Tuesday, 7 August 2007

To wait or not to wait, that is the real question


Old Uncle Manuel Shakespeare
Unquiet meals make ill digestions

I received an email the other day from a chap, actually it could have been from a woman, not sure, but not that important in the context of the email. They were seeking guidance on whether a career in hospitality is the way to go. Here is the email in full:

"Hi,

I am thinking of doing a 13 week course in Restaurant Skills - Is this a
waste of time? How long does it take to learn to take orders and set up
tables?

Do you enjoy the work?
What are the hours like?

I am working in a dull boring office job at the moment & I'd like a
change. I have an interest in the hotels and restaurants. Most people
would prefer a crap job like this than waiting. Waiting seems to be
looked down upon. I said it to my friends & they think I am mad. They
think I'll end up as a Manuel being bossed around.

Are there possibilities for promotion etc?

I have gone to college - but I just think I'll give it a go.

I am in my mid 30s and would love the challenge of a new career.


Anyway Good Blog,

Regards"

These are all good questions. Let's take them one by one.

"I am thinking of doing a 13 week course in Restaurant Skills - Is this a waste of time? How long does it take to learn to take orders and set up tables?"

All jobs require training and being a waiter is no different. If you have no experience what so ever then sure go for it! But each restaurant has it's own style of service and it's own way of doing things. For example some set tables with both starter and main course cutlery. Some just set with mains and add cutlery as required and so on. A course like the one mentioned will provide you with all the technical knowledge you need. It will give you confidence which is very important. Customers can smell fear and will use it against you. They can be bullying bastards if you let them walk over you. Plus the customer needs to be confident that the waiter knows what they are doing and what they are talking about.

I would suggest a wine course as well. Wine knowledge is very important and the better restaurants will require a good level of wine knowledge. Pizza Hut don't, but then again the Hut's customers don't tip well. You may think you know how to open a bottle of wine but try it in front of 12 drunk businessmen when the cork has gone dry and is starting to crumble. Let me tell you the sweat from your brow hits the glass before the wine does! Knowledge is key. If a customer asks you what the difference is between a jus and a reduction or which wine compliments the Sea Bass best you need to be able to answer it straight away. You can be taught all these things.

You cant be taught how to talk though. And alongside knowledge it's the talk that will earn you the money.

Do you enjoy the work?
What are the hours like?

I love my job. You get to meet such interesting and lovely people. You get to escape the routine of 9 to 5. And no 2 days are the same.

BOLLOCKS! Cant believe I was going to write that!

I do love my job, but it's all about the money honey. There are easier ways to make a living but very few that allow you to go home with undeclared cash in your pocket. Short in your rent? Need cash to get your darling something nice? Pick up an extra shift and you should be quids in. If you are any good you should be able to double your wages with tax free* ease.

As for the hours, the hours are rough.
If you love going out every Saturday night and spend your Friday evenings as pished as a high court judge then don't even think about this job. When the rest of the world stops working we start. You don't get St Valentine's day off, you get the 15Th. You wont be getting hammered on St Patrick's day again, no you will be working until 3am. You will have to beg, bribe, and lie to get New Years eve off. You will work every bank holiday forever. I'm not exaggerating. Friends outside of the business will become but distant memories and you will form a new circle of friends who you will drink with until dawn, on a very regular basis.

I have an interest in the hotels and restaurants.

Don't we all! I love staying in a good hotel, but wouldn't want to work in one. Hotels are a 24/7 environment. Thus your shifts will be based around that. Plus tips in hotels are piss poor. Most guests just put everything on their bill and pay with a card as they leave. Thus you get stiffed. Personally I would recommend restaurants over hotels on that basis. The type of restaurant you choose is up to you. But it isn't always the case that the very best restaurants pay the best or allow you to earn the best tips. I would recommend avoiding restaurants that use a point system to pay tips. They are as corrupt as fuck and every shite from the General Manger and Head Chef down to the kitchen porter gets a cut of your wonga. Restaurants were you tip out to the bar, KP etc are better. You control your own cash then.

Are there possibilities for promotion etc?

Always! The best mangers are those that worked their way through the system. You know every aspect of the job as you have done it a thousand times before. I've been there, done that. It wasn't for me. I would rather talk about the quality of this seasons new lamb with a table of 2 than worry about the labour cost or the missing bottle of Vodka.


Anyway Good Blog

Clearly an intelligent and well read individual.

Would I recommend the job? Sure, hell yes! But you need to have a genuine passion for food and wine. You need to be able to judge people (and not just so you can look down on them and make up stories about them) so you can make a decision on how to approach them. You have to have an ability to small talk and be able to put up with oodles and oodles of crap. This is a skill I am starting to lose. I you have a love of daytime TV and don't mind not seeing your old friends any more then go for it.


