shitload of high-carb snacks. She had Little Debbies®, candy bars, Doritos® and two liters of Pepsi®. With absolutely no malice in my head or my heart, I said, "Glad to see you're feeding your kids so healthy."
     Jannica's smile turned to a look of sadness. "Well... They don't get this stuff every day or anything..."
     "I know. I'm just kidding," I replied weakly. I've got no reason to think Jannica's a bad mom. I believe she loves her kids and tries to do right by them. For all I know, those nice children were getting a very rare treat. Nobody's overweight or unhealthy-looking. Even though I (regretably) judge people all the time and maybe you do too, I wasn't doing it then. Had she been splurging on Brussels sprouts, I'd probably have said, "The kids are going to love those!" which might have been slightly funnier. Jannica'd never done me any wrong, yet my careless attempt at a lame joke had hurt her feelings.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smoke Break ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     All of a sudden the other day at mini-meeting a draconian new smoking policy was decreed at my work, effective immediately. No employee, including managers, can smoke anywhere on the property. Our GM, Brenda B, is a big-time consumer of Marlboro Lights. She announced the new rules but I promise they weren't her idea. Rumor has it that one of the area directors, supposedly a long-time secret smoker, finally managed to actually quit and in celebration got all johnson skull on everybody.
     It used to be that individual GMs could set their store's smoking policies and ours were pretty liberal. Except during the rush, waitstaff and kitchen crew could just duck out to the back dock and satisfy their cravings. Even bartenders could usually find their way out there for a few quick drags occasionally during a shift. As far as I'm aware there were never any problems. Now you have to leave the building, cross the parking lot and go to the other side of the street if you want to burn one. Even if you woof 'em down pretty quick you're going to be gone five minutes easy, maybe longer.
     After a good stretch where we used a lot of different AM bartenders, the task has fallen to a coworker named Quinzell. Today at about 2:00 I was pretty close to walking out the door when "Zell asked if I'd watch the bar while he took a trip to Marlboro Country (although in his case I think it's USA Gold Menthol Lights Country). I guess he had permission and it's not my problem if he didn't so I said "OK" and jumped behind the bar.
     Usually when you watch the bar for a few, something fucked up happens or you have to deal with something complicated. Not this time. The few barflies were all in good shape. One guy was just finishing his Southwest Grilled Chicken. I could see 'Zell had already run dude's credit card. When he was finished I cleared the plate and wiped beneath it. Jones had eaten every bite so I said, "I'm sorry you didn't enjoy that, sir. We'll try to do better next time." That's one of my jokes I throw at them sometimes. Feel free to use it if you want. Being as how nobody reads this, everybody'll think you made it up.
     "Can I get this to go?" the guy asked, holding up his nearly full tumbler.
     "Sure thing, just a sec." I got a to-go cup and filled it with new tea, instead of just handing him the cup to pour into from his glass. See? I'll even go that extra mile for your guests.
     "Anyway, the guy thanked me but added, "Quinzell always gives me a big cup." We've got kids' cups, regular to-go cups and large to-go cups. The large are for only if everything's going to the trailer, and they get charged for. If a dine-in customer wants to enjoy their (non-alcoholic) beverage with legs, it goes in a regular to-go cup.
     The guy seemed pretty nice and must be at least sort of a regular and since you can say all kinds of shit to them if you smile, I said, "Then how about not repaying his kindness by snitching on him?" The client laughed a little and left, clutching his regular to-go cup.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The DH Hits a Home Run! ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     "I oughtta write a book!" I'll hear an exasperated coworker exclaim in the kitchen, because of something messed up that happened in the restaurant.
     "You should try reading one first!" is my comeback and it always gets a chuckle from the rest of the crew. I haven't had a specific book to recommend though, but now I do. It's "Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips" by David Hayden.
