Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Guys From Guatemala c2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     There were these four guys from Guatemala. Each one had been in the United States for at least five years. They all had jumped throught the appropriate legal hoops to live and work here. At least two of them had fathered children that were American citizens. The shittiest English speaker among them spoke English pretty well. They each worked two jobs. Until Tuesday that is, when they all got fired from their AM gigs.
     When I got to work at 10:30 that day, the shit had already happened. I saw my four coworkers from the kitchen sitting in Israel G.'s '02 Sentra. I waved, said "hola" and went inside. This place is always stressing about labor cost and making employees go on breaks so I didn't think too much about what I'd seen but I did wonder why they were all on break at the same time. Oh well, not my business or my problem.
     There was a lot of activity inside. The assistant manager, whom I call Cy Young because her actual name sounds like that of the pitcher who lost the most games ever in Major League history, was on the phone, talking frantically about something. Several people I didn't recognize were in the kitchen, apparently getting us ready to open. It was time for our daily Front Of The House confab, dubbed Power Shift by those in charge and Time-Wasting Yapfest by me. Cy Young told us what the SOD was, mentioned some possible upcoming uniform changes and annouced that things were going to be different in the kitchen, perhaps for just one day. The waitstaff were instructed to deal with it and refrain from asking questions. We were promised the 411 the next day.
     I like Cy Young (at least, I did). She and I have always gotten along and had no problems in the six months or so that she's been at our store. I'm aware, though, that she has a temper. It turns out that she'd snapped at the Latin American quartet about an hour before I got to work. Voices were raised and my green card buddies walked out. They were in the Datsun, awaiting the arrval of GM Brenda B., who'd been summoned on her day off, expecting she'd sort things out.
     I had a spare minute and headed out to the parking lot. "¿Que pasa?," I asked.
     "We're waiting for Brenda," Isreal replied. I asked if they still worked there. "We hope so," Israel said. I wished them luck and went back inside.
     Brenda got there soon afterward. I saw her conferring with the guys in the Nissan and a couple of minutes later she'd donned an apron and jumped behind the cooks' line. We got pretty busy that day and of course things weren't real smooth. I was lucky; most of my tables were low-maintenance deuces who weren't in a hurry but my coworkers had a rough couple of hours. The food came  out of the kitchen correctly and it looked great, maybe even better than usual. Ticket times were crazy long though. The very lovely Veranda B., that day's mid, had to comp a lot of chow.
     The scab cooks had been imported from various stores in our franchise group. We've got my store and six others. There had been seven; one property closed recently due to the loss of their lease. So after a (perfunctory) meeting that afternoon, the aggrieved Latinos were told not to come back.
     Arnulfo P. and SeƱor Sunshine are kind of emotional but Mahogany Rush and Israel are quiet, almost meek, nice guys. I spoke to Arnulfo yesterday. Of course I counselled him to apply for unemployment because it can't hurt to ask. He's the worst English speaker of the four but I understood him to explain that Cy Young just kept ragging on them about something they considered bullshit and they were tired of it. He totally dismissed my suggestion that there may have been a sinister plan. They weren't thinking about how easily replaceable they'd be, what with the closing of the Giffords Blvd location. They may have thought that Brenda had their backs. My erstwhile coworkers merely took umbrage at something said by an emotional person who needs to hone her people skills. For family men during a recession, they demonstrated some spectacularlly bad timing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Ducats Negotiation c 2011 by Joe Sixtop, Master Waiter all rights reserved

