Announcement to the Public on Service

People have often mentioned to me that I should be a comedian. Most of the people who’ve said this don’t really know me and therefore have no idea of the phobia I have of public speaking. “Oh you’re so funny!!! You should really try to do some stand up!” they say. I find the idea of this absurd. It takes balls to stand in front of a group of people and crack a few jokes that you hope are funny enough to get at least a giggle from your audience. Yes, I am witty, but most of that wit comes when no one is around to witness it, or after the moment has passed, so at a time too late. Still, I won’t lie. I have daydreamed of what it would be like to make people laugh using the examples of my either exaggeratedly boring or seemingly hectic life, because for me life is either at one extreme or the other.  I’ve imagined me standing there on my platform, my soapbox, and have thought about some of the topics I would love to cover. My number one topic would be about working with the public, primarily restaurant work.

It’s a war zone out there. A scene from a warrior movie like that of 300 where each warrior has got a million tiny missions to complete, and all of them are going on at the exact same time. Obstacles get in the way, slowing the process of completion down, and yet in this scene instead of suffering physical battle wounds, it’s the spirit of the warrior that gets shot down. So here is a public service announcement:

The server life, it is no joke, especially for those of us who live it on a day to day basis. Some days are minor battles, or maybe even a day of rest. Most days are a fight to the finish, your enemies ranging from being either your customers, to fellow coworkers, to even that of management.

When it comes to the customers, life in the server world can be totally exhausting. From the moment a server clocks in until the very second they clock out, an identity isn’t what they have.  They are service-bots, actors with script changes for each table that is under their care. Each table is different and therefore calls for a case-by-case approach on how to deal with each one. Servers are like pilots navigating a flight, each table being a flight, every destination being that of satisfaction. Servers analyze which best route to take in order to get each and every table to their destination with the least amount of turbulence as possible. For instance for one table I’ve got to play the role of the “at your beck and call” waitress who uses “yes ma’m, no sir” after every question and sentence. I chuckle at your awful white collar jokes as I top off your cucumber lemon water, and continuously kiss your ass while you shower me with compliments like, “Oh you really are great at following directions. Keep it up kiddo..” with a pat on the back, and then tipping me 15%.  Where as the table right next to them, laid back and carefree, I can around joke with and serve them effortlessly without feeling as though I am a slave to their dollar and their dinning experience. I can literally be myself while I work, which at this point it doesn’t even feel like work, and then obtain a 22% tip and minus the back-handed compliments. So can you imagine the emotional and psychological toll serving can at times have on a person? Constantly changing who you are from table to table, for hours at a time, while also being looked down upon by most of your customers. Because, people aren’t kind you know, especially in this industry where most look down upon us thinking that we’re “stupid”, and “lower class” compared to them, even if we DO, for the most part, make more money than they do. I’d like to also take this moment to mention that you, the customer, don’t need to say any of these things. It’s not like you have to say it to our faces that you think we’re incompetent.  After many years of working in the “biz” servers become exceptional people readers. It is in your actions, or lack there of, it is in the inflection of your voice, it is in the way most of you don’t even look at us while speaking. You don’t have to tell us that you think you’re better than us. You show us with every second that ticks by.

Like I described before, waiting tables isn’t for the faint of heart. In a time where we’ve never been so connected to those not only around us but also those millions of miles away, our social skills are, unbelievably almost non-existent, making dealing with the public, simply said, a pain in the ass. The consideration people have for others is limited and manners? Manners are now a rarity. Where before manners were almost a prerequisite in life, now I find myself going out of my way to actually thank those for using them, especially children.

