Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, December 1, 2008

If You Want Success - Double Your Rate of Failure

So to continue from last week I gave up my comfy shipper receiver going nowhere job to become a bartender-waiter at the Willow Inn in Hudson Quebec where everyone spoke English and I need not worry about the lack of French I knew. I was hired by the owner Scott who was in the bartending class and where I left off was my try out night when everybody got sick and fights broke out and well , it was a memorable first night.

My first shift on the schedule a couple of weeks later was a lunch. Now the supervisor said that I will be working the floor taking orders and it would be pretty fast and he would be there to give me a hand. Now I don't remember much of that first shift except for the fact that if anyone saw me work they would have thought I wouldn't last another day. Customers complaining where their food order had gone , table mix ups , people leaving upset , in other words a total disaster.

I don't know what I was thinking but I guess a lack of training might have been a contributing factor. I was literally thrown to the wolves that lunch and later on found myself working the slowest shifts behind the bar after that busy lunch. I guess the manager on duty decided to bring me along a bit slower. With no experience and the dismal showing I had on my first day the only reason they kept me on was because of the owner. But I was getting better or so I thought.

Little did I know that Scott was already planning to sell the Willows and as he mentioned upon saying good bye and good luck he was happy to give me a shot before he moved on. He moved on a month after I got started and to my disappointment not a couple of days later I was told by the new people they wouldn't be keeping me and that I was no longer needed there.

I guess in a way I wasn't surprised but I felt like I was coming along. So after a month's experience at a pub I had to go out and find another job.

Now my French was not good at all but I tried to get find some work in Montreal and the West Island where English is predominantly spoken but to no avail. Now I had to make a decision. Do I move back to where I lived just northwest of Toronto to continue this job hunt?

I did exactly that. However , my car was broken and I still had to give a couple of month's notice at my apartment. So what I had to do was pretty much put my stuff in a locker downstairs in the apartment and have my step-father help me out with fixing the car. It was a radiator problem and I was hoping with his mechanical expertise he would be able to save me a bit of money.

Leaving on a train to stay at my stepbrother's in a place called Brampton with a couple of suitcases I was anxious to find a spot cause my savings were shot.

I hit the airport strip where only a year or two before I was going to all the discotheques. Finally the Holiday Inn Roofgarden Restaurant was needing a Service Bartender for some lunches and some slower evening shifts. This would be good. It would hone my skills as a Bartender. I would just concentrate on serving waiters getting experience and practice making the drinks and developing some speed in the meantime.

I came in frequently to watch the other service bartender do his stuff and he showed me all the tricks. I was pretty scared really. This was a big step and I was working with 50 year olds and the maitre'd was a Mr. Pompodoulous or something like that. A Greek for sure he was.

Now what I remember most about this job and why I was so scared ******** is I worked with these waiters who were like I guess they would be 80 years old now. Loads of experience and they would help me out. But the thing was is they would always be asking me to pour them a shot or make them a drink.

Knowing the maitre'd had warned me about only serving drinks that were punched up and not to serve the waiters I refused at first. But as a service bartender I made no tips. It was an hourly wage that was all. So when the waiters , all European and with names like Paulo , Emilio , and Manuel , were flogging 1,2, and 5 dollar bills in front of my face if I poured them a drink I found it tempting.

They would say don't worry I will drink it fast and then they would put it right out in the open in full view so everyone could see. Then they would order a drink and tell me to drink it! What am I going to do I thought , then I would bend down and hide underneath the speed rail and gulp it back so I could get rid of it. Shots of Remy Martin , Rusty Nails , Stingers , Scotches of all kinds I would pass on for some extra dough.

They must have been roaring in laughter going back into the dining room relaying the news to the maitre'd. He never once came back to check. He knew what was going on. I think he knew I was so green that if he did walk in when all this was going on he would have burst out in laughter at my horrified expression. That was 1980 and that was what it was like in those days. A drinkfest everywhere you worked.

I was scared of the waiters , the Maitre'd , losing my job , thinking of getting my car back and what belongings I had left behind in Montreal all at the same time. The stupid long tedious Airport Bus that would take me back to my stepbrother's in Brampton.

What was about to happen next was a big break. Stay tuned for next Monday.

So far the jobs are :

Hilton - barboy 4 Saturdays
Willow Inn - 1 month
Holiday Inn - ?


MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

as a green horn, it can be a little bit intimidating to work with all the experienced dudes... but it sounds like they were supportive... that's usually the case... as for greeks ... they are the toughest ... I KNOW!
one thing I would add that is true ... "if the cooks DRINK well, the bartenders EAT WELL!
fun story, keep on truckin'

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Mike.....they were very helpful indeed.I was learning from the pros so to speak. Eating and drinking well is the tradeoff for each the bartenders and cooks. I got some funny stories coming up. With all the jobs I have had my Mondays are booked till June.

Manuel said...

I was and still am scared witless by the waiting staff in the first place I worked.....they were hard working, hard talking, hard drinking sob's but man were they good......

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel...that is the difference between getting off to a good start or a bad start.Working with good people will always make someone better quicker.Or else they just wallow in mediocrity for a long period of time then fade away.