Monday, September 25, 2006

Scenes From a Restaurant

I went to a local restaurant the other evening and placed a carryout order. I waited for my order at the counter while enjoying a cup of good stiff coffee – and being that they apparently had to run to Idaho to pick up my husband’s potato, I had the time and opportunity to do some extensive people watching. Mainly the restaurant staff.

It was a fairly busy evening, and there was a lot of hustling going on. With some of the staff anyway. And it was interesting to see the dividing lines.

The older waitresses were really moving. Racing in and out from behind the counter, dropping off orders and picking up plates to be taken to their hungry patrons. While they waited for straggling sides or an order of rolls, they’d help each other with getting condiments or arranging serving trays. They really knew what it took to make things run smoothly.

The younger wait staff was a different story. A clump of half a dozen high school girls congregated around the drink station, chatting about girly things. Occasionally one would wander in and stick an order ticket in the kitchen window, and then would go back to the clump and continue chirping. The older waitresses – the ones with kids to feed and bills to pay, continued their duties with synchronized efficiency.

A young waitress shuffled behind the counter with a clear plastic container of filthy water with a floating rag and said rather loudly, “what should I do with this dirty water?” The sight and very thought if the sloshing mud puddle in a pan so close to the food stations kind of creeped me out. Someone discreetly guided her to a sink where she could dispose of the water. One of the older waitresses looked at another and said under her breath in a mocking tone, gesturing with a wadded up paper placemat, “What do I do with this trash? Throw it out, what do you think?” They chuckled. So did I.

A manager burst through the saloon style doors and had a look around at the goings on. I thought for sure that would get things moving. But the young waitresses continued to chatter without the slightest bit of interest nor effort in assimilating. The manager asked the older waitresses how things were going and told the young ones that some tables needed bussed. A couple of them shuffled off listlessly and the rest continued talking. The manager disappeared back into the kitchen area again, apparently not concerned with the on-the-clock loiterfest.

I worked in the restaurant industry for years as first jobs and while I earned money for college. We worked hard, partly because our managers wouldn’t take any screwing around like that. But mostly we worked hard because that’s what you did. The duties sucked, but we took pride in them, and we had a good time despite it all. Above all we subscribed to the adage, "Many hands make light work". We all pulled our weight, we all helped each other out, and in turn made all our jobs easier. Witnessing the operations at my local restaurant was surreal based on my past work experience.

My potato was finally ready. My waitress (an older one) apologized profusely and offered me a complimentary slice of French silk pie for my troubles. The young waitresses continued talking and hanging out.

I went home, scratching my head.

11 comments:

BigDadGib said...

Great post...
I meet so many servers....oh the stories I could tell.... LOL

Nelly said...

That is how it is in alot of restaurants. All the young ones feel like they are above this line of work, but they need jobs, so they stand around and bullshit while the more experienced ones, like you said, who need to feed their families and pay bills, are busting their asses. I think most people over the age of 30 really work hard and cherish the jobs they have, because in todays world, they are hard to come by. The "youngsters" don't see that yet. Hope you enjoyed your dinner! Happy Monday clewy! See you soon!

Mindless Dribbler said...

Did you take the free slice of pie?

I would have.

These younger kids don't know what "hard work" is and they'll be damned to wait hand and foot on someone else.

Kinda sad...

Hope you enjoyed your weekend buddy :)

Spin_Doc1 said...

I worked at a restuarant when I was young and it was hard work. It is also under valued work.

Itchy said...

I'm afraid to say that this attitude is not only found in the restaurant field. I find it in my own job - the younger people are here to collect a paycheck and find out what the employer will do for them. No over and above. Just...what is in it for me. It's a sad state of affairs...

Rebecca said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I've had terrible service and long waits at many a location, and no one ever offered me a thing for my seeming inconvenience. Must be because I'm on the east coast.... ?

I think there's a lack of mentorship though, in all areas of business - in all industries. I think that alot of these younger employees tend to flounder because no one takes the time to teach them the proper way to do things. I find it here in Program Management quite a bit - and if it happens here with people running million dollar programs - rest assured it's happening at your local restaurants. Not making excuses because no one showed me either - there's a lack of effort/drive - but there's a give and take to everything.

Sam said...

I've done my tour of duty in restauraunts and fast food... kids just don't have the work ethic (though many do, unfortunately they are a minority)

Ocean said...

I've seen this many times before also, in different places. Grocery store for one. The cashier does good to count the right amount of change back after she/he lets my apples and bananas get brusied while leaving them on the black belt roller thing. The bag boy finishes them of when they hit the bottom of the bag. Then has the nerve to ask do you need help taking this out. When you have almost two buggy loads full. Makes ya wanta slap em back into reality. Oops sorry for the rant.

naive-no-more said...

Your blog hates me! I left a comment here earlier this morning (around the time I sent you an email).

I swear, your blog eats a comment at least once a week!

Anna said...

Hey I am back.....new blog!

martie said...

I feel the same way.....so many 'young' people have no work ethics and don't really care what kind of work they put forth as long as they get a paycheck! If we get a really good waitress, we tip her very well! ;)