Thursday, May 6, 2010

Absolute power...

I've been wanting to write lately but the words won't come. I want to write about spring, and how every morning the birds outside go wild and wake me up with singing and it reminds me of beauty, so I wake up with the idea of beauty every morning but I'm not going out in it, and I feel sad about that. I wanted to write about my sister on her birthday, but no matter how much I pushed the keys it all came out strange and forced. I will want to write about my mama and my other mother come Mother's Day. It's all off, everything is off. I thought this morning that maybe it is because what I need to write about is what's going on in my daily life, which I don't want to write about, because it is about work, but it is what is swimming around in my head. So please, if you don't want to read about work, feel free to click away.
A few months ago the owner of my restaurant sold out to another restaurant. It all happened very fast and there was little communication involved with the staff. We were told not to worry, that they wanted to keep us on and that we would all have jobs. There was bad blood over the whole thing with the bar manager at the old place, and the bar staff jumped ship rather spectacularly. Their last night open they destroyed the place. They gave away more than they sold, they smashed glasses, they drank straight from taps and bottles. I do not envy the new owners the clean up.
We closed for four days and reopened under the new name and management. Same building, different job. We tread lightly. I likened it to having a foster family- it was nice that they kept us together but we didn't know the rules in this new house, foster mom and foster dad were different and strange, their real kids seemed cocky and didn't know the 'hood. Our regular customers were confused and disgruntled.
After a month and change our front of house manager quit, and I don't blame her, but she did so leaving the schedule unfinished and a snarl of problems that we couldn't even begin to know were there. Five servers and two hostesses were leaving for the summer, we had no new hires and she'd let half the staff request off for graduation weekend.
They asked me to be the new manager.
The new owner explained that she liked the way I am at work, that I'm a good server and I take care of the customers, even if they aren't my tables, that people respect me and that I'm a favorite among the kitchen and front staff. That I have open availability. She wanted me to teach the other servers to be more like me.
It can't be done. The things that make me a good server are not the things that make a good manager. I look after the customers because I cannot stand to see anyone unhappy or needful. I spend every moment when it is busy moving moving moving because even if I do not need to refill my glasses or bus my tables I need the momentum to carry me through the night. I talk to the customers because I am interested in their lives, how they are doing, what they do when they are not sitting there waiting for their food to arrive. I do it because that is what I want to do. To those servers for whom this is only a job they do to have some running around money, it can be almost a painful thing to try to care that much. Most of the restaurant staff in Tallahassee are either drunks or students, and both groups do the job, a rather thankless job at that, only because it has the flexibility to allow them to live their real lives. I do it because I like to walk around with plates and eavesdrop on conversations.
Being the manager is an in between job. I am not the employee, free to bitch and joke about the management. I am not the boss, able to take people's concerns into account and make changes. I get to make the schedule (which no one likes) and walk around saying things like "Don't doodle at the counter" and "Your pants have a hole in them." People come to me and tell me that their paychecks are light, or that the uniforms are too hot for the summer, or that the coffee we carry sucks. I'm told to make the order for drystock (to go containers, tea and coffee, equipment we might need) and I do, and then the orders are cancelled because the owners have those things at home, and then they never bring it in.
The owners have other things going on with their lives, hard things to deal with personally, and that gets in the way and distracts them. I feel for them, but these are not my problems and I do not want these to be my problems. I want to do my job and go home.
We have one more big weekend and then things will smooth out. I have to keep reminding myself of that. This summer, if I hire some good people and get them trained up, will be easy peasy and we can do all the tightening up we need to do. I just have to get there. Until then this job is invading my dreams and causing my face to break out. I've developed a hunger for ice cream that cannot be denied. I'm working way too many hours.
So there. That is what's going on with me. Now that that's out, maybe I'll be able to write. Maybe. I hope.


Mel said...

Oh May, what chaos! Of course they asked you to be the manager, you're smart and you care. It sucks being stuck inbetween. Hopefully you won't lose the parts of the job you love, and you can eavesdrop on conversations from time to time. I hope they gave you a raise to make this worth your while, and your complexion!
I'm having issues with icecream right now and don't have job woes to blame it on. (Breyers slow churned, 1/2 the fat!!) I wallow in the morning birdsongs to start my day, and it helps a bit. Good luck getting through the last big weekend, and I hope you find some staff half as good as you so things go more smoothly. It's not easy being the boss lady, but you'll do a good job because that's who you are, despite your distracted messy bosses. Hope you don't end up managing them too. Leave sticky notes on their keys next time they are supposed to bring something in you need!
If you need to vent about your job some more in your blog until the other stuff comes, I'd be happy to read and commiserate.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

My Dear May May,
I am so sorry (but proud of you) that they hooked you into managing. Boy, what a job!

I hope things shake out and settle down.

You are loved.


honeyluna said...

I'm glad that you wrote about what's been on your mind lately. This is the reason you have your own blog. And I personally want your rants and woes about everything you're feeling, because I'm nosy and I want to know how and what my lovely sister is doing. Silly May, I sure love you.

