Monday, September 25, 2006

Working 9 to... Well, Sure As Heck Not 5

Both of my jobs have a Tuesday - Monday work week/ pay period. So far this pay period, I have 39 hours in at one job and about 20 or 25 at the other. I still have to work today. That's a lot of hours, people. So for those of you who are wondering at my disappearance from both the virtual and the real worlds, there's your explanation.

I am really enjoying the tutoring for the most part. All of my students right now are putting heavy focus on Logic Games, which happened to be my best section on the LSAT. In fact, I kind of, in a sick and twisted way, really enjoy working my way through that section. So I'm getting to teach a subject that feels a bit like a game over and over again. And a couple of my students seem like really great and very interesting people who I'd like to know "on the outside". One student in particular strikes me as someone I could be really good friends with, had we met in some other circumstance. I also love the fact that I can see how they're improving as we work together, and it makes me feel like maybe I'm having a positive impact.

My other job... not loving it so much. I've never seen such a self-centered, rude, and cheap customer base in my life. At least once per shift, I have a table that leaves less than 10%. I do not believe that this is because I've given bad service to these tables. In fact, several of these tables have gone out of their way to thank me for my service... and then left me $1 on a $21 tab.

I am also developing a grudge against large tables of Indians. Three times in the past four days I've had a group of Indian customers sit in my section, make an enormous mess, be extremely rude to me, then leave me 7 or 8%. There are a lot of servers who will refuse to wait on certain minorities because they have a reputation for not tipping. Debra Ginsberg talks about this in her book, Waiting. She theorizes that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy: servers give lesser service to these tables, believing that they are "wasting their time" on a table that they won't see any reward for, and the customers justifiably leave smaller tips because the recognize bad service, so the server feels validated in his belief and the cycle continues. I've always tried to make a point of not giving different service-- better or worse-- to one table either because I don't anticipate a tip, or because I anticipate an especially large tip. This is only partially out of some sort of noble motives-- it's mostly because it's just easier to set a high standard and treat every table according to that standard, especially when it gets busy. It's hard enough to keep track of a full station without trying to remember which tables get the good service and which get the mediocre. Still, I am only human, and last night, I caught myself groaning internally when I saw the three Indians who were seated in my section less than an hour before the kitchen closed. And sure enough, they fussed about everything, talked to me like I was a lower form of life, then left me 90 cents each on their $11 tabs.

I am getting too old and cranky for this work. I really liked waiting tables when I did it in college. It's not that I never had a bad customer or got stiffed on a tab (heh. Remind me to blog about the table that tried to give me a $1 tip on a $117 bill sometime.), but the thing was, we had so many good customers-- and by that, I don't just mean customers that tipped well (though that certainly helps), but customers that were friendly and talked to us and treated us like intelligent human beings. I haven't met many (in fact, hardly any) of them at this job yet, so I feel like there's no compensation-- monetary or otherwise-- for putting up with crap from the other customers.



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