     A lot of you are familiar with David's five (!) blogs (http://hospitalityformula.com/). However, be aware that his book is comprised of all new material, not reprints of previous posts. This well-written volume is derived from David's hard won experience as a 15+-year veteran of our challenging industry. This man knows what he's writing about.
     The book is well organized. Reading it's a lot like watching a really good waiter as he works his shift. Mr. Hayden gives great advice on getting ready to go in and looking sharp when you arrive (early). He's got a checklist of what to bring to work with you and how to get there in a good frame of mind. There are lots of awesome, innovative sales techniques and excellent strategies for getting the most out of every situation. And of course it's all ethical; no underhandedness is promoted here.
     Mr. Hayden has some words of wisdom concerning just about everybody you'll interact with at work; not only guests, but also coworkers, busers, cooks, hosting professionals and managers. David's mentioned in his internet column that he hasn't done a lot of bartending, but you can't tell that from what he says about service bar etiquette. He'll tell you how to help your bartender help you.
     David instructs how to deal with different kinds of customers in different situations; those in a hurry, celebrating their anniversary, "problem" guests, et cetera. What he says about waiting on business people who've just nailed down a big deal will, by itself, net you more Benjamins than if you were a sensimillia dealer at Bonnaroo.
     Everyone involved in the restaurant business can benefit from "Tips²." I've been waiting tables for a couple of decades and I got a lot out of reading it. If you run an independent restaurant, unburdened by the advantage of company-mandated corporate training materials, you should buy several copies of this invaluable resource for your staff. It'll undoubtedly make your store better and everybody more money.
     David's got a little humor for ya too. After describing one particularly clever sales gambit, Mr. Hayden asks, "Don't you wish you had a table to try this out on right now?" And even though my enthusiasm for waiting tables is at kind of a low ebb these days, right then I did wish I had a table to try it out on!
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                        http://www.tips2book.com/
     That's the website to click on to BUY THIS BOOK! Tell him Joe sent ya and he'll give you a fat 20% discount on the book's already reasonable price. And the WAY to tell him that Joe sent you is to type in the
coupon code SIXTOP at check out. Buy. Read. Learn. Enjoy. Make more Money. Hellz to tha Yeah!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kick Cricket to the Curb ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I moved here over five years ago. I needed a phone and I went with Cricket®. I started with them on the seventh of the month, so every month I've been supposed to pay on the seventh.
     I've utilized different payment options over the years, but I usually go to the little bill payment kiosk at On The Run™ by Mobil®. I wait tables at night a lot and sometimes I haven't paid the phone bill until after midnight, technically the eighth. Sometimes I'd pay on the straight-up eighth. No problems.
     Exactly ONE TIME I didn't pay until the ninth. They cut me off and I believe I incurred a small reconnect fee. But it's cool; I was more than one full day late and I wasn't expecting free phone service.
     I've always had caller ID, voicemail and unlimited local calls. I didn't have long distance and I couldn't send texts. A couple of years ago I decided to join the 21st century and get texting capabilities and long distance. Cricket was more than happy to sell me the upgrades.
     About a year later, it came to my attention that I was paying for another service, one that I had not only not requested but that doesn't even work on the phone I have. I was getting ripped off. A lot of people would have raised hell (I figure I'm out about $75.00) but I just went to Cricket's local HQ and politely asked to have the extraneous crap, and it's cost, go away. Since a new month between Cricket and me started on the seventh, I thought it would be a good idea to get this done on the sixth.
     The dude I dealt with wasn't rude or anything, but he was pretty lame. He acted like what I was trying to do was kind of a big deal. After dicking around with his computer for several minutes, he announced that he'd removed the extra feature and heroically managed to allow me to keep my same phone number. Way to go, Jones!
     But somehow this ordeal has made my bill be due on the sixth now instead of the seventh. I went back to Cricket and asked them to fix it and, although the guy this time was way better than the previous johnson skull, he wasn't able to do anything for me.