About the restaurant, I just have to say that they are fucking lucky (flucky?) to have you there. I hope everyone gives you the respect and love that you deserve. You are the best.

I wish I could come work for you, but I do know that you guys need someone more permanent than a summer job type girl. Plus, I've never been a waitress, other than a few shifts at Kitcho and even though I made the big bucks doing it, I don't think I did a great job. I sure tried though.

And I'm still looking forward to my May date. Let me know when you want to hang out. But don't feel guilty if it's no time soon.


Steph(anie) said...

I like flucky :)

I'm glad you did this, and like SB I am proud of you and like Mel I hope you can hang onto the parts of the job you like.

SJ said...

I actually liked getting a glimpse into your life -it aint always rainbows and smiles and sometimes life just speeds up and happens.

I've got work issues right now too....ugh.

Hang in there and keep us posted.

Elizabeth said...

I used to want to write a book about waiter dreams -- do you have those?

I get what you're saying. Being a manager at a restaurant is a thankless job --

Rebecca said...

Yep, the manager job sucks. I remember it all too well.....

Ms. Moon said...

Oh honey. You are always the oil on troubled water. That is what you do and the way you are.
I love you so and don't worry about the ice cream. You must need it. One way or another.
But Lord, I hope you can write again soon.

May said...

Mel- I like the idea about the sticky notes on the keys! (If only they don't lose their keys. I'll be like, "They're over there, underneith that sticky note.") Maybe we can blame the icecream on the weather. I'll have to try the Breyers, I've been eating the store brand. Vanilla. With jam and chocolate syrup mixed in. Dear lord. Did you know they make high fiber jam? That makes it healthy!
Thank you for reading and commiserating. I really appreciate it.

SB- I've been meaning to email you! And I will soon. I just haven't wanted to bitch, and I feel all snarky and bitchy, but I need to know all about you. I love you SO MUCH!

Honeyluna- I too love flucky. I'm pretty flucky to have a sister like you! I'm looking forward to our date as well, maybe we can talk about it on Sunday when we do Mother's Day. As for the job, I'd hire you in a heartbeat. You are smart, pretty, funny, caring, and responsible- experience pales in comparison to all that.

Steph- Thanks Sweetie. I hope so too. We'll see. If it really stays sucksville I can demote myself.

SJ- You've been a traveling woman! You must be exhausted. I need to comment but I have been popping over and checking on you. Do you ever get too tired to comment? Sometimes I read blogs sideways I'm so tired. I love you.

Elizabeth- The book about waiter dreams? Yes. Sometimes I dream that I live there and I've just wandered downstairs to get something and I end up serving in my pajamas or in a towel. Fun times.

Rebecca- Thank you for the camaraderie. Sometimes it just makes you feel better to hear someone say "I know what you mean and you are not crazy."

Mama- I hope I can write again soon too! My brain is just tired, like my feet. Sometimes I think the feet and the brain are a lot more connected than we think. It was nice talking to you today, and I can't wait until Sunday when I can just love you up.

SJ said...

As long as you're reading, I am a-ok :)

I am HOME (well, in DC) for the rest of the month! And then I go to my old Kentucky home for memorial day.

Healthcare reform is kicking my ass at's a long, long story :)

I sure do love you.

Mwa said...

That sounds like too much stress by far. Try to get out and see some of that Spring, eh? It just might help.

Petit fleur said...

Hey Sugar Pop,

Man o MAN!! I've worked a LOT of restaurants and bars in my day, but I have never heard a tale like the one you described about the bartenders' exodus. Damn! That's some drama fo yo momma!

I had a similar management dilemma when I was at Finale's. You are right, you don't get to be both, a peer with your worker friends and the one who manages... maybe there is an in between option though.. What if you agreed to step in as a "head wait" until they found a proper front of the house person? And also offer to train said person and all for a bump in hourly and the schedule of your choice?? Also, you can still keep your wait shifts. That is the way they used to do it at Cabos, and it might just work for a temporary fix.

Anyway, I don't envy you being in the position that you are. But I will say this, it is getting to be summer quickly and the ice cream is not such a bad thing thing to crave. In fact, I'll even join you!

Hang in there.
Much love,
pf ps what's your favorite flavor? Mine is hands down pistachio. (Not that weak ass pistachio/almond though... the real thing.) xoxo me

Petit fleur said...

PPS... As manager, you can still eves drop, help with bussing and running food... also, you get the perk of being able to comp stuff. This can be a dangerous perk, but if anyone can handle it with temperance and grace, it's you.

Jo said...

Ah, May. My husband is also a manager, and would recognise all this. The trials of a job that is stressful an boring. The worst mix.

You don't hear college calling, by any chance? Or some sort of retraining? Or even... a new waitressing job...?

I know it's hard. But this one just doesn't sound worth the mind fatigue and stress it's causing.

But either way, at least you see the problems. Keep talking to the half assed owners. Give them post it note lists every day!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

You can bitch to me anytime. I love you MORE!


Anonymous said...

you seem like a straight shooter with upper management potential. Short spikey hair is required, and a polyester vest, maybe a fanny pack with extra pens.