Sunday, August 05, 2007

The First Day


I started training at my new job as a server at the G. today.

Last night, Kim's best friend, who is the sommelier (wine expert) at The G., and got me the interview there, came by to drink Bombay and tonics and hang out with us. The television news was on the background, and we stopped to watch popular Chicago critic Phil Vittel's review of The G.. It was a rave review, and I had a feeling what to expect today.

I got up at 6 am, and made and ate breakfast. I missed making my kids breakfast. On the weekends, I like to get up and make my kids their favorite breakfast-- Adam likes smoked salmon, rice and french-cut green beans (like me, he likes dinner food for breakfast) and low-fat sausage links. Mel likes toaster waffles, low-fat sausage, fruit (usually her favorite, grapes) and a little low-fat frozen yogurt on the waffles. Since I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get downtown-- it's been years since I worked in the Loop-- I took off at 7:30 to get there by 9. Fortunately, Kim picked up the ball and made them breakfast, as well as taking them to see the Simpsons movie, and took them out to lunch. I definitely wouldn't have been able to even consider these changes without her.

It turned out that I could have stayed and made breakfast-- I got downtown by a little after 8 am. I stopped and got a cup of coffee and read my newspaper. I got to the restaurant at 9 am to find unexpected things. First, the guy who was to train me wasn't there. In fact, he never showed up-- everyone's worried about him. Fortunately, Billy, the "opener" (the server who opens the restaurant-- makes the coffee, ice tea, gets the server stations ready) was there and greeted me a big smile and a "Hi gorgeous!" I quickly ascertained that he was very gay, a super nice guy, and that he and I were going to get along well.

About ten minutes after I arrived he said something funny--

"You've probably heard this before, but has anyone ever told you that you look like Bill Clinton?"

I got a good chuckle-- I have. A lot.

Between the great review-- and the fact that Lollapalooza was taking place a block away-- we were insanely busy. Billy quickly got "weeded" (restaurant slang-- "in the weeds"-- very busy, to the point of almost being overwhelmed), and the floor manager asked me if I felt I could take a table. I did. And then another. And then more. Finally, other servers arrived, but I still kept taking tables.

I'm supposed to have three more days of training. The floor manager quickly figured out that I've got a lot of experience, and started asking me about my availability-- and if I would mind working some doubles soon.

I was nervous as shit going in there today. I always am in a new job. And it's been a long time since I did this for a living. Not only that, but I'm now working in a whole other level.

This business has been good to me. It's allowed me to do the things I've wanted to in life. It paid for me to go back to school and get a teaching certification. It allowed me to work as an underpaid teacher. It allows me to do nice things for my kids and my wife. And the fact of the matter is, I love doing it. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

18 comments:

Bubs said...

hey, congratulations! Sounds like the first day went well, huh?

What kind of changes will this bring in terms of your schedule, compared to teaching?

Splotchy said...

Happy first day on the job!

And boy howdy, does Adam's breakfast sound tasty.

Just last week I bought some salmon (or lox as I am wont to call it) to have on some bagels, which is always a treat.

Beth said...

Sounds like you fit right in — and on the right day. Hope you continue enjoying it.

Could you hear Lollapalooza trickles whenever the door opened?

Andi said...

Sounds like you're kicking ass! Congrats on a job well done.

And, please, come make me some salmon for breakfast!

Chris said...

Awesome, Johnny! I'll have to stop in next time I'm in Chicago.

Flannery Alden said...

You've given me an idea about my own future...

'Bubbles' said...

Congratulations, JY!

Sounds like you are a great fit and they will appreciate you there!

New jobs make me nervous, too. I absolutely hate not knowing what, where, how, when... its amazing how quickly that passes, tho. (If I can even recall anymore!)

Jess Wundrun said...

So when I call to make my reservation I'll ask for a table in the Clenis section?

MacGuffin said...

Congrats and good luck! Though i'm sure don't need it.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Well done, Bill! It sounds like you completely wowed them on your first day, and that is one hell of a way to start. I hope that you love it there.

