Saturday, October 17, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
You look up at the clock on the wall and it reads 8:30.
You quickly do the math internally (because your so smart you don't need a calculator)...8:30 + 10 minute commute + 12 minute order time = 8:52. YES UNDER 9:00! "Get in the car hun."
HOLD ON THERE PYTHAGORAS! Your math does not include the implied restaurant formula of immediately add 20 minutes onto said starting time. This means it is really 8:50 when your starting out. The implied formula is put into place for the simple fact that restaurant employees have places to go to as well. GASP, I know.
Bottom line is- You should stay.
Your arrive at the bar at 8:30 in the same situation as aforementioned. You nurse your delicious house wine and flirt with the girl that eventually will spend all your money and leave you in the gutter with poop pants and an alcohol problem, and quickly the clock says 8:57.
"We are ready to go to our table now", you mutter because you just can't wait to pick the cheapest thing on the menu that will take 20 minutes to cook only to send it back and have it cooked again, so you can lose yourself in the eyes of the girl your sure will produce a beautiful family that your mother will be proud of, and she can return the gaze into the eyes of her free meal ticket.
NO, NO, NO CHIEF! Wrong move-Nobody wants to watch you slip into oblivion when they know that there is an angry spouse waiting for them to get home to help with the kid or a cocktail waiting for them at the local watering hole that stays OPEN way past 9 on Sunday. (You know-the place you should have gone to in the first place.)
Bottom line is- You should go.
Listen. I'm not saying that most places won't be happy, even ecstatic to have a table that has been in the dining room for a while enjoy their meal well past the closing hour, or even take a late reservation as long if it is understood that you area aware of how late it is and you audibly profess how appreciative you are and how you will eat fast.
The "go-to" formula for added insulation against server angst is tip healthier than normal.
And if you must come in 10 minutes before service ends and stay for 2 hours the "go-to" formula is that before you exit the building, take a short walk around the restaurant and hand $100 bills to the kitchen staff, the manager, the bartender, and the bussboy-all of whom you have force to make phone calls to the people they promised they would be "there" by 9:30.
You would have to pay a prostitute for screwing them, why should we be any different?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Of course I did not trust that any person could be so blindly angry about medium rare instead of medium, so I proceeded to investigate.
"Good evening sir, I understand that we undercooked your wives steak."
"Where the hell is my free wine?" (whatever happened to hello?)
Wow-this guys for real. I am like a deer in the headlights, but then I remember, I have had a really bad month. A month of repression and emotion. A month of should I work, or should I stay home. The bottom line is "bring it on asshole, I have been waiting for you for a month!"
"We are working right now to correct our problem in the kitchen, and I would be happy to bring your wife a nice glass wine while she waits the unthinkable 4 minutes that this will take, however; I will be bringing her a glass of the Souverain (@ $8.00)".
Like a short fuse on a powder keg, the high strung man erupts. "Bla Bla, save a few bucks on me will you, Bla Bla" "Arg Arg, Leave my table, Arg Arg". He is so spitting mad that he is having a hard time creating sentences, and inside I am beaming sunshine at the babbling idiot I have reduced this man to.
I should have just brought the silly glass of requested gold, but I truly felt no different than if this man had a gun to my head and was demanding my wallet.
In the end, I leave and return with his wives $20 glass of Nickle and Nickle, as I intended to do from the start, but watching this man try and eat a steak through clenched teeth and bulging neck veins, while he felt me smiling at him the remainder of the evening, was money in the bank!
After the dust settled, and around the water cooler, we determined that this is probably a person who yells and screams all day to get what he wants at work and has been doing it for so long that he is physically unable to turn it off. Poor bastard is going to snap a such a cog one day that he will probably end up face down and drowning in his free bowl of split pea with brain matter all over the person across from him. I hope he sees my face smiling ear to ear in torment as he does. The world has enough misery, whats the use of a perpetuater.
The bottom line is that restaurants mess up, and when we do, we will gladly make right on the problem. The secret is that you can have anything you want in the building for free, the more understanding, level headed, and calm that you are. We respond much more openly to this than the "Ra Ra cooked wrong, Ugh Ugh free shit now, Bla Bla........I'm a dick" approach.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
To their credit, some people sprinkle their desperation with a smattering of creativity in the hopes that we may take the reservation without ever noticing that it is our busiest day of the year.
"Thank you for calling, how can I help you?". " I would like to get a reservation for Saturday around 7:30". "The 14th?". "Yes". "Valentines Day?". "Oh! Is that Valentines Day?". "Nice try sir, we have been booked solid for 2 months. Looks like another Valentines Day has snuck up on you again but good luck with your special night of Dominoes pizza and masturbation. I hear there is a good skin flick on Max."
