Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Return

I am back at home in Town on Sea. I love my town. I love my home. A city girl I am not.

My dream career has crumbled around me but I believe that a new opportunity awaits around the corner. One door closes, another opens. I just have no idea where that door is or what it looks like right now.

I have enjoyed writing this blog about waitressing and I would like to keep it on topic. It is highly likely that I will return to the Pizza Palace or another local restaurant in the summer season. In the mean time this blog may not be very active. I may start another, separate, blog on another topic. If so I will post a link here.

Thanks to everyone who has read my blog - I have enjoyed having you here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Graduation

I've graduated. I have my own tables and my own section. I'm not shadowing anyone and no-one is shadowing me. I'm cool, I'm calm, I'm confident. Then it all goes to hell.

I have about six tables, we're not expecting a busy night. It doesn't seem like there are a lot of other waitstaff on. Suddenly my section is full and I have a thousand things to do. The Hotel is a machine. There is a procedure for everything. Now I am trying to remember them all while doing my basic service routine. The ladies on 21 are unhappy because I told them there was bread on the tasting plate, but it is only a bread twist, not fresh or toasted bread. I take wine from the reserve list to a VIP table along with the decanter and then forget to decant the wine, pouring the wine straight into the glasses. All the menu items have to be written the same way on the kitchen dockets. No individual interpretation allowed. Every item has a shorthand name and some of them aren't logical. It's a big menu and I mess up a few. I am constantly checking the sheet in the kitchen to make sure I've got it right. Unbooked tables aren't set and in one case I forget to take the cutlery to the table before the meal arrives (not being used to an un-set table). All of these things are relatively minor in the scheme of things but an unhappy customer is an unhappy customer. Mine seem fine - the ladies on 21 are happy when I give them fresh sourdough bread. I end up feeling like I've made a thousand mistakes. Everyone else is busy too. I ack up the other staff in their sections. There definitely aren't enough runners.

Suddenly, it's over. By law we have to close early on Sunday nights. The customers are leaving and we're all busy cleaning. Everyone works together - I help out one girl with her extra large section - later she tells me she often works Sunday night and no-one helps her. I don't like that. We're all busy. We're all tired. If we all work together for half an hour, we'll all go home early. Aside from that, this is the first time in three weeks I have actually had a chance to speak to someone I have worked with on several shifts, other than a work related instruction. The place really is busy and the pace is frenetic. We all sign off at 10.30pm. This is the earliest I have left The Hotel - ever.

Before I leave the duty manager tells me I did a great job. It didn't feel like it to me. I felt like I made so many mistakes. 'Just your dockets,' he says, 'I know it's hard, but learning the menu is one of the most important things. Every time I went to your section, it was perfect. That's what we look for. So keep working on memorising the menu names. Good job.' This makes me feel instantly better. I know my mistakes were of a minor nature but I have high standards. On the floor a lot of small mistakes can turn into chaos.

I appreciate the fact that the duty manager
bothered to tell me I did well. I've been feeling a bit out of place in the new environment. Now it seems I am a city waitress after all.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Once More Into the Fray

Well, it's official! I am now the newest staff member of The Hotel. I have just returned from my trial shift - unpaid. My first paid shift will be on Monday. It's been six weeks and five days since my last waitressing shift.

So, what's it like? It's an upmarket cafe/restaurant attached to a hip inner city pub in a hip inner city suburb. Old heritage building, renovation, wood floors, you know the deal. Very classy. There are SO many staff. Nice menu - a mix of asian, mediterranean, the usual Australian thing. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as functions. Nice people. Very professional - in fact, I feel that some of my skills are inferior in comparison. I'm going to improve myself here, people!