     Of course I felt ripped off again, but I stayed with Cricket. I guess I didn't want the inconvenience and expense of changing phone companies. I've made sure to always pay on the seventh though, never the sixth. And then on the afternoon of June the seventh, I'd just gotten off work and was on my way to pay the phone bill when Cricket CUT ME OFF! I went back to their little office and got shit up and running 'cause I need me some telecommunications, but give me a month or so and I expect to kick Cricket to the curb. Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Just Look Around You ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Just look around you. WOAH! I didn't mean right now! You just keep your eyes glued to These American Servers™ for now, ok? After you've enjoyed, or at least consumed, this edition of TAS, then scan the scene. You're going to behold more buttcracks than a toilet seat. Seriously, it seems that everywhere you look, somebody's got their buttcrack exposed. Other than (so far) senior citizens, the buttcrack-revealing contingent contains every demographic you can think of. It used to be you could go months without seeing a buttcrack in public, however in 2011, you see them every day.
     That's not the subject of this edition of These American Servers though. This one's about back in April when I was at the training store. I was mostly working with servers, hosting professionals and to-go 'ho's. Wups! I mean ambulatory-chow coordinators. Yeah, that's better. Anyway, most of the CurveSide™ crew were adequate and a couple of them were real good. We had two of them that were horrible. One of them was so bad I'm not going to tell about him right now because he sucks so bad I don't want to even think about him.
     The registers at this store were exactly five minutes slow. I think it had something to do with happy hour. One girl couldn't handle the time thing. She would constantly quote pickup times that were overly optimistic by five minutes whenever she took a phone-in order. Even though it's against spec, I instructed her to just tell clients with call-in to-go orders "20 minutes" or whatever, instead of, say, "noon." She was unable to grasp the concept. So I tried to get her to add about five minutes to every pickup time she quoted. That was too much for her as well. Finally, I suggested that she buy a watch. I think every restaurant employee ought to be wearing one at work anyway. Even though I hate Wal-Mart, I told her she could purchase a decent time-keeping device there for less than ten dollars. But that just got me a story about how one time she jumped into a swimming pool with a watch on.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

All the News That's Filth to Print ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I worked a double yesterday. I had a little time between shifts but not enough for a nap. So I relaxed on the couch and read the local newspaper 'til it was time to go back.
     According to one story I read, the high price of gasoline is hurting a lot of Americans but the worst-earning 20% are really getting smacked around. They have to pay more to get to work plus groceries, clothes and like that are starting to go up. And this wasn't in the article I read but I expect rents (as opposed to mortgages) to head higher soon too. Of course, there's some good news, at least if you're a Republican: the top 20% of dollar-harvesters are doing real well; for them it's like the recession never happened.
     Then I read about how the costs of a college education keep rising but, at least for now, the financial benefits are deteriorating. A lot of recent grads can't find work in their chosen field. Some have even resorted to—working in restaurants! Oh, those poor, suffering bastards, right?!
     Then I read something by conservative columnist Thomas Sowell. He seems to think that raising taxes on the big ballers would cause overall tax revenues to drop because financially well-off folks would participate in tax-avoidance schemes and they'd get involved in less economic activity. Of course, Dr. Sowell gets paid a lot of money for seeming to think that.
     Then I saw where a United States senator from Oklahoma (the Thunder should kiss my ass!) threw a petulant little bitch-fit and bailed on five other senators who claimed to be trying to figure out a way to alleviate America's budget deficit. Perhaps somebody had the effrontery to suggest that raising taxes by a couple of per cent on people bringing in superfat cheese might be an idea at least worth discussing.
     Lastly, I looked at the sports section and the funnies and Dear Abby. Then I headed back to work, congratulating myself for managing to have a shitty restaurant job without a college degree

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On Account of the Weather ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Where was I? Oh yeah. Bad weather knocked out the electricity at my job. The owner decided we weren't going to try and open. Happy about the unexpected day off, I fixed myself a fat-ass cocktail and chugged it. Then the owner called and told me to go to our other location and fill in for their bartender, who was unable to make it in 'cause of the bad weather.
