The Waitresses

Look, I’m doing NaBloPoMo right this year. I’m using a promptWhat did you think was the coolest job in the world when you were younger? Do you still feel that way now?

When I was a childlike creature, like most juveniles, I was an idiot. My career of choice from ages three to seven was “waitress.” This ironically had nothing to do with my love of the food service industry (primarily because I don’t have one) was yet again a manifestation of my obsession with office supplies.

I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on one of these:

One time my family ordered Chinese take-out and the delivery bag arrived with like 5 pages left on a Guest Check pad. Instead of calling the store to let them know they’d accidentally dropped a critical piece of the order-taking process, I insisted that my parents let me keep it. This could be nothing other than divine intervention–a serendipitous gift that indicated that my prayers were heard and my dreams answered.

But it wasn’t just the Guest Check pad that lured me into thinking that waitressing was the best job on the planet–one that I imagined paid a living wage and wasn’t too exhausting-hah!–it was my exposure to some pretty cool fictitious waitresses over my formative years.

First there was Carla. I knew Carla before I can remember knowing Carla, having watched Cheers with my dad and laughed at jokes I couldn’t understand at all. Carla had an especially cool job because she didn’t have to deal with greasy food. She got to carry classy drinks to well-dressed people and insult Cliff Clavin all day long. Sometimes she even harassed the customers and no one ever had a problem with it. Plus, she was a barmaid who managed to buy a gigantic house as the primary bread-winner as a single mom of like 4+ children. With literally no knowledge of economics or personal finance, I thought this job sounded like a dream.

Then there was Alice. Alice was okay, but my personal favorite was Vera. She was a total idiot. Yet no one ever fired her and she still made a living. So it made seem working in a restaurant seem like a laid-back, nurturing environment where the other waitresses are your bff’s and never try to steal your tables or pocket your tips.

I even briefly considered a return to my original passion after I was Waitress with my long-time idol Keri Russell. It was the pies and the cute outfits that clouded my vision, but I quickly snapped back to reality and got a college degree.

And then I graduated and every entry level job required 5 years of experience and I rued the day I chose not to get any waitressing experience.

But hey, I definitely know my way around a Guest Check pad, though sadly I know there are many other requirements.

I Plan for This Blog, Dammit! or How Not To Get Your First Job

The table.

I am a super-organized-nerd-person. I carry around this little notebook in case I need to make a schedule or a list of very important information for The Very Special Blog. I like to pretend that this is my high-profile creative job that I have to strategically plan for in a little pink notebook at Starbucks. And every now and then when I have some downtime, I get to do that. It’s really fun and surprisingly gratifying. So that’s why I got particularly pissed at this woman who decided to completely disturb the fifteen minute period I had carved out of my day. I’m roughly five minutes into my planning-session, having secured a highly coveted table, when this woman and said:

“I have a question…are you going to be here for like the next fifteen minutes?”

I knew what she was up to, so I put on my best “don’t shit me condescending face” and said, “Probably not. Why? Do you want it?”

And she said, “Yeah I would like it. I have an interview at two. So just like within the next fifteen minutes…”

Within the next fifteen minuets, I could what? Hurry up and leave?  I had to be back at work by 2 pm anyway and I wasn’t going to send her away from a table that I wasn’t even going to be using.

I said, “Yeah, you can have it because I will be back at work by two.” Then she proceeded to hover around my table. She put her bag on the stool across from me as if I would renegotiate the situation with some other eager-table seeker. Then she proceeded to stand in front of my face and furiously type on her tablet. She seemed young–maybe college or a recent grad. She is probably at that age where you think you know how to get a job, but you totally suck at it and look like an entitled asshole.

As she encroached upon my space, I found myself taking comfort in the fact that she probably wouldn’t be getting this job. I didn’t wish that on her (or anyone), but  I did kind of enjoy the thought. Now that I work in Operations, I can tell you (with a fairly low margin of error) who will be getting a job offer and who won’t simply based upon the way they introduce themselves and wait to be interviewed. Sadly, I haven’t been able to totally implement this knowledge on my own behavior, but I’m hoping it’s osmosis-ing its way into my subconscious.

Her first mistake was that she was trying to create a perfect! environment around her interview. And she was probably stressing herself out by expecting that kind of environment. No one actually expects you to be perfect. (I say this as someone who previously thought the opposite.) You may already know this, but there are plenty of idiots with jobs. I’m sure she was very smart, but in the real world that doesn’t really matter. People will take the chill person who is pretty-okay at her job over a fidgety-stress-nugget any day. Why? Because most jobs involve working with other people. So if you’re able to efficiently get a task done but you make the clients/customers/vendors/boss/fellow employees feel even remotely like you’re high maintenance, then there is a very slim chance that they will want to spend forty (plus) hours a week with you.

This post needs more pictures. Here is a cat.
This post needs more pictures. Here is a cat.

Secondly, she missed an opportunity to appear resourceful. Okay, so there were no tables. Instead of harassing me, she could have been on her tablet looking up other places in the area with MORE seating. She could have stood in the middle of the store so that she had a better vantage point to see any and all other tables become available. She could have stood in line, gotten her coffee, and then tried again to get a seat.

But if all of those things failed and her interviewer showed up with no place for them to sit down, then she could have presented a great contingency plan. “Hey, I got here about ten minutes ago and I couldn’t find a table. But I found a few other places that seem to offer more seating, or if you don’t mind we could sit in the park because it’s unseasonably warm and sunny out today.”

But no, she lurked in front of a table that wasn’t her own. She worked herself up into a tizzy and that definitely showed, even though I left seven minutes before the interview was set to begin. She saw a problem as something to be controlled rather than an opportunity to showcase her critical thinking skills. And yeah, I’m pissed because I wasn’t able to enjoy my break-time fully. And had she interrupted me and asked for my table in fifteen minutes and then left me alone until I left, I probably would not have written this.

It’s tough out there. I get it. I would have given you my table gladly if you hadn’t been a jerk. But I still gave you my table (less gladly) because I know it sucks to be anxious and jobless. But one day, when you do have a job, you might realize how rare and essential it is not to be interrupted for fifteen minutes in the middle of the day.