Monday, June 04, 2007

Done With Restaurants

Two days ago was my last day at my latest restaurant job. After getting fired from GD, and getting hired at another restaurant where I have worked with one of the managers before, I promised myself that this was going to my last restaurant. I put two years of my life into GD and they fired me for something as silly as missing a meeting, I wasn't going to put a whole lot of time and energy into another job that had the potential to do the same thing to me.

I like to compare working in a restaurant to being in an abusive relationship (either friendship or romantic). It has far more bad moments than good, though the good prove slightly that might be worth hanging onto, you don't leave because it's easier to stay, it's more comfortable than the unknown and less scary, you stay in it so long it is all you know anymore, you don't think you could get a better alternative if you tried, makes you feel guilty about leaving, but once you do break free, it's the best feeling in the world!

I knew that my most recent restaurant was going to be my last. I was tired of dealing with customers and employee drama long into my job at GD, so I knew I wasn't going to be very happy at this restaurant. But it was so easy to get hired at another restaurant. Restaurants will hire anyone and everyone, especially if they have lots of other restaurant experience. It's quick and easy cash, relatively, so why work hard to try and get a job where there is a chance they might not hire you when you basically have a guaranteed job that you already know how to do.

For me, restaurants are my comfort zone. I know how to do those jobs already, I don't really need to learn anything new, it's easy and convenient, and it's an evil I'm completely familiar with. Most people would rather have a known evil to an unknown one, and I'm no exception (to a certain point). Since this blog has been about working in restaurant, and as I am no longer a restaurant employee (it took five years, but I'm finally out), I conclude my blog with this final entry. But, when one door closes, another opens. I have started a new blog about summer camp and life after restaurants.

Good night, and good luck. :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

"How to Break Into The Film Business"

I, along with my entire Advanced Film Production class, was assigned to write a three page paper on how I, personally, was going to "break into" the film industry. After a series of guest speakers, who all said the same thing, I became disheartened at the idea of this paper. Most of the speakers touched briefly on the subject and what they did say was the same as the speaker before them. I could say how I was going to do it in a paragraph, maybe two if I really tried. I toyed with the idea of writing a whole paper on how I was going to "work the couch" all the way to the top (and idea that one of my friends also toyed with and said she wasn't actually going to use). But I didn't need my paper to be taken too seriously for it's own good if I did that.

Then Dan gave me the perfect idea! He jokingly said that I should take out the CEO of a film company and break into it that way. *Light Bulb Above Head* Not only did I use his CEO idea, I ran with it and took it over the top. Enjoy! :)

How To Break Into The Business

In this essay I will discuss one of the little known methods of getting into the film business: assassination. To become a good assassin, you need lots of special training, not to mention the willpower to take out the selected target. You will also need to be stealthy so you are not caught, because you cannot run a business or corporation from prison unless you are a drug-lord or the head of a gang.

The first thing you need to do is go to a reputable ninja school. There they will teach you the skills necessary to be a good assassin, or a secret agent at the very least if you get C’s in all of your classes. Be sure and pay attention in stealth and weapons classes, you will need all the information they can teach you later. Next, be sure that you buy lots of black clothing and start wearing it right away. Wearing all of your new black outfits everyday will get you used to the range and mobility that they will give you and black makes almost everyone look super cool.

You should also become a member of the National Evil Flying Monkey Association (or the NEFMA) and start accumulating a variety of evil flying monkeys. This way, going and practicing at the target range with your new evil flying monkeys every weekend will not be considered suspicious. Also, if possible, report a few of your evil flying monkeys as stolen to the police. By doing this, if one of your evil flying monkeys happens to turn up later after a practice run has gone bad, it cannot be attributed to you because you listed that particular evil flying monkey as stolen.

If you have a lot of friends who are Vikings or pirates, get them to help you out with your heist as well. Since both parties are loud and usually clumsy, you can use them for diversions once you get to the film studio of your choice. Vikings are great for making diversions due to their pillaging nature as depicted in the Capital One commercials on television. Their notoriety because of these commercials will aid in their reign of terror once they begin pillaging the studio lot. Pirates are wonderful to have around as well because they can work as a team to capture a building or vehicle. This is especially useful when overtaking the security booth at the front gate of the film studio.

The security booth is the first step in capturing an entire film studio. While the pirates are keeping the security guards busy at the front of the studio, you can send the Vikings in through the back. Once inside the walls, they can overcome any guards who are not busy fighting pirates. Individual Vikings have a tendency to pillage better on their own than with a whole tea. Spread your Vikings out in a fan patter while they are outdoors and send them into buildings one-by-one to achieve the most possible damage.