     I couldn't really decline. I had a car. The other location wasn't really all that far away. Most of the major streets were navigable. I was scheduled to work that day. But damn I didn't want to go! But I went, of course. Even though I'd just chugged a stout Jack and Diet on an empty stomach.
     I've been a pretty major consumer of alcohol over the years. But, although I've gone to work with some massive hangovers, I've got a personal rule about never consuming intoxicating substances before or during a restaurant shift. I probably shouldn't of had that drink, but my conscience is clear; when I knocked it out, I honestly thought I wasn't going to have to work the rest of the day.
     It wasn't like I was wasted or anything. I'd consume some gum and mints and nobody'd be able to tell I'd had a drink. I usually have some Certs or Trident with me and in those days I smoked a lot of Marlboro Reds, so the bourbon breath wasn't going to be an issue. But the downtown store was kind of the flagship of the organization. If I was going to work a shift there, I wanted to be at my best.
     Oh well. I got there and they'd already been open for at least half an hour. There was some big ordeal about getting me clocked in. I didn't care about it but you couldn't ring anything in if you weren't clocked in. I got my drawer counted and everything set up as well as I could and I was ready to go.
     Everything at that store was different from my store. The food was the same, but that was it. The bar was different. The cash register was different. The alcohol selection, especially the beer, was different. The ways things were done were different. The coworkers were different. The whole—what's a good word here?—ambience was different. Imagine what it would be like to start a new restaurant gig and be put on the floor solo on your first day, without any instruction or training whatsoever except that you knew the food. It was like that.
     It started out slow, which was good for me; I had a little time to get acclimated to things. But it got progressively busier. A lot of establishments were closed because they were without powers. A few of the barflies from my store made their way to this store. Which turned out good for me; they'd talk about what a good job I was doing under difficult circumstances and word got around that I was just filling in and that seemed to buy me some patience from the clients. Things could have run smoother, but overall I guess they went pretty well.
     Right after I got started, a goateed young man with long hair came to the bar and ordered a bloody mary to go. I politely told him we didn't do that. "Oh yeah you do!" he informed me, before storming off to converse with the manager. They talked pretty animatedly, thought out of my earshot, for a good couple of minutes and then dude left.
     Later that day another bearded white guy with long hair rolled into the bar. He ordered a snack and something to drink. He was pretty cool and it turned out that he and the bloody mary douchetard from that morning were bandmates, recording at a nearby music studio. I'd seen them a couple of years earlier at a club, opening for Bonham, a sort-of-metally band led by drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
     I figured out what was up. These guys recorded their mediocre tunes nearby and came and got mixed drinks to go all the time. The manager was obviously down, she had to be. The Nikki Sixx wannabe just thought he could get a cocktail going to the trailer no matter who was bartending. Some people are incapable of being cool.
     Anyway, the night bartender, probably on account of the weather, was hella late, so I got to work through happy hour by myself. I busted ass and harvested mad cash. I don't think I got a cigarette the whole time I was there, so that first couple of 'Boros I had after work were really good. And there was a liquor store open on the way home.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Damaged Cars and Buildings ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     There was a big rainstorm in my old hometown one winter's day about 15 years ago. It wasn't all that cold at first but the temperature kept dropping. By the time I left work about 11:30 that evening, the streets were covered with ice. Everything outdoors was covered with ice for a hundred miles.
     I was so concerned with navigating the slickened thoroughfares that I neglected to get drunk after work and I made it home safely. And I made it to work safely the next morning too. By the time I got on the road a lot of your major streets had been salted and driven on sufficiently to make them pretty easy for me to get around on. The day was overcast and cold but at least the precipitation had stopped. I bartended that day and waited tables that night. Business was slow that evening and since I was a double, I was out of there before nine o'clock. The streets were still as slick as a buttered insurance agent so I went straight home for the second night in a row. But I noticed that it had gotten warmer.
