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

 

 

A Magical World Among Words and Pages

Birthdays? They were never a big deal at my house. Not because we weren’t special but because Mom really couldn’t afford it.

Problems? We didn’t share over dinner and talk things out. Instead we bottled feelings up. Emotions nicely pickled, to be opened up later when it was ripe and explosive.

Shit. We didn’t even really eat dinner as a family. Sure, we ate at the same time but it was my sister and I at the dinner table. Mom would sit in the living room watching her Latin soaps or eat standing up as she would hold down fort in the kitchen, making sure we didn’t over eat.

We never did anything cool after school. Mom was always too tired to ever really want to go out, so I looked forward to the weekends when I would go to work. That would be my social time.

My dad was never around. Even once my parents divorced and he had to pick us up every weekend he wasn’t around. For this daddy’s girl it was heartbreaking to have to go spend time with your father to only later realize he didn’t want to spend time with you. He spent every waking moment in his bedroom, watching Tv or listening to music and it was a rule that us kids were never allowed to knock on the bedroom door, unless it was a real emergency. If he wasn’t locked away in his room, he was downstairs on his computer. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized he was talking to women online, while his wife was in the kitchen cooking dinner or out back doing laundry. Needless to say, the few memories I have of him are bathed in feelings of heartache so I tend to never drive down memory lane.

In school I had only a small group of friends which over time I came to slowly realize I didn’t fit in with. They were rich, sophisticated, white girls with the privileges I could only dream of. They went on cool holiday vacations like skiing up north or Disney trips down south. They had the designer labels. The pretty hair. The expensive make-up. They cheered for the school’s teams. They had the good looking guys falling at their feet.

Me? I was a frizzy haired Latina. My clothes were always from the clearance rack. I didn’t know how to really wear make-up but it didn’t matter because Mom wouldn’t buy me any anyways. I dreamed of joining the cheer leading team but to join any after school activity was an impossibility. With Mom always working, car rides to and from the games and school, it was a no go. Plus, who would take care of my sister??

It wasn’t long before the differences between my “friends” and I were too much for them to bare. I was, one day randomly, excommunicated from the group. Hours turned to days. Days into weeks. Weeks into months. I was alone in school. I was alone at home. My friends didn’t want to deal with me anymore and my poor mother working two and three jobs just to be able to raise my sister and I wasn’t able to deal with me. At this point in my life I saw the world as everyone else’s except mine. For some reason it was as though I didn’t deserve the world and I couldn’t figure out why.

It was a shitty time in my life, those pre-teen years of mine. During that school year in which I had been excommunicated from the group, that was also the time in which I was sexually molested by a distant family member. You know what they say, “when it rains it pours..” and for me that year was like a goddamn tsunami. I didn’t speak to anyone about what was going with me but I didn’t have to speak verbally for my demeanor spoke volumes. Unfortunately, the fact that I had shut down emotionally was chalked up to what was me entering my teenage years and this attitude I carried was to be expected. Why hadn’t I spoken up?? I was scared. It’s true what they say, many abusers threaten their victims into staying quiet. They threaten them and their family, most times shifting the blame from themselves onto the victim, stating that if they talk to anyone they will be hated for ruining the family. That was exactly what happened to me.

It was the very next day of when the molestation happened that I received and early morning phone call. It was Saturday morning and my mom was at work. I was at home babysitting my sister when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey Nata, is that you??” I recognized his voice immediately and it froze me into place. Where was he? Was he outside?? Was he watching me?? He was military so I imagined him having these crazy super powers like being able to get into my house to violate me without anyone knowing.

“Nata, you there?” I couldn’t speak so I just nodded my head.

“Listen, about yesterday, you have to be quiet. I know I already told you that but I just need to make sure you understand. You know I have a wife and my daughter. If they were to find out what you did you would get in a lot of trouble with them. Your family, like your mom and your abuelita, will stop talking to you because you let a man touch you. You hear me?? You cannot say anything or else everyone will get mad at you. You understand what I’m saying?” He spoke quickly and quietly.

“You get what I’m saying to you??” he repeated.

“Yes. I won’t tell.” I told him and with that I quickly hung up.