I worked about two and a half hours, before being asked into the manager's office. The floor manager had already told me I had done been a big help, done an 'excellent' job and that I was hired! That was a relief. All I did all night was run food and drinks - no tables for me tonight.No table numbers on the tables means confusion for the new staff! I fielded a couple of customer requests and managed to find the right waiter or waitress to report it to. Cleared tables. This place is so big they even have a manager in the kitchen co-ordinating the orders. Usually when I have experienced this I have been on the kitchen side, sometimes it has been me. There were so many staff and everyone was friendly - every one said thank you whenever I did anything.

The pace is fast and furious. No time to talk. Caught a few people's names - but that's it. Also, no-one wants to get to know the newbie too well, in case they don't come back. The manager told me that out of eight trials this week they've hired me and one other person. That's why they don't want to pay people for trial. I can understand it. My personal opinion is that if you then go on and hire the person, you should pay them for that shift. It's only fair.

So, here I go. I've been given three shifts next week - two during the week and one on the weekend - plus there is an 'orientation' on Wednesday night, when we learn all the hotel's specific procedures.

Waitress on Sea - now a hip urban waitress.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Hiatus

I do apologise to everyone for the delay in posting this announcement. The blog will be on hiatus until I am once again gainfully employed.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Standards

As I resigned from my job over a week ago, this week I have spent some time relaxing, running errands, and visiting local cafes. Town on Sea is very small. It is by no means sophisticated. However, it is a very popular tourist destination and every holiday period we get hordes of tourists from every major city, and it has gone somewhat more upmarket in recent years. This might be a small town. There might be way too many cafes. But there are standards, people!

1. Most of the coffee in this town is undrinkable. I have had one, one, decent coffee in seven days, and that was made by the guy that owns the store, who has obviously trained as a barista. If you are going to work in a cafe and be required to make and serve coffee, please learn how to use the espresso machine - properly. A flat white is not hot milk with coffee flavouring in it.

2. What ever happened to table service? Order and pay at the counter service makes me feel like I am at McDonalds. I don't want to come to the counter. I want to sit down and read the paper. I am paying $4 for coffee. Please send a waitress out here to take my order.

Secondly, while on this point, what is the point in paying in advance for food you don't have yet? If I don't get my order (which has happened) I have to come back to the counter and ask for a refund. Service, people?

3. Attention, waitresses! When you bring the food to the table, and I say, "Thank you", which I always do, because I am a waitress and it is also polite, don't say "That's okay" as if you are doing me some huge favour. It's not okay. It's your job to bring the food out. If you must say something, say "You're welcome". Or say nothing and smile.

This happened to me twice at two different places last week. It's not okay. It's annoying.

4. Pay attention! If I happen to have come into your cafe to kill thirty minutes, placed my order at the counter, explained to you how I would like my drink, and then refused your spiel, because it is fine as it is, just use soy milk please, make the order that way! Don't come up to me at the table after I have already waited fifteen minutes (and only fifteen minutes left to catch the bus) and discuss with me how you could make my drink. Just make it and bring it!!!! We had this discussion ten minutes ago! Oh, wait, I'm late now, thanks.

It's not rocket science people, but there are standards.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's a Love-Hate Relationship

It was a hard decision to get back into the hospitality biz. I have been in and out of it my entire working life, on both sides of the fence - in the kitchen and on the floor. It is, however, a skill set you can always fall back on. It also offers the benefit of flexible hours, allowing you to pursue your other interests!

So far I have booked my flight, leased an apartment on a short-term basis,
arranged temporary accommodation until I can get into the apartment, and found out how to get to the campus on the first day.

It is costing me a fortune to move myself cross country. I will need money straight away. With a recent waitressing stint under my belt, I am confident that I will be able to find work quickly and easily.

Waitressing. The job that that travels.You can hate it, but you gotta love it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Moving

Waitress on Sea is moving! That is, I am moving, the blog is not. I am going to leave my beloved Town on Sea, and head across the continent to the city (blech!). I am going to start a new life there, doing what I have always loved. I took a chance on my dream, auditioned for a performing arts course in music, and was accepted. I have to be there ready to start on February 13th!

I have already resigned from my job at the Pizza Palace.