     I relaxed at home. I cracked open a quart of Budweiser. I put on a good CD. If I remember correctly, it was something by Led Zeppelin, featuring the late John Henry "Bonzo" Bonham on drums. Over the din of the stereo, I could hear branches snap outside. It had something to do with things warming up quickly, affecting the ice-encrusted trees. I noticed it, but didn't think too much about it.
     I awoke the next morning to a dearth of electricity in my crib. Fortunately, that place had gas heat, so I wasn't cold. I wracked my brain, trying to remember when I'd gotten a cut-off notice. I got ready for work, which took a little longer back then since I still had hair that I had to make look acceptable. I left the shed and got in the car.
     As I drove down my little street, I noticed that no one had electricity as near as I could tell and that lots of tree branches were down. Some of the branches were real big and had damaged cars and buildings. I found out later that because a lot of branches had fallen onto power lines, most of the city was without electricity.
     Including my work. Not everybody showed up, but those of us who did sat there in the dark. The manager told us to just hang out while he awaited instructions from the owner. We were supposed to open at 11:00. The owner called and said that if there were no powers by 11:30 he'd give up on the day and let us go home. We sat around, drank Cokes and smoked cigarettes. At straight up 11:30, the owner called. I answered the phone. He instructed me to send everyone on. And so I did.
     Not a lot of setting up had been done so it wasn't long before we were ready to bail. I fixed myself a stout Jack and Coke, which I intended to ring up on happy hour the next night I worked, and chugged it down. I was about to walk out the door when the phone rang again. Again I answered. It was the owner. "Joe," he said, "Gorman can't make it downtown today, 'cause the weather's got him messed up down there." Gorman was a bartender at our other location and he lived way out in the country. "Being as how they've got powers and y'all aren't going to be open, I need you to go down there and fill in for him today."
     Awww fuck!
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     There's been a lot of devastion in America recently, mostly in the area roughly described as "the South." While you're on the computer anyway, why not check out http://www.redcross.org/ and see if there's anything you can do to help if you're so motivated and able to. Lots of places have been hit pretty hard, just one of which is Tuscaloosa, AL. The phone number to their United Way down there is (205)-248-5045.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

High 8 Us ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Way back in the fall of 2010 I set out trying to become an influential restaurant blogger, but it hasn't worked out. Hell, I haven't even managed to become a trendy internet columnist. I've garnered a few readers over the months though and I appreciate all of ya. If you like These American Servers™, go ahead and really savor this edition, 'cause it's the last one there's ever going to be.
     Until the next one, that is. It's just that I'm not sure when I'll be able to serve it up. Work's got me going out of town to open a new store. I don't have a laptop or a SmartPhone® and I can't lug this desktop up there with me. What internet access I'll have (if any) probably won't be safe from prying eyes I'd prefer not behold TAS.
     So you can safely abandon your computer until the end of April. You might not need it again before the middle of May. Unless something crazy happens, like, say, if the angry ghost of Snuffy Stirnweiss returns and commences to cockblockin'—and perhaps there's a good reason so few Americans now fear his spectral wrath—I'm sure TAS 'n' I'll be back by then. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Karma Comedian ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     We've got this barfly named Coolidge. He's a bearded white guy, a little overweight, average height, about 50 years old. He's a decent tipper and pretty low-maintenance. He's far from being my favorite client but we're OK and I've never had a problem out of him. Coolidge works for a trucking company and travels a lot for them. I don't know what his job is there; if he's a driver, a mechanic, a sales guy or what. We usually just see Coolidge at night but one day early this month he joined us during the lunch shift.
     I was waiting tables that day. I walked past the bar a couple times and nodded hello to Coolidge as he sucked down some draft Coors Lights. I was cut and nearly done when bartender Veranda B asked if I'd take over the bar, allowing her to go home and see about her kids, or something. I reluctantly agreed. Veranda got Coolidge another brewski and he closed out. She turned in her bar drawer. I hadn't done a check-out so I was just going to ring anything on my server number.