It’s weird because looking back I feel like I knew that what he did and what he was doing now by calling was wrong. I knew I should have told someone and that most likely my family wouldn’t get mad but the fear of the slim possibility that they might hate me and too excommunicate me, was huge. So I stayed quiet. I held that secret in for an entire year. It was the longest year of my life.

Anything that had to do with growing up and evolving I did on my own, independently. After a few weeks had gone by and still no word as to when my “friends” would be talking to me again, I dove head first into the world of words. I read and wrote from the moment I was settled on the school bus all the way through the day and way into the evening. The books that I read or the endless amount of journaling I did is what saved my life, multiple times. I’d get lost in these fictional worlds, headed out on these amazing adventures with these characters I wished were real. I wasn’t worried about paying attention in class or about having to get my homework completed. Did any of that really matter in the grand scheme of things?? Not in my world. What mattered to me was getting through my days with the least amount of pain as possible and school work got in the way of that. Some days were of course better than others, but in my mind, without the books, without the journals, my pain could have been a lot worse. Looking back on everything, it is no wonder that today it’s hard for me to personally connect with anyone. From a young age I grew up with the knowledge that people will always let you down, no matter who they are. To be honest, it was one great lesson to learn and better to learn it sooner than to get blindsided by disappointment later.

Today, although I love people and do consider myself quite the people person, I also know that I suffer a lot from the anxieties of having to deal with social and personal relationships. I call myself an extroverted introvert, meaning, it’s no problem for me to strike up conversations with strangers. I’m ok with going into a room full of people I do not know and having to mingle, yet at the same token I hate having to do so. I’ll go as far as to say that I absolutely dread it. It wasn’t until I had to start seeing a therapist as a part of my probationary conditions that it was pointed out to me my level of anxiety when it came to people and relationships. I suffer from social anxiety with strangers but also with the closest people in my life. I can make plans with family or friends and from the moment the plans are made I am in panic mode. I can’t make up my mind on whether or not to go through with the plans or break them. Most times, any plans I make with others I break. I begin to run through all of these different scenarios, all of which are negative, and before you know it I am talking my way out having to participate. I’m getting much better at dealing with this, through the help of books like the Secret, The Four Agreements, and other teachings that I have within the last few years discovered. Yet, I still find security at home, alone, with my pets. That is really the only time I ever feel comfortable. When I’m surrounded by others, buried deep within my mind is the fear of, which of all these people will hurt me next? How long will they be around for? How long will they be able to tolerate me for? My defenses are always up and to be honest it is quite exhausting. Yet as time passes I am grateful because throughout all the pain. heartaches, and let downs, I have become very strong.

I am slowly working on me. I finally have the time and the fortitude to simply let everything else go and just focus on myself and the things I need to get through. During the roughest moments of my life I have had only reading and writing to really help me get through. I sometimes hear of cases where kids are being bullied full-time, meaning at school as well as in the safety of their own homes, driving them to commit suicide. I see myself in so many of them that I cry with the pain of knowing how they felt. I often wish that they had had an outlet. I often wish that they had found a magical world within the pages of a book to save them. Something so simple and so obtainable as that and yet these kids couldn’t find their way towards survival. I guess maybe that’s why I write about everything and anything. Who knows who will end up coming across these words, who will scroll down these pages and find that comfort they needed. The comfort of knowing that one truly isn’t alone. That there are many others going through similar experiences and that only by sharing with one another will we be able to find solace not only within others, but more so within ourselves.

Maybe within these words someone will figure out that we are our own biggest project and it’s a project one must never quit on.

11380976_468219776660004_1021574899_n Photo Credit: Arturo G. Muse: Natal Galvan

 

 

Only Two

I’ve only truly been in love twice. Although I’ve dated A LOT, no one quite captured my heart and forever changed my soul, no matter how small a change, like my only two loves.

Both, needless to say, ended pretty tragically.

The first one, my high school sweetheart. A romeo, a lady’s man. That would always be our demise. I spent the better half of my teenage years and half of my twenties on and off again with him. The man had broken my heart in every way possible and still I would go back for more. It wasn’t until the ultimate betrayal on his part that I decided no relationship between the two could ever be. The true sadness rested in the fact that being as though we had known each other for so many years we had truly become great friends. In the end I had lost not only my boyfriend but also my best friend.

