Parmesan cheese and a $50 dispute

So I finally have some down time after a hectic 2 weeks. This whole morning has been one long sigh of relaxation. I had smoked salmon, gruyère, spinach, eggs and an exquisite cup of flat white for breakfast somewhere in Canterbury. I’ve tidied up my room, changed my sheets and my last batch of about a ton of dirty laundry is currently spinning in the wash. I’m sat down with OJ that I pressed myself, it’s all good stuff.

Soooooooo yeah. Onto some waitressing stories. I did a quick mental count and I’m very surprised that I’ve only been working at the restaurant for 2 months. It feels so much longer than that. I’ve had 3-4 shifts per week on average since mid-May and whatever money I make has been covering all my transport expenses and my phone credit. I think I said all this already. It’s just that I feel fantastic about being able to do that. I even have enough for lovely nights out on the town and Melbourne does not have an inexpensive nightlife. There is a ton of fun to be had though and if you’re savvy enough to find places that offer $2.50 pots of beer, then it balances the nights you have $20 cocktails.

I’ll be working all this weekend and I’m feeling alright about that. Classes start next Monday and I’m a bit apprehensive about next term’s timetable. I’m really hoping it’ll be possible to squeeze both jobs in without having to sacrifice my weekends for the next 2 months. There are way too many interesting things happening from now till September and I will be sad to miss out on all of that.

So the job is pretty simple, no heavy brain work involved but you do have to be alert and on the ball for a couple of hours. There are 2 bells to listen for, the main course dishes and the pizza. So now, every time I hear a bell outside the restaurant, I have to fight the urge to go into the kitchen and bring out a plate of gnocchi or a veal scalopini. It’s amusing. I’ve broken a plate and spilled a drink (not on a client, thank goodness), but apart from all that, I’ve done well enough for the resto to consider me competent and reliable. I think I’m the first one they ring whenever an employee can’t make a shift and they have to find a replacement on short notice. They’ve steadily given me more hours, which is very good news.

So the main job is getting the food and drinks out as quickly as possible and clearing tables as soon as customers are done. I think it’s toned my arms a bit, which is a good thing. I don’t take orders yet, which is fine with me as it looks too complicated and tiring. I have started leading guests to their tables and handing them menus now though. It’s fun.

If there aren’t a lot of people around, I polish a large amount of cutlery. So what I do is fill the bucket with hot water a third of the way and then add about a cup of vinegar. Apparently it brings the shine out and dries the cutlery much faster that way. The first time I did that, it took me 1.5 hours to get through them. My left shoulder was still sore for about 2 days after that. I’ve gotten a bit faster than that now.

The place has a mafioso-looking owner and his name is Frank. I felt really intimidated and small when I first met him but he’s been really nice to me and I think he actually likes me. He’s thinking of sending me to coffee school! I dunno when though but I hope it’s soon, like September. I have to get an RSA on my own though but that only costs $60 and half a day to get so that’s fine. I need to have decent hospitality skills before the summer break. The city’s cafés and restos will be packed with tourists and locals and will probably look to hire a few extra hands.

There’s 3 managers who take turns in supervising operations. I get along well enough with all of them, but have had a few clashes with one of them. I’ve learned to adjust to him and we’re okay now. There’s Paul who does the hiring and managing the payroll and then, Victor, whom I suspect is a bit soft in the head, a kindly old gentleman who is not a very effective supervisor but he’s nice and I like him. He calls everyone in the staff good girls and boys. “Christine, could you take these drinks out to table B11? That’s a good girl.”

I’ll get on to talking about the staff later on. I’ve decided to have a wee nap before I go to work later.

Oh yeah, a quick side note regarding the post title: whenever I bring a pasta dish over to a guest’s table, I always have to ask if they’d like some Parmesan cheese. And the resto owes me $50, they only gave me half of the money I was supposed to get on my last paycheck. The accountant messed up and forgot to stick another $50 in the envelope but put in the entire amount in the books. So it’s really a matter of my word against what’s logged in their accounts. That’s hours of exhausting work and it may not be much to some, but that really goes a long way for me, especially in terms of covering expenses. Hopefully I can sort things out later with the manager.

Next up, I’ll try to muster some writing enthusiasm for the lexicography one. It’s great fun and I’m hoping to pick up a few useful skills by the end of the contract. Like making apps for the iPhone. At $1/app download, that would be a very useful thing to know indeed. What fun!

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