     The bar didn't do any business that hour or so I had it. Coolidge drank the final beer he'd gotten from Veranda but he didn't get anything from me. He seemed to be preoccupied with some paper or something he was looking at. I tried unsuccessfully to find a Grapefruit League game on the TV. Coolidge finished his beverage and asked if he owed anything. I assured him that he didn't and he bailed.
     I picked up the empty beer vessel and wiped underneath it. I noticed Coolidge had left some out-of-state lottery tickets he'd been scratching. No surprise, he does that a lot. I tossed two of the tickets but I studied the third. It was a $20 ticket and I haven't seen too many of those, although I buy scratch-offs when I'm in a state that sells them. I noticed a number had matched on that ticket. Coolidge had overlooked a $50 prize!
     Coolidge had already left the building and driven off in his white '02 Ford F150 with the W sticker still on the back window. I stuck the ticket in my server book, finished up and went home. I figured I'd see Coolidge again soon and I'd give him back the ticket in person. It can't hurt to have a bar regular feel that he owes you a favor. Besides, if I'd of told GM Brenda B about it, she probably have laughed and insinuated I was a dumbass for saying anything.
     A few nights later I was waiting tables again and Coolidge showed up at the bar. I walked over there. "Remember you were in here the other day?" I asked, "I looked at those tickets you left on the bar and ya missed a winner." I pulled my server book out of my apron and gave Coolidge the ticket that had been stashed there. He thanked me profusely and offered to give me some money or to buy me a drink or some food or something. I declined with, "That's OK. Just tip me real good the next time I wait on ya!" said jokingly but really, actually meant.
     I'm sure I hadn't been messed with in some weird way. Coolidge had just misread his ticket. What I'm less sure about is what he would have done had our situations been reversed. Oh well.
     I could have kept the ticket. I thought about it. There's a way to mail winners to lottery HQ and they'll send you a check. My friend Jakey G goes up there to visit relatives sometimes, he'd have cashed it for me. I could have driven up there myself, maybe waited 'til April and checked out a baseball game (tommorow's opening day!) on the radio and between innings listened to that rockin' new Decemberists CD I got for my birthday. That's not such a bad evening. Gas would have run less than 20 bucks. Or I could have anonymously mailed it to a children's charity up there.
     This little adventure made me think about Karma. It seems like everyone believes in it, at least a little. But really, does it exist? Would it have been "wrong" to keep the ticket? Was something "bad" going to happen to me if I had? Who, if anybody, is the arbiter of Karma? I think a good argument could be made that Karma isn't real, it's just a little fairy story that's caught on 'cause people like it. I wonder. And I wonder what I would of done had that ticket been worth a lot more than 50 bucks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Call-Ahead Eating ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

      So I'm bartending one day and this guy calls and wants to order lunch for himself and his daughter. I'm thinking he wants his chow to go but nuh-unh; he wants me to ring up his dine-in order immediately so that it's ready when they arrive. I'd never heard of any shit like that before and I didn't like the sound of it. Lots of scenarios went through my mind, none of them good. The only one I could think of that might not blow worse than the Chicago Cubs was to say we'd accommodate them if they'd eat at my bar. He reluctantly agreed. Everything went OK. I got so I'd discretely offer this service to a few of my regulars if they were cool people.
     Then I changed jobs. I bartend occasionally at my current gig but not too often 'cause the bar there sucks and I hate it. For years, our day bartender was usually Alicia P. Whenever someone wanted to order ahead, it was cool with her. If I remember correctly, I talked her through the procedure the first time she dealt with it. Then Alicia moved back to Tennessee. Now we kind of shuffle the bar schedule a lot. If someone wants to order ahead (I've never seen this issue surface at dinner, just lunch), it's OK; the bartender, sometimes me, handles it.
