Thursday, 30 May 2013

I'm NOT running a charity and you are NOT special

Customers come up with all kinds of different ways to attempt to get discounts or freebies in restaurants. One of the more common ones is eating an entire meal, then complaining about it, This one bugs me because most times, we have asked you already, usually early in the meal, if everything is OK, and if you say yes then, to complain at the end is just obnoxious.

Another is to order something, then half way through say it tastes "funny" and ask for something else, thereby getting yourself both a starter and a main for the price of one main. Usually in these instances, it is impossible to get a customer to define what "funny" actually means with regards to the taste of their food. 

My favourite though, are the people who "know the owner" or for whom "the other guy always discounts our meal". To these people I the title of this post. 

A couple of days ago at work, two of these "special" people came in and were ordering coffees from one of the waitresses. When she told them how much they had to pay, one of the ladies insisted that "the guy who is normally here" only charged them $3.70 for their coffees. Now, if you are going to try to scam the young waitress, especially for the sake of 50c a mug of coffee, at least do your homework first. On the occasions when we do discounts, it's either 10% (in which case the mug would cost $3.80), staff price ($2.00) or mug for the price of cup ($3.60) NONE of our discounts would make your coffee $3.70, we don't have a button on the til to charge you $3.70, I am full time and have never seen you before, and no, you are not getting a discount!

The "I know the owner" thing won't work with me either. If you really knew the owner, you would know there is no way he has offered you a 50% discount for your meal. "Knowing the owner" will not get you a seat faster on a busy night, it won't make a menu item you liked off the old menu suddenly available even though we no longer sell it, it won't get you an extra shot of alcohol in your cocktail or a free appetizer or your ipod plugged in to the speaker system. It will get you laughed about in back of house when we are all imitating your pathetic attempt to big note yourself. 

Just remember, you are no more special then any of the other customers I am serving, and this is a business, where making money is our goal. If you want charity, you're in the wrong place. Just pay up buddy.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Generation Gaps.....

I've been working the business way too long! Many little things reinforce this belief on a daily basis, intolerance of customers, disdain for repetitive tasks, waking up at the same time my alarm normally goes off even on my days off. But by far the most telling of all the signs is the generation gap between me (apparently the old timer although I'm only in my mid 30s) and most of the other staff.

There was a time, that seems like only yesterday, when I was partying all night and turning up to work in the morning no worse for wear. When the 45 year old Chinese lady who was working only to save money to have her dog taxidermied when he died, seemed ancient. When I was cool and young.

Certain little episodes in the last few years have served as cruel reminders that those days may sadly be behind me, at least in the eyes of my young co workers. Here are a couple of examples:

Several years ago, I was working in the restaurant at a hotel. The classic Aussie actor, Bryan Brown came in for lunch and coffee. After I had taken his order, I excitedly pointed him out to my somewhat younger co worker. "Who is he?" she asked. "You know, Bryan Brown, He was in the movie 'Cocktail' "
"I've never heard of it" - Ummm WHAT?

Fast forward a couple of years and I'm working in a different restaurant, in a different hotel with similarly young co workers. Somehow we got talking about how time goes really quickly once you finish school and get out into the world. "What year did you finish school?" one of them asked me. I told her "Wow, really? I was born that year!" - Get the fuck away from me!

Fast forward again to yesterday at work. Not only did the girl who turned up in high wasted pants and coke bottle glasses, on her day off, for lunch, not get my Steve Urkel reference, another of the girls, after asking me how old I would be at my upcoming birthday, kindly informed me that her mother was only a few weeks older than me. - Fucking Yay!

While sometimes it's a big, fat slap in the face working with a younger crowd, it does have it's advantages. They may be completely in the dark when it comes to the cultural references of my generation, but they do keep me up to date on the cultural references of theirs. When instances like yesterday happen, and I'm told I'm almost the same age as someone's mother, (and this has happened more than once!), it's usually followed by "but your heaps cooler than her". While this makes me a little smug, I also can't help but think there's every chance their mum is just as cool as me, when the kids aren't around!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

A fresh start, some goodbyes and a rainbow

Before I went overseas, I was offered a new job. Negotiations were not going well, so I told the potential new employer my terms, let him know I was going overseas and when I would be back, and told him to call me at the end of March if he hadn't found anyone suitable by then.

Two weeks into my trip, I got an email asking me to call him when I got back, so 3 days after I arrived home, I did just that. This time he seemed willing to come to the party and just a day later, I was hired. So on April 15th, after the requisite 2 weeks notice to my old boss, I started a job managing a new cafe that had been opened for 4 months and had already seen one manager come and go.

I started off slow...It's never a good idea as a new manager to go in like a bull at a gate, but things had been allowed to get pretty lax, what with the old manager having apparently been fairly unmotivated and then leaving altogether. Things needed to be shaken up a bit. So in week 3, I started slowly but firmly, trying to pull things together. So far, it's been mostly just getting things organised, trying to put in place systems that make our lives easier and our days run more smoothly. The stumbling block is proving to be re-motivating some of the staff who have been allowed to become fairly blaze about doing their jobs. It's a work in progress, we'll see how it goes.

I was sad to leave my old job. The people I worked with there were awesome and I had a pretty good gig going. About a week after I left, we had a little party, with a few of my favourite people, and this is what happened..........

For anyone not in the know, the DIY Rainbow movement started as a Facebook page created by one guy after a rainbow crossing that had been painted at Taylor Square in Sydney for mardi gras was removed. He decided that he would draw a chalk rainbow to show his support for equality and urged others to do the same and post their pictures on his page. Within days, the movement took off beyond his wildest expectations and chalked rainbows began to appear not only all over the country, but all over the world! You can find his page here

There was some drinking, some singing some chalking and some late night couple fighting....over all, the best farewell party EVER! Some old fogey came over to the park with his gurney first thing the next morning and washed our rainbow away but we don't mind. We have the fuzzy memories and the photos so we know it really happened!