Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where The Hell have you been?.....

Hey, where the hell have you been?!?!?!

Okay, so I fell into the (got a better, more fitting) cliche life of being too busy: pursuing happiness, got out of full service restaurants. I now work 50 hours a week in a cushy corporate management position rather than working 65 hours a week without benefits in order to pay the bills and support a family.
My wife, who also works full-time for a global engineering corporation, and I have been blessed by having a second baby boy. He is now 1 and a half; my previously mentioned son is now almost 5! Yes, I haven't posted in (I have no idea how long because I didn't check) a while, so I revisited some old drafts that I meant to eventually post way back then, and I have given a bit of retrospect on them after being out of the full service restaurant industry for almost 2 years now. The following is the first outstanding draft...    

"I have been going pretty hard at this "Server" gig for almost eight years and I won't hesitate to say that I have seen it all. Sometimes the disbelief of being caught off guard or surprised by customers' behavior becomes so regular that it begins to jade me, nothing new. The ignorance and lack of general awareness of the entitled regulars grinds my soul raw after being their server for 8 plus years. Then again, there are so many of the I-love-you-and-your-loyalty-and-generosity-but-you-are-also-an-unrelenting-pain-in-my-ass lunch regulars who are constantly modifying their salads or entre components who tell me they "need to get back to work as soon as possible", as if the rest of the dining room is full of people who have that Tuesday off. Did I mention (yes, I have. In The Nightmare) everyone's favorite menopausal dentist's wife, an uber regular (9 plus meals a week), who wants to chit-chat at length as if we are sitting alone in a confessional instead of a restaurant full of "I need to get back to work" lunch rush customers, the power lunch crowd. The issue I have with her is that she is fully aware of the fact that the more of my time she consumes, the less time I have to service the rest of my 14 table section for lunch. She isn't stupid, but business savvy, and runs her husband's dental practice. These other lovely individuals, as well as the I-must-keep-her-happy because she and her dentist husband spend 30k at the restaurant a year customers, keep my family under roof and clothed and happy...well at least my wife and son [now sons, edit] are happy, haha. Working crazy and hectic (I need to chug at least four iced coffees just  to get my head charged) lunches keep me employed and content though. Complaints, no complaints. Not to say the restaurant business isn't reliable, but lunch tends to be a more reliable crowd of regulars. I am coming to realize that I would much prefer to work a lunchtime shift than diner shift any day of the week. But then again I do close 5 nights a week after also working the same day's lunch shit (doubles) and always make out very well at the end of the day, almost always. There's always gonna be that "where is everybody?" moment every now and then to remind us how good we have it..."

[that's all I had written way back for some retrospect]

There are always parts of our pasts that we will love to revisit and story-tell about, recounting the best and the worst parts, and that is what this blog always has been for me.

     I miss the energy and the chase of always getting as close to "being in the weeds" as possible. I relished taking on as many tables as I possibly could at one time, trying to sell as many specials to a single table whom became excited about my presentation, or to sell as many bottles of wine as I possibly could on a Friday night. I would do all of that very well, then I would also be under pressure to make sure the expectations which I had projected to my table could be met almost flawlessly. And when there were holes in the service, to be able to talk or sell myself out of conflict or confrontation was always a challenging rush. After digging myself out of a huge hole or lapse in the service, convincing someone to fall in love with another dish when the amazing special which I had initially sold them when I wasn't told soon enough that it was 86-ed seconds before, for example, was always rewarding.

     I could do that, I held prowess, I was convincing and powerful, still am. It might seem flighting and boastful, but anyone working in any line of sales and/or service should understand that owning a sale or deal is the way to close it and come out successfully on top. And I did this cover after cover, day and night for eight years. I owned the dining room; it was mine! I had no choice to "touch tables" in other peoples' sections because they loved me. I was my own maitre'd. They knew if they requested me the following weekend when making a reservation their dinner could be more fun and exciting. I don't dare discount the other servers who worked along side myself. After the initial opening crew, I was the veteran and the team of servers was built well over time. People came and went, but  our core team by the time I left was brilliant. And I like to think that I was a large part of molding that culture. Our service was seamless and I like to think that the standards I upheld and practiced while leading by example set the standard of what our customer base expected. That was it, the bottom line. Service. The kitchen cooked, we conversed, we delivered the product, we established and built ongoing relationships within and for this local brand of a restaurant. We did it well, I did it well. I miss it and I don't miss a moment of it. It's eight years that were not easy, but were a successful chapter of my life and I don't regret a thing.

I hope to revisit a few other drafts to repost with edits. It feels good to revisit what used to be so ingrained into my being that I breathed, ate, slept, and walked the life of that 65 plus hour a week ambassador for not only maintaining and building the repeat business for the restaurant, but for selling myself as well; and I did it well.    

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