     Then today the bartender was the lovely Veranda B. I answered the phone call of some annoying, fucktarded client named Stacy who wanted to have some grub for herself and a dining companion cooking while they headed our way.  Stacy'd ordered ahead before and knew the drill. I put her on hold and told Veranda she had a phone call and its nature. Veranda wouldn't take the fucking call!
     If I'm bartending and someone wants to order ahead lunch, I'll take care of them but not if I'm waiting tables; I see the potential for too much confusion and bullshit. Plus I was already cut and nearly done. I found Quinzell, a lunch closer, and told him about the dilemma. He's a greedy bastard and agreed to take care of Stacy. I told Beth, our very competent hosting professional, that 'Zell would have a call deuce roll in shortly. Then I headed home. I guess everything went OK.
     Now, if the sign outside said Joe's Rib Crib™, we'd probably let people order ahead for lunch, maybe even dinner. Who knows? It might be a somewhat signifigant revenue genarator in a competitive racket. We'd have a policy and guidelines on how to deal. If a client didn't want to do things my way they could try their luck elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Absorbent Strings ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     It was Margarita Monday, our busiest night of the week. I guess Smurf, our badass barback, had requested off because they had me taking his place that evening. I'd wash glasses, run bustubs back to dish, change out beer kegs, shit like that. They also had me helping the cocktail servers in the bar area. The bar was where it was at nighttimes but we had a fairly busy, separated, dining room. Like most nights, the buser in there was a young man named JimBop.
     CRASH! Colleen, the usually sure-footed cocktail waitress, had dropped a trayful of drinks and appetizers. "Joe? Can ya help me take care of this? Thanks, sweetie!" she told me, not really meaning the "help me" part of her request. I cleaned as best I could with a dustpan, a broom and my hands. Then I got the mop and finished the chore.
     A couple hours later, most of the bar clients began noisily fixating on Table 113. You would have thought it was a sudden-death cage match between musical entertainer Colin Meloy and a reanimated L. Ron Hubbard but no; just a couple of fat guys arm-wrestling. BAM! One of the combatants suddenly emerged victorious but in so doing managed to knock over a shitload of brewski. I went and got the mop.
     On my way out the kitchen, I saw JimBop. "How's it goin', dude?" I asked him.
     "Pretty good," he replied, "I'm not as busy down here as y'all are. You doin' OK up there?"
     "Yea, not bad. But dude. This is, like, the third time tonight I've had to mop some shit up," I exaggerated, "next time's your turn." JimBop agreed to wield the O-Cedar® product if it was needed again and we went back to work.
     At last it was getting near closing time and had slowed down considerably. A middle-aged redhead in a white coat was sitting at the bar. She had a margarita and some chips and salsa. I noticed that she wasn't using the chips very much but was mostly scooping up and eating her picante with a fork. Maybe it's a crucial tenet of Scientology or just some weird diet ordeal. Who knows? Oh well, not my business or my problem.
     And then she threw up. She managed to step away from the bar and hurl onto the floor. Poor lady, she wasn't drunk—she'd only had part of one 'rita—and she didn't puke on purpose. She was pretty embarrassed, hurriedly paid and left. I knew what was expected and who it was expected of. "I'll go get the mop," I lied.
     Of course I didn't go looking for the absorbent strings. I went looking for JimBop. I found him in the employee smoke hole, standing there with Colleen, about to spark up a Newport 100. "Dude," I told him, there's some kind of spill up there in the bar and it is your turn..."
     "I got it, no prob," said JimBop, postponing his nicotine fix, "where's the mop?" I told him where it was and took my own trip to Marlboro Country. I told Colleen about the contents of the bar spill JimBop was attending to. We laughed and smoked our cigarettes until JimBop returned.
     "What was up with that?" I asked him innocently.
     "Aw, it wasn't nothin'," JimBop told us, "Barney (the bartender) said there was some throw-up but really somebody'd just spilled some sour mix and some salsa."