Thursday, May 31, 2012

Here Are Some Suggestions by Laura Marvin

This episode is a guest post.

Anyone who has worked as a server will know that it can be taxing but lucrative work. Whether you are working within fast food outlets, cafes, swanky restaurants or hotel catering, the tips you receive can often eclipse your hourly wage. But it is important to remember that customers will only reward you generously when the service you provide is of a high standard. There is etiquette to serving and waiting so here are some tips on how to do it well and ensure that at the end of the week your tip jar is overflowing:
Be Accurate
Being accurate and well informed is the best way to put customers at ease and convey a professional image of yourself and your establishment. Learn the menu so that if customers ask questions you can have a quick and definite answer. Also take the time to clarify any orders or requests that you take – messing up an order is a sure fire way to ruin a customers dining experience. If you aren’t sure about something, don’t lie or bluff. And if asked to recommend any dishes then give accurate and truthful descriptions rather than simply picking the most expensive thing on the menu – you don’t want your customers to be underwhelmed by your suggestions.
Be Friendly (but not overbearing)
Knowing your boundaries is important in serving, although the level of your friendliness and style of serving will depend greatly on the type of establishment that you work in. Sometimes it is best to let the customer define the boundaries of their contact with you. Some people will want to chat with you whereas others prefer to be left alone. Similarly, some will want speedy service where others will want a slower, more relaxed service and ask you to explain everything. Either way, one of the greatest faux pas within serving is being invasive so you should try and maintain a professional relationship with the customer by avoiding physical contact, over familiar conversation and pestering them – a quick check on their table is important but after that let them signal if they need you.
Be Alert
Using your peripheral vision is key in serving. Sometimes customers will want to attract your attention with a simple nod or wave of the hand. Scanning the room regularly will help you pick up on these signals and avoid the irritation of customers having you rush by when they need your service. You should also make regular circuits of the room to give customers the opportunity to stop you should they need to. Being focused and alert will also avoid any mistakes with orders so in short, do not turn up for work overly tired or hungover!
Be Professional
Knowing the etiquette of dining is important. You should remove used plates, glasses and cutlery after they are finished with as it is unpleasant for customers to be surrounded by dirty dishes for long periods of time. But be aware that you should wait until everyone on the table has finished before removing these. It is considered bad etiquette to remove them sooner as the remaining diners may feel pressured to hurry their meals. If there is food left on the plate but the person looks like they have finished, always ask before attempting to take their dishes away. At the end of the meal always ask if there is anything else you can get for the table before offering the check; you don’t want to look like you are rushing the customers out so that you can get the next party in. Remember, never ask the customer is they want change – just give them it and let them choose if/how much they want to tip you.
Be Positive
Even if you don’t feel it, maintaining a happy, positive attitude and smart appearance is important in serving. Nobody wants to be served by a surly faced waiter/waitress with a bad attitude. If you look like you’re having a great time then there’s a higher chance they will too. Never fight over tables with other waiting staff and leave any bad moods or personal issues at the door. If you find that business is slow and you don’t have many people to wait on then find something else to do – there are always dishes to clean! Being productive will not only make your shift go quickly but will show your employer that you can use your initiative and are eager to work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Testosterone Replenishment Theory ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I'm going to start off by telling you that everything seems to still work OK, you know, down there. I'm a very privacy-minded individual and I'm only including this disclaimer to quench any prurient curiosity that might have been piqued by the title of today's episode, the reason for which I'll probably meander my way to here in a minute. That's all I'll be serving up about my sex life for now. If you want more on that subject you'll just have to peruse These American Servers After Dark™, my spicy new adult restaurant-centric internet column, set to begin beta testing in late July, 2014. For now, I'll coutinue honoring my pledge to you: that this, the original These American Servers™, remains the most wholesome, family-friendly server blog on the entire motherfucking web!
     ANYWAY, now that we've established what I'm not stressed about, I'll tell ya what does have me majorly worried, and that's up here. I've been scatterbraining at work a lot more than I'm accustomed to here lately and frankly, I'm a little scared. For most of my life now I've yearned for a way to get out of the restaurant business yet still have money. Now I just want to retain enough mental acuity to be able to hang onto my tenuous foothold in the industry.
     Some of y'all might know that at my day job I primarily work CurvesideTo-Go, where clients phone in orders that I bring out to their vehicles. I've been working that position for years, gradually replacing my wait, bar and host shifts with Curveside and, while far from perfect, I've got evidence that I'm pretty good at it. I bust my ass to make sure that my clients get their orders on time and correctly. We get a call or two a week from malcontents who are unhappy with the character of their purchases but that's on the kitchen or the company itself. Several months and sometimes literally years go by between called in complaints about shit that's my fault.
     One day last week I put a Bruschetta Chicken Rigatoni in a bag when it should have been a Southwest Grilled Chicken. The other two-thirds of the order was right. I remember the pair of young, junior executive-type guys who picked it up. We never heard back from them. Perhaps the fuck-up went unnoticed or they didn't care; our rigatoni is real good.
     Then a dude called in two burgers and a sweet tea. He got his proper order but I gave him someone else's similar check for seven dollars more than he should have been charged. I told my boss about it after I realized my error. I volunteered to make up the difference out of my own pocket if she could fix Jones's credit card charge. She tried real hard but couldn't make it happen, which I think is some bullshit on the part of the damn National Cash Register® company. I feel bad about the situation but don't know what else can be done.
     I put the wrong dessert in the sack of chow that I sold to a regular customer who's kind of persnickity but pretty nice and a good tipper. I have her phone number and called it when I realized what had happened and left a voicemail but we haven't heard back from her. I'm mad at myself for screwing up and hope I haven't cost the company a few hundred dollars in annual sales and me some nice tips.
     There've been a few more little brain farts here recently but I can't remember what they were right now, and no, that's not a lame attempt at humor (although I guess it is a little funny). Oh yeah. Now I remember. Three times in the last month my drawer has come up short, each time to the tune of about five or six bucks. My drawers never come up short. If that sounds like a lame pick-up line, well it is, but right now I'm talking about cash handling. Most of my Reaganesque behavior has happened at my day job but early this month at night I was taking care of my three tables I had when my fourth got sat right under my nose and I didn't realize it for several minutes until a co-worker called it to my attention. I blamed the door whores—sorry about that but ya gotta do what ya gotta do—and won the clients over and got a nice tip and all was well but uh-oh!
     ANYHOW, "What's all this got to do with male hormones?" might be the question posed by anyone whose eyes haven't glazed over or wisely clicked the link to Life on a Cocktail Napkin. OK, I'm a kind of regular listener to a late-evening talk radio show called Coast to Coast AM®. The program runs all night and they advertise all kinds of crazy shit on there. Several of their sponsors are currently flogging testosterone like it was a new flavor of Pepsi®. It's not really testosterone, of course. It's some kind of "proprietary blend" that allegedly increases testoserone production in the bodies of men who consume it. The ads mostly claim to boost sexual capabilities and to a lesser extent weight loss but they also promise to increase mental strength and that's right in my wheelhouse just now. It's possible that I got a year's worth of fucking up done in less than a month and that my recent difficulties are just a statistical anomoly. But if they turn out not to be, I might call an 800 number soon and make a purchase. I hope it doesn't come to that, for several reasons, not the least being that right now I can't seem to find my credit card.

     If you're a guy in your 40's (or, really, anybody) and you have some words of wisdom on this subject or want some sympathetic eyes to glom your own forgetful foibles, I'd love to hear from you.