Romulus invented the calendar in 753 BC. You have no excuse to be surprised by a holiday that requires reservations.
The other anomaly that fascinates me is how empowered people are because they want to spend money.
"Happy Valentines Day, how can I help you?". "I would like a reservation tonight at 8." "I'm sorry sir, but we have been booked solid for 2 months, but can I put you on the imaginary wait list that, if actually existed, would be as long as the Washington Monument is high and offer absolutely no chance of entry into the building tonight?". "You mean to tell me that you are going to turn down my business in this economy?". "No sir, I am telling you that I am happy to turn down your business, because it just occurred to me that if you were here tonight, something tells me you would find a way to send your food back, because you sound like that kind of an ass. I look forward to our annual conversation next February. Have a good year!".
Please people-heed my advice. February 14th is Valentines Day and it falls directly between the 13th and 15th every year. This day requires a nice meal for your partner, and therefore a reservation. Most restaurants can take reservations up to a year in advance. So eat your meal, pay your check, then go to the host stand and make your reservation for 365 days in the future. If for no other reason, so I don't have to talk to you next year at the zero hour.
This checks and balances works just as well on Mothers Day, Easter, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, and The Fourth of July.
As George W. Bush would say-"It's not rocket surgery folks".
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Just who are these nomadic people of Iowa? My Brother Andy and his lovely wife Stephanie moved to Iowa shortly after my nephew Ben was born 5 years ago. Since then they have added the endearing Miss Addison Paige who is all of 2 going on 30.
With her perfect vocabulary, wittle wisp, and a non-existent verbal filter-their short time here was nothing short on entertainment from minute one.
Upon entering grandpas car curbside at SFO, Addy spoke first.
"What's your name?"
"I'm Grandpa Sam"
"Well I'm not sure if I like this Grandpa." (this is going to be a great week)
Including the the sprint with open arms to an awaiting Uncle Toby for the stand up hug, she buries her face in my crotch prompting my uber-mature brother to ask, "Oh God Addy, what does that smell like?", to which I honestly reply-"Dust, Andy, Dust." I bow my head in sad truth.
Up to Addy watching me snack on a small piece of cold steak from the fridge. "What's that Uncle Toby?" "Steak". "Your big belly is sure full of Steak!" I bow my head in sad truth.
But while young Addison is certainly the star of the show, my heart belongs to the trail blazer that came before her, brother Ben.
It has been known that I have often had more of an affinity for the opening act. For instance Public Enemy left Anthrax in the dust the night of the Oakland Fires, and to me, Annie Lennox blew doors on Sting, but I digress.
Brother Ben is a humble, subdued, intellect that is sharply humorous and wise beyond his few years. He is acutely aware that his sister is in the spotlight, and seemingly unaffected by the recent swing of attention. He not only picks her up-he holds her up, and they are friends the way that a senior and a junior are friends. It is genuine, but you know who the elder is. When they finished a puzzle together of Alvin and the Chipmunks, to which Addy did Simon and Ben did the rest, everybody celebrated the marvelous feat of young Addys contribution, and rightfully so. This was a puzzle for seven years + and that is their age combined. In all the celebration, a young Ben with shirt sleeve in mouth should have been witnessed by more than myself quietly leaving the room and proudly mentioning under his breath with his head held high,as if to let Addy have her moment..."I did the rest!"
And so it goes~the big brother, little sister dynamic. Interesting to watch and, in this case, admire. But as a man of science (yeah right) I would like to compile more data for my studies, so if you guys wouldn't mind moving back here for a few years for observation, that would be swell.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Rising at 7 am to catch all the excitement of history unfolding and ending the day catching more history playing live! If ever I was on death row, I believe I would request to fore go the final meal and all the splendor that comes with it and ask if I may somehow, just somehow, relive January 20th 2009.
One must forgive the slightly fuzzy undertones of this post as I am still trying to eliminate the contact high that comes from watching Willie at the Fillmore. It really is more like watching a concert from inside Woody Harrlesons bong, and if by some chance you aren't a pot smoker (which I am not), your going to be one that night!
I have seen Willie numerous times and the only negative critique that I have about last nights show was how hard it is seeing him get long in the tooth. His voice is strong, his guitar playing was manic and controlled beautifully, but in his short sleeve shirt exposing his arms and neck, he appeared to be wearing a skin suit that was a few sizes too big. Just kind of droopy.
He is also nurturing his young son Lukas and slowly passing the torch. Lukas' band opened as a kind of "Blind Mellon meets Fish" feel, and while Lukas is a superb guitarist, he sings through his nose forcefully. A message to Lukas-Your dad does that naturally and pulls it off flawlessly. If you don't got it~You don't got it~So don't try it.
