Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Me: serving food and coffee and selling knives, bras and children’s apparel...

So let me tell you about my stints as a server.  I might be the world’s worse server, or waitress.  I worked for a hot minute at Olive Garden; it was a disaster from the beginning.  First of all, the guy who interviewed me said I spoke good English.  I came in with an English DEGREE from University of Michigan, why was he surprised that I spoke good English?  I was more upset because he was Black and didn’t know he was being racist!

So he gave me the job because he was so impressed with my "English."  The year before I got hired someone died at Olive Garden, a fact totally unrelated to me being hired.  However they told me that they keep their bathrooms clean, because if a customer sees a dirty toilet they will think they have a dirty kitchen.  Speaking of being anal, they would measure the temperature of their food to a certain degree to ensure that everything was properly cooked and no one else was murdered due to eating there.  I was, shall we say, not so impressed by all that. 

What I wasn’t was very apt at was the whole computer system.  I thought waitressing would be an easy, no brainer.  Apparently computers are involved and multitasking with food and beverages requires quite a bit of brainpower.  I can barely eat and drink at the same time much less, serve food and compute.  I couldn’t seem to get the orders in on time, and get to the next table, and get to serving the next meal.  I never dropped any food on anyone’s head per say.  But one couple waited three hours for a steak.  Don’t ask me how I managed that.  Don’t ask me why they serve steak at Olive Garden.

I once managed a café in a Jewish nursing home in Spanish Harlem.  Yes there was actually a Jewish nursing home in Spanish Harlem many years ago.  I don’t know if it still exists.  You can't make this stuff up.   

I think I would have more patience in the nursing home now; but back then I would get annoyed at the patients who came in and told me my coffee tasted like gasoline.  A lot of them smelled like Bengay, but that wasn’t the real problem.  The real problem was that they were a cranky crowd.

Everyone in there had a personality, and even though it was self-serve, I served many of them because their hands would shake.  Now I would think it was a brilliant opportunity for me to serve people.  Then I just thought it was pure annoyance.  These two very snarky women would actually talk about me right in front of my face, “She made my coffee all wrong!”  “Oh she’s a blithering idiot!”  Really I’m not kidding.

There was a very bitter old couple that I refused to let self-serve.  They were diabetic and I was not allowed to give them sugar.  Although I was not a nurse or doctor, I didn’t want to kill someone via sugar.  Murder by sugar:  don’t think I didn’t consider it a time or two.   Probably because the man in the couple would ask me for sugar and I would tell him no.  “That wench won’t give me sugar!” he would scream to his wife.  They were both hard of hearing.  “My coffee is not hot!” she would scream back. 

I wanted to scream at them all.  But I maintained my composure.  I had a very anal boss too.  Once I lost the key to the ice cream machine.  I got really nervous and didn’t want to tell him because I thought he would yell at me.  So I just stopped selling ice cream to old people.  I figured none of them needed the sugar or fat.

Someone came into my café and told me that my manager used to be a drug addict.  Personally I didn’t care nor did I hold it against him.  The only thing that bothered me about him was him micromanaging me.  His heroine habit had nothing to do with me hating him.  Sure I might have been making international calls to my cousin who lived in Russia, but that was not really his issue.  That was a bone I had to chew with nursing home itself.  When they got their phone bill I’m sure they were thinking it was some random patient who was Russian.  There are Russian Jews.  Not that I’m trying to blame the Jews for anything…don’t mince my words…  

Did I tell you about the time in my senior year of high school that I tried to sell knives door to door?  It was a nightmare.  The knife set cost more than six hundred dollars. My entire savings was about six hundred dollars. Truthfully and honestly I didn’t believe anyone should buy a knife set for more than like twenty bucks.  I had no concept of the bourgeoisie at that time.  To top it all off, I tried to sell these expensive knives to Indian people. 

My friend’s mom returned one knife because it cut her finger.  She said it was too sharp.  No one wanted to buy these knives, but sometimes they would buy one just to be nice.  My own parents didn’t buy a set because they thought it was a crazy waste of money.  It came to a point where I wanted to stab someone in the eye with one of those expensive knives if they didn’t buy one.  I think at some point people bought a knife just to keep me sane.  You can see how well that turned out…

Way before these two jobs I had a job at a store called Jacobson’s in Birmingham, Michigan.  I worked in the kid’s clothes section.  Let’s just say I like kids, but am not at all interested in their clothing that sells for like more than my clothes.  I don’t understand the concept of buying expensive clothes for kids who will grow out of them in five minutes.  My parents bought me clothes from Kmart when I was a kid.  I grew up fine.  Or so I like to think.

This one old braud who worked there told our boss, that she, “didn’t trust me.”  For no good reason, other than I despised expensive children’s clothing.  She knew; she was smart.  The boss yelled at me one day because apparently it’s not working ‘over time’ if you just work an extra day the next week or something I did not understand.  Anyways…a man was running a department for little girls.  Do you see anything wrong with that picture or is it just me?  Men don’t know anything about little girl’s clothes nor should they.  I hate men for running everything…

Then after that little stint I worked at Victoria’s Secret one year.  I was flattered when I discovered that at the time they only hired pretty women with good tits. Now I think it’s discrimination. What I didn’t know was that you had to promote your breasts, meaning stick em up in people’s faces and ask them if they needed any help.  They put me in the front, and I was to ask: You know that stupid question, “Can I help you with anything?” I had to ask it, over and over again.  I was so bad at asking that question because I sounded like I didn’t mean it.  I hated when people asked me if I needed help before I even barely entered a store.  They gave me the job of a total ditz and then they were mad when I didn’t make good sales.

I got some nice lingerie out of the deal, but besides that and giving my discount to all my friends, it was a nightmare working with high-strung women who were trying to sell overpriced bras.  The women there were scary, they were obsessed.  They were playing orchestra music and I mentioned how soothing the music was, and this girl who did inventory was like, “The music matches the mood of the store.”  The mood of the store is sex, honey.  Selling sex.  We are here to sell pretty sex.  Do you realize that, you freak?  Stop romanticizing it!  Anyone who shops or works at Vicky’s wants to get laid in style, let’s call a spade a spade.  By the way, when is their semi-annual sale again?

So the moral of the story is, I’m no good at serving or retail jobs. 

I don’t know if I’m really good at jobs in general.  I will be teaching soon so we will see how soon I get fired and have a good story to tell.  Here’s hoping I won’t have another war story about employment to tell you…


Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/

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