Servers (bartenders, bussers, food runners, ect…) deal with your messes. We clean up after all of you and that means wiping away all the crumbs that have fallen out of your mouth. We pick up the dirty napkins  you’ve wiped your runny nose with. We clean up the puke that spews from your child’s lips. We take care of the pee puddle that your grandfather left behind because he didn’t realize that he had to go. Think about this the next time you decide to tip $5 on a $50 simply because you may have chosen a restaurant that was little bit above your price range, or because the kitchen messed up your unrealistically high expectation to make you something that wasn’t even on the menu to begin with. Let me add, servers aren’t heartless animals. We understand that at times, what you would like to tip us isn’t what you can manage at the time. Maybe it’s an anniversary and you wanted to take your love out to a nice dinner that normally you cannot afford. Fine, but at least don’t work us tooth and bone all the while knowing that you aren’t going to compensate us for our wonderful service. Clean up after yourself a little instead of leaving the table as if 13 unmannerly vikings were feasting before heading out on the water. Or if you’re not going to tidy after yourself because “that’s what servers are for” at least put the damn lid to the ketchup back on the bottle for fucks sake.

Not all servers are great servers. I will say though that the majority are. There is also a small portion of shitty servers who are usually pretty great but just have had a shitty day. It happens every day in the human world, and don’t forget, servers are human too. Remind yourself that the next time you go out to eat. Think of how we servers tend to follow customer cues so if you find yourself in a situation where the service may be a little questionable, ask yourself if maybe, you the customer, set that tone, for some customers have a personality to repel anyone from wanting to deal with them and their crazy antics. Take your blinders off for a second and take a look around you, is your server insanely busy taking care of five other tables and not just yours? If they’re working hard and not just standing around joking with their co-workers, I would excuse them on certain things like timeliness or forgetting to top off your Coke for the third time. There is a difference between good service and bad service. A bad server hasn’t the personality or character to handle all that comes with this job. They simply don’t care and eventually they either leave or get fired. Most times it’s the later. A good server gets the job done. A great server is submissive to their customer, fulfilling their every request, all done with a huge smile painted on their face and with an aura about them that gives off that they care, even if deep down inside they truly don’t.  Which ever the type of server, we are all just trying to make a living. We are all trying to survive, just like you, the customer. So I say, if we aren’t allowed to treat you the way you may deserve to be treated, how about you make our job easier and more pleasant by treating us like… well… like human beings because compassion and love, even in places of work, is a wonderful motivator, and what goes around, comes around.

10541926_290656201122848_106468059_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

 

 

Twinkie Goes Pee

There he sat, propped up at the bar, draped in an over sized t-shirt that clung to his fat and sweaty body like a wrapper on a twinkie. He took a swig of his Budweiser as he listened to his friend rant on and on about how America was going to be great again.  He sat there as if he had done nothing wrong, and this “nothing” was not going to go unnoticed.

As I am storming my way over to him I’m not even thinking about what my approach will be. My thoughts were solely focused on questioning who could have raised such an animal? I mean seriously.

He sees me out of his peripheral and  I notice that he continues to watch (not watch) me as I walk over to him.

“Excuse me?” I say loudly so my voice would carry over the loud rap music that belted from the jukebox. He takes another sip of his beer and he looks over to me. His stare already told me that he knew what was coming.

“Do you mind fixing what you just did in there?” I point towards the direction we both just came from. I stare at him in his greasy little pig face. Was this shame that flickering in his eyes?

“I know. I’m sorry. I regretted it the moment I walked out and saw you standing there waiting.” He begins to wiggle his way off the bar stool, slightly wobbling in the process. His friend stares at us in confusion.

“Don’t worry, this wont take long.” I say to his suspecting friend as I stand off to the side so that Twinkie could make his way off the stool and back towards the restroom.  The urgency within me was beginning to build up. I was two beers, three gin and tonics, and one shot in, and it was all now wanting to come out. I would have already been peeing if this idiot wouldn’t have been such a goddamn pig.

So what led us all here to this very moment?? A restroom break gone wrong, that’s what.

