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Sunday, January 30, 2011

86 Potatoes

Sunday Floor Chart:
1. Josh- the comedian                           6. Diane- the lifer
2. Ross- the hustler                               7. Larry- the sports guy
3. Jennifer- the party girl                        8. Jason- the intellect
4. Angela- the crier                               9. Chief- the trendy guy
5. Angie- the sick girl

It was late Sunday morning at the restaurant.  The serving staff were gathered around table 40 finishing up their breakfast before Mike came over to have their shift meeting.  Mike is the manager on duty for the day and for the last 8 years.  Mike is 41 and still believes that his promotion is coming any day now.  For the most part the staff likes Mike, he's pretty easy to get one over on, but not the manager they necessarily want around when shit hits the fan.  Paired with his lack of self awareness and social awkwardness, Mike isn't exactly know for his composure.  Today, Mike is very excited to be seeing his first morning shift in a while; he's usually what the team calls the "closing bitch".  Mike walks over to the table with an unfamiliar pep in his step and greets the group.

"Gooood morning everyone," he begins.  " How are we all doing on this glorious day?"

With a little bit of his cold pizza still in his mouth, Josh responds casually.

"Hey Mike, you're looking dapper today.  Did your mom lay out that outfit for you?  The paisleys match your eyes."

Mike trying to ignore the blow and the laughter at the table, reminds himself that not even Josh will get to him today.  This was going to be the day he proved himself.  Not only was Sunday a busy shift, but today was graduation.

Still laughing a little, Jennifer jumps to Mike's rescue.  "Shut your mouth Josh, I think he looks nice,"  Jennifer says with a wink.

Josh can't resist, "That's not what you said last night."

Jennifer rolls her eyes, but offers no retort.  Trying to regain control of the group, Mike begins his speech.

"Okay, okay, let's get focused everyone.  I haven't worked a Sunday in a while, but I'm expecting a smooth and productive shift from all of you.  We're going to be busy today, so everyone needs to bring their "A" game."

The staff played with their phones and aprons while Mike rambled on about his daily sales predictions based on last years stats.  Mike could be long winded when it came to the numbers.  There really wasn't much Mike could tell the staff of 9 that they didn't already know about Sunday shifts.  It was usually the same crew with the same routine.

They would all come in around 11:00am eat their breakfast and shoot the shit until 12:30pm when the church crowd would show up and order their usual high priced Sunday steaks.  The church crowd was never the most pleasant group and the tips were usually a little more scarce.  It was large groups of families and friends that usually came in on Sundays.  By 1:00pm the place would be a mad house and not slow down until 3pm. The staff had about an hour to clean up after screaming babies, unnerved mothers and  righteous older men going out of their way to ensure the waitress could feel as small as he was made to feel the last 2 hours of services.  While the serving staff was a strong one and knew the ropes inside and out, the kitchen was never prepared and would always crash by 1:30pm.  Sunday was a day for survival.  The staff felt completely entitled to sit around and do nothing until their first table.  Mike felt equally entitled to be heard and was wrapping up his morning speech when he realized he was missing one of his 9 servers.

"Where is Angie?  Has anyone heard from her? She is supposed to be here," Mike questioned.

"She called out sick last night, Blake said he would leave you a note," Diane answered letting Mike know she was not happy to be working with him.  Diane had been around long enough to know how this day was going to go already.

Mike, mumbled under his breath in frustration at the the lack of communication and then gathered himself up enough to change the floor chart and walk away.

Moments later the first table of the day walks in.  The Booker's were an older couple and afternoon regulars.  Walkers in hand, the couple followed Brandy, the hostess, to their table in Angela's section.  Diane, finishing her coffee sees them sit down and walks to the back where Angela is finishing up her opening duties.

"Angela, you got sat," Diane informs.