     I hadn't seen any live hoops action in a couple of years, so it was past time to go witness America's Team kick some keester in person. My neighbor, Jakey G., who works at McDonald's, had never been to an NBA game and we both had the same day off this week. Hell yeah! We went in his car and split the cost of gas. I did some of the driving, 'cause it's a long trip and we went back home after the game.
     I bought our tickets online from the team's website before we left town. I got a good price on a pair of crappy seats up in nosebleed. Don't Worry! During the first quarter we scoped out some unoccupied prime real estate in the lower bowl area and bailed down there for the final three periods. Before the ducats were cyber-purchased, I thought about some options. One that came to mind was to roll into town without tix and see what was available from the box office and from scalpers. That's when I had this great idea. I didn't use it this trip but I expect to eventually.
     This is America, where more adults have a cell phone than have a place to live. Everyone has a telecommunication device with them at all times. I've bought lots of scalped tickets over the years (and scalped a few myself) and never been ripped off but it's always a concern. So the next time I'm in a ducats negotiation I'm going to ask the entrpreneur for their cell number (if they balk at my request, no sale) and call it immediately. I'll hear a ring(tone) and know I've got their digits. I'll assure them that I'll delete their information as soon as their product has gotten me inside the building.
     Of course just having someone's number doesn't mean you can find them or whatever if indeed their tickets turn out to be bogus. But having their digits is a good insurance policy. You can at least call (perhaps buning their precious Boost Mobile minutes!) and fuck with them if nothing else and what'll they be able to do about it? Just by asking for their number you might give a crook second thoughts. In some jurisdictions it's illegal to scalp tickets but legal to buy scalped tickets. If that's what's up you may be able to get law enforcement involved, if you're so inclined. I have a pretty good grasp of what you have to go through to get money and I hate to think of you getting screwed out of any. I'm hoping this idea of mine (which you can have for free) will prevent somebody from getting burned by scammers.
     You'll be happy to know that the story has a happy ending. After struggling mightily for the first 47 minutes of a terrific game, my favorite basketball team came back in the final 60 seconds and won by five points!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mandatory Gratuicide c2011 by Joe Sixtop, all rights reserved

     I used to work in a restaurant that had a policy of adding a 17.5% gratuity onto the ticket(s) of any party that had eight or more people in it. Actually, for the mandatory tippage to kick in, eight or more entrees had to be ordered. If a 20 top rolled in and at least 13 of them had appetizers (as classified by our menu) for their entrees the 17.5% couldn't be added. But if, say, a fourtop had an entree each and then somebody got four entrees to go, the grat was added.
    Most managers don't give a rat's ass if you don't put the automatic gratuity on the checks of large groups, if anything, they probably prefer that you don't. But at this place, they said it had to be included. Something about consistency and the fear of accusations of discrimination. I like it when the fine print on the menu claims that we auto-grat large parties, but I don't actually like to add it. So fuck it, I don't.
     It's a tip. If someone doesn't want to leave one, so be it. Eat up, bitches and get the fuck out of my station and my life! Once in awhile I lose out doing things like this but over the years I've come out way, way ahead. I'll discretely tell someone in the group that gratuities aren't included, sometimes I'll write it on their checks. I don't want to get burned by the menu's fine print. Sometimes a client will want the tip to be included; maybe they don't want to be concerned that they over-tipped (like that's possible!) or were a cheap-ass. Maybe they just really suck at arithmatic. Whatever. Hey, if you want it on there, I'll put it on there! I don't discriminate against any Americans (I adhere to company policy if the clients are from outside the top two-thirds of North America, 'cause fuck 'em) regardless of their appearance, ethnicity or my perceptions about them, even if they're refugees from Byhalia, MS.
     I try to keep all my parties to myself but if I have to share a large group with another server I defer to their wishes on the matter. I don't want them to feel like it's my fault if they wind up with less money than they might have gotten. But before we start taking beverage orders, I ask them, "Let's gamble, yo?!"
     Usually if you wait on a large group and things don't go well it's not your fault. The bartender got weeded, the kitchen sucked, you got triple sat, whatever. I hate to think so, but maybe sometimes if things don't go well, it's my fault; like I ring in some stuff incorrectly or forget to ring it in at all. Perhaps I'm too hungover to provide even the marginally adequate service I usually give. All kinds of shit can happen. I like the menu to state that a gratuity will be added for large parties, it's another tool you can use to your advantage. I'm not trying to get you to do things the way I do them. This's just something to think about.

     If you're new to These American Servers (and these days, who isn't?) this might be the first time you've seen the picture of the cute dogs. It's on the right hand side of this page. Underneath it there's a caption asking you to click this pic. I need to change that request because it looks even to me like some kind of shady scam. But all it does is show you my These American Servers page on Facebook. If it's all the same to you, it'd really make my day if you'd use that LIKE button and show me some love.

