Sunday, 24 July 2011

Working For A Living, Part III

Quotation of the day:  Oscar Wilde --Work is the curse of the drinking classes

You know, i'm normally not happy to be thought of as a member of the human race.  Generally, we disgust me.  Norway yesterday, Osama bin Laden, Hitler, the list goes on and on, serpentine, threaded throughout history.

Plus, also, too, it's human nature, it seems, to complain when things go badly but to elide when things go well.

So now i'd like to state that things today made me realise why i love what i do for a living.

Yes, yes, i moan about how much i hate it, how i'm employed well beneath my capabilities and education, working really hard for crappy wages in  mediaeval working conditions and surrounded by Neanderthals.

Today, though....  Yes, i arrived at work at 7.30 (as per usual).  I had a man scheduled at 9:00.  He didn't bother to show up at all.  I had another scheduled at 10:00.  She arrived late but was ill, and went home almost immediately.  Another 10:00 person wandered  in at 10:30, by which time the kitchen was already seriously behind schedule.  Another man showed up at 11:00 expecting to work in the nice, air-conditioned dining room -- we lassoed him and he had to work in Dante's Inferno, i mean, the kitchen.

So, seriously short-handed, seriously behind schedule on virtually everything, we then got seriously busy.  But do you know what?  We rose to the challenge and bloody hell it was hard work but we did it:  all went well.  And for me, that feeling of accomplishment is the greatest rush.

(Mind you, if it had gone badly i would have been slashing my wrists but there ya go.)

And so i rewarded myself, and paid a visit to my fave pub, Kelsey's, where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came, and their Sundays seem to run about as smoothly as ours do.  There was Nicole  (one of my favourite people there) behind the bar in a bit of a daze, a glazed look on her boat, saying how much fun she'd been having with obnoxious customers all day and how she loves going home early on Sundays LOL.

Poor Nicole.  Such a beautiful girl deserves better.  Shame i'm far too old for her....

Saturday, 23 July 2011

R.I.P Amy Winehouse

Dead at 27.

Not a surprise, considering the way she lived, but a bummer and a shocking waste of a great talent.  I loved her "Back To Black" album.

Although i've seen photographs of her looking wretched, here's the one i'll remember her by:

Monday, 18 July 2011

I Hate A &W!

No, i shouldn't say that.  I go in there for breakfast occasionally and it's fin.  Er, i mean, fine.  I love the sausage 'n' eggers, they've never let me down.

But, where i live, there are very few places within walking distance that are open past 8 p.m.  I often eat my din-dins later, and occasionally -- if i don't wish to wait for a pizza delivery -- A & W is only a two-minute walk away.

But, but, but why do i bother?  They almost always screw up my orders.  A few months ago (and i wrote about this) i ordered a coupla mozza burgers with flies. I mean fries.  I got home and discovered ... no fries.

Last night, i ordered a coupla mozza burgers and an order of fries.  It was more expensive than i expected, but that's cool (i said to myself), prices are rising everywhere.  When i got home, i found that they'd given me two orders of fries....

A & W has an on-line complaint form.  I complain, every time.  Do i get a response?  Well, of course, never, no.  So fuck 'em.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Working For A Living, Part II

I wrote about this once before, years ago, when i published a dead tree magazine, but it bears repeating as i am often asked the question "when is the best time to go into a restaurant if you want optimal service?"  People seem to think that i have inside information or something.

Suppose your beanery of choice operates from 11 a.m. 'til 11 p.m.  Going in right at opening time is no good, because the staff are most likely still scrambling to get everything ready, and will be unable to give you the attention you deserve.

Between, say, 11:30 & 1:30 is not a good idea, either, because the lunch service is at its height and the staff are too harried to pay much attention to you.  (Unless of course it's a crappy restaurant to which no one ever goes, but then, why would you want to go there?)

OK, then, mid-afternoon.  Er, nope.  The kitchen staff will be busy getting ready for the dinner service and the servers will be relaxing and smoking and gossiping and won't appreciate the interruption.  Sorry.

All right then, how about at dinner time?  Well... no.  For the same reason that going in at lunchtime is ill-advised:  everyone's too busy.