Once the guards have been sufficiently distracted or captured, you, as a ninja, can begin infiltrating the various buildings on the studio lot in search of the CEO. While you are searching, have any pirates or Vikings who are not busy put potatoes in as many exhaust pipes that they can to create further disarray and confusion. In fat, it would be a good idea if you had a special team just for putting potatoes in exhaust pipes, like a group of computer nerds who wouldn’t be out of places on a film studio lot.

As soon as you find the CEO’s office, release a small puppy, or other adorable animal, in the hallway. Wait for the noise of the puppy to carry into the office and grab the CEO’s attention. The cuteness factor of the puppy will determine how close the CEO will get to it. As a ninja, you have, of course, hidden yourself either on the ceiling above the office door or behind a large ficus. The puppy has also had special ninja training and will lead the CEO right to you while still appearing adorable.

From there, you have two options. You can immediately eliminate the CEO and attempt to take over the studio from there. However, this method is more dangerous and much trickier because everyone at the studio will think “Whoa, who is this guy?!” and probably have a now-battered security guard throw you out. The other option is to inject the CEO with a mind control serum. This way, you can make him hand the company over to you publicly and without any question. The latter method would be better in the long run as you wouldn’t have to go through as much legal red tape and could start green-lighting your movies almost right away.

While the above method for “breaking into the business” may sound good, it is not how I plan on getting a job in the film or video field. I plan on building my resume by helping out with as many student projects as I can, sending out that resume and following up with everyone that I send it to. I will be persistent without being annoying and I will not take a “no” personally and move on to the next potential employer. I will be polite and personable and I will not be discouraged if I have a “dry spell” that lasts for months. My creativity is one of my strongest attributes and I am not afraid to use it as has been shown in this essay. I have every confidence that I will be able to get a job and make a career in the film and video field.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Not At GD Anymore, Still in The Drama...

Tuesday was my 21st birthday. Dan and I had made plans to go to GD Friday (today) because one of the managers is a friend of ours and he said he'd make me a Flaming Bob Marley for me after I turned 21. I was also planning on trying one or two other drinks while we were there for fun and my buddy G said that he'd buy me one of the drinks he likes so he was going to meet us up there.

It's been exactly three weeks today since I was told that I was fired. I've been up once or twice to say hi and visit with the people that I miss. But today was going to be fun because I was 21 and I could have a few drinks, not to mention I was going to hang out with two of my coolest friends while having drinks at a place that I still like to hang out in. Even though they fired me, they still have food that I like, they still have employees that I like, and it's still a cool atmosphere to hang out in, I have no hard feelings towards GD as a restaurant at all. I've been looking forward to tonight for several weeks now. I'd even requested not to work from my current job so I could "go out" tonight.

We've been sitting at our nice little table in the corner for a little while now, when the manager comes over to talk to us (not the first or last time tonight) and mentions that "what's her face up that the door" (K from my last entry) was really pissed at me for something I had put on myspace. He was paraphrasing what she had said (or what he had heard she said) and she claimed that I was saying how she was sleeping with the managers and all this other B.S. We laughed about it and I said that I never said her name, and while I didn't recall my exact wording (it was weeks ago that I had written my previous entry and I'm not in the habit of reading over my stuff again very often), I was pretty sure I never said she slept with anybody. I may have hinted that or indicated it but I never came straight out and said it and I never said her name either.

A little while later (after our cheese fries had come out but before my alcohol), K came over to our table. She said that she had heard about something on my myspace (she's not my friend that's for sure) and said that she had heard that I said she was sleeping with the managers, I was blaming her for getting me fired, she was catching a lot of crap from a lot of people who still work there, and she didn't appreciate my blog at all. 0.0 Excuse me? She goes up to a table and tells PAYING CUSTOMERS that she doesn't appriciate somethign that she's a) never seen herself and b) something that's on somebody's personal page where they're free to put WHATEVER they want? Oh, no, no, no, no. I told her that I had posted a blog about why I wasn't at GD anymore (at which point she interrupted me about not being the reason I got fired) and that I had said I wasn't willing to flirt with the managers to keep my job. At which point she said something else to the effect of what she had said before and left. She didn't really want to hear what I had to say, she just wanted to yell at me and make it clear that she knew about what I had posted and she wanted me to know she was mad.

Well guess what lady?