"Oh okay, I'll be right there," Angela responds.  She puts away the last of her cut lemons and washes her hands before leaving the kitchen.  After taking the Booker's usual order of two steaks, two baked potatoes and two side salads she stepped outside for her morning cigarette.  Angela takes a lot of cigarette breaks, claiming it calms her nerves.  Knowing what a loose cannon she is, management rarely denies her this privilege.  When Angela came back in she took a seat at table 40 to sip on her coffee and listen to Jason lecture Larry on the corrupt politics that take place in the NFL.  She knew the Booker's didn't like to be bothered often.  She could relate to them.  She supposed they had their Sunday rituals just the same as she did.  She noticed their hot tea was getting low and started to get up when she heard her name being called from the kitchen.

"Angela, to the kitchen!," Mike yelled. 

"What's the problem Mike?"  Angela asked while making her way to the coffee machine for hot water.

With an element of panic in his voice Mike informs Angela that the cooks just told him they were out of baked potatoes and she needed to have her table pick a different side.

Angela took the Booker's their hot water and informed them of the situation.  Mike walked around the restaurant individually cornering each server with the breaking news.  The staff was cool about it but warned Mike that it would be getting busy soon.  Even the staff knew how many baked potatoes they sold on a Sunday and wondered why Mike wouldn't just call another restaurant to borrow potatoes or go buy some. 

Mike knew how people talked about him in the company and he also knew it was his fault they didn't have potatoes.  Mike was supposed to identified the problem early in the morning while going through a manager checklist.  Mike was late to work and didn't do this; now it was too late to leave the restaurant.  He didn't have a enough staff to send anyone either.  Blake, the closing manager, wouldn't be in until 4:00pm.  By the time Blake got there the lunch rush would be over.  Mike had no choice but to make it through the shift without this American staple.  The last thing he needed was to broadcast that he was late and incompetent to any neighboring managers.  He was beginning to panic and the staff was beginning to pick up on his energy.

Chief was posted up on the center wall so as to be seen by anyone who cared to notice him.  He watched Angela at her table as she broke the news and noticed Mr. Booker not taking the news too well.  When Angela walked away from the table Chief saw that she was about to start crying if she hadn't already started. 

"Angela, you okay?" Chief asks.

"No, I'm just embarrassed.  It's not my fault.  I didn't know we were out of potatoes.  They are acting like I just told them their dog died. They want to talk to Mike," Angela whimpers.

Angela goes to let Mike know and Chief walks up to the host stand to greet the rush that was now beginning to come in steadily and flit with Brandy. Chief was tickling Brandy when he noticed Mike over at the Booker table.  He couldn't really hear what was being said too well, but recognized Mike's threatened hunch of the back.  All he could manage to hear before the couple got up to leave was the woman say "Are you new here? Where is Blake?"

It only took the Booker's walkout for Mike to loose all control.  The rest of the shift went by like a bad dream for Mike.  It was a tornado of guest complaints, long ticket times, and walkouts.  Mike had his job and life threatened by graduation parties and church congregations alike; he couldn't see straight. 

The restaurant was going down with Mike.  The staff was arguing amongst themselves; there was a full out war between the kitchen and the servers.  Ross, deciding he had seen enough and still focused on his money for the day appointed himself  the one to say something to Mike.

"Mike man, these people at my table are not happy and they can hear you cursing from the kitchen," Ross pleads.  "Get a grip man, I need you to go over there and make things right.  Buy their meal or something, shit!" 

By the end of the shift Mike was halfway leaning in the office chair waiting for the complaints to start filing in via the computer.  Josh approached the defeated manager after he cashed out his last table.

"Mike I must say your stats are staggering.  You had 5 walkouts, 12 guest complaints, and a chart topping one hour ticket time on an order of cheese sticks.  A truly impressive shift I must say."

Mike, numb to any jabs at this character takes Josh's money and left the office.  The worst of it was over for now and the restaurant was a mess.  Mike was a sad display as he helped the staff clean up after lunch.  The busy work kept his mind off the situation, sort of.  He even tried to justify the situation.  Hadn't he done the best he could?  He was finishing taking the last of the servers' money who were done for the day when the first complaint came in.  The guest complaint was attached to a question from his boss.


Did one of my guest really hear you yell "Why the F*** can't these people be happy with F****** mashed potatoes"???!!!!  We need  to talk!