     I try and post something here about 3 times a month, once every week-and-a-half or so. But some crazy shit happened at work this week and I had a real good idea that I'll probably share with y'all, so you might be getting another episode of TAS real soon. No need to thank me; just offer a silent prayer of gratitude to whatever god or gods you may believe in. Peace out 'til next time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Joe Beer Man! c2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     This one was ready to go almost a month ago but you're just now getting it. Stuff happened and I wrote about that instead. Plus there's probably an optimal time to post this (right before baseball season? preseason football? Hall and Oates reunion tour?) but something's always going on, so we're going with now.
     In the unlikely event that you're reading this, you probably work in a restaurant. If so, you might find this interesting: another hustle that's kind of like waiting tables, but not really. I roam the football stadium several times every autumn selling beer and you probably can too.
     The next time you have tickets to a concert or sporting event, get to the venue about 90 minutes early. Cruise around the building until you find the employee entrance. Ask someone that you see going in if there's anyone you can discuss vending opportunities with. You'll probably get a supervisor to come out and talk to you, or at least get a phone number. It's very unlikely that you'll be invited to work that evening's event and you've got tickets to it anyway, so just go somewhere and get drunk until the show starts. Of course you don't have to have tickets; you could just go to the building when you know something's going on. Who knows? You might luck into some ducats or a good party or something.
     If you're going to be in the arena anyway you could just call a vendor over and ask them what you have to do to become their coworker. If you go this route, remember to buy something and tip when you do (sorry for even mentioning that but perhaps somebody not of our tribe is reading this). I'll give my supervisor's contact information to anyone who asks unless they're wasted or they say or do something I don't like.
     I got the gig because a client who's in the vendor-supervising business came to my bar one night and asked if I knew anyone who might want to work the Puny Possums' games. "Hell yeah. Me!", and I've been there ever since. I mostly work just the home games of that one football team. I get their schedule several weeks before the season starts, making it easy to coordinate things with my other jobs. However, I have worked a few concerts and a minor-league hockey game.
     Every location and event is different and they have different policies about things like who has to be carded, how many you can sell to an individual, if you have to pour the shit into a cup or not. Beer is sold at all pro games but not at all college contests. Alcohol isn't available at some concerts. And most venues have secret shoppers and spying eyes in the skies, so be aware. In some jurisdictions you've got to have some kind of alcohol license, which if you work in a restaurant you already have. If that's what's up, you're pretty much guaranteed the gig if you want it.
     Anyway, it's not for everybody. The beverage box is bulky and when full of ice and product, very heavy. Just like where you work, most people are OK, but we get our share of jerks and fucktards. The money's usually at least adequate, but sometimes it isn't. The weather can have a big impact on your day. I like it though. It's good exercise, the money's often great and since they'll probably make you give last call during the third quarter and there's no sidework (!), if you're capable of being cool you can discretely slide in somewhere and watch the fourth quarter for free!
     I like to amuse myself and the attendees by yelling out entertaining things like "Beer! Drinks like a soda, kicks like an energy drink!" and my favorite, "I've got beechwood-aged BUDWEISER! It's kind of like Bud Light, only good!" and "You don't have to leave your seat to beat the heat!" That last one doesn't work after the middle of October, but as a way to get out of my shitty usual gig on a weekend and still make some money, beer vending works for me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Tanya Fiasco c2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I don't like to add an automatic gratuity onto the checks of large parties. I wrote a whole episode of These American Servers on the subject, and then this happened, so I wrote about it instead. You'll probably get the original later this month. Lucky you! And even though it's spelled Tanya it's pronounced Tonya, just so you know.