The second love of mine came at a time where life for me had hit an all time low. This was when I lived in California. I met him at the local library where I would go to take out a shit load of books for me to read and movies for my sister and I to watch. He was a couple years younger than me but he could have fooled anyone as to him being older. He was well educated and mature. Well mannered and treated his mother like a queen. Not only her but he treated me like a queen. He was an amazing person to be around. His friends would tell you so. He was the one who made me realize how important a close circle of friends are. The value of true friendship. Like I said before, we met at a time in my life where I was broken. He made me feel amazing no matter how broken I had become, but no amount of love given could have saved our relationship. I was moving back to New Jersey and our love was so much that they only way we saw it was to have to let each other go. A love truly parted by life but never fully extinguished.

Both loves were vastly different. One lasted almost an entire lifetime while the other was more like a lifetime happened in just a few months. One was so tainted and damaged that no amount of time could ever heal and make it beautiful again, while the other had a freshness and energy, a bright light that shined from it that time could never dim. Both loves felt different. One felt more strangulating and slightly exuded obsession, making anxiety the most common emotion felt. The other love was so liberating. We were so bound by our love, so enthralled with one another, yet it was a breath of fresh air. It was easy.

My loves were different yet in other ways similar. I learned so much from each relationship. I learned things that would serve me well for the next one. Like I mentioned before I have dated a lot and one thing I do know, each and every new person that makes it into  my life has been of value to me. Whether today we are in each other’s lives or not, I have learned something to help me out later on down the road and if for only that reason alone, I cherish the time spent together, no matter how good or bad it was.

I look forward to meeting my next love. I feel like it’s definitely going to be IT. I’ve been through all the preparation. I have weeded out the confusion that plagues the minds of people when they become seriously committed to someone early on in life. I have not only had my fun but I have learned many valuable lessons while doing so. I understand life and the real meaning behind it. I can appreciate and love, while also being more aware and mindful, more vulnerable and open, because that’s how you connect with people, by being vulnerable.

Looking back on everything that I have gone through with past relationships I am grateful because although I won’t be going into it with the heart of innocence I’ll be able to see and feel love for what it truly is, with out the games, just its purity.

I sometimes think about my two loves and wonder how it is that they’re doing. You must be thinking that I am probably wishing one luck while I wish for the other misery and unhappiness but that is not me. I wouldn’t ever wish difficulty on another. The way I look at it, him who had broken my spirit to love I wish the treasures of the world for is he not just as broken as I was, or maybe yet even more so? Only hurt people hurt people and I know enough about him to understand his hurt even if he did bury it years ago.

In a world in which the ultimate goal is to find true love and happiness, I can look back on my life and say that Yes I have truly loved. If it weren’t to happen again, which would be a tragedy in my book, at least I have had the opportunity to feel what it was to love someone other than myself, than my family, than even my pets. I have loved a stranger before and it speaks volumes as to the capacity my heart can hold. I wish to discover love again, this time it hanging around longer. This time it being both reciprocated and permanent. Yet I cannot help but wonder, how permanent could love ever be if there is no such thing as forever??

 

 

Looking Within

Its happened to all of us at some point or another. Maybe you were unaware of it happening but it has. We have all had that incident where a friendship (or any sort of relationship) has gone sour. Sometimes both parties just part ways and continue on with their lives. Other times it can get ugly. I always relate it to the maturity level of the people involved.

Just recently, I found out that someone whom I was very close to, has been going around telling people something pretty ugly about my character. Nothing sexual. I almost would have preferred that it were something more of that nature because that I can deal with. This rumor is something a little more cold blooded than that and when I heard it, my heart felt heavy and my soul truly hurt. There’s no feeling like the feeling of having someone spread hateful rumors without you knowing, cutting out the chance of being able to stand up for yourself against the words being spoken. It’s a move that a sneaky little serpent would make, attacking you without your knowledge. A cowardly move at best.

