I’m tired and greasy. There’s enough grease on my forehead and in my hair to cook up a batch of McDonald’s french fries. I don’t remember the last time I was this greasy. And I don’t mean in the used car sort of way. I mean literally, greasy.
Tonight was my first real day on the job and it was exactly how I remembered it. But first I’ll catch you up.
I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’ve worked at this restaurant before. From 1998 to 2000. And from 2002 to 2003. So I’ve had experience with what to expect and how things will go.
I was told about two weeks ago that my first day would be September 19. I was to show up at 9:30 for orientation. This is standard procedure. As this is a chain restaurant, there is a formalized training program. The first day consists of filling out paper work, watching videos about sexual harassment and job safety. It also involves discussing all the corporate policies like vacation, insurance, food discounts, etc. Then you are given a tour, fed lunch and after about 5 hours you are sent home. All of this is done as a class with anywhere from 5 or 6 people to 15. This is what I was expecting.
What happened was:
I got to the restaurant around 9:15. I waited in the lobby trying to look inconspicuous. I was asked by at least three people why I was there. It was clear no one knew about orientation. I waited and waited. Around 9:40 a guy walks by and introduces himself and asks if he can help me. Turns out he’s the GM. (General Manager) (He’s cute too, but I’ll get to that.) He gives me directions to the office and tells me the manager I’m looking for is there. We’ll call her Samantha from here on out…that’s not her real name. I find Samantha sitting at her desk working on her computer. She looks up and says, “Oh.” It was as if she forgot I was coming. She then starts searching through papers on her desk. This is of course after she’s called me Scott. I tell her I’m Jeff and she finally finds the paper she’s looking for. She then pulls out a huge folder and tells me to follow her.
As we walk, she explains that it turns out I’m the only one. She doesn’t explain why, or how come. This sort of annoys me, because that means I could have trained two weeks ago and been making money already. But I digress. She sits me at the bar and tells me to start filling out paper work. She explains that she’ll get the day shift going and come back to me. So I start writing. Getting into the CIA would probably consume less paper. There were of course the standard tax forms, I-9 forms, and insurance forms. But there were training forms, harassment forms, uniform forms (that’s hard to say fast), direct deposit forms, security forms, stealing forms, credit card forms, safety forms…you get the picture. Most of these forms required me seeing some sort of video or reading something from the training manual. But since neither seemed to be happening, I signed them anyway.
I finally finished and she comes back over to me. She then explains that that’s pretty much it for the day. So she takes me back to get a shirt for me, and asks me if I can wear a large. Okay so I’ve lost 40 pounds and I’m proud of that fact. But I still weigh 260 pounds. I’m fucking fat. Six months from now I’ll be lucky to wear a large. There’s no way my left arm would fit into a large right now. And it’s pretty obvious. I explain that I’ll need at least an XXL. At which points she sighs and says she doesn’t have any. And it will take about a week to get one. She starts to say, that we can schedule training then, and I interrupt and explain that I haven’t worked in two months and I need money. So I need to train as fast I can, with or without the shirt. She then agrees to let me wear a black t-shirt until they get me the real uniform. I thank her and I’m on my way. Oh, and she tells me to show up tomorrow (today) at 4:30, come find her and I can start my training.
At this point, I should point out that the location of the restaurant I worked in before has changed. So everything is different. The menu is the same, the uniform is the same, but that’s about all. At no time did she offer me a tour. Which is only a problem because when I got there today, she was no where to be found. And I don’t know where anything is. You know, like the locker room, the dish room…the kitchen. Seems it was her day off. Whoops, she failed to mention that. I find the office again, and there are 5 male managers there. Each one cuter than the next. This could be all right. I ask for Samantha and they tell me she’s off. They have no idea that I’m supposed to be there or what’s supposed to happen. It takes my explaining about 15 minutes till someone steps up to the plate and deals with me. I’m told to go sit down and wait an hour then come back and they’ll figure out what to do with me. (So I could have shown up at 5 instead of 4. Ugh!) So I find a corner and I hide. And wait. And wait. Finally 5 arrives and I go find the manager again. Once again he doesn’t know what to do with me. I explain what I’m supposed to be doing today, and he tells me once again to stand in the corner and wait. And so I wait. And wait. Finally someone comes over to me and tells me that to do the job I need to do tonight, I need a hat. I should go find another manager and get a hat. I go to his office. But he’s not there and no one’s seen him. I wait. And wait. Finally, some stranger asks if he can help me. I tell him I need a hat. He tells me to wait. And I wait. And wait. Finally he comes back with a hat. Whew. One step down.
So I go back downstairs, and I find the first manager and ask him what I should be doing. He tells me to hang on a second. And so I wait. And wait. FINALLY, the kitchen manager comes by and tells me what the deal is. He introduces me to the two guys who’ll be training me and so I start. One of them looks like a Charles Manson sort of fellow with weird tattoos and long hair, the other one looks like a thug from the Bronx, with his pants around his knees. Turns out both of them are nice. This might not be so bad afterall. They start out treating me like I’ve never worked in a restaurant before. I let it go on for about 15 minutes and then explain that not only have I worked in restaurants for over 10 years, but I was a certified trainer in this restaurant. They left me a lone the rest of the night.
We were working expo, which is the position that takes the food from the cooks, finishes garnishing it, and then gives it to the servers. It’s a fast paced, high stress job. It started out sort of slow but around 7:30 became a zoo. I was helping as much as I could, which meant staying out of the way for the most part. I was amazed at how much I remembered about the plate setups and how things were dressed before they go to the table. I also remembered most of the food items which is one of the harder things about working at a restaurant. How to tell the food apart.
Finally at 9:30 I was told I was done. I could go home as soon as someone quizzed me on the evening and filled out my paperwork. There was a lengthy discussion amongst the managers about who had to do this. The kitchen manager lost. So instead of just doing it. He tells me to order food. Go sit at table 600. And then come back in 30 minutes. Just what I needed. More waiting. I order food. The menu is certifiably unhealthy. There’s only one thing that I can eat. Grilled Chicken. And Broccoli. I get my food, a diet Pepsi. (Don’t start). And then ask someone where table 600 is. Of course no one has thought to give me a seating chart. I go sit down and eat and then wait. And wait. Finally after 30 minutes I go find the kitchen manager. He tells me to stand where I am…and you guessed it. Wait. And so I wait. Finally he comes and fetches me. He takes me to the office and fills out my paperwork. And so I’m on my way.
As I was just getting ready to leave, I ask when should I return. The manager on duty tonight, says why not come back tomorrow and Samantha will be there and she can sort it all out. Which is fine. But it would be nice to know how long training’s going to be. And what my schedule is going to be. And when I’m going to work. And what I’m going to be doing. And well you get the picture,
One night down. A million more to go.
And on one last note. The very comfortable tennis shoes I bought to work in while I was in Maine are awful. All night it was as if I was walking on ice. I almost fell at least 10 times. So after work tonight, I stopped at the Skecher’s store and bought slip resistant shoes. Now if I can only stop spending money and finally start making some.