I have a gut wrenching feeling that this may be the last time I see Willie play. Not because hes going anywhere, because he is not. (He tours 200 days of the year and is mentally strong as an ox), but watching Lukas play with his dad and take over on vocals a couple of times stung! I don't want to see anybody but the Red Headed Stranger sing Willie tunes, and I can't help but suspect that good ol' Willie might be increasing his sons involvement. Watching your parents get old is something you are forced to do, but I can choose to remember a younger version of Willie Nelson without being subject to personally see him wither. I am grateful for being able to witness one of my hero's so many times under better conditions.
To President Barack Obama: I am excited about where we are going!
To Willie Nelson: I am endowed to you for where we have been!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Table 62 just gave me the verbal tip, and then ordered 3 fuckin' hot teas!"
Let's break it down.
The "verbal tip" is the kiss of death for any server anywhere on the globe. The meal is almost done, the server is in "go" mode making sure that the final minutes before you enter the gratuity are amazingly memorable, despite the fact your steak was undercooked, or your favorite table wasn't available. Then it happens-The patron touches the servers arm and says, "You were a fantastic server, thank you so much".
AAHHHH! The server never even saw it coming. This is the verbal tip. As soon as the bill is laid, and the verbal tip applied, the actual tip is scribbled in....10%. Most verbal tippers actually think that the compliment translates to cash!
"Thank you so much for the kind words, I'll just put them here in my self addressed stamped envelope and mail them to my land lord. I'm sure he'll think that's more than adequate for this months rent".....Don't Do It! Let your monetary tip be the compliment. We appreciate it more.
Unless you are dining at an Chinese food establishment, hot tea is the worst item you can order, and will evoke eye rolls and shit talk.
Hot tea takes 7 steps to complete for just one order-Cup & saucer (I'm even counting this as one), hot water tea pot, sugar, cream, spoon, and lemon, all balanced precariously atop a bulky-non server friendly tea box. All for a staggering $2.00. Add to the fact that because of all the steps, the busboy won't even get it for you, just boils down to...your screwed. (note: you will never find any person that has ever worked food and beverage fine dining, order a tea for themselves when dining out...ever~and if they do..refer to earlier blog "You Do, or You Don't".)
Nothing throws a tempo off of a busy server than a hot tea order, so...Don't Do It!
Lets re-cap. Hot tea in Chinese restaurant...good! Hot tea in any other restaurant....C'mon man, whats wrong with coffee? My busboy will get that!
And, I don't care if I do remind you of your son, or you acknowledge that I'm really good at what I do-Translate that into dollars and scribble it on your bill. Words don't pay bills!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This routine has become just that, until last night.
It becomes easy to get complacent when the same methodic steps are followed for a continual amount of time, however; when it comes to something as potentially dangerous as shooting, an eye opener can be quite startling.
I have a Remington 1187 12 gauge automatic shotgun. I step to the shooting position, muzzle pointed up, wait for my turn, put the shell in the auto chamber, push the release on on the chamber that loads the shell, point out to the trap house, yell "pull", aim and shoot. But something went wrong last night.
When I pushed the release on the chamber the gun went off. It auto fired 4 steps too early and while my gun was pointed straight up in the air. I thought I prematurely pulled the trigger which shocked and scared those that I was shooting with. This is a major mistake. I apologized profusely. We took a couple of deep breaths collectively and went back to business at hand. With shaky composure, I began my routine again. wait, load, push....BANG! It happened again.
"I'm done." I was too startled to continue.
Later thinking that it might be the shells I was using, I opened a fresh box. Went to the closest range with nobody at it, loaded, pushed...BANG!
Just thinking what could have happened if my muzzle wasn't pointed up, and remembering seeing people ignoring this shooters rule in the past, shook me to the core. I could have killed someone.
Turns out my firing pin is broken and the gun is unsafe until I get it fixed, but let this be a reminder to anybody that shoots anything. Anything that can go wrong will, so muzzles up everybody!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This delightful colloquialism was introduced to me by my friend and fellow blogger James, and I feel that it should be spread to those who are unaware of it's existence. For those of you that have been previously introduced to this term, please refrain from muttering "geeez Toby, get with it", I'm here now and that's all that matters.
side note: James is a talented writer with a very entertaining blogspot with many videos in which to pass the time with. Check out Star Wars over SF. http://brainrageblog.blogspot.com/
Back to matters at hand. "Jumping the Shark" is a term that refers to a television show that has just bled the creative tanks dry and are scraping the bottom hoping to hold onto the once cash cow that now produces no milk.
The best part about this widely understood metaphor is the origin. This refers to the September 20th 1977 episode of Happy Days where the writers had Aurthur Fonzarelli donning powder blue swim trunks, a bright yellow life belt, and of course his trademark leather jacket, water ski jump over a caged shark. With Richie behind the wheel, and nare a hair out of place, The Fonz successfully jumped into television terminology lore and shortly thereafter the Happy Days were no more.
