I’m still not sure that I’ve recovered from the drowning.
I have to admit that I’m a little more than anxious about returning to work on Friday.
As for what happened on Monday.
First. I wasn’t scheduled to work. I saw a note on the bulletin board looking for someone to pick up a cocktail shift for Monday night. Since I’m a little behind with money, I thought it would be a great way to pick up a little extra dough. So as per my usual schedule I showered and left for work around 3:00. I got to work around 3:45. This is much earlier than I need to be there and I often get grief from my co-workers about this. I always get to work about an hour before I need to so that I can change, get food and just relax before I have to start my night. If I run in at the last minute I’m just not ready and my night gets off to the wrong start.
So per my schedule I arrived at 3:45.
I noticed as I passed by the host’s desk that the big monitor that lets people know who’s being seated next was dark. There is always some image on the screen. I thought to myself that this was strange but continued on into the dining room. As always I looked around for someone I know and like, to order my dinner. I found someone and was about to ask if they’d ring up my food, but I was interrupted and told “not today.” And then then the stories started. We had a huge thunderstorm on Monday morning. It was loud enough to wake me and I can sleep through a tornado. Well it seems that the storm caused the sewer system on our street to back up and that in turn caused a pipe to burst. It flooded a dozen businesses in and around us and it flooded the room where all of our servers are stored. This includes the host’s computers, the server’s computer’s, the admin’s computers, and all of the music feeds. Now if I were in charge and was calling the shots, I would have just said, “Let’s cut our losses, spend the day getting cleaned up and getting things back in order and we’ll start fresh tomorrow.” But alas I’m not in charge.
So what did they do. They opened as scheduled. And basically fucked everyone on the floor and in the kitchen in the process. All of the assigning of tables to guests is done via a computer. It tracks what tables are clean, dirty, next to be seated and whose sections had the most tables. It seats some sections faster than others because they belong to head waiters. We don’t really have a back up system. So suddenly there was no way to track what tables were clean, what tables were dirty and who was to be seated next. There is no dry erase board up front that tells everyone what’s next.
The kitched was screwed because they use this super fancy system that tells the cooks when to start the food. For example the ticket says that there’s a well done steak, then the order for the chicken sandwich that goes with it, isn’t even sent to those guys until the steak is almost done. It’s all timed out. In theory it keeps one item from being overcooked and another item from finishing too late. For the most part this works great. But there is no back up plan and it’s been over a year since they’ve had to do it any other way.
And then there were the servers. Each ticket had to be filled out by hand. Old school. And then it had to be handed over to the kitchen. And you had to hope that they knew what you wanted because I don’t know a single restaurant that still uses an abbreviation method. And so you gave the ticket to the kitchen with a prayer that you would get what you wanted and it wouldn’t take four hours. And then you had to do the same thing with the bar. And then the fun part. You had to figure out what it was all going to cost. The food is easy, it’s all in the menu. The drinks not so much. I don’t know a single restaurant that prints drink prices in it’s menu. I don’t know why, but I do know I get asked every day what the cost of something is. And I never know. I know it’s about eight dollars. Or about ten dollars. But I don’t know exact costs. And then they inevitable want to know why I don’t know. At this point I ask for their cell phone so that I can pull up some random person and see if they remember the number. Anyway, figuring out drink prices is a bit tricky. So they have this million page document that lists all the prices of every thing we sell in the place and we are supposed to do the totals on the checks.
And then of course there are the credit cards. There is no way to process them. Sure we could do them all by phone but there would be rioting in the dining room if every person had to wait for the cards to be called in. So we used the old fashion slide machine to make credit card slips and then someone had the task of calling them all in later. And then there was no way to know how much each servers was so supposed to have sold, how much money they were turning in and how much money they got to keep. And so all of that was done by hand.
And before anyone gets cute out there and says that that’s the way it was done before how hard could it be. I’m sure there are STILL restaurants that do it this way in NYC. But they also don’t seat a million people, have 40 servers on the floor, and the fast paced service that we have. It was a night mare.
So I asked to go home before we even started. I was told no.
And then, I don’t know if it was the stress of the computers or what, but I basically shut down. I just couldn’t do it. I told the hosts not to let anyone sit at my tables. I only pretended to care about my tables and I had to actively try not to be rude. I had not been in this sort of head space waiting tables in years. Usually when it happens I get fired or I quit. And so I muddled through the beginning of my shift and the hours moved at a snail’s pace and I got more and more agitated. So at 7:00 I went to the manager and told him I needed to leave. His response to me was that if he had to stay, I had to stay. I think he thought I was kidding. After that it got worse. I just wanted to be left alone and to go home. And the night drug on. And on. And on. Around 9:00 one of the other managers came up to me and wanted to know why I was being “Mr. Poopy Pants” and I told her what was going on. I also told her that I’d asked to go home and so I didn’t want to be told I was fired later when I was trying to be proactive.
And she listened but she still didn’t let me go home. And to make matters worse the tips sucked. Of course I probably wouldn’t have tipped me either. So I wasn’t making any money, I had to stay, I was in some sort of depressive state, the night was dragging and I was doing my best not to throw a martini glass at the evil people I was waiting on. And finally at 12:15 we closed. And my night was over. I spent about three minutes doing my side work and got in line to check out. It was taking about 30 minutes for each server to get through the process. I was third. I paid my money and I left.
And I went out for drinks with some people at work. And the alcohol helped.
And then I got home. Much later than anticipated. And I went to bed around 8:00 a.m. And I slept until 7:00 p.m. And then I got up, ordered dinner, watched some TV and then went back to be around 11:30 p.m. And slept soundly till almost 9:00 a.m. And when I got up I felt like a normal person again. I have no idea what was going on. I have no idea why I reacted the way I did. I just know that I hope it doesn’t happen again. I actually like my job and don’t really want to be fired. But I know that if I have too many of those nights again it won’t be long till they tell me it’s time to be on my way.
So the last thing I did before I left on Monday night was to give away my Tuesday and Wednesday shifts. I had three days off and it was great. I slept all day on Tuesday. I ran errands and went to the movies for about three minutes on Wednesday. And today I spent 90% of the day tearing the living room/dining room apart and rearranging everything. It’s still not done and I’m not sure I like the changes but it’s different.
But as they say, “Tomorrow is another day.”