Friday, 19 September 2008

96 Days....

Monday saw the arrival and obvious departure of my last French tour group of the "summer" season. That's the summer that never really started. Well it's over now for sure or rather the false hope that tomorrow may be sunny is over.

And it's this time of the year that a young waiters mind turns to Christmas, and mine too. That's right I said Christmas and it's not even Halloween yet. The season of supposed good will and wrist breaking fourteen hour shifts looms large in all our minds. What started as mindless and giggly chatter a few months back is now the sole topic of our jabbering and indeed our blabbering too. The new young 'uns think we are embellishing our stories of battles past. Our eyes gloss over and we stare into the void as we recant stories of waiters that didn't make it, of tables of twenty, no, thirty teachers all sarcastic and all half drunk. Of tables arriving 20 minutes late and of the difficulty of 10 minute resets. We speak in hushed tones, our voices trembling. Long draws are pulled from quickly smoked cigarettes until they are down to their soggy wet stub. The look in their little innocent faces, terror-disbelief-trepidation, keeps me warm for the rest of the night.

Christmas...
...balls!


Oh but don't get me wrong there's no embellishing to be done. Christmas is all that and more.

I wouldn't be overstating it to say I was mildly pooing myself about this seasons Yuletide turkeyfest. It's shit mittens* for sure. The kitchen has been a shit storm, nice mental image, for the last couple of weeks. Chefs disappearing never to reappear. New chefs coming and inevitably going again. Hey if you cant handle the heat and all that jazz. There's been more drama and incomprehensible plot twists in the kitchen recently than in your average episode of Lost. And I hate that show. Chefs wind me up too. If the kitchen ain't right then the whole thing will go belly up in the worst and most dramatic way.

And then there are my fellow plate carriers. The new kids have yet to fill me with confidence. A restaurant full of drunk accountants and civil service employees is no place for the weak and indecisive. Every sitting is the equivalent to fighting the end of level boss on any video game ever. You have to keep bombing them until your thumbs are sore and you have the cramp shaped hands of a teenage boy. Our newbies need to be toughened up. I suggested the rest of us walk off the floor on a Saturday night and leave them to it for an hour. It's much the same nightmare as Christmas service but this was roundly poo pooed by the glorious leaders. Pfft!

What we really need are a few old pros, restaurant ringers if you will. A drunk Scotsman in the kitchen who can cook whilst nailing tin after tin of supermarket beer would work wonders for the, still wet behind the ears, wee lads who will make or break my Christmas season. And on the floor we need a couple of hard working, hard drinking, hard looking ladies. Black and whites, the mercenaries of the hospitality industry. Loyal to no venue, they take the money and run. I love these old warriors, they can carry six soup at a time and fear nothing. No teacher can out sarcasm them, no accountant can intimidate them. You cannot intimidate women with 6 teenage kids and a taxi driver for a husband.

Sure there'd be no finesse, no refinement, and certainly no "excuse me's" either. But then again Christmas isn't about finesse, refinement, or "excuse me" it's about surviving.

And tips, it's definitely about tips.

The countdown has begun. Onwards to insanity......

So what say you? Is there a time in your work year that causes you to weep gently into your pillow late at night with fear when no one else can hear you?

*© Witchypoo

16 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Melissa said...

We also have that fear in our line of work - when the end of congressional budget obligations comes along. "Here you! We have $2.3 million for your programme!" Wow after being underfunded for 4. Then you finish you budget and proposal getting it down to the dollar, call your boss all smug, and he says "Hey you, they just cut a million!" It's a pain in the ass. I even spent 4 days of my R&R working on proposals, only to have them slashed.

So, it ain't Christmas, congressional financial obligation season.

But retail is really hell during Christmas. Really hell.

Hang in there and may all your tips be bright!

Manuel said...

melissa: welcome! so you're in Baghdad. What's that like then? My worries are nothing, and I mean nothing, by comparison....

Anonymous Boxer said...

I'm killing myself right now making product for The Holidays...During Christmas my industry is pretty dead.