Not only am I not taking that entry off my page, I'm posting another one. She left before I had a chance to say anything about how I can post whatever I want on MY pages because of something called The Constitution, more specifically, The First Amendment. Secondly, nowhere in my entry did I say that she slept with any of the managers, just that she flirted with them and that she was their little pet and could do whatever she wanted (I know this because I went back and read it just to be sure). Everything that gets said at GD is usually inflated and blown out of proportion, especially when you're not hearing it from the main source. She never actually read my entry herself, she only heard about it because she was catching crap from a lot of people there because of it. She thought that she KNEW what I had said when in reality she was just repeating what had probably gone through several people and been pumped up a little bit along the way. She had no idea what my entry really said and was speaking to me like I had no business saying what had happened that Friday night (and believe me I left A LOT of stuff out) and my side of the story.

She spoke to me like a child, like she did on Friday night, and she didn't want to stick around to hear what I had to say. She was very lucky that Dan didn't lose his temper and let her know what HE thought of her coming over to our table and interrupting our meal. He knew better than to say what he was thinking to her face and the next time the manager stopped by our table, we asked about making a formal complaint. The manager said honestly, just e-mail corporate that way The Beaver's boss will see it too, and that is just what Dan is going to do once I get off his computer, and believe me, I will be posting it for everyone to see.

The only reason I was able to enjoy the rest of our time at GD was because I was having fun with Dan and G and everybody else that stopped by our table to say hi, and the few drinks I did have didn't hurt anything either ;) (I had a Flaming Bob Marley, Stoli Vanilla and Coke, and a Washington Apple, the last one was my favorite followed by the Vanilla and Coke). I was also able to enjoy the rest of our time there because I knew that Dan was going to be writing up a letter to corporate very shortly and that I would have access to a computer and would be able to post how she didn't like my last post. Seriously, if you have a problem with something somebody else posts in a weblog, you need a life, especially if you supposedly know what they're saying isn't true...

Maybe that's why she had a problem with what she thought I put in my blog...


To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to you today because of an incident that happened in your Pasadena branch restaurant on Friday, March 9th. I was taking my fiancée out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. She used to work for your company so all of the servers that were there stopped by and said hello and happy birthday and were really friendly like we have come to expect of GD. Shortly before her termination, my fiancée had a disagreement with another employee. The employee’s name is K and she also stopped by our table but she was very rude and nasty to my fiancée, continuing to carry out this personal disagreement.

Management, before my fiancée’s termination, handled the original disagreement and the reason K came over to our table Friday night was for a blog entry that my fiancée had written to let her friends know why she was not working at your Pasadena location anymore. K had heard about it through second and third parties, she never actually read it for herself and took gossip for gospel. She claimed that my fiancée wrote that she was sleeping with managers and blamed her for being terminated, neither of which is true. She also wanted my fiancée to take it down, even thought she has never read it herself and does know what is actually in it. She never asked to see it, she didn’t calmly ask my fiancée what was in it, she just spouted off how she felt about it and walked away before my fiancée had a chance to explain anything other than “I never said you slept with managers.” My fiancée’s blogs never mention anyone by name, except her and myself, and the entry about the disagreement was no exception. K would have known that if she had actually read the blog.

I spoke with the manager there that night and he said he would see what he could do. He also said that if we were really unhappy we should send a letter to the main corporate office. After some one is no longer a co-worker and is just another guest trying to enjoy their meal, causing a scene in the middle of the restaurant on a busy Friday night is extremely unprofessional. She had no business being at our table, she wasn’t our server, she wasn’t even one of the hostesses that took care of us on the waitlist, and she made it very unpleasant to stay and enjoy our meal. But the manager and the other servers who knew my fiancée apologized for K’s behavior and went out of their way to make the rest of our night enjoyable.

My fiancée and I have been regular guests of the Pasadena GD for years, even before she started working there, because we like the food, the people, and the atmosphere. I don’t want to be forced to call and find out if K is working so we can go to another restaurant (one that we don’t like as much) just to avoid a verbal harassment, but I will if I have to. It would have been one thing if K was professional while she was on the clock and addressed her concern with my fiancée another time, but she did it while she was working and while we were guests and that is unacceptable to me.

Thank you for your time.
Dan Gibson

Monday, February 26, 2007

Office Politics...

Okay, here’s the story. There’s this server, K, who used to work at another GD a while back. She was a hostess there for two years (and then I think she became I server, but I’m not totally sure), but she’s at Glen Burnie now. She’s been there a couple of months now and been working on flirting the managers. Since she started there, she’s tried to improve the servers sidework and stuff but it didn’t work because she is, after all, another server like everybody else. Since she can’t change how the servers run, she moved on to the hostesses. Yeah. She was heard to say, from several reputable sources, “I’m going to come in on my day off to show the hostesses how to do their job.” Or some equally insulting sort of comment. And because she’s now manager’s pet, she is basically allowed to do and say whatever she wants.

