Monday, November 10, 2014

A Coin Has Two Sides

For the past couple of weeks I've gone back to working six days. Finally getting my car, buying the tag for it ($474) paying a house note and other bills piling up zapped me of all my current funds. It's the slow season at the airport and although is starting to pick up never turn down an opportunity for more money. Last week I worked for another server, this week I worked for one of the food runners.

Number one, how on earth did I manage to work so many days in a row before ? Number two, I'm glad I somehow did.

When I told the food runner I would work for her, she looked at me like I was crazy(er). Needless to say I guess she doesn't get that offer often from servers.

We easily make over four times what they do but to me, money is money. I could take my second day off and be flat broke or pick up the shift and have maybe a hundred in tip out money and over fifty more bucks on my paycheck from the pay rate for runners.

I chose the money. Not to brag but am a pretty decent food runner, even when working as a server. If I hear one of the chefs call for a food runner I always go to the expo window to run food. Even if you're busy, what's sixty seconds to help out the entire team? Your own table's food may be backed up behind the food they are trying to expedite.

When the restaurant closed I started to leave and just get my tip out the next day. A fellow server told me to wait and collect. She said they would leave me more if they had to hand it to me their self. (Thanks Lucy, my "Phat"est tipper outer)

They were all kind to me. Of course they should have.  Not only did I run their food but as a server could greet tables for them, take or put in orders if they needed, open wine if they needed and knew how to get everything the customer needed. It was fun and stress free for me. I even learned some new things about a few different dishes from the chefs. All I had to do was drop and describe each dish, ask if they needed anything, get it if they did, smile, tell them to enjoy and walk away.

Here's my thing. This is a great place, best job I've ever had. I don't mind sharing the wealth. The server assistant was standing next to me waiting for her tip out as well and said to me "See what I put up with every night?" I kinda felt like a beggar too, especially also being a trained brain surgeon/server myself.

I told her as matter of fact I did and she needed to read the blog I did about it a while back.

Yes the SA is a young kid and making good money for her age and efforts but us servers and bartenders are pretty much banking big and a large part of that has to do with SA's busing and resetting tables while the runners make sure their food gets to the table when they can't.


Help the ones who are helping you.

I don't think it's intentional but to me kinda seems like a snub to SA's and food runners. I know it's the slow season and money's tight, but soon it won't be. Meanwhile they are still busing, resetting and running food to your tables every night. Do you not think they see what it says on the checks and charge slips?

Trust me, they notice.

Share the wealth. I know there are always extenuating circumstances, but for Pete's sake help a brother out!

As broke as I was when I first started there have never snubbed on a tip out. It's like making them take a cut in pay but still expect them to do the same job for less money.

I remember my first really great customer. It was the late seventies and was working at the Scotch House near the airport.

The first day they gave me a table chart to learn the table numbers. There was one small two top table on the chart but instead of a number had "Ray" written in the square.

I soon found out what that meant. It was for Ray Coleman, who sat there several days or nights a week reading and sipping Johnny Walker Black. He was an air traffic controller who rode a ten speed bike about half a mile to and from his job each day and wherever else right around the airport he wanted to go. He was probably around forty, single, extremely intelligent, very quiet and an outrageously great tipper. I got to know him and would sometimes sit with him after work talking. I remember shortly after starting there around this time of year bought a boxer pup. For Christmas Ray gave me a small envelope with three hundred dollar bills in it.  No card, just written on the outside in his tiny scrawl said "For pup food".

Back in the late seventies $300 was a whole lotta cash.

He was just a guy who lived alone, had no relatives even remotely close by, made great money (ATC used to bank big back then) smoked like a house fire and drank like Otis Campbell when he was off.

He simply wanted to sit in peace, talk when he wanted to and be left alone when he didn't. He knew about pretty much anything you could think of and was a fascinating person to know.

I saw him on the curb one day going from work. Some car had run him off the rode and had a flat. We tossed the bike in the back of my little Nissan truck and drove him the quarter mile down the road to his apartment.

This was after knowing him for several years and by this time had started my fourteen year career with Johnny's Pizza, also in the same area.

We pulled in front of his place, his knees were both bleeding terribly and told him to go inside to take care of them and I would bring his bike. His place was just as fascinating. Every counter and shelf was filled with books, even cabinets meant for groceries or dishes. The dude was a reader.

He also came into Johnny's to take a veggie sub home several times a week. The sub costs around three bucks with tax and would always pay with three twenty's. The change was yours.

I met Tim at Johnny's a few years later and after dating a while Ray offered to take us both to dinner at Steak & Ale up the street.

We had a great time and was always a pleasure talking to Ray. I still have two books he gave me. One is on mythology and the other on nursing. He always thought I'd make a good nurse.

I thought about Ray last night. It's starting to get colder out and have been wearing my vintage Harley biker jacket to work. It's my favorite jacket of all time, I've had it for thirty four years. I bought it for twenty bucks when working at Johnny's in the early eighties from a guy who bought it for his recently discovered cheating girl friend, broke up with her and took the jacket back. It fits me like a glove and soft as a baby's butt. It looked awesome back then and only improved with age. The parking decks and MARTA station are getting so windy decided to get a scarf out to wear as well.

I went in my recently cleaned closet and found a scarf Ray had given me another Christmas. It's a beautiful 100% silk  and 100% wool lined scarf made in Italy.

Thirty odd years later still looks great.

When Tim and I got married, Ray gave us both matching 100% silk gold and burgundy kimonos from Japan. I still have mine. Maybe I am  a hoarder?

Ray died a couple of years later. His liver probably exploded when hacking after that one last cigarette but hey, it was his life. He lived it the way that made him happy.

I went to his funeral. There were servers from all up and down Virginia Avenue there. (Virginia Avenue is the road all these places were located)

There were probably about twenty different servers there. There was one relative of his there... a sister from somewhere up north.

I think that's when I changed from thinking I had a job to thinking had found MY career.

There are people who go out and simply want to feel a connection. They want to feel like they are at home with you and you are happy they chose your house to visit.

They want to experience joy.

This is going to sound hokey to those who have never been a server but feel like I have come full circle with this new job.

Being an ole timer, a granny and old school "Waitress" was blown away by this new company's Vision Statement. After thirty five years of "Just waiting Tables" somebody finally got it.

And I quote.

"To passionately move people and provide the opportunity to experience joy."

really like

"We must practice honesty and sincerity; by doing so, we honor the diversity in people and are respectful of others in our interactions."

I think the one that sealed the deal, made me realize I had found my new home was

"We must be philanthropic by sharing our time, knowledge, experience and, when necessary, our money. By taking ownership and being self accountable, we will perpetuate goodwill with the  people with whom we interact and the communities in which we operate."

You dang Skippy!!

Call me an idiot, you won't be the first or last but these kind of statements mean a lot to me. They speak to me. They validate my chosen profession, no... career choice.

Maybe it's not brain surgery. Maybe it's not for you. That's fine too. Different strokes for different folks.

Variety is the spice of life. It takes all colors to make a rainbow. I feel like my job has every spice and every color. It's just my cup of tea.

But that's just me.

If you want to be happy in life, find your cup of tea and enjoy it.

Til next time....A waitress and proud of it.


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