Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ask the management

As we all know, I work part-time as a waitress. In a few short days, I'll also be filling in as a manager.

"Oh, really? Moving into management, huh? Good for you!" people keep telling me, encouragingly.

"No, no, no," I rush to explain. "I'm just filling in for the real managers while they are away in Spain for a week, doing research and development. They're my friends, I'm really just doing this as a favor."

Fact is, moving into management is the last thing I want to do. I don't mind filling in, especially because the managers at Toro work so hard, do such an amazing job, and totally deserve this working vacation. But managing sucks.

First of all, there are all of these little things that you have to take care of starting before service begins at 4 p.m.-ish and continuing well after all of the customers have gone home at midnight or 1 a.m., like making sure the bar has the bank and the IPod by 4:30, dimming the un-labeled lights to the right level lest the restauarant look like an operating room ("Is that the back bar I'm dimming? Or the back hallway? Who knows?"), and making sure the hosts have enough menus and that they all contain the correct, spell-checked, properly priced information. I could write press releases and marketing copy for days, but somehow formatting those menus is beyond me.

Fortunately, all of these rote happen-every-day-type tasks can be easily accounted for - I'm making a list for myself. Plus, if the manager forgets to handle any of these items, the staff is pretty swift to remind you, and it usually sounds something like this:

"Kitty, where are my menus??? It's 5:05! They're still not done yet?" or,
"Hey, manager! Do you have a bank for me tonight? Or am I just going to give the drinks away?"

Then, in addition to handling all of these hateful little tasks, there is all of this other stuff that someone in a management position has to deal with, the problems that come up during service, the seemingly unsolvable things that you have to somehow find a way to fix. Everyone comes to you with them since you are in charge - kitchen, bar, back-waiters, servers. It sounds something like this:

"Kitty, we only have 25 napkins left for the rest of the night and I don't have enough roll-ups to set the dining room," or
"Kitty, we're almost out of bread" at 9 o'clock p.m. when the restaurant is full.

And I haven't even crossed the angry customer bridge yet, where I have to smooth over some awful situation with a pissed-off guest.

"I'm scared," I told one of the managers. "I hope that doesn't happen to me while you're away."

"Oh, it will," she said. "Trust me. And get ready for what people will say to you. I heard someone refer to the general manager as 'that little girl' once."

"No way! I mean, she's short, but that's so...rude. Ugh, I can only imagine what people will say to me. People already treat me like I'm a stupid blonde as a waitress."

"I know. It sucks. But hey, maybe you'll get some good material out of it for your blog!"

Yes, maybe I will. Hopefully it's nothing too good.


Rachel said...

This is Rachel in JP, de-lurking to wish you fortitude, patience, good customers and good luck!

laura said...

I DO NOT envy you! I was a banquet manager at a country club for all of 5 months and then one day I walked off of the job and never returned. I can't even describe the hell on earth that I endured during that time. The only way I could get through the day was to start drinking (vodka, since I thought it would be the least noticed alcohol on my breath) at 10 AM every day. I'm sure you'll do a lot better than me though as you seem to have a lot more experience and self confidence than I did when it was 'my turn'. Maybe you'll love the experience and end up with a whole new career!

Pete G said...

I was in there on Saturday - what a mess!

I kid - the place ran like a well oiled machine, as usual. You must have done something right (or at least stayed out of the way!)