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 ( 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!

     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.