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Flair

[Scene Chotchkie’s]

STAN: Joanna? Would you come here for a moment, please?

JOANNA: I’m sorry. I was late. I was having lunch.

STAN: I need to talk about your flair.

JOANNA: Really? I have 15 buttons on. I, uh, (shows him)

STAN: Well, ok, 15 is minimum, ok?

JOANNA: Ok.

STAN: Now, it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare
minimum. Well, like Brian, for example, has 37 pieces of flair. And a
terrific smile.

JOANNA: Ok. Ok, you want me to wear more?

STAN: Look. Joanna.

JOANNA: Yeah.

STAN: People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, ok? They come to Chotchkie’s
for the atmosphere and the attitude. That’s what the flair’s about.
It’s about fun.

JOANNA: Ok. So, more then?

STAN: Look, we want you to express yourself, ok? If you think the bare
minimum is enough, then ok. But some people choose to wear more and we
encourage that, ok? You do want to express yourself, don’t you?

JOANNA: Yeah. Yeah.

STAN: Great. Great. That’s all I ask.

JOANNA: Ok.

So I looked and looked and I couldn’t find this clip from Office Space anywhere online except for this article from the Onion (it’s the second video). But it’s totally worth a view. I don’t remember the last time I so related to a stupid movie clip.

I got my first piece of flair today. I will keep it my my bedside and treasure it carefully, I am sure.

Yesterday was our first dress rehearsal. It was a complete and utter disaster. Today was the second one and was about a billion times better. Thank the sweet baby Jesus. (I said this to a coworker today without thinking and he looked at me like I was the crazy girl… awkward!)

Tomorrow, at 4pm, we open. I bought the Jameson and the ginger ale today.

I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose…

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Trays and Castes

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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Lucious, velvety goodness

Welcome to Dripping with Cheese!  I graduated college, magna cum laude, in 2007, worked for two years, and then found my butt unemployed a few months ago.  My husband has been my suga daddy ever since.  Feeling increasingly guilty and increasingly desperate, I finally landed a waitressing gig.  Unless you’re generous and count that four-month stint I did at Dunkin Donuts the summer before college, I have never waitressed a day in my life.  This place is a new restaurant and we open next week.  (Though you may possibly have heard of the chain… oh, I mean concept.  My bad.  I’m also still working out remember to call my paying customers my guests–what sort of horrible host charges her guests for bland food and even blander atmosphere, anyway?  Basically, I work for the Wal-Mart of the casual dining world.  All that good I’ve been trying to do for the world since graduating college in about to be canceled out in a big, artery-clogging, mom and pop decimating way.)  I’ve been in training for two days now.  Three more to go.  Oh goody!

The day I accepted the job, I knew that the only way I could stay sane throughout it was by having an outlet for the ridiculousness.  (My mother and husband also risk insanity unless I have a better venting target than just them every day.)  In an effort to maintain some kind of anonymity and to hopefully avoid being dooce-ed, I’m doing this all incognito style.  I’m embracing it as a chance to channel my inner bad-ass sarcastic bitch self.  My family and friends are all given pseudonyms (if you want to specify what you’d like to be referred to as, email me!) and I am eagerly looking forward to giving all of my coworkers witty (and sometimes cutting) nicknames as situations and personalities merit.

Why Dripping with Cheese?  One of super-extra fun parts of being in server training is that we get to practice up-selling anything and everything.  (Seriously; we will even sell you the salt and pepper shakers if you ask.  I should just be glad I’m not required to pimp them too.)  We’ve even been provided with a cheat sheet of words that we can use to paint a picture for our targets guests.  Such words include, but are not limited to:

  • delectable
  • famous (ego much?)
  • sinfully sweet
  • succulent
  • good (how boring!)
  • interesting (this is what you use for that entrée that makes all the line cooks a little queasy even as they prepare it, I suppose…)
  • velvet/y, moist
  • with a hint of… (I like to finish it with “insanity” in my head.  I need to watch it or one of these days I’ll say it aloud.)
  • and my favorite…. dripping with cheese.

I am apparently not the only one who loves the thought of all my food dripping with cheese.  We are required to hold our victims guests hostage as we extol the many virtues of our formidable menu at at least four points throughout their “dining experience.”  We’re also required to hone our craft in front of each other.  So during lunch yesterday one poor soul was coerced into describing the chicken marsala we’d just been fed.  She threw herself into a long list of adjectives with gusto, describing the dish as being delicious, amazing, her favorite, and (my favorite!) dripping with cheese.  There is no cheese in chicken marsala, let alone cheese so moist and abundant that it leaks.  Inside my head, I started to laugh so hard that I cried (again, in my head).  Recounting the story to my husband yesterday evening, I realized that this was the name of my blog.  I’d waffled on creating the blog, as I didn’t know what it should be called.  But there the name was, staring me in the face.  A blog was born; my virtual baby.

All because of Cheese Girl.

Buona Festa!

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