The Mermaid. It was a dingy, hole in the wall bar that was dimly lit with crazy blue lights, and purple tones that radiated off the jukebox. It always smelled like old beer and cigarettes, and the smoke lingered over our heads like ghost chandeliers, but I didn’t mind. This was the place all the islanders, such as myself, came to to get away from all the annoying tourists that flooded the island this time of year. While vacationers went to the overpriced bars with fruity frozen drinks and crappy live music, we residents came here, our fun and sinful safe haven. I had been standing in line waiting for the ladies room as I watched as guy after guy walked out of the men’s room. The ladies room was taking a little longer, which wasn’t so unusual but I was beginning to think that maybe there wasn’t even anyone in the ladies room, when all the sudden the door swings open and out walks the occupant.  Surprised to see this over sized man stumbling out, I giggled as I thought to myself, “Someone just couldn’t wait..” It wasn’t until I made my way into the bathroom and locked the door that I was met with an infuriating sight. Not only did this goon use the women’s restroom but he decided to use it and left it as though there would be a maid following up behind him to clean up his mess. The toilet had not been flushed, foamy yellow pee was still swirling around in there. Not only that, but it seemed as though our friend here had, for the most part, missed, leaving the entire toilet seat splattered with urine. It wasn’t just a couple droplets either. No, that I could deal with. It was as though he didn’t even try to aim properly, leaving more puddles on the seat than there were dry spots.

“Fuck this shit…” said the alcohol in me and out I went looking for this animal.

In my normal, sober life, I would have probably let the issue go and not went looking for the culprit. I probably would have flushed the piss down, layered the seat with a million sheets of t.p, and just hovered over the bowl (as women do) and done my duty. Tonight though, I was stoned, drunk, and in no mood to clean up any messes that were not my own.  So here I am walking behind this man-child whom I wholeheartedly want to kick straight in the middle of his back, but I can’t.

He walks straight into the women’s bathroom and heads straight to where the single toilet sits. “Oh geeze,” he mumbles as he rubs one hand down his face and it’s at this point that I wonder if he had even washed his nasty little hands before leaving the bathroom. “I’m sorry.” spills from his lips as he grabs a handful of toilet paper. I was in shock honestly. He looked like he actually felt bad but I still eye him skeptically.

Twinkie first cleans off the seat with one swooping motion and tosses the wad of dirty toilet paper into the bowl and  flushes. He then grabs another wad of paper, this time slightly wetting it first with water and goes over the seat once more, tossing that bunch into the garbage. He then washes his hands and once he’s finished he turns to look at me and again mumbles out an “I’m sorry.”

“It’s Ok. Thank you for cleaning it up.” I say almost dumbfounded. I truly wasn’t expecting him to have been not only so thorough in his cleaning but so apologetic as well. He then walks past me grabbing a bit of paper towel to dry his hands off, and walks out. I shut the door and lock it, my bladder suddenly screaming as I’m doing so. I barely have time to unbutton, unzip, and squat down when all the liquids sprayed out of me like a fireman’s hose. As I squatted there, I remember feeling pretty proud of myself. It had been out of character for me to have gone out searching for the culprit and then making him right his wrong. It had been a pretty ballsy move considering I had no back up plan if he would have ignored my request for him to clean up his mess.

I finished my business, washed my hands, and walked out of there feeling like a new woman and when I walked back to where my friends sat, they asked me what had taken me so long. As I began to quickly fill them in on my bathroom adventure, the bartender walks over to where I sit and plops a shot down in front of me. Before I can ask her about this randomly bought shot she motions over to where Twinkie sat and blurted out, “It’s on him.” and walks off. I hold up the shot in salute as does he, and in one smooth swoop we both down the shot.

Anytime I go to the Mermaid now, I always think of Twinkie. I wonder if someday I’ll run into him again and if so, will he remember me and the fleeting moment of potty solidarity we shared. Although he may have started off on the wrong foot, he quickly made it up with genuine gestures, apologetic and concerned. He taught me that we don’t always have to just eat shit and if we do go out sticking up for ourselves and what is right, you won’t always run into a confrontation.

And here I thought that I hated Twinkies.

11282848_1443650052604576_1315113879_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

Caution To the Wind

I put to rest another small and unhappy part of my life today, for I’ve learned from my previous experiences to not let unhappiness hang around for too long.

Today I decided to quit my part-time job.