As sad as it was to say goodbye to all of the gang from Al's, the legacy continues as benchmark for doomed television shows.
It should be noted that in light of the latest Indiana Jones debacle, the term "Jumping the Shark" can be comfortably interchanged with "Nuking the Fridge".
Knowledge is power!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The holidays are what I like to call our Harvest Season. That is to say that we open our doors to the throngs of steak hungry patrons and their visiting families and collect revenue, tips, and profit so much like the gathering of acorns, in which we stuff our trunks for the leaner summer months that are sure to arrive just as the holidays did.
But do people prepare....NOOOO! And that's when I get thrusted the role of Gargamel with the added bonus of being a soundboard for the frustrated.
This is not the job description I had in mind.
A Message: You were told that you would be making money hand over fist for just a few months of the year like no other...It is not nearly my fault you have nothing to show for it already.
An Absurdity: You also you knew that the once bountiful 5-6 shifts a week were going to go back to the allotted 3-4 when the restaurant slowed down...So please stop asking me if you are being punished. That's Absurd
A Truth: We are still packing them in, just not turning their tables, therefore; the opportunity to make ample cash is dangling in front of your disgruntled/broke noses like a carrot..GRAB IT!
A Perspective: At this time in history, we are all extremely fortunate to have a place to earn money on a daily basis. Make the most of it!
An Ending: I truly care for everybody that I have the privilege to work with, but sometimes...just sometimes, I would like nothing more than to give them all a collective viking funeral....even if they aren't all quite dead, just yet.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Joe left his cell phone at my parents house last Sunday, only to be discovered the next morning.
Knowing how absolutely helpless we all feel when without our communication devices, I thought it would be nice if I brought it to work with me so he could pick it up there on his lunch break, considering how the abbreviated distance to my restaurant and his office as opposed to mom and dads place and his office is exponential.
I called him at 9:30 am with the "phew, that would be great, news", but was immediately thwarted.
"Are you going to be there at 5:30?" He said. "Yeah. but why don't you come down at lunch and Ill feed you in the process." I made sense of the situation.
"Because dude, you work at a fully stocked bar. I can't start drinking at noon. Ill see you at 5:30".
Now that's Self-Control!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
"Your the coolest boss ever" set me to hours of dissection.
What does that mean? Is it a compliment? It sounded like one, but are bosses supposed to be cool?...and so on and so on.
"Your the coolest boss ever" is your typical example of a work space fallacy. Example: double edge sword, slippery slope, half truths, straw men, etc.
While certainly not intended to be so critical by the server who implied my coolness, one cant help but to use this innocent comment as a detailed snap shot of my managerial skills.
Do I think that my boss is cool?
I think he is a great, brilliant man that posses the knowledge and patience to teach me how to bring my level of the game up a peg, but certainly not the "coolest".
Does that mean that ergo-I should not strive to be the "coolest" and concentrate on being more like him?
While I love that my staff seem to enjoy me being around and the feeling is certainly mutual, the title "coolest" could serve as the albatross around my neck, and it becomes very hard to govern with a dead bird as a scarf.
I suppose part of me wishes she had said "Your the most intelligent, witty, level headed, authoritative, and respected boss ever", because that is the kind of sentence that just rolls off the tongue freely, right?
So many questions from this small and topical complimentary sentence. After all, I want to be a positive energy kind of leader for those that support the same cause as I do because you are only ever as good as those around you. And if coolness is a step of achievement on the ladder to a successful career, then I emphatically embrace my new title "coolest".
But wait-maybe I am over thinking this thing just a bit.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I have not been with lack of inspiring tails to regale you with; quite the contrary. As of 11 hours and 19 minutes ago, I successfully made it through the holiday season in a VERY busy, upscale restaurant. (a slow restaurant can provide for pages of fanfare). I have seen the items that are blog worthy unfold before me and pass my dormant fingers with almost a snicker. I have reflected on these events in the ponderous time of my morning cigarette and coffee and mentally narrated the content, and I have passed the computer and shied away without even sitting as if to say "another day my unused friend...another day."
But the problem is that these blog worthy events come fast and many (perhaps too many to sort through), and my internal narration that was once in the tone of Anthony Bourdaine now sounds more like Rachel Ray, and the passiveness that I offer the computer is fear that I can't do it. STOP LAUGHING AT ME MOUSE!
So make no mistake about it, writers block is an affliction, with no medication but to dive right back into what you enjoy doing the most and re assume ownership.
I only hope that this therapeutic Drano-esc exercise unblocks me like a bran muffin and I begin to hemorrhage the observations that I am privy too on a daily basis, clearly and concisely enough too fulfill my only healthy vice.
Here's to a prosperous 2009 for everybody!