I suck at carrying trays. Can we just discuss this for a moment? I am so bad at it. I know, I’ve been slacking on the exercise front lately. But I like to think of myself as a generally in shape kinda gal. Back when I could afford a gym membership (aka my parents paid my college tuition– thank you!), I could actually bench press a decent amount, considering I was an entirely nonathletic girl. But those trays… God help me. I’m pretty sure my left hand is going to fall off at the wrist on my full shift. Ugh!
Speaking of! I’m working the open Monday afternoon. 3:15 to close, baby. Oh boy. Everyone everywhere seems to be so friggin excited about this restaurant opening. I see people talking about it on Facebook. I go to buy my skid-resistant shoes, the shoe store lady tells me how excited she is. I go to return the pretty ties I cannot keep for work, the JC Penney lady tells me how excited she is. Everyone everywhere, literally. I do not understand. But I totally anticipate being swamped when we open Monday at 4pm. Want to know how it goes? Meet me at Fridays around 11 o’clock or so, where I’ll be drowning my woes in a Jameson and ginger ale. Talk about some testing by fire.
It’s not that waiting tables is a particularly difficult job, just that it’s a complex one. There’s a surprising lot to keep straight and to remember. (Plus there’s those trays, the wobbly bastards.) There’s also a lot of smiling. Ugh. I feel like I’m a fairly cheery person on the whole, but I suck at being fake cheery. I’m absolutely horrendous at it. Truly. Selling myself and over-priced alcohol to my patrons is not my forte and it never has been. I lack the bullshit gene, which might be why my political science degree has never panned out like I had initially expected it to. Unfortunately, my waitressing experience may go the same way. Tune in Tuesday to see how the open plays out! I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath…
Not to entirely change the subject or anything, but I’m going to entirely change the subject. I want to talk about a subject that I’m sure I’m going to touch upon again and again in the coming months: the hierarchy and divisions within a restaurant. I feel like I’m not in a position where I ought to be commenting on such things yet, but it’s already striking me. I work the front of the house. Servers, hostesses, bartenders, even bussers. These are the people I work alongside. But the culinary staff? The line cooks and the dish washers and the pantry workers? I know nothing about them. They know nothing about me. Our interactions are few and far between. I venture into the alley to get my meals, but never enter the line unless I’m passing through on my way to break. (Speaking of, I think I’m going to start taking smoking breaks just to stand outside and shiver for awhile because I’m annoyed that people who actively pursue lung cancer get more frequent breaks than those of us who prefer our respiratory systems intact.) These people speak only rudimentary English and I speak only rudimentary Spanish. We interact only when I try to track down an errant entrée.
They’ve been cooking our lunches this week. Every day, after “food show,” they come out to walk through the restaurant. The overwhelming majority are men and the overwhelming majority are Hispanic. We stand and we clap and they seem to be grateful for our praise. Then they walk back into the kitchen and we interact only tangentially until the next time they feed us.
Already, I see this huge chasm developing between us. We are the front of the house, the ones who represent the brand to the public. “They” are the back of the house, the ones on whose work our success rests. And I don’t know any of their names.
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