Earlier I touched on a wonderful post I read on Red Lobster Blog. It was about Fairness and Merit in corporate restaurant. At that point, I went back to read it again and couldn’t resist dropping a comment. But then the comment got way too long and I had to pull it and produce this current post instead.
So, please read the post on Red Lobster Blog first. It’s great writing. And it’s funny. If you’re a good waiter (and I know all of you are), you’ll love it.
Are you done reading reader-writes-in-stupid-store-policies yet? Please just read it. I don’t care where you work. If you’ve worked for corporate, you will love it. Haven’t worked for corporate? Then you’ll be blown away by how corporate approaches matters of employee competence and fairness.
Oh. It’s Red Lobster, so you don’t care? Well Red Lobster is, NUMBER TWO, part of the fraternity. What’s NUMBER ONE? Number One is:
The job/essence of waiting tables is the same no matter what money/class/region echelon you’re in.
Come on, just read it!
Also, note that I’m writing in a bit different voice than my blog. (Hey, I have a life outside this, you know!)
Here’s my addendum:
I guess this comment is really for the original letter writer. First, kudos to you, dude! Awesome essay.
I read this 6 months ago. I returned 3 months ago and read it again. And now I’ve written about a tangential topic on my blog, and I couldn’t help linking to it and reading it yet again. This post is brilliant.
It is something I agree with deeply. Regarding doing my job: I don’t believe I have the personality of the letter writer, but I believe I have all the ‘game.’ On the nuts and bolts stuff, I’m like a worker bee (protocol, ‘spec,’ sidework, etc.). With the guest, I connect and they feel good about things. I have many request parties. I have many guests who leave 30-40% tips (and of course not because I’m giving them free stuff – they spend big money at the restaurant). I solve problems and I prevent problems and I ignore problems that aren’t really problems – all so the managers can go on doing productive managerial things instead of having to kill all the little tiny scary spiders so the waiters (or guests) don’t squeal. Or even so the managers can just relax for a freakin’ few seconds in the midst of their 12 hour day.
So anyway, I also feel a vested interest in this trend. I experienced it myself. A manager at my restaurant spent two years slavishly imposing exact equal cover counts on lunch shifts. Including the closer who often would stand around (or expedite-/teamwork-around, in my case) the entire shift while still short 6-10 covers because a table was coming in at 2 p.m. Do you get it? When that late table comes in, finally the Closer gets back up to even in the cover count. Yet every 4th shift that table doesn’t come in at all. Or it’s a 4-top instead of 8, or deuce instead of 4 . . . right? And this is your Closer who you’re treating this way. The one you trust to be around and handle with aplomb whatever comes up, regardless that there’s no server help around to provide ‘teamwork.’ Your Closer has the game to get the job done.
Do you feel my compassionate pain? A great point has been made by the writer. Digressing just a little to drive it home, I’ll mention that back in the last Dallas Cowboys golden era (and I’m not a Cowboys fan, for what it’s worth), Jimmie Johnson, the coach at the time, fielded a question about preferential treatment for his stars. Paraphrasing, he said it would be crazy not to cut more slack to your biggest and most reliable producers (at the time referring to players like Emmett Smith and Michael Irvin). They had earned it, and it also provided a carrot/reward for lesser players to chase to improve themselves.
Waiters come and go, in vast herds. The best places I’ve ever worked rewarded excellence and competence – even the incompetent understood their place. And either they (the incompetent) were just hanging on, or they were trying to improve to reach the next rewarded level. The barely-hanging-on’s usually became the never-quite-made-it’s. The improvers usually worked their way up to respectability and self-respectability. And I agree with the writer: this kind of thing would never have happened if it was institutionalized that every heartbeat-positive body on the floor got equal treatment. And to further support his point, those great restaurants would never have happened under those conditions because guests would have stopped coming long ago because of offensively bad service.
If you recall my previous post, I had suddenly found myself in this enviable position at Michael’s – being trusted with more and ‘better’ covers. Well, that has continued. I pretty much crushed the last few weeks. Except for last 10 days ago Friday, when Eric (the new manager) loaded everyone else before I got my first table. He took me aside and said, sotto voce, ‘I’m kinda loading everyone else up because you’ve been crushing it last couple weeks. The cover counts are ridiculous.’
I was in no position to complain. And in fact, I still felt perfectly fine.
The downside here is that who knows if I’ll be allowed to keep ‘crushing it’ moving forward? All it takes is some malcontent incompetent like Blackie to make some noise, and next thing you know, they’re measuring cover counts like grains of sand again.