I have been working as a food server off and on since I was fourteen and it never gets any less interesting. This is not about fine dining, its about the flip side of the industry working in the trenches of the massive national restaurant chains. Laugh or cry, people!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Storm Large 8 MILES WIDE music video

Vagina Warrior

On a personal note…

My boyfriend and I each have a teenaged son. We took both them and their respective girlfriends to a local college production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

If you get a chance to see this outrageous show with its positive feminist message, take everyone you know! We got our tickets for $5 each and were treated to a full evening of entertainment. Not only that, but the girls (not having been raised by us), had never before been exposed to this type of progressive feminism and they had an awesome time!

I was a little worried about them being embarrassed – the show is not in any way pornographic, but it does feature some frank discussion of explicit material.

One monologue is dedicated to reclaiming the “C word” and the Vagina Warrior who performs it urges the audience, “Come on, say it with me! C***! C***! C***! You can say it! It’s OK! C***!”

It’s funny and silly and empowering in a way that’s difficult to understand unless you’ve seen your sons screaming the word in a dark theater full of women laughing and crying at the same time. It’s even better when their girlfriends are doing the same thing. It’s the best thing in the world when they go from that to complete stillness and silence so they can hear the statistics about violence against women in the following monologue.

When we left the theater, they were all eating chocolate vagina popsicles and wearing the lapel pins I bought for them. The boys got “Made in Vagina” and the girls got “Vagina Warrior.”

In the parking lot, my son said to me, “Mom that was really awesome. I just wish they would have said all that sad stuff at the beginning and then switched to the funny stuff in the second half, cuz I’m still thinking about it. I didn’t know all that bad stuff happened so much.”

It took me a minute to respond because I had a huge lump in my throat. “Well son, I guess they think no one would come back after intermission if all they talked about was the sad stuff in the first half. The idea is that we’ll think about both. We’ll be both entertained and horrified and we won’t forget.”

He stopped right in the parking lot to give me a big hug and thanked me for taking him. Then his girlfriend hugged me. Then my boyfriend’s son hugged me and his girlfriend hugged me. In the car on the way home, the boys sang songs from the show. Mainly Storm Large’s rendition of “My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide.”

And you really can’t ask for more than that, can you? And I didn’t really think there would be much more, but I got it anyway.

I logged on to FaceBook the next day and the kids were all writing comments about it. I’m paraphrasing here, but my son’s girlfriend said,

“Why do we indulge in so much hatred and negativity? Why do we shun those we don’t understand just because they aren’t like us? Be it color, religion, or sex/sexual orientation, I won’t judge you! I am a vagina warrior!”

Vagina Warrior n. – someone who has suffered or witnessed violence, grieved it, transformed it, and then does extraordinary work to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else in their community.

Working for You is Like Non-Consensual Anal

The boss is having a little trouble with his food cost and he’s pretty sure the servers are entirely responsible for this. Not because he thinks we’re giving shit away for free. Not because he thinks we’re ringing orders improperly. Not because he thinks the cooks are making us personal meals on the sly.

He thinks we’re taking home food in our purses.

The servers keep their purses on a shelf in full view of the surveillance camera. Or at least, we used to. Now we’re not allowed to keep our purses in the pantry. It’s been suggested we leave them at home, put them in the break room, or lock them in our cars. Not only that, but we can’t keep anything of a personal nature in the pantry at all anymore. No cell phones, no keys, and no beverages.

Here’s what I’m thinking:
What if I lock my purse in my car and put my keys in the break room where we don’t have a surveillance camera? And what if another employee then takes my keys outside and steals my purse out of my car? Or what if they slip a roofie into my unsupervised beverage and then make me steal my own purse?

It doesn’t matter. The point is this is a completely stupid fucking idea. I don’t tell you to leave your asshole wallet in the break room and I don’t want you telling me to put my purse in an unsecure location. What about my bank cards? Ibuprofen? Cold medicine because I have to work when I’m sick?

WHAT ABOUT TAMPONS??!!?? I’m seriously supposed to go to my car to get a tampon in my “free time?”

Not only that, but if the point is to prevent me from putting steaks in my purse, why would you have me move it closer to the walk-in coolers and further from the surveillance camera?

Did your mother have any children that lived?

And do you really think I should just trust my personal belongings to the kitchen employees who do the prep work at a table right outside the break room door? I love me some hard-working Mexicans but passing a background check with a fake name doesn’t entitle you to free access to my check book.

UPDATE: I actually wrote this several weeks ago but I was too pissed to elaborate. Any attempt at discussing an alternative with my GM went nowhere. He would not consider installing lockers in the break room or allowing the servers to keep their purses in the pantry but submit to voluntary purse searches upon leaving the premises. We all started hiding our purses under a bench seat close to the ordering system in the dining room.