Mike quickly "X"ed out of the email when he heard Blake walk in the office.

"Hey Mike what going on man?"  Blake greeted Mike. "Hey, listen when I walked in Brandy told me you ran out of baked potatoes.  Bro, I just looked in the walk-in, there is a whole case of potatoes!  Didn't you look?"  Blake just chuckled a little and left the office to go start his shift.  On the way out he asked Mike to unlock the baked potatoes key while he was sitting at the computer.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bartending Competition

Okay, so in between characters and stories the bartending team will compete.  Bartenders are the elite in any restaurant and can be very competitive amongst each other.  They will all believe they are the best and fastest at mixing drinks, doing tricks, and engaging in conversation.  I challenge all of you to share videos and pictures showing off your bartending team skills.  I'll start with a local favorite.  Please be advised there is profanity in this video clip, so if you want to be spared, lose the volume.
Let the games begin!

Wrapping up the characters

Okay, so a little bug kept me from bloggin, but I'm back now and ready to wrap up the last of our basic restaurant characters.  There will be many more characters introduced through the stories told, but I simply can't wait any longer to start telling my tales.

Richard and Rachel- the couple-  Rich and Rach will be the names of every couple you could find in a restaurant.  They work together, come in together, leave together, live together, eat together, and cover each others shifts.  This level of togetherness makes for a ticking time bomb.  They may have their nauseating moments with all the side station kissing and cuddling time, but the fights keep you coming back for more.   I'm not trying to say that the restaurant couple is funny when they fight, but that the couple is hilarious when they fight!  The fights can be triggered by anything, but the real humor comes when it's triggered by someone.  When jealousy rears its' ugly head the drama is most intense.  We'll have fun with the stories about these two.

Angie- the sick girl-  Angie, God bless her heart, is ALWAYS sick!  She's the girl you may not even be sure still works there.  She doesn't just get the simple flu or cold, oh no, that's for amateurs.  Angie comes down with the illnesses you can't pronounce.  Even when she is at work, it's not pretty. You almost feel bad for her guest.  "It's not contagious" just isn't a comforting comment coming from Angie.  However, if you are ever hard up for money and need to pick up an extra shift you can call Angie.  You never know it could be tuberculosis Tuesday or whooping cough Wednesday.

Oscar- the smelly guy-  Oscar should be sent home everyday!  Why are showers and deodorant such a difficult uniform requirement for management to enforce?  One whiff of Oscar could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon.  Oscar will be a decent worker, but still not the guy you want next to you and generally can clear out table40 when he sits down.

Eric- the terminated guy-  Eric was fired a long time ago and still comes back at least once or twice a month to drink and talk about all the people he doesn't know.  He'll still sit at table 40 like he never left, order a few beers, maybe some food, and finally before leaving will stick his head in the kitchen to say "what up" just in case someone didn't know he used to work here.  Generally speaking, Eric is a prick, but he tips well so we all put up with it.

Bob- the regular-  Bob has been coming here since the doors first opened.  He believes he deserves special treatment and attention.  Bob usually sits at the bar, but only a few people will serve him.  Bob is older and tells really bad jokes, sometime even inappropriate.  He loves Josh, Jennifer, and Larry too.

As I said there are many more characters that will show up in my stories, so let's just get started with the basic ones already portrayed. 


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More characters....

I mentioned yesterday after describing my first character, Josh, the comedian, that today's topic would be all about Jennifer, the party girl.  While I could go on for a while about the Jennifers' of the world, I couldn't stop thinking about all the other characters I want to introduce.  I was so excited and laughing at my own descriptions that I decided to keep the characters' profiles short and sweet for now so we can start telling our stories.  I can't wait! 

Jennifer-the party girl- Shot shot shot shot shot lol.  Jennifer is all about a good time.  She's a pretty girl who you can count on to show up at every party and club night.  Her name will also be present in most of the scandalous gossip the next day. 

Larry-the sports guy- Larry will always and only talk about sports.  He'll be the one to form football pools, poker games and spend most of his time glued to the game or sports center.

