Monday, 25 February 2013


Today is the first of my two days off followed by seven days in a row in a last ditch attempt to make some extra $$$$ before I take off overseas for three weeks. I normally love RDOs but today has been busy. I have so many last minute tasks to get out of the way so I've been organising foreign currency and  travel insurance, informing my bank that I'll be out of the country so they don't cancel my cards on me, doing shopping for bits and pieces and washing all the clothes I need to pack.

Now all that's left to do is actually pack everything, get a hair cut, and get through seven shifts in a row at work. I don't think I'll be getting any sympathy from my co workers with regards to my seven in a row given what comes after!

Two of my favourite colleagues will have left by the time I come back from overseas. One is having a baby and the other has given up trying to juggle two jobs and full time university, something had to give. I will miss both of them terribly. They are by far the best ladies to work with (given that my other favourite is still at school so I only get to work with her once a week or so). It will be a different place when I come back to the one I'm leaving, but such is the nature of hospitality, someone is always coming or going.

I'm off to drink some wine and browse the interwebs about all the things I want to do while I'm away.

'Til next time...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Slow Days

There's nothing worse than a slow day in a restaurant. There are only so many things you can do to fill in time between the sporadic customers and as the day drags on, it is harder and harder to find things to clean and fill. By the fourth hour, you've done all the little tasks, checked your facebook, had a break, scrubbed every surface until it sparkles, checked your facebook, sent half the staff home, chatted with every other co worker, checked your facebook.....

As the clock ticks on and the customers become even fewer and further between, you get into a lull of boredom. You think you want it to get busy just so time will speed up. The problem is, when you finally do get a table, it's almost impossible to plaster that smile back on your face and pretend you're super happy to be catering to their every whim.

Today was eight hours of this and to make matters worse, the weather outside was atrocious with gale force winds and sideways rain constantly beating down. It was just depressing!

On a side note, we did answer three separate phone calls today which were people enquiring whether we knew the phone number of the new restaurant that just opened next door. They have been opened for six weeks and have clearly decided there is no need to spend money on advertising. They also do not have the name of the restaurant on the outside of the building so nobody knows what they are called or how to contact them to make a booking. As a result we have been fielding numerous calls every week from people who, for some reason, have decided it's ok to call a restaurant and ask them how they might contact their most direct competition!

I've given up being polite to these people now. At first I would apologise that I didn't know the number, then I would give them the name of the restaurant and suggest they call directory assistance. Now, having grown weary of wasting my time sending business next door, the conversation goes something like this:
Joe Public (JP): "Uh hi. I was just wondering if you might know the phone number of the restaurant next door"
Me : "No"
JP: "Would you happen to know where I might be able to find it?"
Me: "No"
JP: "Uh OK, thanks anyway"

One of my co workers was asked the other day if they could "just pop over and check their sign or see if the number was shown anywhere on the building".
"No" she replied.

Friday, 22 February 2013

I am not a babysitter!

Note to all parents: When you dine with your offspring you are paying for the food, the service and someone to clean up your plates, silverware and glasses. What you are not paying for is the privilege of allowing said offspring to empty all the sugar packets on the table and the floor, drive their matchbox cars through the tomato sauce they have spilled on the table, or run around touching everything with their food smeared little fingers disturbing all the other diners and tripping up the waitstaff.

You are also not paying for the opportunity to ignore your little ones and assume that we will watch them for you, discipline them on your behalf or keep them from bothering you while you enjoy a bottle of wine and read the paper.

In all my years as a server there are two parent/child vs waiter stories that really stick out in my mind.

The good:
Party of eight (four adults and four small children) enters the restaurant at dinner time to take up residence at their pre-booked table "somewhere near the back so our kids don't bother anyone". Drinks are ordered and delivered, menus have been perused and in good time, one of the dads indicates they are ready to order.

