Last week I picked up some extra shifts at the country club I work for as an on-call, part-time banquet server. Because of my 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry, it didn’t take my employer long to realize I could be used in several different capacities. I was told banquet events are always slow during August, and seeing the last two weeks I had only clocked in a total of 2.9 hours, they thought they would offer me some extra work.
My bartending skills are slightly lacking, and my computer expertise is worse. Still, I am proficient in all other aspects of the restaurant business. Therefore, my coworkers had complete faith in my abilities – mainly because I’m old enough to be most of their mothers. Plus, it’s off-season, and the open-to-the-public restaurant and bar are quiet this time of year. My managers thought it would be an excellent time to let me show them what I am capable of. I was filling in for the regular server that desperately wanted to take a long overdue vacation with her family.
Usually, May works from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. four days a week and until 8:00 p.m. on Fridays. Although Mike may expect high volume once in a while because of an event and schedule someone to help out, generally, she can run the show all alone quite well. I was not concerned about my performance. Again I have been waitressing my whole life. However, other than the help of the Dining Room Manager, Mike, who promised to be around if I needed him, I was going solo.
Much to my delight, Mike did not leave me stranded. Instead, he lingered around the dining room and kitchen, watching me wait for customers. He has been with the company for years, so he knows all the members by name and their “Club” numbers. Not to mention, what they all drink and eat, how they like it, and how they plan to pay.
Yet he wouldn’t offer me any of this information unless I asked. Unlike most of the staff, Mike is a little older than me and also has a lifetime of experience under his belt.
Although I am a quick study, I was grateful I did not get too busy. The day seemed to go at a steady pace. I managed to pop a couple of beers, pour a couple of drafts, and even make a couple of rounds of one liquor house brand cocktails- quite well, I was told.
Everything went smoothly until I accidentally inputted two club sandwiches on whole grain wheat toast with a side of chips instead of just one. I walked into the kitchen and saw a sandwich in the window. I grabbed it and returned to the dining room to serve it. The food looked tasty. The customer seemed happy. I went along my way to get my tickets printed out and organized.
As I noticed the ticket seemed a bit expensive, Mike walked out of the kitchen carrying my duplicate plate. I don’t know how, but he must have read something on my face. As I went to hand him the ticket I now needed to be adjusted, he looked at me and laughed. “You only needed one didn’t you?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I answered with a smile. “I am so sorry. I just realized what I did.”
“I know. You’re used to still handwriting guest checks,” he said. “That’s why I’m here,” he added in a friendly tone.
“I really am sorry,” I repeated.
“Don’t be. Unless, by chance, you don’t like club sandwiches. Otherwise, we’ll just call it your lunch,” he said, handing me the plate.
“Cool beans. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this later. Thank you,” I said.
“That gives a whole new meaning to ‘Will Work For Food,'” I thought.
When I got home, I set the to-go box on the table and went to get changed out of my work clothes. When I returned to my dining room, my husband Joey, my grandson, Jeremy, and one of the neighborhood kids were all digging at my “Employee Meal.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Jeremy only wanted the bread but wouldn’t eat the pieces with mayonnaise. Joe would eat the meat, but he didn’t want anything that touched the tomatoes or pickle, and Jeremy’s little minion found the entire sandwich unappealing. But, he couldn’t keep his hands off the homemade potato chips that accompanied the meal.
By the time I was ready to get my hands in the box, all that was left for me was one slice of bread with mayonnaise on one side and “tomato slime” on the other, two thin slices of tomato, and my favorite part, the pickle spear.
Overall, I guess it was a win-win for a mess-up. But next time, I’ll be sure to eat what I want before I bring it home.
Laugh on. Peace out!
Lisa DeMarco is a columnist for Villages-News.com.