A very nice time to go have dinner out!

Medbh said...

Your opening put me in mind of the thousand yard stare that seasoned soldiers get when you spoke of looking askance while thinking of the xmas season. Hee.

Oh, for me it's after finals week when all those papers and exams come in and you have to plow through them to get the grades in on time.

paddy said...

We're right at the start of the three months of hell for the bartender in rural Australia. Currently its the end of the football season, where local sporting heroes cleanse themselves of the stain of defeat (or celebrate victory) by drinking for three days straight whilst travelling from pub to pub. Cue much nudity, horseplay and the wearing of beer cartons and KFC buckets as headgear.

Hot on the heels of these japesters comes the spring racing carnival where young and old alike frock up, drink for eight hours in the hot sun while ignoring horses running about and then hit the pubs sunburnt, drunk and cranky. They are a joy to serve.

Of course then there's Christmas, with all the usual shit that entails. Tradesman's break up day is the absolute nadir of the festive season when on the last friday before Christmas every wearer of overalls downs tools, tells the boss to get fucked and then lays waste to the town.

I'll see you 10 sarcastic teachers Manuel and raise you 13 plumbers pissed on rum calling you a cunt for stopping their game of pub cricket. (they were improvising, lustily whacking pool balls about with a cue)

Roll on January.

Steve said...

Actually this is one Christmas I am looking forward to.I work in a place where they do not want you to work long hours.My average hour pay cheque for 2 weeks is about 42 hours.So maybe in Christmas it might average out to 25-26 hours a week or 52 hours every 2 weeks.I may actually have a life this holiday season , who knows? Tonight I worked from 5 to 8:30 and made about $100 US.Not long but I have the brace on my back as it is out so I am happy with just
3 1/2 hours tonight and the $100.I cannot do 50-60 hours a week anymore.

MJ said...

I'm weeping right now waiting for an employer to send me payment for an invoice I submitted in MARCH.

Silverstar said...

I once worked for an unspecified government agency during their busy season answering questions on the phone. Never again. One season was enough. Other than that, it was always the full moon. And the holidays sucked, too. More work, less fun.

echo said...

I work at a mall, in a small retail store, and it's starting to gear up for holiday season: Halloween thru New Years Day. There's nothing like disgruntled customers whining about everything - except being around them for longer hours, when they've gotten less sleep and are searching for that "perfect gift". You know the one - the one we had three months ago that the savy shoppers picked up then, the one that seems to be permanently backordered now, that they just can't live without.

We'll be decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween and by the end of November I'll be more than sick of the holiday music and decorations.

Good luck with the upcoming season. Remember, hide the bodies well and deny, deny, deny. :)

Masquerade said...

YES. At my restaurant there is a deck that is open for the summer. Like you we had some rainy days but..oh god, Friday nights, open two full hours past normal closing time, with only two waitresses on and a full dining room AND deck...

I had nearly 100 quid nights at times but...it still makes me cry a little inside.

Manuel said...

boxer: just reserve in advance.....

medbh: that's what I was going for.....yeah exam time cant be much fun...

paddy: jesus! no but seriously......jesus!

steve: that's nice money for a few hours work...

mj: that's fucking scandalous.....send the boys round....

silverstar: yup call centres must be hell.....

echo: bwahahahahahahaha I share your pain...

masquerade: I really hate working outside...it's not fair and it;s normally full of smug assholes......

belfastyouthworker said...

i dread the start of the academic year. it's when the new influx of young people come into my drop-in centre, each group more cuntish than the last.

savannah said...

sugar, as stateside logistics director for you know who...any day can fill me with dread. it's like an earthquake, you know it's can happen, you just don't know when! i would love to know when shit was gonna happen!

jen said...

The first two weeks of December are scaring the crap out of me. I fully intend to spend Christmas sitting in the corner, rocking gently and sipping from a continually topped-up G&T.

Manuel said...

byw: awh.....little bastards

savannah: oh I don't know....

jen: Can I join you?

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