For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Life's left turns.

For those patient enough to keep checking the blog, I'm sure you've noticed I haven't been posting much lately. Real life has been getting in the way of my virtual one. ;-) We had some computer troubles that took us about a week to clear up - a few trojans, some other malware, spyware and the like. I happily recommend STOPzilla. It did a great job of finding and clearing out the infections.

By the time we got the computer fixed, I'd fallen so far behind on stuff, it just got harder and harder to catch up. Add to that, I've got a job again. I'll only give 4 evenings a week and refuse to budge beyond those days and times. The last time I got a part time job, I found myself working almost full time hours. That just doesn't work for us. Sure, the extra money was nice, but it really messed with the family life.

So I'm now working as a banquet server. I get to wear a wing-tip tuxedo shirt and bowtie as part of my uniform. It's been interesting, so far. Although I'm available 4 nights a week, that doesn't mean I'll get them. My first week, I had 3 shifts. Then 1 shift in the second week, then none at all in the 3rd. I think I simply called too late to get shifts, since it's basically first called, first served. I made a point of calling earlier, and it got me 3 shifts this week and 3 more next. So that works out.

Although I start at 6pm (they're very flexible about that), I have no real idea of when I'll finish. It depends on the event. Some shifts, I'm out before midnight. Last night, I didn't get out until past 2am! I was working a fancy reception (white gloves and everything) that was supposed to be finished at midnight. After that, we had to tear things down, then set up things in preparation for the next day's reception. There weren't a lot of people - no more than about 50 at a time, when we were expecting twice that - and they were quite comfortable indulging at the bar (drinks were covered by the organizers) and having Finnish vodka shot toasts in between nibbling at the bacon wrapped prawns, fist sized chocolate covered strawberries, baked brie and oodles of hot and cold appetizers and desserts. A core group of had people settled in, and I'm sure they would've been quite happy to stay there all night, except the bar had to be closed.

I really felt for the bartender. There were 2 at first, but as the evening wore on, various staff had to leave. Most of them have second jobs to go to, or school, in some cases. I was the only banquet staff member that could stay with the supervisor until the end. The banquet staff could at least go into the back when things got slow and sit for a bit. The guy behind the bar had to stay there. He couldn't sit down anywhere. The best he could manage was to lean against either the table of glasses behind him, or on the counter in front. At one point, shortly after midnight, I came out to make another round and see if anything needed to be cleared away, and I saw him hunched over the counter, barely visible. So I quietly stand at the corner of the bar and start talking to him, joking about how it seemed like he was hiding. He sheepishly mumbled something, seeming a bit embarrassed. Taking a look in front of him, I realized what he'd been doing. The poor guy was so bored, he was playing with an ice cube, poking it back and forth on his work surface. *L*

The last group of guests left at about 12:30am. As soon as we were gone, my supervisor and I started tearing things down and removing all the leftover food. There was so much of it! Most of it gets left for the night staff (this place is open 24 hours, since even if there's no event going on, there's still need for staff to clean or set up for the day) to eat during their shifts. What doesn't get eaten has to be thrown out. I was asking the supervisor about it and she told me they'd sometimes call a local food bank or shelter to take leftover food, but even after getting the kitchen staff to pack things up for them, they'll turn pretty much all of it down. :-/ What a waste. My supervisor told me what we saw today isn't anywhere near as much as she's seen before - some events end up with over 90% waste! As someone quite familiar with hunger and poverty growing up, it bothers her that so much food has to be thrown away.

By the time everything was set up, cleaned up and taken away, I'd been there for over 8 hours. Since, technically, I should've had another half hour break, the supervisor simply signed me out later. Even after my husband came and drove me home, I was still being paid. *L* My place of employment isn't that far way - I've made the walk many times before - but by then end of a shift, my legs are in just too much pain for me to hobble home.

It's kind of funny, really. Even though I haven't had very many shifts, I've already had a lot of my co-workers commenting on how I'm constantly on the go and need to slow down. My supervisors keep telling me to sit down when I can. When I'm on the floor, I'm always walking around, checking things. I have a job to do and I like to do it as best I can. It helps that I really enjoy dealing personally with the clients and guests. There's another side to it, though. With my arthritis, I have to keep a balance. If I'm up, I have to be moving around, because standing in one place for too long starts to hurt. If I sit for too long, my feet start to stiffen up, making those first few steps excruciating, so I make sure I'm up and walking again before that happens. It occurred to me that I've got all these people who think I work too hard or something, when really, I'm just trying to avoid pain! *L*


  1. Do you ever get tips in this kind of serving?

    WCRX-LP editorial collective

  2. It depends on the event. I worked one event where I was taking cash and buying drink tickets for people, then getting their drinks for them in between keeping the tables clear. For something like that, guests usually tell the server to keep the change. With a beer costing $4.75, that left me with a lot of quarters. *L*

    Other than that, we simply don't deal with cash. For a plated banquet, I would be one of dozens (or like a more recent fancy dinner, one of a hundred) servers. Tipping just doesn't happen, which is why gratuities are built into the cost of the event. The gratuities are a percentage of the event costs, which are then divided among the staff that worked it.

    Where I've been getting cash tips have been in small receptions, where we interact more closely and personally with the guests. Normally, tipping just doesn't happen with these, either. So having someone slip me a tip is really surprising.

  3. And the $20 in the "Ordered chaos" Long answer. Wow. Thanks.

    Wcrx-lp editorial collective.


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