He continued to attempt to borrow from the servers the type of items we routinely keep in our purses – like cold medicine and Ibuprofen because the cheap asshole never buys his own. Once he was trying to call a server in to cover a shift and she wouldn’t answer so he asked me to text her from my phone… which I’m not allowed to bring in the building. Dumbass.

And then… Divine Justice sent directly from above.

My GM had his car broken into in our parking lot.

They did not steal his purse because as far as I know, he doesn’t carry one.

But they stole a bunch of other shit.

He stopped talking to us about purses and we started keeping them on the shelf under the surveillance camera again.

I wish I had thought of breaking into his car. I would have done it 3 months ago.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Server Dreams

I don’t have server dreams all the time. It mostly happens when I’ve been working too many double shifts.

I dream about getting the refills out to my tables a lot. Usually there is a mob of servers lined up at the pop machine and when it’s my turn, the Coke runs out and I have to go change it. I dream about arguing with the cooks and not being able to find stuff I need.

I’ve known for a long time I talk in my sleep about work. “I have to get the orange juice out to table 12!” Recently, I’ve also taken to walking in my sleep when I’m in the weeds. My boyfriend is a light sleeper so luckily he usually wakes me up by asking me what I’m doing or where I’m going.

So last night I was in the weeds. You know the story. Attention hogs, new tables, new beverages, food dying in the window, the list goes on and on.

I was running to the pantry to make a salad I forgot to take out when I heard my boyfriend ask, “Where are you going?”

I woke abruptly and realized I was I was in our hallway and apparently on my way to our kitchen. At home. “Umm… I thought I had to make a dinner salad for work,” I replied sheepishly.

“Well,” he said calmly, “you know I like bleu cheese with extra croutons.”

I’m waiting tables in my sleep and you’re seriously ordering food from me?

The nerve.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What a Deal!

We are running a special that includes a full dinner, beverage & dessert for under $12. This amount of food would usually run closer to $17 per person and it really is a pretty great deal for the guest.

On the assumption that most people tip based on a percentage of their bill, servers do generally try to up-sell drinks and dessert, thereby increasing the amount of the check and hopefully the tip. Did I mention the servers make the desserts here?

Believe me that I know very well how rough the economy is right now. I would definitely take advantage of a special like this. I looked, and I did mention the servers make the desserts here. Servers generally make $4.35 per hour, far less than minimum wage.

With regular pricing, two people with this meal would have a check total of around $35.00. A twenty percent tip would be $7.00. With the special pricing, two people eat this amount of food and end up with a check total under $25.

If customers don’t understand tipping or don’t care about it, sometimes they think it’s cool to leave two bucks on the table (less than 10%).

This is after I’ve jostled other servers out of the way to get to the beverage station and dessert station and almost always have had to run to the back for more clean napkins, chilled plates, and chilled forks, only to bring your desserts and find that you need refills again or that you’ve changed your mind and would now like the to-go box I offered you earlier.

Generally while I’ve been heating up your fudge or your caramel or your slice of pie or hand-dipping and mixing your chocolate malt with extra whipped topping, food has come up for my other tables and new tables are being seated in my section.

Choosing to leave a dollar per person regardless of the labor or service rendered isn’t exactly fair, people. I have bills too and I don’t eat out if I can’t afford to tip.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dear Readers - Pages

Dear Readers,

This blog is a recent work in progress.

I’ve just enabled the “pages” aspect of my blog.

Expect to be disappointed if you check them out now.

I plan to have a full cast on there, but I have to be careful.

I want you to know these people as I know them – not actually know them.

Patience, infidels.

- Pancake Grrrl ( more GROWL than Girl…)

Waitress “C” Threw up in the Trash Can Next to Me

I’m not kidding.

C was so sick and trying to make it through a shift that she tossed her cookies in a trash can right next to me. What was going around?

H1N1, that’s what.

Another server had to rush her child to the emergency room the previous week. The manager on duty asked her if she could try to cover her shift while she was en route to the hospital. Her boy is only six years old and he has so much damage to his lungs that he will be a permanent asthmatic for all of his days….

There is no sympathy among the management at our restaurant.

You had better be here.

They don’t care if you could infect every person in this city.

They don’t care if you need to take care of a sick child.

They don’t care if you have a fever.

They don’t care if you have time or are well enough to make the required phone calls to cover your shift.

Recall we don’t get paid for sick time.

They don’t care.

When C threw up in the trash can next to me.

I offered to do her side-work and roll her silverware.

The MOD said, “I need you on the floor. She can do it.”

They really, really don’t care.