Up until this point, the children have been happily colouring in with the colouring books and pencils that the parents so thoughtfully bought to occupy them. But as her dad starts to order, little miss decides it's time to pipe up in loud and obnoxious protest.
"I don't want chicken and chips, I want ice cream" she wailed.
"If you can ask nicely, you might be allowed to have ice cream for desert, but you have to eat your chicken first" replied dad.
"I want ice cream, I WANT ICE CREAM" she screamed, banging her fists on the table.
At this stage, one of two things will usually occur. A) the parent will give in to avoid a scene or B) they won't give in and a deluge of screaming toddler will ensue. In this case, I witnessed, for the first time in my career, option C) Parent takes control of situation, shows the kid who's boss, and chalks up a win for parents, childless restaurant patrons and wait staff everywhere.
"If you don't stop this carry on I'm going to take you home with no dinner at all" threatened dad. An empty threat if ever I heard one, or so I thought...

Two minutes later, the child was still tantruming  like a pro and dad, true to his word, picked her up, took her outside and loaded her in the car to increasingly desperate cries of "I don't want to go home". They were back less than 10 minutes later, the child had calmed down and she and the other tots behaved like angels for the remainder of the meal. Dad for the win!

The bad:
Mum, dad and inconvenient mistake turn up for lunch. Parents immediately order a bottle of wine and a garlic bread (nothing for the child) and open up their newspapers to sit in stony silence ignoring each other and their offspring. The child, obviously unable to count on anyone else to amuse him, begins to remove each individual sugar sachet from the vessel in which they are housed. He lines them all up on the table, then he attempts to build a tower with them, all the while looking sporadically at those who spawned him for any kind of acknowledgement. When none is forthcoming, he begins to open each sugar packet and empty it on the table.

I wait for three packets to be emptied before it is confirmed that the parents will neither notice or stop the sugar emptying party their son is having. I take matters into my own hands. I dig up a toy some other child left weeks before and approach the little boy. Handing over the toy, I gather up all the sugar packets and replace them in their holder, wipe the small pile of sugar off the table into my hand, and remove the sugar holder from the table, placing it on the waiter's station a few feet away. Nothing is said, the parents barely look up from their papers.

In time, the child grows bored with the recycled toy, throws it on the ground, gets down from his chair and wanders out into the outdoor seating area where he commences a search for ants, leaves, bits of old chip etc. I'm not sure that the parents have even noticed he's gone. He has disappeared completely from their view. About 10 minutes pass and Mum, having possibly tapped into some deeply buried parental instinct, looks over her paper and discovers the child is gone. She beckons me over and accusingly asks
"Where is my child?"
Although I had been keeping half an eye on the boy, (mostly to make sure he didn't mess up any more of my tables,) and I knew exactly where he was, I wasn't about to attempt to reward this mother's lack of supervision.
"I'm not sure" I replied, "He went out that way about 10 minutes ago", I offered, pointing at the door.
"Why did you let him go outside?"She raged
"Um, I didn't let  him go anywhere. I assumed you knew what he was up to and you were happy for him to play out there."
"Well, go out there and get him! Don't you know it's unsafe for a small child to play unsupervised?"
"Yes I do ma'am but since he's not my child, perhaps you should go and get him yourself"

After much eye rolling, reprimanding and complaining about the fact that I have "no customer service skills whatsoever", while dad continued to read his paper in sweet oblivion, it must have become obvious that I did, in fact, have no intention of retrieving her child for her. She went to get him herself and dragged him back inside like a disobedient puppy, yelling loudly at him the whole time. She sat him back in his chair, walked over to the waiter's station, grabbed the container of sugar packets I had removed from their table earlier, and emptied them onto the table in front of the child. Then she picked up her paper and went back to ignoring everything that was happening around her.

The child, of course, emptied each packet in a pile on the table but to his credit, he did eat most of it when he was done. I hate to think of the sugar rush his parents had to deal with an hour later, but I can't think of two assholes more deserving of that pleasure.....

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Everybody who works with the public knows that there are always tell tale signs when you need a break. It starts with a slightly more nauseous than normal feeling in your stomach when the alarm goes off and you know you have to go work again. Then, the little things your co workers do (or don't do) that usually only slightly irritate you, begin to cause you more stress than is warranted. Finally, you start  to develop a stronger than usual dislike of customers and even the most insignificant of requests begin to feel like more trouble than they are worth.

