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!

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!

     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!

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! ☺