Friday, September 26, 2008

Training Day

At the beginning of summer, management hired two new girls to replace the one they fired. I was excited because this meant I would have two people to possibly cover shifts. Maybe I could really take that vacation I had been wanting.

Both girls seemed nice and were eager to get on the floor on their own. Being a small place, Sports Bar doesn’t require weeks of training. The length of time you train depends solely on your trainer’s opinion on how you’re doing.

The first server to be hired worked one shift on her own. The next morning she called and quit. The second server, we’ll call her Elle because I honestly can’t remember her name, made it through training.

Elle’s first day of training was a Friday night. Because we were short staffed I went from working Monday through Friday lunches to an added Tuesday, Friday, and every other Thursday closing shift. This week I had worked Thursday so I was on my third double of the week.

Elle came in at 2 to fill out an application. After learning of her extensive experience at popular bars in the city they hired her on the spot.

Elle was told to come back at 7 that evening but she comes in at 6:30. I am beginning the transition from cocktailing for the after work crowd to dinner with families and couples. I am bouncing from the dining room to the bar and out to the patio. When I see Elle I smile and tell her to hang out by the bar and I’ll be over to show her around as soon as I have a second. By 7:15 I have given her the tour and warned her that things get crazy on Friday nights. “Just stick by me and watch what I’m doing. Since you have experience all you need to learn is the computers and the customers. Most of them are regulars on the bar side. You’ll get to know them. The dinner crowd can get hectic.”

She agrees to stick by me but after about 45 minutes I lose her to a conversation at one of my tables.

I have 5 tables on the patio, 6 in the dining room (including a party of 7), and 5 cocktail tables remain in the bar area. I have no time to try and steal Elle away from the table until I go out to the patio again.

I finally grab her attention and tell her again to just stick by me. By 9 she starts to help me. I have her getting drinks and running food to tables to become familiar with the table numbers and menu items. I am tripping over and running into her at every turn. I can’t work like this!

“Elle, why don’t you play around on the computer for a while. Get to know the mod screens and let mw know if you have any questions.”

Free, I make it through the rest of dinner without a problem. When one of my last tables closes out and I look around, Elle is nowhere to be found. I finally locate her talking to customers at the bar. I cut her and tell her to come back tomorrow to finish training.

The next night Elle beats me to work. There are 5 softball teams sitting at tables so we have to jump right in. After all the customers are settled and have their food our first dinner table walks in.

“Do you want to try taking that table?”

“Yes!” Elle replies with such enthusiasm I am filled with hope that her performance will be good and her training will end tonight.

Elle takes about a third of the tables that walk in for dinner, roughly 4 tables. I take the rest and keep an eye on her from a distance while she serves. She seems awkward and stiff at the tables. I’m not seeing even echoes of the experience she says she has, but maybe it’s just because the setting is unfamiliar. When tables leave I walk by and scoop up the tips left on the tables. I am keeping her tips separate from my own so I can give her a portion before she leaves. When she notices me taking the tips she approaches me.

“Am I supposed to be giving you the tips I make?”

“Uh, yeah. I’ll give you some at the end of the night but since you’re still in training you don’t make tips.”

“Well that doesn’t seem fair!” She says with more attitude than I was prepared for.

I can feel my blood pressure rise. I can’t believe the path this conversation is about to take.

What doesn’t seem fair?” I ask with a little edge of my own.

Where did this girl work? I have never worked at a place that allowed you to keep tips when you were in training. Getting anything at the end of the night was lucky and meant you had a nice trainer. Who is this girl?

“Nothing. I just…I’m doing all the work and you’re taking my money?” She stares at me hard. Her face full of disbelief and anger.

“When you’re in training you don’t make tips. Since you are using my server number I have to claim taxes on all your sales. Plus you are making minimum wage while I am making my regular hourly. You don’t make tips on training.”

“Whatever.” She says as she slams the money from her pocket on the counter. I turn around and grab food that has come up in the window. I don’t have time for this.

When I come back from delivering the food the money is gone. An hour later she asks if she can go home and hands me a wad of cash. I count out some money and hand it back to her. I let her go home but tell her to call on Monday to get her schedule.

She never calls. I’m a little relieved though. She didn’t seem like she had any experience in a restaurant.

Guess I’ll have to keep working all those doubles and not take a vacation.

2 comments:

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Lone Waitress....You and I seem to have started our blogs at the same time.Would you mind if I added you to my blog roll.And mine to yours.
I have been a lone waiter before too in a few places so I can relate.

Lone Waitress said...

Sure thing!