When Coworkers Become Family

I have been planning this blog post for a while now, going back and forth on what I would say now that the end of my college career and the end of my blog is here. I officially put in my two weeks notice to The Establishment due to graduation and it has finally hit me that I’m not going to be here anymore.

I remember my first week at The Establishment and how I hated working there. Everyone was so sarcastic, rude and definitely weird which made me feel ridiculously uncomfortable. I would have never thought I would have made as many friends as I did there and would be sitting here thinking about all the good times I had with them. The Establishment became a home to me for the past two years and three months and it’s hard to imagine not seeing their faces at least once a week. They truly became my work family and even a support system, cheering me on through all my school endeavors and making fun of my sorority girl ways.

So to tie everything up, here are 10 things I will miss about this place:
1. I will miss making weird faces at Nasser and him telling me I’m an idiot. I’ll also miss his supportive friendship and hugs.
2. I will miss Jim’s crude humor that is borderline uncomfortable but somewhat hilarious.
3. I will miss my regulars who have been so sweet and supportive of me since the very beginning.
4. I will miss Derek’s terrible outlook on life in general and him yelling at me for stealing the fries he just made, but never actually getting me in trouble.
5. I will miss the behind the scenes madness filled with curse words, flying food and shenanigans.
6. I will miss my talks with Morgan, whether we’re complaining about the restaurant or talking about the future or her puppy.
7. I will miss stuffing my face with pizza which has become a regular part of my diet.
8. I will miss closing at 2 a.m. to the raunchiest of background music and singing my heart out.
9. I will miss trying all the new beers and feeling cool because I like to believe I have become something of a beer guru which will probably fade with time.
10. I will miss Salvador and his singing and dancing skills. He also for some reason thinks I’m the coolest person ever (he told me this), which I’m not but I’ll forever hold that comment in my heart.

Even though I wont work there anymore, I know that anytime I come back to Peoria to visit my brother and friends The Establishment will be the first place I go to.

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Closing Time

After a ridiculously long shift at work there is nothing better than hearing the words, “Go ahead and close up” from your manager. For those of you who don’t work in a restaurant this is perhaps the most magical moment of the night, when all of your guests leave and you can literally zone out and not care anymore.

At the Establishment closing is especially awesome considering we are a bar with an awesome sound system and an awesome closing staff. During these late night hours is when I have made some of my best memories with my coworkers and managers. There is never a dull moment when it come to closing with the rest of the bar staff, blasting the most ridiculous music, grabbing a beer, and hanging up festive decorations. Nights like those are definitely the nights I’ll miss.

Welcoming the Newbies

One of my favorite things about being a server at The Establishment is our new server welcome. Not every server participates in this hilarious tradition, but when it happens, it is the best thing ever. You need three things to pull this off: A good idea, a poker face and an ambitious new server. Now, there are hundreds of pranks that have been played in this building, but here are two of my favorites.

The first: We had an eager new server who was really excited about starting his new job. The server training him told him that he was too busy to go grab more menus and politely asked the newbie to run into the back and go to the basement and grab more. Accepting the task, this poor new guy, who was afraid to ask for help, ran around our kitchen trying to find the door to the basement with all of the supplies. This went on for around ten minutes… If you haven’t caught on yet, The Establishment doesn’t have a basement. Eventually we cut him a break, and let him in on our joke. He didn’t find it nearly as funny as we did. Okay… It might not be that funny and just a little mean, but what can you do when you’re bored, ya know?

The Second: At the end of her shift, we asked the new girl to help out with sidework before we left. For those of you who have seen the restaurant coffee machines, you know there is a hot water spout attached. We asked her to fill up pitchers of water until the water ran out. She probably filled up around 25 pitchers before realizing that it was never going to run out due to the hose attached to the wall. Nearly 25 pitchers until she figured this out…

Moral of the story, we’re jerks who will probably laugh at your expense if you’re the newbie. Whoops.