Oh and you need to be cool with standing about, waiting. That's what we do, we wait....

There are
books that might be of help to you here. Further Well Done Fillet Advice here. I'll leave you with this....

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all customers doubt you
But make no allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, but deal in bigger lies,
Or being hated, and give way to hating,
And yet look good, and talk so wise:
Yours is the restaurant and everything that is in it,
And, which is more, you'll be a waiter, my son!

Rudyard Kipling/Manuel Waiter

*I'll deny it if asked by the taxman....

17 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

sheepworrier said...

Fairly balanced info there Manuel.

I'd say do it for the craic, they'll always have the skills of a 9-5er to fall back on if it doesnt work out.

Just curious Manuel; how wuld you treat the 16yr old (think thats the legal wrking age now?) newbie on their 1st nite waiting?
Sink or swim, or taken under your velvety, penguin-like wing?

Manuel said...

Sheepworrier: Good point. As for the younglings I make them my bitches. Nah, only joking. Age makes no difference to me. If someone is new and needs help then I have no problems helping them. But I hate repeating myself. Get it down and get it down quick. But I really like teaching the newbies. If they show signs of enthusiasm I'll help them ,if not they are "helped" out of the restaurant quick sharpish. Are you a 16 year old newbie? The judge makes me ask....

gimme a minute said...

Waiting has now joined my long list of unpractical professions that I must be part of before I die.

This is regularly updated and ammended and currently includes bike courier, fireman and high powered media mogul.

I'll put waiter between courier and fireman.

The Little Cheese said...

"Friends outside of the business will become but distant memories and you will form a new circle of friends who you will drink with until dawn, on a very regular basis."

Absolutely right! I lost some mediocre friends and made some lifelong ones who I drank with till dawn after some of the most hellish/hilarious/bizarre shifts.

I miss waitressing, not least because of the brilliant people (and I lost lots of weight going up and down stairs all night which I have now put right back on)

Good advice senor Manuel.

Manuel said...

Gimme: "I'll put waiter between courier and fireman" well wont my girlfriend be pleased. She's been bugging em to spice things up a little...

Le Peu De Fromage: I rarely drink like that anymore. Cant do it to be honest. But when I was drinking like a lunatic we had craic. It was a wonder how we managed to squeeze work into out drinking week. Ah happy days...

promoteyourblogforfree said...

nice blog

Medbh said...

Good advice, Manuel. I met my oldest and dearest friends through the biz. All the pressure and long hours forges a lasting bond in many cases. I've never worked in a hotel but always suspected it's not as profitable. At restaurants it's also easier to cultivate regulars who can be counted on for the generous tips.

Fat Sparrow said...

Excellent post, and so very true, for those of us that have been-there-done-that.

"Don't we all! I love staying in a good hotel, but wouldn't want to work in one."

Oh yes, that's how it was when I managed a bookstore. Loved bookstores, until I worked in one. Took all the magic out of it, it was like being behind the scenes at Disneyland (to clarify, for those of us who are native to SoCal, it really was a magical place and an E-ticket ride, back in the day, and not the packed to the gills overwrought cuntfest that is is now).

Steve said...

You almost make me want to quit being a scientist and become a waiter. I'll still take science. It never talks back and I don't have to rely on it tipping me to make a living.

sheepworrier said...

Manuel: unfortunately no, tho I'd love to be again, but without the awkwardness and immense compulsion to touch lady boobs. Actually i havent changed much...

Gotta say, the whole waitering / barman experience does set you up well in life - gave me a lotta confidence when I was younger, and good friends who i prob wuldnt've met otherwise.

Manuel said...

Medbh: I met my wife whilst working at a restaurant. I also met LMM working in another restaurant. You win some you lose some...

Fat Sparrow: Never meet your heroes and never work in Disneyland...

you can only be disappointed..

Steve: Yes but science wont wink at you and pinch your bum, or can it?

Sheepworrier: Should be mandatory, everyone must serve at least one year working in customer service. The world would be a nicer place for it.....

sheepworrier said...

btw cust. service does not mean Burgerking or McD's - just thought i'd clear that up for any spides, wabs, twats and general gobshites reading this...

christ if they hate their job that much (which they obviously do), jus get another job! otherwise, stop with the fookin attitude, try and smile everysooften and pull yer feckin finger out. Shower of absolute c*nts, especially the ones at McD's sprucefield drive-thru (norn iron readers'll know what i mean).


(end of rant)

Manuel said...

Sheepworrier: Feel better now? Good....

sheepworrier said...

Yes. Yes I do.

Manuel said...

good I'm glad to be of service, that'll be £45.78 please

Manuel said...

plus 15% tip, I aint greedy you know...

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