I have been planning a trip overseas for a couple of months and now that my departure date is creeping ever closer, I am finding it harder to maintain my cool. All the symptoms of INeedABreakItis are rearing their ugly heads and I just want to get through the next 2 weeks as quickly as possible without stabbing someone with a fork.

It has been 2 years since I last had a significant break so I feel like I really deserve a proper holiday. I just have to avoid getting fired or ending up in prison for 2 more weeks......wish me luck!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

It's the little things.

Sometimes you get a customer that inspires you to do your job extra well. We have one such customer that comes in almost every week with her young son. She usually has one chai latte and a kids chocolate milkshake and then orders a bunch of take away coffees to take back to her colleagues at work.

Every time we see her she is bright and bubbly, always ready with a huge smile and genuinely wants to know how we are and what news we have to share. At first, I thought she couldn't possibly actually be that nice all the time. And then one day as she was leaving I happened to be clearing one of the outside tables and witnessed her call out to a stranger who was putting mulch on the garden next door. "Good morning" she sang out in her cheerful voice. "What a lovely day it is and that garden looks fantastic". And with that she loaded her son and her tray of drinks in her car and went off to work.

It really doesn't take anything special to make us hospitality drones feel warm and fuzzy towards a customer. The shining beacons of hope for humanity are the ones who treat us like real people, who are kind and warm and friendly. The ones who are patient when we are busy and show some appreciation when we go the extra mile for them. The ones who respond with "hello, I'm fine thank you" when we say "Hi, how are you today" instead of responding with "Skim cappuccino and raisin toast". The ones who hang up their phone when they are ordering and are actually present in that moment. This lady is all those things and more. She brightens up our day with her effervescence and reminds us of the good things about working hospitality.

That's why when we see her walking across the parking lot, we start preparing her beverages right away, and when she decides to order extra coffees with her take away order, we are happy to help her carry them all to her car. It's the little things really....

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

It's not me, It's you

Colleague Gripe #1

Dear fellow worker,
I know you are tired at the end of the shift and you hate doing closes. Still, you have worked here for 3 years and you know what needs to be done. So why do I still come in for my opening shift and have to spend an hour doing all the things you "forgot" to do last night? It's not enough to say you're sorry over and over and over, just do your damn job.

Customer gripe #1

Dear lady who thinks my world revolves around you,
You came in expecting to sit inside at the busiest time of day. You are mad because someone told you didn't need to book and now there are no seats left inside. I have told you that you and your friends are welcome to take one of the outdoor tables, that you don't have to book but that if you want a certain table, it's not a bad idea to ring ahead, and that if you would like to wait on the lounge and have a drink, I may be able to find you an inside table in about 20 minutes.
I have been polite and I have tried to be helpful but still you insist on yelling at me because you don't want to sit outside, you were told you didn't need to book and you don't want to wait.
Screaming at me will not make a table magically appear exactly where you want it. It will not make the slight breeze outside disappear so that you and your friends can comfortably sit in the outdoor area without catching pneumonia, and it will not change the fact that you did not book ahead.
What it will do, is allow you a good glimpse of my butt as I walk away from your rude self and get on with serving my other customers.
Try being polite next time and you might find your friends haven't left you to your shouting and gone outside to avoid being associated with the crazy lady.

An Introduction

The title of this blog kind of says it all. I am career hospitality and often, hospitality really does bite....
That's not to say that I don't enjoy my work, I do, mostly. But what I have discovered over the years is that every day, without fail, there is a story to tell. Sometimes they are good stories, sometimes, not so good stories. But stories they are and stories should be shared.

So this blog is about sharing the ups and downs of working in an industry where we are subjected to the good, the bad and everything in between of human interactions. Most of our days are spent interacting with strangers. Some of those strangers come into our world on a regular basis and we get to know a bit of who they are. Some of them are fleeting encounters and, rarely, one of those strangers will become a friend.

This blog is also a place where I will vent some of the frustrations and the rewards of dealing with the general public for a living. Those of you who work in the industry will relate to many of the stories I have to tell. Those who don't may learn something new about being a customer, or just about being a human being.
While hospitality is the focus, I will also attempt to simply share observations of life outside of the world of work. So here goes.....