Tales from the Restaurant

Tales from the Restaurant
Where you'll find all the restaurant dirt you'll ever need.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Necessity of Micromanagement

The true telling factor of what life is like in any restaurant depends heavily on the competence of its management team. In privately-owned restaurants, managers are typically the friends of the head boss who can be quite demanding, but who are agreeable, sometimes fun, and actually have souls.

The managers at a chain restaurant have to adhere to codes and endless tirades of corporate propaganda in order to do things like "effectively govern" and "keep their jobs."

Due to the tier-based trickle-down effect of management wisdom implied by the latter example, many disastrous things can happen to the basic base-slave. Oops, that was a typo. I meant to say "waiter who has slightly fewer freedoms than an indentured servant with debts to the mafia."


At this point, someone from management usually comes over to stifle your creativity and squash any impressions you have of any kind of utility by saying something non-confrontational like;

...but in reality, the manager in question has no idea what you are doing, why it is necessary, or even why he or she has to venture any form of commentary. But something needs to be managed, and at that point in time, that something is YOU.

You may even try to argue;

But in reality, no manager in a corporate chain will ever listen to a better idea, even if it would revolutionize the way the company does business. Paperwork would have to be filed, people would have to be satiated, credit would have to be due. All in all, the company's CEO would probably love the idea you had if you and the guy were face to face. The reality of the situation is that no matter what you try to do or who you try to subvert in order to create a better working environment, you'll be strangled with red tape from the lower management team to the very top of the pile of assholes running HR for the company.

So you do the only thing you know how;

You get wasted after your shift with your coworkers and bitch about how dumb everyone is. Then you wake up the next day and go right back to work.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let's Blame the Kitchen!

Servers usually have six or seven thousand things on their minds at any given time. Throw in the fact that their performances are uniquely rewarded with gratuity. Also, throw in the happenstance that sometimes, the people servers wait on aren't the most understanding people, nor have ever had to work in a restaurant.

When these things all come together, you find that on a nightly basis, waiters, bartenders, and support staff can get very crafty when it comes to diverting the blame for their individual screw-ups.

Here's what I mean;

So naturally, the server in this picture forgot something. Harmless enough, but in order to sustain the belief that the guest has the best waiter in the whole world and would never tip that waiter less than 20%, the waiter resorts to;

The guest is then somewhat pleased that his or her order will be arriving soon, and that the waiter is now going to tear someone in the kitchen a brand new set of assholes.

In reality, this is what is usually happening;

This is a strategy I share with new people to the business. It saves you from being yelled at by irate guests, it familiarizes you with procedure in the kitchen, and it absolves you from blame coming from all directions.

Of course, there's always the possibility that you did everything right, and the kitchen actually bastardizes your order.

In that case, it's karma that rears its ugly head. You did everything right, and no matter how much you tell them that the kitchen fell right on its face when it sent out her order, you have become the restaurant Satan right at her table. You're basically out any amount of tip money, can't go back and fix anything, and may as well have someone else close it out for you.

True enough, I tell everyone that a good waiter is only a good waiter if he or she is good at damage control. If you constantly fuck up orders and are too slow, you'll do decently enough if you can make all of your guests love you and forgive you for everything. Even if the kitchen has to take one for the team every once and again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Breeze in the Kitchen

As funny as it could possibly be, I feel that self-inoculation should "rear" its ugly head in my disservice again. I keep "brewing" these unorthodox tales, and will gladly "expose" my problems within the restuarant's "business" at my own "expense."

Every so often, a waiter has to fart. Really badly.

It happens often enough. A waiter often requires caffeine in order to work twelve straight hours a day (every day). In order to sustain that high, an artificial supplement must be ingested. The situation usually starts like this;

After that, a caffeine binge will occur at the restaurant's expense.

The waiter begins to feel great, being extra friendly, running all needed items over to his tables, running all the needed things over to EVERYONE'S tables, explaining things on the menu without being asked, doing more work than necessary, stepping outside to do a backflip, and many other things. Most often, instead of guests saying, "Wow, that guy was very helpful, thorough, and informative," they usually say, "So. What the fuck's up with that guy?"

There's always some twatty co-worker or passerby who, without asking of course, volunteers his or her opinion about why you shouldn't be drinking taurine or yerba matte or whatever the hell is in what you just bought from CVS ten minutes ago.

The problem with caffeine is that it tends to run right the hell through you. Energy drinks cost money/are bad for you, so you avoid them. You decide to deal with the first of the two situations because although everyone seems to know that energy drinks are not only bad for you but will kill you A LOT ALL THE TIME, nobody's going to ridicule you for a somehow socially acceptable caffeine overdose.

So this tends to happen in the middle of your busy day;

But by that point, you're too busy and the employee bathroom at the restaurant is too gross and too frequented to permit you to take a generous crap. Even if you could get two or three people to cover your tables and begin to tolerate the fact that the employee bathroom looks three seagulls short of being an actual garbage dump, you would die if someone came in right after you and said "Dear God this smells. Seriously, who takes a crap at work?"

So you spend the rest of the evening finding safe places to let one rip. You quickly walk through the kitchen where there are constantly fans blowing and strongly-smelling food being concocted, hoping that #1 - Your fart doesn't suddenly become actual poop, and #2 - There are enough X factors to either disguise that you farted really hard or maybe even dissolve it completely before anyone has a chance to smell anything.

It makes the actual moment terribly climactic.

People say that waiting tables is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but I doubt that this is one of the well-known reasons. Still, remember it when a server suddenly has to leave your table while you're ordering and cites that he or she "forgot something at another table."