The Friday that I went on retreat was her first shift as Bossy Hostess. I got a text message from M that night telling me that she’s horrible and doesn’t know what she’s doing. The following Friday, I’m on the schedule. Before the shift (I worked a volume and she came in a few minutes before 5 while I was on my dinner break), she tried telling me what it was she wanted to do, and I had reason not to do it for everything she said. I kept tripping her up and asking questions, “What about this?” and “Okay, well what about that?” and eventually she didn’t even know what she was saying anymore! She finally just kept saying, “Well, we’ll talk about it at the meeting.” There was a “Mandatory Hostess Meeting” scheduled for the following Sunday in handwriting that didn’t really match any of the managers. Surprising, huh?

So originally K tells me that she’s going to just hang back that night and watch and she doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Yeah. Right. She didn’t hang back at all (otherwise I might still be working). Even though I was “running” the wait list, she was running around checking on tables and counting how many people had menus still and how many tickets were in the window in the kitchen ready to go and telling us how many tables to seat and when to seat them and where to go. We were basically her puppets. We were only there to cater to her ever command. And I do mean “command”. If we even breathed in a way that she didn’t like or before she told us we could, she would be in our faces about it asking why we did that. If we sat a table before she gave us permission, she would come up and rudely ask, “Why did you seat them?” or whatever.

What she was doing that night was not hosting. She didn’t greet any of the guests the way we’re suppose to (or at all for that matter), she didn’t check the bathrooms like she wanted us to do, she didn’t sweep the floor like she mentioned we had to do every hour (yeah right), she didn’t even seat tables when she said to seat the next name on the wait list! If she said to seat a table and I handed her menus, she’d either pass them off to the next hostess or tell me to wait until M or the other hostess got back and have them seat the table. All she was doing was checking menus and tickets. She never explained what she was doing or why she was doing it, she just did. She was suppose to be training us when all she was doing was bossing us around. With the way she was doing it, it was no good because the whole point was for the other hostesses to learn what she was doing so they could do it on nights she’s not hosting. If the other hostesses have no idea what she’s doing or how she’s doing it, how are they suppose to do it when she’s not there?

So the whole night, we’re all giving her attitude, me most of all because I’m the one who’s dealing with her the most (i.e. she’s the one bossing me around the most). She hates that I was giving her attitude. Apparently (I wasn’t conscious of this but I’m glad I was doing it), I was interrupting her a lot, almost every time she said something I would interrupt with a counter-point or I would get defensive. That’s what she said. She interrupted me to say, “Excuse me! Every time I try to say something you interrupt me!”. Haha, talk about hypocritical…At one point, The Beaver (our GM) comes up front to talk to all four of us. Apparently, K had been running back to the managers telling on me every time I did or said something she didn’t like. She’d go back there and whine that I wasn’t listening to her (which would be a lie because I did everything she told me to, I just didn’t do it happily). The phone rang so I answered it. When I got off, all I heard was Beaver telling the three of them that I was running the board and I was in charge, and K’s face was the whitest and unhappier of the three of them (because the other two wanted me to be in charge, not Bossy K) and then he went back into the kitchen. I don’t know what he said before that because I was concentrating on the phone call.

Eventually, M can’t take it anymore and mumbles a name under her breath. It wasn’t directed towards K, but it was definitely meant for her, and somehow, K got wind of it. Either she heard it herself or one of the servers that’s friends with her (one of a few) heard it and told K. K of course told Beaver. Beaver took M back towards Carry-Out to talk to her and then send her home. That leaves me and the other hostess alone with K. Fantastic. The night just gets worse and worse by the minute. K and I are really going at it by this point. I had started writing a note to Beaver telling him that if he didn’t tell K to let me run the board, I was walking out. I was about to have the other hostess give it to him (he was cooking and I wasn’t leaving the front) when things finally boil over. K says something to me about how we have to pace the kitchen (make sure they don’t get too many orders at once).
“I know how to pace the kitchen.” I snap.
“Well then I may as well go home then.” She says.
Just then, another manager, D, (also one she flirts with and complains to) comes up.
“She knows how to pace the kitchen.” She says to the manager, who rolls his eyes.
“I’m going to settle this once and for all.” He says and tells me to come back into the kitchen with him.