I heard what was being said and after the first couple of hours of being angry and upset, I began to look deep within to see how I may have contributed to the issue. I began taking a look at our history. This person and I had known each other all our lives but only in the last three years have we really began dealing with each other. A certain crisis was what brought us together and from that point on our lives were intertwined. At the time, I was ill aware of how this crisis was going to effect me and everyone else around me. A situation were I thought I knew how to handle things but sadly I was wrong. I had never gone through something so devastating…ever.. and so the way that I ended up dealing with the aftermath wasn’t the way I would now looking back would have handled it. It’s only through experience that we learn and boy did I learn. I abandoned people in their time of need only because I didn’t know how to fix the problem. I would rack my brain, literally stressing myself out trying to find a solution as to how to make things better, but I kept failing. Now I know that it wasn’t my job to fix anything, just being there would have been enough. But suffering from co-dependency, if anyone knows anything about co-dependency, the frustration of not being helpful in a way that I knew how, made me feel like a complete failure, which in turn  lead me to disconnect completely. This was definitely what set this ball of anger and resentment towards me into motion.

If only we all would have talked about it then, when it was all freshly happening, none of us would be feeling the way we are. Instead of communicating, we all ignored the situation probably thinking it would just go away, only letting it secretly fester until it turned into a wound that was unmanageable. By seeing the role that I played in the situation I can understand why this person set out to talk badly about me, because whether or not the rumor being spread is true or not (it’s not), it’s coming from a place of hurt. Only hurt people go around trying to destroy others. Me disconnecting wasn’t intentional but it lead to hurting others, and that in itself is something I take full responsibility for. By taking responsibility it allows me to accept the issue at hand rather than just feel angry and hurt about it. I understand the reasoning and can easily move on. At the end of the day, I know my truth and what I know and think about myself is way more important than anything anyone else could say or think about me.

Can I get mad and upset about the rumors? Of course, but what is that really going to change? Absolutely nothing, that’s what.  I will simply move on accepting all that has happened as it is, another learned life lesson. Maybe one day life will rear its pretty head and we’ll be at a point in our lives that this can be discussed and let go, but I don’t hold too high of hopes. I forgive myself and I’ll forgive others. I’m letting go and letting life….

 

God Damn the Server Life pt.2

When you work in the “biz”… the restaurant “biz” that is.. there’s a LOT of shit one must endure. It’s not just the dickhead customers with their rude behavior and their cheap tipping abilities. Or their dirty faced, grubby fingered, ill mannered kids. It’s not just the working of nights, weekends, and holidays.  At times your co-workers can be the greater enemy.

Now normally when it comes to serving with the enemy, my nemesis always included either the ladies who have been serving since the 60’s. You know, those old ladies with the “smeared on their teeth” lipsticks. The ones that reek of cheap “old lady” perfume and stale cigarette smoke. The ones that sound of stale cigarette smoke calling all the old guys “toots” and everyone else “sweetie”. These ladies are tough cookies who are set, or shall I say stuck, in their ways. They’re the types to see a new girl come in, specifically young new girls, and have this entire vendetta against them, a drawn out plan to get them out. With all reason. I mean, how’s that saying go? “Out with the old. In with the new”? Usually these ladies, once they start to realize that I too am a tough cookie and that I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, become civil, one could even say friendly.

The other nemesis that seems to follow me around are the young girls. Young girls meaning either my age or younger, who seem to think that having no moral compass is the “hip” thing to do. Funny thing is, they seem to really try to have that aura that they’re just too “cool” for me while at the same time I can smell the fact they need my acceptance (as well as everyone else’s) desperately.

It typically takes about two weeks for my amazing personality *wink wink* to win over any one that may be hesitant to befriend me. I’ve been used to it all my life and it’s something I actually find pleasure in. It’s almost like a game to me. “Oh you don’t like me?” Muahahaha “We’ll see how long THAT lasts..”  So anyways, When I began working at the latest “supper club” a few months ago I was sorta shocked to find such an easy going crew. The guys loved me. The girls were awesome. Everyone was funny and helped each other out. It was like working for the Brady Bunch if they would have had their own fucking restaurant. I felt like I lucked out really. Until… <— I mean you had to know that was coming right?… The Chef and I had a bit of an altercation on  Valentine’s Day.

