Sunday, December 19, 2004

Working Towards Holidays, and an intro to Flying Dog

So, I'm kinda losing my mind. I finished exams and that was a huge load off my back. Now I have to catch up on everything I've been neglecting. Bills, plans, getting back to chiropractors about missed appointments, missed sleep, finding travel arrangements for a foreigner who's coming to visit.

Let's talk about work last night. I want to introduce you to the staff so that you have an idea of what it's like.
the Flying Dog

Wanda kinda runs the place. She used to do it with Michelle, but she fired Michelle last week. No one talks about it. She's probably 50, has a kid, smokes, looks stern most of the time and when she's being serious about a serious matter she rather exaggerates. Generally she's friendly, and she likes me so she's never stepped up and put me in my combat stance. Her eyebrows go high and she says things like "ok guys, I've really gotta tell you something: this has got to be fast. I've got a party of 70 coming in and they'll have and hour to have dinner, dessert and coffee, and then the switch has to be instantaneous!! I need those bread cones like NOW!!!" I don't take it seriously, but I see how it's effective because it sends some waitresses into overdrive. She was in marketing working for Woolco, before she "fell into the restaurant business" in her own words.

The waitresses that work at the Flying Dog are all drama queens. There's Mary, who is the most senior worker. She's 20, actually knows how stuff runs, but is a little selfish and apathetic about the system. I onced asked her why the turnover rate is so high at the dog, why no one works there very long. She rolled her eyes and said "you'll see". She's "Mary, quite contrary." A lot of waitresses have little cat fights with her, but she's less catty then them so she usually prevails. It's true, she doesn't really gossip, and she "tells it like it is." The thing is that she's a quick and sly little information chain. But, it's easy to please her if you just work your ass off for her, then she smiles and gives you a pouty face and ASKS you if you have a second instead of telling others that you don't work at all.

Then there's a whole bunch of new waitresses. Girls who think the most important thing about themselves is to be the most important thing about themselves, which is fine, for them. Joanne actually is very nice and always says hi and doesn't get all frazzled when things aren't all working in her favour. She cooperates. Meaghan is a doll too. She hates working there, but she walked up to me personally last night and handed me a $20 and said "thanks for helping us out with the tables." It was really just dessert plates, and some wiping, but hey, thank YOU!

How communication always works within hospitality is that if someone's pissed about something, they'll wait til the problem walks away and then spread rumours and complain about the person behind their back. It's always like this in the restaurant business no?

In the kitchen: there is a cook who always sings heavy metal songs. Just the other day he was singing the Korn version of the George Micheals song "Faith". He actually has a pretty good voice. He likes to joke and put ice cubes down people's pants when they're not looking and that general tom foolery. He told someone yesterday after producing some incoherent Snoop-speak like "the dogs they flizzah,...for shizzle etc" that he doesn't know what he just said but he sure as hell meant it. I agree with that. There's another cook who always stutters but is also one of the fastest talkers. How does that work? They call him 'Binkie'. Jayson makes me nachos when I need them. He does his own thing and tells people where to go but once in a while he'll walk up beside me, look out at the crowd and say: "that milf is fucking hot" and I'll find one that matches the statement and concur.

There's Timmy the dishwasher, a short plump balding man who is a fairly nice fellow but rather slow. He is always saying "Dude" this and "dude" that, and it's produced in a sigh, so that it's like "Duuuuuuuuuddde, I just washed those, can you put them over there? Dude, can I ask you a favour? Do you wanna take the garbage out for me again? Thanks dude." Now the word "dude" is growing at an infectious rate all over work. I'll come back to the kitchen and see a mountain of plates and Timmy is lost in the moment talking to himself. It'll take a couple minutes before he registers to me yelling "Tall glasses are full!!!" and often I just do it, unless the short Indian dishwasher who always coaches and is the saviour of Timmy's dishwashing career for her direction: "no, those don't go there, first stack that, yeah, no, we still have to put those through before 9..." She comes to my side and changes them for him. She needs to be handed the rack because she's so short, but she's a tough one, a consistent and persistent worker. When you make a joke, she looks up through her thick glasses and smiles. What goes straight over Timmy's head, she catches, even though she's so much shorter. When I yell at Timmy, he'll wait for a couple minutes, then all of a sudden remember what you've said, though the cheese he's scraping involves more attention, then say "which ones was it? Did you say tall or small?"

Nathan just quit last night. He was a good waiter. I remember last week I admired him so much because of how he handled an irrate customer who was displeased that the tables weren't ready for him right on time, especially when he had made reservations in July. Nathan asked him who he was so that he could check the bookings but this man would not cooperate: "It doesn't matter who I am, I'm the one who's paying the bill!" Eventually, Nathan took the reins and told him to shut the fuck up and sit down or else he's not going to be served at all. That's the kind of guy Nathan is. When push comes to shove, Nathan is the man. He also always stays and drinks and dances it up at the restaurant after his shift. He's from Australia and seems very intellegent, articulate, and gay but yet talks about missing the Australian girls. There are lots of faghags at the restaurant, so maybe he means friends.

The other bus boys are all friendly, more serene chaps. They do their work, hate the customers, hate it even more when the customers don't move because all night you are carrying a box over your head nudging with your shoulder to pass through the crowds. Who wouldn't also hate that some customers like to suck on their ice until the last drop is consumed, so you never know who's going to freak out at you for clearing their glass. We do all the dirty work: pick up broken glass, fix the toilets, wipe tables, get accused of taking drinks by swindling customers etc: "it has to be bone dry before you touch it" well, we don't have all night to wait for evaporation. They just take it like men and work hard. There's Tyler, who goes to Conestoga too in Arts and Sciences. A younger fellow Menno who's nice to talk to. Unfortunately, yesterday he was hospitalized because a customer apparently punched him several times in the head.

There's Jason, another fellow Menno, had met him previously because he was dating my cousin and always came for Christmas. Now he's married and has a kid with another woman and works in real estate but also works at the dog part-time because he's an insomniac and it's just a job to get away. Those are good reasons.

Andy is the supervisor and has meetings at the end of the night. He always gives thanks where it is due and addresses problems very aptly. When someone asked whether Tyler fought back when that guy called "Cuba" who used to work at Revolution (the other half of the restaurant, it's a cluB) punched him, Andy said "I will not comment on that, I'll leave it up to Tyler" then the person who asked said, "yeah, I respect that, I was just wondering". Excellent PR.

The customers are usually middle aged business people -the people who work at the Research In Motion's and Manulife's and MDG etc. They all dress very well and the older women still look very good because they take good care of themselves, dress well, goto etheticians or are plastic surgeons themselves. There are a few regulars, who are generally good. It's the big groups of guys that piss me off most. They get into a mood where they just want to be an asshole. I think any guy can possibly relate to this. I've felt it before. I try not to indulge in it too much.

So I was having a bit of a crappy night last night, I worked about 24 hours in the last 48, so I was burnt out. I had to squeeze a lot last night, but then the funny thing that happened was that at 12 I noticed my shirt felt strange. On my back I found a sticker that had an arrow pointing upwards. In the arrow it said "this barmaid shags customers." Oh boy, was my face red! I wonder how long it had been there. So you see, there must be at least one really tricky customer out there who wanted to intentially shame me. Cheers to you! "barmaid"!!! Ha! well, anyways, that gives you a little better idea of the Flying Dog, where gargoyles abound and you must always watch your back.

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