He tries to tell me how what we’ve been doing isn’t working (I disagree, plus if they think it’s not working they need to let me train the hostesses, not have the new girls training new girls) and K has this new way of doing things that worked at her restaurant and worked last week, so we’re going to try it. First of all, even if it worked for the kitchen last week, it didn’t work for everybody else. K triple and quadruple seats people whenever she wants and she had guests cussing about her and her methods too! Thank God B (a cool manager) came back at that point and was there for, if anything else, moral support for me. He’s on my side and hates K. I told D that I wasn’t opposed to trying something new, but don’t tell me I’m in charge and then have K walk all over me and tell me when and when not to breathe. I also told them about how K wants to quote people when we’re on a wait. She doesn’t want to give them a time in minutes, she wants to tell them how many people are ahead of them and how many open/dirty tables there are. Want to know why? Because she doesn’t want to give them a quote and be wrong. Easy, it’s called: OVER QUOTE. Not by a lot, but give yourself an extra ten minutes or so to cover your butt. No biggie. People are happy to sit sooner than you tell them. B even agreed with me on that (not to mention that the wait quote covers two questions on the secret shopper list, that’s two she’s missed plus she never did get the door all night so that’s two more right there. She’s already almost failed the shop for the host section!).

B said he’d go talk to K about being bossy (not the wording but you know what I mean). The rest of the night K ran the board and did away with the menu counts (which is basically what I do all night anyway without her…grr…oh well) and I shut my mouth and did exactly what she told me to the letter until I finally got cut. I decided way earlier in the shift that I wasn’t going to the meeting. I’d rather not say anything if I couldn’t say something nice. She had also asked me back before her shift started (when I was tripping her up) not to “say anything” at the meeting. She didn’t want me arguing with her in front of the other hostesses. Oh well, too bad. If I’m going to the meeting, I’m going to give you my opinions as a hostess (and a damn good one at that) and if you’re going to ask me to relinquish my first amendment rights, then I’m going to make a statement by not going period. I told M I wasn’t going and I told the hostesses I worked with the following night (Saturday) that I wasn’t going and why and it was up to them if they wanted to go too. But, before the night was over (Saturday) I showed them K’s method and we even used it for a little while until the managers came up and said to just seat all the open tables don’t worry about the kitchen. So even though I disagreed with K and her “new” methods (they actually weren’t knew, another manager showed them to me back in the day), I still showed the hostesses and explained how to do them, which was more than K could say.

I don’t have to work again until the following Friday, so almost a week later because of my school schedule and some days I had requested off. Thursday, I get a myspace message from one of the servers saying how it was too bad they fired me and how much of a bitch K is. 0.0 Fired? Since when? Not too long after that (and after I had sent a message back saying, “What? Did they fire me without bothering to tell me?”), M called me to tell me that she had called to find out her schedule and the manager she talked to (another awesome manager) said that the hostesses that didn’t show up to the meeting were suspended until further notice. Nobody really knows what’s going on, not even B (who got transferred to Bowie, permanently I think and awfully convenient considering the current office politics) and he knows everything, so I go up Friday after school (but way before my shift was suppose to start). And there, right inside the doorway, is Beaver. He confirms the rumor that I was fired and says that nobody was suspended, everyone who didn’t go was fired. Five hostesses in all were fired, only three actually showed up to the meeting. I stayed calm (no crying or yelling for me, yay!) and told him why I didn’t go to the meeting. He told me that it wasn’t professional or the best way to deal with that, maybe if I had come to the meeting we could have “worked it out” (yeah right). He got me my tips and my paycheck and I was out of there.

The rest of that day I spent filling out online applications and putting my resume up online at Dan’s house. Around 9 or so, I remember that I just about have a guaranteed job with a former boss, no matter what. So I fill out an online application for Applebee’s. There’s not much to it, not even a job history really (just like where did you work and who was your manager), just your availability and stuff like that. After I got home, my dad told me Applebee’s had called around 9:30! I tell my mom the whole story before I give the nut-shell version to my dad as an explanation for Applebee’s calling. Saturday, I go up to Applebee’s to fill out the full application and take a questionnaire. The manager (not my former boss, but nice just the same) who gave me the test told me that she would call later after she was interviewing me. I didn’t get anything back from her (I did have a voice mail at one point that wasn’t anything, so that could have been her), and I waited until Tuesday (you’re suppose to give them a couple of days, Internship class said so). My mom and grandmother were going up that way to get something at The Italian Market and my mom asked if I wanted to come and stop in at Applebee’s to follow up in person (which always looks better). I did.

My former boss met me at the door and asked if I could come back later for orientation. I had the job, no "ifs", "ands", or "buts" about it. I've been there ever since, almost a week later, and can already tell that it's going to be a much better situation than GD, even if it is farther away and I don't know anybody really yet, at least as far as management goes. Yay.