If any of you out there reading this have ever worked in the restaurant industry you know how chef personalities can be. I’m not talking about just regular joe shmoe cooks that work in the kitchens of your regular chain restaurants who basically follow a recipe given to them by the higher up. No. I’m talking about those fine dinning chefs that actually create art with their dishes. They’re the ones who don’t follow recipes the make them. They are the ones when it’s slow at work and you’re just shooting the shit, they are amazing individuals. Big old teddy bears. Then once in the weeds, or god forbid they get a picky customer who tweaks their beloved dish, picking it apart to tiny little pieces, it is like the devil unleashed his wrath upon all who crossed its path. I have lots of experience working with these kinds of personalities. Growing up in South Jersey, I was lucky to have had the opportunity to a lot of job shadowing and internships in the casinos of Atlantic City allowing me to work at some of the top restaurants alongside of the cream of the crop when it came to chefs. With that said, I have never, not once, had an altercation or confrontation with any of them. So when Valentine’s Day 2016 rolled around and I found myself in a boarder line shouting match with this guy.. I was at a loss for words.

On this particular night, it had been busy, but for the most part it had all gone easy breezy. I mean to be honest, I was so focused on the shit I had to do to get through the night, that I hadn’t even realized the night had gone by so quick. Before I knew it, it was 8:30 pm and I was on my last reservation. My last table  consisted of a nerdy couple who were approximately in the early thirties. They were both tall, lanky and wore glasses. He was the type that wore grey knitted socks with is strappy Moses sandals, khaki cargo pants that tied in the front, and a Mr.Rogers sweater. She had a scarf on, even though this is Florida and in February it’s still quite warm out. Her hair was shoulder length and sported big white chunks that curled into her intensely black hair. Intellectuals for sure. They asked a million questions about the menu. He was vegan. She had a gluten allergy. what seemed like hours later they both ordered. They settled on a fruit and cheese plate for their appetizer (he ate the fruit, she had the cheese) and then she got a blackened salmon salad, while he ordered the vegetarian dish. All veggies, no butter, just a plate of veggies. I quickly ring in the order. Then within seconds I hear, “A GODDAMN VEGGIE PLATE?? WHO THE FUCK.. RANG THIS IN…. GET HER IN HERE!!!!!!.” I had been summoned.

I walk into the kitchen and I see Chef just glaring at me. “WHO the fuck orders a vegetarian dish on Valentine’s Day?! I made a wonderful god damn specialty menu for tonight and you allow them to order the FUCKING VEGGIE PLATE?!” he’s throwing dishes and banging pans. I made the mistake of actually going ahead and answering his question. I mean how was I supposed to know it was rhetorical?

“Well Chef, a vegetarian does. Everything you put on the special menu for tonight is either meat or fish and…” I was cut off, almost literally. He points his knife at me and says, “I don’t give a FUCK! Do you even know if they can consume butter???” he asks, again I was stupid. “Yea Chef, he’s vega….” I calmly try to say.”Get the fuck out there!!and ask him!!!If he can have butter!!!! NOW!” I already knew the answer to this one…He’s Vegan. No he can’t consume butter. He specifically gave me the run down when we were talking about the menu, but I left the kitchen, made a loop around the dining room as to pretend I actually went over to ask him, came back in. “Chef, no he can’t have butter.” So he replies with “Goddamn cock suckers!!! WHY ARE THEY COMING OUT TO EAT THEN!!!?? WHAT THE FUCK!!” This time I don’t answer. As I’m walking away I hear him say to the expo guy, “She’s a fucking idiot. What’s this her first day? Why would she let him order that?” Now keep in mind that it’s Valentine’s Day. This couple had to make reservations to have dinner at the supper club that night. The menu that Chef created for the night was NOT the only menu that was available that evening. If people wanted to order from the regular menu, they were allowed to do so. The vegetarian dish is on our regular menu therefore they were allowed to order it. I was pissed. No one had ever talked to me that way and just because he didn’t feel like making it, didn’t mean he was allowed to give me shit for having to place the order for it.