When Friends Come For Dinner

As much as I love hanging out and talking with my friends, I am not a huge fan of serving them. It’s nice to get a chance to completely myself for a short while, however I think it is super bizarre to be bringing them every/any little thing they need and check on how their meal is going. Although I love when they come in, that dynamic is a little weird!

Did I really Just Say That?

It happened… The most dreaded moment ever. I called a sir a ma’am. This kind of mishap is on the same level as asking a woman if she’s pregnant and she’s not inducing a whole lot of awkwardness. I strolled right up to a table with the man’s back to me and dropped the pleasant “Hi ladies! How’s it going?” while I met his eyes thus discovering what I had just done. We just stared at each other for a hot second while the woman he was with laughed her face off. He cooly said, “I know I have long hair, but I’m definitely not a woman”. I was so mortified, that I actually said, “I’m so sorry, of course you’re a man. May I start over?” I took a lap around the restaurant, and walked back up to call them folks and introduce myself to start the meal differently.

They could tell I was embarrassed, so to lighten the mood they let me know it wasn’t the first time it happened and joked around with me. I’m glad that I got that mistake out of my system.

Moral Dilemma

This post is a bit more serious than my previous posts, but was an important moment in my serving career, so I apologize in advance. One thing that is never really taught to you as a server is that at one point or another, there will come a time where your ethics and personal values will be tested. It took a while for this day to come, but when it did, it was perhaps one of the most uncomfortable times of my life.

The night before spring break started I had a late night table come in consisting of a mother and her two very young children. Everything was going well, she was kind, but disconnected and seemed upset by someone she was texting with. When I delivered their appetizer, she started ordering shots of bourbon, four, one right after the other along with two (strong) long islands. Now, it may not have been fair for me to judge her for the amount she was drinking, but I am sensitive to drinking and driving and it’s a topic I feel strongly about. I didn’t know this person, I didn’t know how much she could drink or even how to approach the subject with her. It started to bother me that this woman was about to drive her children home, and that I was the one providing her the drinks.

I asked my manager if there was something I should have done, and was told that there wasn’t. I will never forget the discomfort I felt as I watched her leave with her kids, wondering if there was something I should have done or said, and the worry I felt for the three of them. Since I feel so strongly against drinking and driving, as a PSA, please don’t drink and drive friends! (conclude soapbox speech).

Shenanigans

Every once in a while you get a night that is horrendously slow, and Monday evening was unfortunately one of those times. On nights such as these, there is hardly anything to do but take laps around the restaurant and talk with your coworkers and the regulars. The key is to not look too bored though, because if the managers notice that you’re not doing anything, they can always find some upsetting cleaning project for you to take on. For some reason my managers always assign these tasks to me. Monday’s task was to dust all of the window sills and ledges… it was thrilling.

After my cleaning assignment was completed, it was back to absolute boredom. Thats when my coworker Ringo had the fantastic idea to play a game. I assume that every restaurant has a childish game similar to ours to help pass the time, but our game is titled, “Hide the Saltine Cracker”. It is a simple and ridiculous game, and rules are as follows: 1. the cracker must be in plain sight, meaning, it can’t be in a drink book or hiding in between napkins or anything like that. 2. It must be hidden in the FOH (front of house). 3. It can’t be in a place that would be disruptive to a guest.

I’ll be the first to admit that this game is as dry as the cracker we were hiding, but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. Ringo is quite the character and he knows how to make anything hilarious so I agreed to let him hide the cracker first. I have never been good at finding things. It has gotten to the point that I have to ask other people to help me find most things. I don’t know what it is, but every time I am looking for something I can find everything except for the one thing I am looking for. Anyways, I searched and searched and couldn’t find that stupid cracker until finally I look up and see it sitting on a ledge on the ceiling above a table. The ceilings are quite high and I was amazed that he was able to balance it up there. As always the person who finds the most crackers wins a drink, and I am happy to say that I enjoyed a lovely Sunset Beach that evening.

At the end of the day, I can always count on my coworkers to take even the most boring of days and turn them into something ridiculous.