Thursday, April 15, 2010

Corporate Restaurants

Enough with the lessons on being a server in New York City. You're not interested and you're not reading. And why in the hell would you want to wait tables in NYC anyway? It's a miserable experience. Besides, I think I've mined the subject for all its comedy gold anyway. Considering the price of gold these days, that means I'm a zillionaire by now. I'm thinking of buying another Fortress of Solitude, this one in the Bahamas.

It occurs to me that this blog is pretty much open to everyone in the world. I'd originally intended it as a place for me to share my writing with my friends. Which apparently consists of eight of you (correction, seven of you; I have no idea which friend I've lost). But it's entirely possible that, if you Google my name, this site comes up. Which is not good considering that these days, employers do indeed Google potential employees (along with Jenna Jameson/monkey porn). I'm not sure how their bosses keep tabs on this, how they know the difference between work-related Googling and goofing-off-related Googling. This means, however, likely employers have seen and read this site, and didn't exactly appreciate my take on the service industry. This could explain my distinct lack of call-backs. Thanks Internet!

First, let me be clear. I'm cultivating a certain personality here. I'm trying to find my "voice." Sometimes this works. Sometimes I fail like a crypto-Communist military junta. Wait, those never fail. I'll come up with a humorous metaphor for my failure later. Like when I'm in the shower. So if you're a corporate tool manager type reading this blog as part of your background check on me, please remove the corporate bug from your bought-and-paid-for ass. If that doesn't violate the terms of your contract, that is.

And if that doesn't get me a call-back, I don't know what will.

I've spent a significant portion of the last three days filling out applications at some of the larger, finer restaurants in the city. I have a few thoughts.

If I bring you a resume, then there is no need for me to fill out all that information, like address, education history, employement history on an application. Because that's already on my resume. I'm not a high school kid applying for a job at Burger King. Asking me to transfer over perfectly clear information on my resume to your application in my illegeble chicken scratch is a huge waste of time. I'm sure some anal retentive lawyer back at corporate has a perfectly good reason for having me do this. He's also a tool.

One of the things I love about the restaurant application is the questionnaire they include with it. It has such burning questions as "how do you define great service?" and "what do you like the least about restaurant work?" These questions make me want to pluck my eyes out with a rabid hampster. No one is going to answer these questions truthfully. What do I like the least about restaurant work? Dealing with self-important managers who get in my way during a busy dinner rush with their silly corporate bullshit ("Ross, you need to fill the water glasses higher.") while I'm in the middle of inputting an order for a six-top. Seriously, tell me that shit when I'm not running around like a starving cop at a doughnut convention. My appplication answer? I don't like the standing.

Similarly, all my answers on these questionnaires are designed to appeal to the anal retentive, overly fussy corporate lackeys that infest the restaurant business.

Then comes the obligatory first interview. I honestly don't know what they're looking for. Well, I do. They want me to tell them how I place the customer first. How I cater to their every whim and need. How I work as a team player. And all of that is true (believe it or not). Unfortunately, I think they want me to elevate this to a level of hyperbole that's unreasonable. Or maybe I'm not using the right corporate buzzwords, like "actualize" and "enhance." Whatever it is these managers want, I'm apparently not giving it to them.

I am a salesman. I sell food and drink. And I'm very good at it. I'm pleasant to customers; I don't argue with them, and I want everyone to leave happy. But it's not important to your customers whether I serve from the right and clear from the left, or that I crumb the table every 8.5 minutes. They don't know any better anyway. And you don't care about that either. You care about profits. And I can sell sneakers to amputees. I upsell at every opportunity. I can make your grilled, free range chicken in hollendaise and chocolate sound like it tastes like manna from Heaven. That's what's important here. Sales.

Let me put it this way. In yesterday's NY Post, the food critic complained about the effects of this corporate stupidity has on good, basic service. Servers who pester their customers at every stage of the meal with "are you enjoying your food?" or "is the food to your liking?" Honestly, there's a thin line between good service and obsequious boot licking. He complained about servers who prattle on about tanins and chocolate-raspberry grace notes in the wine, but can't answer the simple question "is the wine good? Will it go well with lamb?" Servers can tell you all about how the mango chutney pairs well with the scrod and fresh tarragon, but they have no idea when the fish came in.

In short, the corporate wank-scrotes who define service in their glorified McDonalds, and the minions in business suits who call themselves "general managers" who enforce these dictates, have forgotten the main thing: Give the customer good, basic service.

I can do that.

No comments:

Post a Comment