     I spend about five shifts a week working with Tanya G. and she's a fucking bitch! Actually, she's not a bad person; she's a good worker, has a lot of regulars and her tables seem to like her. She's just really annoying.
     Instead of saying "Look out! (my own all-purpose go-to alert)" or "Behind ya!", she'll be like "Uh! Do you have to stand there!?" She's pretty good about doing running sidework but when I'm filling the ice holes she's inspired me to always say "Uh! Am I the only one who ever fills this ice!?", mocking her. It always gets a big laugh out of our coworkers. Like a lot of Americans, she suffers from a serious inability to be cool. If she sees a manager posting a notice about how they need someone to work Sunday morning, for instance, she'll immediately pipe up with "Joe's not scheduled then!"
     On Thursday she had a real bad day. A party of students from Kraplan Career Institute or MedVance or Halfwit For-Profit Remedial Community Junior Bible Academy to Learn You Stuff (or whatever) had a reservation. There were about 30. The M.O.D. decided to put them in a large room that's pretentiously dubbed The Solarium. Tables weren't pulled together. Clients just plopped down at the various fourtops. As usual we were shorthanded and Tanya got the whole crew by herself.               
     I was bartending and not too busy,so after making her party about three LITs and a couple of Strawberry Banana Daquiris, I jumped in to help. I got some of her beverages for her and took a lot of the orders and she rang everything in. It went OK, but after all their food was out I had to go see to the service well and a few barflies I had. Tanya ran around looking for a calculator. She wanted to add a gratuity to her party and our shitty NCR cash register can't handle that. By this time the group was wanting desserts or their checks or more Diet Dr Pepper or whatever. I got some beverage refills, did some prebusing and smiled a lot, but any questions they had, I didn't speak English. Poor Tanya, already extremely weeded, broke down in tears when several of them started griping about the auto-grat, even though the menu says that it's added to parties of six or more and they were told about it when they booked the reservation.
    I felt sorry for her, but not too much. For one thing, I'm no genius and I can figure out and add 15% to a check plenty fast in my head. Why can't Tanya? And the time she spent dicking around seeking and using her
ciphering device could have been better spent taking care of business. Sure, she was waiting on some reprehensible cheap-asses and would have gotten less than 15% without the auto-grat. But (of course) the manager waived the tip for anybody that bitched about it, so she got less than 15% anyway. Her stress about auto-gratting a herd of free-range A-holes made her bad day into a nightmare.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ramblin' Joe Sixtop c2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     So I was about to drop another episode of These American Servers onto an indifferent world. It's about automatically adding gratuities onto the checks of large parties and how I don't like to do it. Then something happened today at work that I want to add, so I'm just putting some of my random rambling thoughts on here for right now. Enjoy!

     Blog! What a disgusting-sounding word. If I didn't know what it meant I'd guess it was something nasty involving the digestive system. So I'm not a blogger anymore. From now on, I'm an Internet Columnist.
     I found a couple of blogs (Wups! I mean Internet Columns) that are similar to mine. In subject matter anyway; the quality of their material is a lot higher. One is The Only Slightly Cranky Waitress and the other is The Bitchy Waiter. They're both interesting and entertaining. I think they should team up and be The Cranky Bitchy Waitress, but that title already belongs to my coworker, Tanya G.

     Several years ago I got a job at Friday's. It sucked and I hated it so after a couple of weeks I just stopped showing up. For several days afterward I'd get voicemails saying stuff like, "Joe? Are ya coming in today? You're scheduled!". The reasons it sucked are too many to mention here, but high on the list was that it was my first gig to require employees to refer to customers as guests. "Treat everyone like an honored guest in your home!", was the counsel of management. If you go to my shitty apartment you'll probably be offered some refreshments but they won't be Potstickers or Andre the Peachlifters and you're not going to be charged money! Longtime readers (both of them) of TAS probably think I like being pretentious and they're right. So since we're not supposed to call them customers and I think it's lame to call them guests, I call them clients.

     If you don't like the rightward direction America seems to have taken recently, there's probably not much you can do about it. But you can make sure that you pronounce the surname of the new Speaker of the United States House of Representatives as "boner", if you have any reason to refer to him at all. Or if something is not to your liking, instead of just saying that it sucks or whatever, try "That hoovers my anus like Dick Cheney!" I started using that one early in the Bush Jr administration and it always got a laugh. But I guess I overused it so I'm putting it into retirement and passing it on to you. You can have it for free. Since you're probably the only person reading this you could claim it as your own and  no one will know the difference.

     Look for the next edition of These American Servers coming soon. It's probably going to be about adding a gratuity if the party contains six or more clients. Meanwhile, hit me up at These American Servers on Facebook (up there at the top where it says Search. If you get the option, choose product/service, not company) or email if you want to. I'm pretty sure nobody's reading this and I dare you to prove me wrong!

     This part here is from Wednesday, 1-12-'11, most of the rest of it is from a week or so ago. I knew there were a lot of servers in America, I just didn't know they all had an internet column. If I had of known, I probably wouldn't have started this little project, but oh well. Anyway, I was pretty sure that no one was reading this when a really good internet columnist was kind enough to add a link to my ordeal on her page. She's pretty popular, and the thought that maybe somebody might read this now brought tears to my eyes (there was no sniffling though, I promise!). So I think I'll help some other internet columnists out and put some links here on TAS. No charge and ya don't owe me, but if you want to help flog my blog, I won't object!
     See the picture of the cute dogs? Click on it. Unless I'm even more retarded than I think I am, you should immediately see my These American Servers Facebook page. If it's all the same to you, I'd really appreciate it if you would "LIKE" the fuck out of it. Thanks and have a good one everybody!