Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just a Few Pointers for the General Public

As a former restaurant person (server, bartender, admin, etc) I have had my fair share of dealing with the public. What I've learned over the years is simple: people are crazy. They are also crabby, snotty, mean, spoiled and sometimes stupid. Now, I'm not saying ALL people are that way, but there is a large part of the population who fall into those categories. And I've had the misfortune of dealing with many of them. This post will hopefully be able to educate some people about the different ways to behave in public and what not to do in regards to eating at a restaurant, especially in a fine dining setting.

Many restaurants have policies regarding reservations, seating and menu substitutions. Those policies are set in place for a reason. I worked at a restaurant that would not seat a party until the everyone had arrived. That meant people could wait in the lounge or bar area until ALL of the people they were dining with had joined them, then they would be seated. However, many people did not like that policy. Here's a tip: If you don't like it, then by all means complain to a manager. The hostess and servers do not have the power to change the policy, and treating them badly for enforcing a policy they have no choice but to uphold will not get you anywhere. That being said, if you don't like a restaurant's policies yet you choose to eat there on a regular basis then quit complaining. Instead, maybe you should go elsewhere. After all, if the restaurant is still getting your money then what is their incentive to change the policy? Another contentious subject is reservations. Many restaurants take dinner reservations, but do not offer them at lunch. Even if you call and yammer on about how your Aunt Ethel is visiting from Alaska and she has always wanted to eat at this restaurant.....blah blah blah, the answer will still be no to a lunch reservation. My personal favorite was the time a woman called in to make a lunch reservation for 3 people. When I respectfully told her we do not take lunch reservations, she told me that her friend's husband had died and couldn't we make an exception because her friend really wanted to get a table for lunch. Um, no. Menu substitutions can also be tricky. If one of the menu offerings is Chicken Pecan Salad, that means it contains pecans. No, they cannot be picked out because you don't like them. Order something else.

Another issue I've dealt with when interacting with the public is what I call the "crystal ball questions". This is when people call the restaurant (usually before it's open) and ask if it was going to be busy at noon on Thursday. Chances are, the answer is yes. But unless someone has the ability to pull a crystal ball out of their ass and look into the future there is no way of knowing how busy a restaurant is going to be on any given day. And if that person did have the ability to look into a crystal ball, you can bet they wouldn't be working at a restaurant and fielding inane questions from the general public. Also, restaurants serve food and beverages, they are not to be used as reference guides to a particular city. If you want to know the hours of a store down the street from the restaurant then call the store, not the restaurant. I had a person call me one day and want to know the hours of the store across the street. When I told her I didn't know but she could call the store and ask them she asked me to walk across the street to find out. I respectfully declined, as it was the middle of a lunch rush.

Tipping is yet another touchy subject. Today the norm for tipping is 20%. If the service was exceptional, feel free to tip more. If the service was poor, then by all means tip less and feel free to tell the manager about your experience. If the service was good but the food was not then don't take it out on the server, as they did not cook the food. Let your server and/or the manager know exactly what you didn't like, but again, don't take your dissatisfaction out on the server. And if you say you don't like something but there is nothing left on the plate but a few crumbs, don't expect a free meal. You ate, you're buying it. That's how the game is played. Tipping on carryouts is also appreciated. I'm not saying 20% is needed, but at least 10% should be added to the total. After all, your food has been carefully packaged along with the forks, knives, spoons, napkins, bread and crackers plus all the extra items that you asked for, so showing your appreciation might not be a bad idea.

I could go on, but I think I've gotten the point across. Oh, one last thing - flossing after a meal while still sitting at a table in a restaurant is unacceptable behavior. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of oral hygiene. But trust me on this: NO ONE wants to watch someone floss in the middle of a crowded dining room. Do your flossing elsewhere. Maybe underneath the rock you crawled out from under to go to lunch.

Well I feel better now. Don't you? And aren't you glad I'm out of the service industry? I am.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day of School!!!

Well today was Laely's first day of 2nd grade! She was a bit nervous but way excited. Every year since pre-school I have managed to take a few photos of her in front of our house and in front of school. And by a "few" I mean no more than a dozen shots per camera. (I use both my cell and our digital camera.) Go ahead, laugh. Maybe I do go a bit overboard. But someday I'm going to need proof that I was actually taller than she was.  For a few years anyway.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stop Bitching and Get Moving.

As I have stated before, I work with the public. It can get kind of stressful, especially during busy times. Trust me, you don't ever want to tell a lady that the particular entree she has driven 2 hours to enjoy has already sold out for the day. (I've seen seemingly sweet little old ladies be as mean as snakes sometimes if they can't get their quiche fix.) Working in a restaurant is not for the faint of heart. It requires thick skin and marvelous acting capabilities at times.

Many people enjoy working in the service industry because of the money that can be made, or they like the hours or because they just don't know what else to do. However, there comes a point in time where maybe it's time to ease out. If you work in a restaurant and you go around cussing out your co-workers or bitching that ALL of your customers tipped you like shit or the restaurant owner doesn't know what he/she is doing, etc....then perhaps it's time for you to move on.

We all have choices in life. If you don't like your job then you have 2 options: A.) You can quit. Or B.) You can stay at that job and take it up the ass. But making other people miserable just because you are isn't something you have the right to do. I've had the misfortune of working with people like that and a few recent incidents have led me to realize that I don't ever want to be "that" person. If you're bitter because life didn't work out the way you thought it would then maybe it's time to regroup. Life is what you make of it. If you aren't happy with your life then take stock of what you are doing versus what you want to be doing and then go about forging the path to what you want. In the meantime, stop bitching. And get out of my way, because I'm following the path to my dreams. More to come on that particular topic later....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Love, Life and Relationships

I've been thinking lately about life, love and relationships. My parents just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Forty years! Can you imagine? I've been with my significant other for the better part of 10 years, but sometimes it feels like 40. Just kidding...or am I? Anyway, I have learned (the hard way) that relationships can be hard work sometimes and care must be given to them so they do not crumble. Love is often about give and take along with laughter and quite possibly some heartbreak. My relationship with John has not always been easy. There was a long period of time during which we both walked away from each other only to realize later that we really do belong together. (It must run in the family - my grandparents divorced after around 25 years or so of marriage but then remarried each other 5 years later.) 

In a weird way, I think John being away for military training has strengthened our bond. For the first few months we had very limited contact, as he was not allowed access to a phone or a computer. We mostly communicated via handwritten letters, in which we updated each other about our daily life and accomplishments. There's something to be said about putting pen to paper and scribbling away the good, bad and ugly about the goings-on of life. I have known John for well over a dozen years and we were friends before we ever dated. But at this point,  I feel as if I know him so much better now (on many different levels) even though he is hundreds of miles away on a military base, due largely in part to the letters we exchanged. 

Having said all that, I am relieved that he is at a point in training that allows us to communicate more. We talk, text and send pics via our cell phones just about every day. I hope to see him in person at least one time before he comes home in October, which means another 500 mile trek (one way!) to a military base, with two kids in the backseat jabbering and singing Katy Perry or Taylor Swift the whole way. Oh the things we do for love....