I won’t lie, walking away from any sort of commitment, whether big or small, personal or professional, it’s always difficult to do. There are always pros and cons, of course. Most times if you’re at the point in which you are weighing out the negatives and the positives of your given situation, the cons will outweigh the pros. But, if you’re anything like me, once you commit, it’s too hard to quit no matter how difficult the situation may be.

Growing up my momma made sure to raise no fool. She instilled in us kids the values and principals of working hard and sticking to what you start, no matter the sacrifice and dedication it took. As kids, there was no such thing as “sick days” unless one was contaminated with something extremely contagious such as the chicken pox. We didn’t take days off of school without an important reason, and once I got older there was no such thing as “calling out” of work either. Think of it like this, in the 30 plus years that my mother has been employed at the casino, she has only called out of work four times, and it was due to snow. You can just imagine the work ethic my mother has and in turn has passed onto us. This is why in today’s time, if I find myself committing to something, be it a job, or project, anything really, I am committed. I am your loyal little work bee until something or someone prevents me from happily doing so.

The key word there was “happily”. I am a HUGE follower of happiness. I believe that happiness is a choice. You either choose to be happy or you choose to not be happy. I believe that while we’re here experiencing this life we chose, we either decide to make this a heaven on Earth, or Hell. Much of what helps us make our decision as to which way we live has to do with listening to ourselves and allowing intuition to direct us. I mean we have feelings for a reason. Feelings help guide us throughout life, and although people listen to some feelings, they don’t seem to consider all feelings. For instance fear is one feeling people tend to not only consider but over indulge in. Yes, fear allows us to avoid many dangerous situations, but at times it also limits people’s ability to experience things outside of their comfort zone.

A follower of happiness cannot simultaneously over indulge in the feelings of fear.  Yes, a follower of happiness can experience fear, but there is no overindulgence because to follow happiness, many times (most times) you must throw caution to the wind and not allow for fear to govern decision making. Happiness is a feeling that not many people take into consideration. Are you happy at work? Do you feel happy in your romantic relationship? Does your friendship bring you happiness? If not, are you willing to go on that pursuit of happiness no matter what it takes, or will you let fear take reign of your life? Many will read this and counter that one cannot be happy in all aspects of life. Those people are Debbie Downers. You CAN be happy in all areas of your life. People do it everyday. It’s a small percentage but there are those individuals that are truly happy in all aspects of their life. You just have to choose to be happy. Sure, it takes time, but if you’ve got the drive and determination, just like with anything else in life, you too can achieve all around happiness.

There is no need for me to say that my part time job wasn’t making me happy. It was no secret. I honestly couldn’t have been more vocal about it, and although I wasn’t there for long, I still feel annoyed with myself that I ended up staying there for as long as I did. There were many days full of anguish and unease that could have been avoided if only I would have left sooner. Yet, I can’t dwell on the past. Or I could, but for what reason? To extend that negative feeling?? Instead I’ll applaud myself for leaving the unhappy situation sooner than I have previously done in the past, merely because I let fear rule over my feeling of intuition.

“You need us as much as we may need you.” My ex-boss said to me as we spoke about our issues. Anyone who is an employee knows these are words that draw a line in the sand. So I either choose to believe that what he spoke is true and stay in a situation that brings me no joy. A situation that I’m in only because I don’t want to let others down. OR  I choose to cross that line and step out and over into the unknown. Where the door to comfort and familiarity closes and the window to new and endless opportunities await.

I chose to cross the line. The minuet I did I felt the greatest weight being lifted off my shoulders and in that instant I knew I did the right thing. Maybe not the right thing in the eyes of others, but for me it was the right decision. Now I’ve got an array of avenues to pursue. I can go this way or that way, while nothing negative is holding me back. In this NOW moment I can say that I am truly happy in all areas of my life and I plan to keep it this way. Yes, there will come a time (many more times) where a feeling of sadness or unrest will try to creep back in, but as a follower of happiness I am committed to myself to always do what makes my soul smile. I choose to pursue that which makes me radiate joy, positivity, and love so I not only continuously live in harmony with the Universe, but so that I can also serve as an example that one can truly achieve and live in overall happiness if one chooses to.

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