Friday, March 03, 2006

A very nice evening

Last night was one of those strange nights as a server, one of those nights where nothing goes wrong. Ideally, every guest experience would be perfect, but because of the human element, things go wrong. I didn't have a single returned food or drink item. I had no complaints, no unhappy guests, no problems. This is additionally surprizing because we were extrordinarily busy last night, which often puts the guest in a less than perfect mindset having to wait 20+ minutes on a week night to get a table at Red Lobster. We were on a wait for nearly 3 hours. I showed up at work, and it was deadsville, a handful of guests in the whole place. Within 20 minutes we were on wait. It was as if everyone called each other and agreed upon a time to show up at the same time. So the night went remarkably smoothly. I had a few guests that weren't the best tippers, but on a night like last night, I'm not going to complain about it. I might actually enjoy my job if last night was more of the norm, but instead it's a once a year occurance. Customer service of any sort is a tough industry to be in.

I've had some interesting jobs over the years. I once worked as a pollster, calling people all night long asking them their views on product or subject X. It was interesting when someone would answer and be willing to talk. For the most part though, it was the worst job I've ever had. Everyone was housed in a large room, with two lines of phone banks filling the room. My "cube" was right in the middle of the room, so the noise was quite high. I suppose at any given time we would have 60 people working the phones, and on special jobs they would bring in more people. The headphones we wore blocked out some of the noise, but if you popped them off at any point the volume in the room was impressively high. We were not allowed to bring anything into the cube farm other than a single item to drink from (which must be able to be fully sealed to prevent spills) for when our vocal chords needed some lubrication. We were ONLY allowed to have water in this room. Otherwise, it was you, the computer, the headset and nothing else. About half of the people working there were people who were paralysed from the waist down. I asked the guy in the cube next to me (who was paralysed) and he said that this was a great job, as it paid well, the people who ran it were understanding to their needs, and that the facility was set up particularly well for people who are handicapped. He said that the handicapped community was pretty well networked in that town, and that this job is often the fall back plan for him and some of the people he knows. They pick up shifts, or they will work there between jobs because they know they will be able to get in immdiately for work (this polling company couldn't keep enough staff to keep up with their potential customer base), and they know that they'll be respected and things will go smoothly for them. I understood what he was saying, as my mother has made a career out of helping handicapped people modify their home and work place. The other cool thing was that on break, we got to see some great pick up wheel chair basketball!

Another strange job I had for a period was working as the janitor in a diesel engine maintenence shop for a major trucking company. I would come in at night or on weekends and clean up after all the shop guys. The cool part of this job was I had to lear how to drive the Semi Trucks so I could move them in and out of the shop. Part of the job was power washing the trucks during the winter to keep them looking clean while they traveled the roads with snow and snow removal chemicals. It was a relaxed job where I could turn up the music and do my own thing. Not something I wanted to make a career out of, but it was fun while it lasted.

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