So, later on in the evening, after the dinner rush is over, then?  Well, gee, i hate to say this but that's pretty much out of the question too:  everyone's tired (some of them will have been there since before 11 a.m.) and they all want to clean up and go home.

So my advice?  Go in whenever the hell you wish, but if the server (or, less likely, the cook) <wink> screws up your order, don't get annoyed, accept it.  (And this applies especially if you have ordered something that isn't on the menu!)

(I see that there's a movement afoot amongst some of the best chefs -- the refusal to cater to special requests.  I agree whole-heartedly even though i'm just a grunt in a chicken joint.  The point being, according to the chefs, that they created the dish to perfection to begin with;  saying you want extra havarti or no chestnuts indicates that you are a charlatan and you deserve to be tossed out on your arse!)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Working For A Living

Being musings on the nature of the hospitality industry and its joys and horrors....

In spite of my relative intelligence and education -- in the 99th percentile in the OPSATs (2nd highest in Ontario in English for that year) (my friend Ian scored the highest) -- a B+ in Canadian Studies from York University and the second (or was it third?) highest mark in my college computer course, i chose to enter the restaurant bizness.  Unlike most of the people who are in it, who are only in it because they couldn't find anything better, couldn't get a job in the factory, i entered voluntarily.  So here i am, underpaid, under-employed, working really hard in lousy conditions (always either too hot or too cold) surrounded by people who behave like they're just down from the trees...

So maybe i'm not so smart after all, and yet, there was a time when i loved it.  Not that i'm allowed to use my creativity, working in a franchise as i do nowadays, but that was a part of the original appeal, the art of cooking.  And there are still aspects that i love -- as when we get really busy unexpectedly but manage to serve all of the meals smoothly, it's the greatest rush imaginable.  (When we get busy unexpectedly and fail to serve smoothly, it's a ginormous bummer though.)

There are people i work with that i like:  Rose and Cassie light up my life;  Marilyn is one of the few in the kitchen i respect; and i'm always happy to work with Billy & Patty.  Most of the waitresses are great lumps but there are a few cute 'n' perky ones (Laura's arse is a work of art, oh, but there's me slipping into "dirty old man" mode again)....

I'm planning to write a pilot for a TV sitcom.  Set in a restaurant.  It'll be about a gifted but neurotic cook and the zany antics that result from his attempts to deal with surly waitresses, incompetent managers, daft kitchen help and a scuzzy salad girl....  I shall call it "Chicken On Wry."  Probably be the biggest thing since "Friends."

Not about me, obviously.  Any resemblance to persons living or dead, etc.  Besides, if it were about me the cook would be gifted, neurotic and a babe magnet

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Black Country Communion

Quote Of The Day: Wilko Johnson -- The greatest line in rock 'n' roll is, "Awopbopaloobob Awopbamboom."  Top that if you can!

I just bought the new CD by Black Country Communion, entitled (uninspiredly) "Black Country Communion 2."  Oh, look, there's its cover down there, the pic appeared like magic out of nowhere.  In case you hadn't heard, B.C.C. is the latest blues-rock supergroup (and i love blues-rock) --  Glenn Hughes (of Deep Purple), Joe Bonamassa (best blues-rocker guitarist working nowadays) (IMFFHO), Jason Bonham (son of John, of course) and, er, Derek Sherinian (well, every supergroup has someone unknown in it LOL!).  (Rick Grech, anyone?)  Is it good?  Well, yes, it's bloody brilliant.  According to the Sunday Mercury ( "This is classic rock goes large, an album that lives up to its heritage. It may not be bettered this year." I tend to agree.

Don't believe me?  You can download a (free) bootleg of their June 19th performance in Washington here:

Or check 'em out on YouTube.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Canada Day (Was Yesterday)

But i had to work all day.  Here's possibly my favourite Canadian song of all time (sorry, Helen!):

I'm trying to think of a drummer who's better than Neil Peart....  I can think of a few who are as good as, but...?

How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?  Ten.  One to change it and nine to point out that Neil Peart could have done it better LOL