Everything that could have gone wrong with that table did. Their fruit and cheese platter came out 45mins after being ordered when in reality it should have taken no longer than 10 and that was pushing it. Her salmon was over cooked and there were no pine nuts on the salad. His veggie plate looked like a pile of mush. It was obvious that Chef didn’t care about the product that he was serving these “cock suckers” and what bothered me even more was the fact that he didn’t care that ultimately it would reflect on my tip.  Needless to say, I did not get a good tip from this couple and you can tell they left quite unhappy. For the rest of the night, I spoke to no one. I was fuming. My manager that night spoke to me. Word had gotten out on Chef’s behavior and she came to see if I was upset. “Of course I’m upset! Who talks to another human being that way? I did NOTHING wrong and I get shitted on? What the hell?! He’s got issues…major issues.” She basically defended him by saying he had been working long hours and he was tired. She didn’t take into account that I too had worked a long week that week. At this point I had two jobs, I served breakfast from 6:30-3pm and then I would rush over to work 4-10pm at the supper club. Those aren’t easy days, especially as a server. You didn’t see ME snapping at anyone. No one deserves to get reamed just because one is tired or cranky. But whatever. He was the Chef none the less and if it came down to it, they would have definitely taken his side over mine any day. So quiet I stayed yet from that day on I was on the fence of whether or not I would stay working there much longer.

Fast forwarding on to a few nights ago. This night was not very different from any other night. It had been exactly a month from Valentine’s Day. It was a Wednesday which is a lot more quieter than a holiday or weekend day for that matter. The night had gone smoothly. It wasn’t too busy. All of my customers had been friendly and easy-going. I had spent the day joking around with my co-workers. In actuality it was one of the best days I had at the supper since I had started working there in December. It was about 9:30 and finally the restaurant had slowed down. I had one table waiting to finish their dessert and so I began doing my side work for the night. During this time it is customary for servers to make themselves a little salad to eat. It was the only thing we didn’t have to pay for so of course it was routine for us to make one. After a six hour shift of serving hungry customers and delicious food what server wouldn’t? Well here I am rolling silverware. I hadn’t eaten all day but hadn’t noticed until the second my stomach spoke to me. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a small to-go box as I normally would throw my salad in there as to not dirty a plate, and went on to make myself my salad. As I’m adding shredded carrots to the mixed greens, I hear, “I hope that salad that you’re making isn’t for you to take home…That better be for a customer right?” I turn to look and see Chef with a drunken stare  just glaring at me. “No, I’m making it for myself to eat here.” I kinda laugh a little bit for I had no idea what was coming. “Who said you could make a salad?” He raises his voice just a bit. I for some reason think he’s fucking with me so I say, “What do you mean? I can make one if I want to.” I laugh and turn back to finish making my salad. “No YOU CAN’T!” By this point, the bartender had brought him his end of shift beer, which he seemed to have once an hour, but who cares right? I mean he IS Chef. So I turn to him and say, “Yea? and why not?” and that was the trigger that set him off I guess because he slams his precious beer down making most of it spill onto the cutting board, “Because this is MY GOD DAMN KITCHEN THAT’S WHY! I AM THE GOD DAMN CHEF! I SAID SO!!!! WHAT? YOU THINK THIS SHIT IS FUCKING FREE??!!” He is yelling so loud that he’s turning almost purple. His veins are protruding from his neck. Spit is literally foaming in the corners of his mouth. Every server was in the kitchen and every single one of them was standing there wide eyed. They had lucked out, for most of them were about to go on a make a salad too. I guess that day was my day to be the martyr. I stood there frozen. The only thing I said back was, “Since when??! Clara (my boss) has always said that we were allowed to?” “I don’t give a FUCK what she says!! THIS IS MY FUCKING KITCHEN!” I had a million scenarios playing out in my mind for that split second. None of them would have helped the situation any other than allowing me to feel better. At that point Clara, who had been standing there the entire time watching in horror, walks over to me, grabs me by my shoulders, and leads me out into the kitchen. But not before I call out to Chef and when he turns to look, I slowly dump out all the contents of my to-go box in to the trash, just to piss him off. Everyone stayed quiet. No one knew what to do or say. It wasn’t until a few mins later after I come back from cashing out my last table that a few of my fellow servers came by, one by one, to tell me how fucked up that was. Clara had spoken to me saying how disgusted she was with him and to not take it personal. “It’s not you. It’s him.” No shit! She continues on to say, “Have you ever read the Four Agreements?” I want to say yes bitch I have! I read that book my sophomore year of college, of course! but instead I nod because I am just to pissed and drained to say anything. “So then you know about the agreement not to take it personal. Don’t take it personal. He’s had a long week. It wasn’t right what he did but don’t let it get to you…” And with that she walks away to call the owner to let him know what went on.