Skylers Dad said...

Nice job on your first day! Are you at all concerned you may have set the bar a bit high though? Perhaps you should have fouled up a few things, or maybe broken a glass or something.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dude, I don't know how you do it. I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than go back to waiting tables.

Let's just say that I do not suffer fools gladly. And that's a problem in the service industry.

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent! I like the Bill Clinton connection and the "weedy" surprises. As for me, sometimes I like to eat breakfast for dinner ;) Cheers on the new job!

Evil Spock said...

That's so cool. I've always thought about picking up a second job as a sous chef or a line cook because I thought it would teach me a thing or two about cooking.

I never waited tables, but I did expedite food.

Johnny Yen said...

Bubs-
Thanks! It did go well.

My schedule will be more flexible, and of course, I'll be working some nights.

Splotchy-
Thanks-- I'll be sure to put it on the menu if you ever visit!

I alternate between calling it lox and smoked salmon.

Costco has great smoked salmon/lox for about $10.99 a pound. I guess it's a little pricey, but I like to spoil my kids with things they like here and there. They're very good kids.

For my stepdaughter, the treat is the frozen yogurt on her waffles. A couple of years ago, not long after I started dating Kim, she was diagnosed with Acid Reflux. Her diet suddenly got very bland. I love to cook and am an old hand at finding foods that are tasty and healthy (why my cholesterol, etc. are all really good). Like my son's lox, it was a way of giving her something that she loved that is healthy.

Beth-
Surprisingly, no! We did have a lot of people going to or coming from. The "Pearl Jam" t-shirts were dead giveaways.

Andi-
It is going well, thanks!

Maybe you can sneak a place at the breakfast table with my kids some time!

Chris-
Be forewarned-- very, very pricey. Their burgers are $14. I recommend Jury's-- still great food, and much less pricey. And you can hang out with me and Phil.

Flannery-
Hey, if you play your cards right, maybe you can get paid under the table, and work as a server and still collect unemployment.

Bubbles-
Thanks!

That's exactly my feeling! The people there have been really, really nice about it all, but yes, I hate not knowing procedures, where things are, etc. It's funny-- in a week, I'll be able to do that all in my sleep.

Jess-
I have to admit I had to look "Clenis" up. Hilarious! My father joked that he wondered how the Republicans were going to blame the Minnesota bridge collapse on Clinton.

Macguffin-
There's always luck. My co-best friend who is an attorney, and I were talking about getting jobs. You send out resumes, fill out applications, answer ads-- and in the end 80% of the time you get a job because you know someone. I did with this one.

Barbara-
Yeah, trial by fire, for sure! I think I'm going to have a good time there. And make a bunch of money, of course.

Skyler's Dad-
You've got a point there!

Actually, I did do something inadvertently stupid-- I ran to the walk-in cooler to get half and half (for coffee). Someone had opened on up and put it back in the walk-in, which is actually the stupid thing. I assumed they were all closed, and trailed a stream of half and half through the restaurant, which I had to of course clean up. Maybe that'll count for a foul-up.

Vikki-
Fortunately, I'm good at ignoring things (and people) that annoy me. I got a lot of practice with my father as a youngster.

The nice thing about the business is that those who annoy me will go away in an hour or two.

Erik-
Me too. When I was a kid, sometimes my mother would make us waffles, with strawberry, whipped cream and sausage for dinner as a treat.

Trader Joe's carries a gluten-free frozen waffle, so I've been able to resurrect this tradition recently!

Evil Spock-
Having been an expediter, I'm sure that you know that sous chef takes a huge amount of training.

There are a lot of good places to take cooking classes-- it's fun to do as a couple with your significant other. My friend Jim got Kim and I cooking classes for Christmas last year.

Valerie said...

Congrats on a great first day. I hope they treat you well. You deserve it.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Do you ever think that Adam has an old soul, or are you taking all the credit of raising a kid so experienced and wise?

The Elk said...

Actually ,I think you bear a better resemblance to Marjoe Gortner rather than Bill Clinton.....