Ross-the hustler- Ross is usually "too cool for school", he'll pretty much do anything in the name of profit and recognizes the restaurant as a prime place to deal.  Ross is cool with everyone, but carries himself in a way that doesn't draw too much attention.

Chief- the trendy guy-  From head to toe Chief will come in everyday doing way to much.  Chief refuses to be just a server.  He will wear big dumb a** diamond earrings to compliment his apron.  His whole image will come off a little forced.  His attention to trends, fashion and his swagger will make you say hmmm.

Diane- the lifer-  Diane will always work here....always.  She can come in all forms good and bad, so I'll let the dialog describe her better.  Diane is probably older, and simply has a different lifestyle than a majority of her co-workers. 

Jason- the intellect-  Jason is very smart and will go out of his way to make sure you know that.  He will always bring up politics, religion and topics meant only for great minds.  If you dare not show interest or understanding you will meet his smug side.  Jason tends to be a little awkward when it comes to the ladies.

Angela- the crier-  Angela is a very sweet girl with very thin skin.  Angela will cry every shift without fail.  Nothing much is needed to trigger this, but it's usually triggered by a really "mean" guest or co-worker.

Sarah- the weeded girl-  Sarah is always "in the weeds"(too busy to see straight)!!!  Sarah gets so worked up over the process of retrieving two glasses of water you may think its not real the first time you see her.  Blood pressure pills may be needed in her presence. 

What these character do when they sit a table together is what this blog is gonna be all about.  We'll take a series of quick glimpses into their interactions and conversations.  I still have more characters to introduce tomorrow.  I'll break down the couple, the "cool" manager, the bartending team, the regular.  There are a lot of characters that come through any given restaurant and we must identify them all for a gut busting laugh later.  I would love to hear all your ideas too!

Can you think of a character I should include at the table?  Maybe you can add on to my characters.  Maybe you can give them a face.  What should Larry look like?  I picture him out of shape.  Nothing is more funny to me than a non-athletic sports guru.  I don't know.  Like I said I'm learning as I go.
Is there a story you thought of after viewing theses characters that you are dying to tell?  Remember, we don't want to shout anyone out so use these character names when you're writing your antidotes.
I'm all ears!  By the end of the week this blog is going to read like a great soap opera!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Table 40 the start

If a restaurant is comparable to high school than table 40 is the cafeteria!  All kinds of duos, trios, and groups can be seen at this table.  You call them co-workers, I call them characters.  In this blog I will give them all names and voices for nothing more than an understanding and entertainment.  I'm hoping to seek the help of all my fellow restaurant workers in this plight.  If you identify with any of the characters i break down or have your own personality to share i am always accepting applications.  Lets start the shift....

Josh-  Josh will be the name of all the comedians or bullies depending on your perspective.  Regardless every table40 will have a Josh sit down.  He/She is that person who keeps you crying laughing.  Most of his/her material will derive from right within your restaurant staff.  This level of personal jokes makes it all the more funny.  You see, restaurants are nothing if not a sewing circle and the inside jokes that come about from it.  The funny thing about restaurant gossip is it is more current than the stock market, more scandalous than the tabloids, more intriguing than a paid day off, travels faster than the speed of light and very rarely is forgotten.  Josh will take this in the face material and have you laughing from table40 to the side stations, making comments that test the limits of politically correct.  We all need Josh.  Josh says everything we are all thinking but wouldn't dare say.  Josh will cross the line everytime.  Josh will always be late and never written up.  Josh will be tipped toed around and be friends with everyone.  Josh has worked there long enough that he may even be talked about in your orientation.  Josh is witty and charming.  Josh points to the pink elephant in the room grandly and does so with such a panache that he/she can get it off with out fail.  Outwardly everyone will laugh at Josh's comments, but secretly everyone looks at the "new guy"(to be described later) hoping that they are the competition Josh didn't see coming.  Like a lunar eclipse every Josh will have his day.  Till then share your Josh stories and keep us all laughing.  "The Day Josh Got His" stories are welcome as well.  Tomorrow I will introduce  "Jennifer", the party girl.