I went back to rolling my silverware and during that time is when I decided that THAT night was going to be my last night at the supper club. The schedule was up for the entire month but I didn’t care. I refused to be talked to that way. I could care less if I wasn’t the first person this had happened to. I was going to be the first person to actually respect myself enough to not allow to someone to degrade me like that. I didn’t care how much I needed my job, I loved myself more than that. I cherish my peace of mind more than any dollar could give me. From the moment the incident began, I wasn’t taking it personal. I knew I had nothing to do with why he went off on me. But still, I had the right to be upset and I made the conscious decision to never set foot in that place ever again.

I was vocal about it. Whenever anyone came up to me to talk about it, I simply replied, “Hey it’s no problem. I’m just not coming back. Just giving you guys a heads up. You’ll be one man short until Clara gets someone else to work.” It being the middle of our busy season, no one was happy to hear that, yet they all understood. I kept my word and I didn’t return. Its been three days since it happened. Clara sent me a message or two about how sorry she was and how wrong it was for him to have done that. But in all reality I believe that was said just to go through the motions. If any of them really cared they would have at the very least spoken to him. Mike, the owner, would have apologized for what happened. I never heard a word. Not from him and definitely not from Chef. But that’s the god damned server life for you. One thing I know for sure is that this is the Universe’s way of telling me that the supper club was just not right for me. I’ve got bigger and better things heading my way and now I have the available time in order to seize the moment when it comes knocking on my door.

God Damn the Server Life

The frigid mornings I wake up on the days in which I have to work KILL me. I call them “frigid” because there is no other word better to describe them. They’re cold and dark and I shiver as I pull the blankets off of me, even though I live in the sun shiniest state in the U.S. I make sure to set my alarm HOURS before having to go into work because I need my “me” time and it doesn’t matter if I had two days or four days off that week. I can’t seem to find enough “me” time to better prepare myself  to go in to battle.

It is a war out there in the server-life. Between hungry customers ignorant to how the restaurant business actually works, to the incompetent hosts who are usually too young to serve and therefore too dumb to care, and then to the unhappy, unsatisfied, servers who must at every second of their shift put on a facade and switch vibes and characters from table to table to better fit their customer’s needs… One must say we must be insane to work in this type of environment.

Sometimes we luck out and have amazing managers or restaurant owners who make work a little less like “work” but those are too and far in  between and though one may have cool bosses or alright co-workers, a server never really knows what a work shift will bring. It could be a day where it goes smooth like butter. A cake walk one might describe it as. All of your customers are easy going and maybe one could even go as far as saying they’re pleasant. Other days it seems you have waited on every coo-coo that breaths on this planet. Some days you’ll have a barrage of amazing tippers, setting up the trap to disable you from walking away from this job you loath so much. Other days, your self worth dies at every moment you close out a check and realize you have literally slaved yourself for someone else’s pleasure for a measly couple dollars. Cheap fucking bastards.

Many of you may be reading this and are thinking “if you hate it so much why do you do it?! QUIT! Find your true passion! Do what you love!” I say to you, Fuck off. Obviously that’s something to strive for…yet it takes time, no? So until then, am I to not eat? Not maintain a roof over my head or clothes on my back? Am I not to try to finish an education or at least take steps towards achieving my happiness?? Maybe these years of hatred for what I do currently will feed the fire for what I will achieve later on in life. Who knows?! All I know is that I have an opportunity right now to tell it like it is, while also maybe enlighten some people out there. Yes, at times we make good money. Most of the time we are whoring ourselves to our tables, bending over backwards (some may say “over”), eating up all the disrespect you customers dish out, all for a 15- 18% tip…20% if we lucked out.

