The last four years or so I’ve been blessed with most Sundays off. I start every Sunday with coffee and the Sunday L.A. Times. I pretty much go through the whole thing – maybe losing steam or time before hitting Calendar. Fascinating, huh?
Ciera was in the news again last night at Carney’s. She took a vacation to visit family in Chicago. Her father is a long-time pilot, so she gets to fly free anywhere (domestically only?), provided she goes stand-by. She arranged for a couple shifts off (that’s why I worked Wednesday), ‘planning’ to come back Saturday in time for her dinner shift.
Only she didn’t really plan that. She secretly negotiated that shift covered too, by Mark. I might have mentioned Mark earlier, though not by name. He’s the older millionaire alcoholic who works pretty much to stay out of trouble. He’s been fired by Carney and Harry three times before; he also is a peer of theirs – he and his wife, Joanna, vacation with the owners of Carney’s. Upon his most recent rehire he seemed pretty much done as a waiter – he’s at least 60. He doesn’t move real fast, doesn’t learn real fast, and isn’t in any hurry to start learning real fast. Mostly, he would do the opening shift, take a couple tables, and then bug out at the earliest possible hour – spending the intervening time chatting with his one or two tables or taking cigarette breaks.
With some time, however, he’s turned out to be a pretty good waiter. Nowhere near the hungry workhorses the rest of us are, but he does a great job with his tables, gets great tips, is always available to help with our greater workload, is content to stay as long as necessary, and even expects a smaller cut of the tip pool (though we give him a full share anyway).
All that said, he’s the weakest we’ve got. So Ciera recruiting him to work Saturday is not the kind of thing that would sit well with a micro-manager like Carney. Worse, Ciera was too chickenshit to give Carney the heads up; she called everybody on the staff – literally, even Frank the Bartender – finagling the situation, but left Carney to find out when she came in at 6 p.m. Ciera’s ‘official’ lie is that her flight got cancelled because of a snowstorm.
Predictably, Carney hit the roof when she found out, calling Ciera selfish and a liar. She started asking us what time Ciera talked to us, trying to triangulate whether it was a lie or not that she couldn’t get Carney on the phone. She griped that this was the thanks she got, after lending Ciera money . . . that this is what happens when Ciera hangs around Candy too much (Candy, Ciera’s best friend, was fired a year earlier) as Candy is just so disrespectful. ‘I just don’t know what I’m going to do!’ Carney says, picking up the phone to alert Harry at home.
‘Why don’t you fire her?’ Mark says.
‘Oh, no. We won’t do that. I just . . . I just . . .’
It was the perfect comment from Mark, one that we couldn’t make. It put some perspective on the situation. For Christsakes, shut up about it already.
There was a parade in our neighboring beach town last night which every year draws away our clientele for that evening. Yet we still had a respectable $160 night. And, yes, despite Ciera’s throwing a stick of dynamite into our fragile machine, the night went smoothly all around. Except for Carney freaking out.
Unfortunately, despite the calendar telling me it’s Sunday, I have to work tonight. Covering another shift. It’s funny how this time of year, you just don’t get any days off. The money is the best during December, yet that’s when everybody is desperate to give away their shifts. While the rest of the year everyone complains about how poor they are.
I’ll write a full column someday about my assertion that the only thing you can really depend on with a waiter is he will complain. Busy/slow. Long shift/short shift. On-call/day off. Full schedule/light schedule. Hands on manager/hands off manager. Marketing and promotion/no marketing and promotion. Large station/small station.
I can go on. Presented with a situation, a waiter will complain. Solve that complaint definitively, and he will complain about the reverse situation.