One myth I would like to bust right here, right now, is the saying, “The customer is always right..” Let me enlighten you folks out there. The customer is not always right. In all honesty, they are hardly ever right. Most of the time we give into your shenanigans because it is easier (and looks better for the restaurant) to take the higher road and walk away peacefully from any sort of confrontation with a customer. The fact that in today’s world with online reviews dictating whether or not a business prospers or fails, one can’t run the risk or arguing or even remotely debating with a customer on whether they are right or wrong. For us people working in the industry, this is the biggest lump of BS we have to swallow, the fact that customers think they’re always right. It’s like saying, “Pedestrians always have the right of way.” Think about it. In a normal situation it is true. There’s someone standing at a cross walk, you yield to them and let them go. Now take someone who is crossing in the middle of a busy intersection, and doesn’t even bother to look both ways, they just walk out in to traffic and assume that because they are a pedestrian all traffic will come to a screeching halt just to let their inconsiderate asses cross. A car hits them… Guess what? You know who gets in trouble?? THE PEDESTRIAN. Each party in any given situation needs to recognize the part they play in whatever altercation or scenario they find themselves in. So let us put this example in a Server-life Vs. Customer prospective.

Scenario #3786- A table sits down. Mom, Dad, their two Kids. In today’s world technology has completely taken over, even those precious family moments that everyone wants to cherish so much. Kid#1 lets say, is a preteen who honestly could care less about spending family time, is on their cell phone checking FB, IG, Tweeting to her Twit friends, they are doing everything possible to stay connected while disconnecting. Kid#2 is a younger sibling who can’t stay still or focused for more than seconds at a time so to keep them calm and quiet are given a tablet in order to keep them occupied. Mom is on the phone speaking to Auntie Sharon telling her all about their awesome vacation, detail to detail, nothing missed, with the exception of telling her how awful of a time she’s having. Dad seems to be the only one focused on settling down and zeroing in on the menu, but in a reality, is back at the office thinking about all the work that needs to get done in order to make the money for next year’s family vacation.  Insert Server Here… “Hey there!! (insert whatever lame introduction they’re told to say..) What can I get for you drink today?!” CRICKETS…

Alright, let’s try this again…

“Can I maybe interest anyone in one of our specialty drinks or maybe you’d like to start with a round of waters while you decide?” Not one person at the table even acknowledges her/him. So now it’s awkward to say the least…

Or we can even switch the scenario and say, Server walks over, “Hey there!…My na….” “We’ll just take some waters with lemons..” says either parent without looking up.

Either scenario has already set the tone for the entire duration for both customer and server. If it’s a seasoned sever they’ll handle it with the utmost professionalism and will slather them in kindness throughout their stay, while inwardly killing them with machetes and machine guns. But for the majority of the servers out there, they will semi-neglect this table and focus on the others who DO treat them like a human being and not some worn out shoes strewn  over a cable wire to be ignored. They will provide this table with the most basic of service which in turn aggravates the customer who sees this server happily and attentively serving other tables around them. Here is where vicious cycle begins because once the the customer becomes aggravated, they will find everything wrong from that point on from the food.. to the atmosphere.. anything and everything will be sub par. They’ll complain to management, which in most cases will fall on deaf ears, for servers are very vocal and would have most likely already mentioned what “douche bags” the people at that table are.  No one likes to be ignored. No one likes rude individuals. So who in their right mind would want to be attentive to such people? People who have proven within the first 15 seconds of interaction don’t care enough about them to even acknowledge them as human beings.

Like I said before, it is a vicious cycle. It’s not just seen in the Server-Life but in all areas of customer service. It’s very difficult to deal with the public especially in an age where values, morals, and respect for one another is almost nonexistent, and technology and disconnect from the real world around you is prominent. If only we took more credit for our own individual actions..owned our “mistakes” or lack of education.. We could all move on, be better people, and make everyone’s life around us just a tee bit better.. and the things we wouldn’t want to do (such as work) could at least be a BIT more enjoyable. There wouldn’t be such a sense of dread when it came to going into work or doing the other countless things in life we may have to do instead of wanting to do.  I mean that’s the way I see it, and for most of whom I speak to.

This is my first official “blog” piece. I’ve been a writer for more than half of my life but today starts a new wave for me and my writing. I will not only speak of my Server-Life.. but of all Life around me, as I see it. My mission is to change an outlook, to give people the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Stay tuned for not only more Server-Life stories, but also stories from the day to day encounters of Life around us, as I see it.

My name is Natal Galvan and I am here to write to you.

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Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Vagabond Tap House, A.C, N.J

If you ever find yourself in Atlantic City, NJ make sure to stop by this place!! AMAZING food and a wonderful selection of craft beers, and let me not forget to mention an incredible sunset view 🙂