Archive for the ‘the “industry”’ Category
In preparation for my departure to the West coast (coming up this Saturday!!!) I came back to the midcoast to visit my family for a few days.
As I had not been to the world renowned and local hotspot, Primo, since my sophomore year of high school for a prom, we thought it would be an appropriate place for dinner. My parents don’t usually dine at Primo due to the high popularity and often long lines out the door. It continuously proves to be packed- for good reason! The food and the natural/local/sustainable concept is beyond impressive. Their cred is well deserved.
The restaurant, which has rooms and bars around every corner and on every level is very cozy and makes for an intimate experience available at each table. The land and the farms surrounding the old home are equally as breathtaking. The scenery is just the assist to the game changing menu.
My only qualm with the place, and my parents have notoriously noted this as they can vouch more so than I, is that the service tends to be average to below par. And I’m sorry, but if you’re spending that much money, fine dinning service is appreciated. I can only imagine the walks of people that pass through the place and the high maintenance level of some of the customers, but for a bunch of locals, who may not be the biggest “foodies” in the area, a certain level of respect would be appreciated. That’s just my opinion.
Warning: Don’t watch if hungry!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote the popular, Are you sure this is decaf? post that described some of the common faux paxs people make when going out to eat that make them look, well, amateur.
In the height of the summer season we get some pretty “special” customers. Customers who may think that because they hold “important” positions at “important” firms in bigger cities like New York that they deserve special treatment and don’t have to follow normal manners.
Over the past few weeks I’ve taken note of some incidents that generally drive servers nuts. Here’s a list of some of the bad manners I’ve seen displayed over the past month or so:
- The phone charger. Do not sit down to the table scouring your iPhone and ask the waitstaff if they happen to have a phone charger or ask, “Do you mind if I charge my phone?” and then proceed to walk across the room to the only visible outlet and plug in your phone and leave it awkwardly on the floor. This is not your office or your home.
- Interrupting and not listening. Apparently, interrupting, generally because one is not listening, does not apply as rude when in a restaurant to some people. Our menu changes regularly and often we have a lot of different specials to verbal to a table. Please let me finish before you start asking what the soup is or what the vegetable is. I’LL GET TO IT! I was at a table the other day saying, “…and the market veg-” when a woman interrupted me, clearly having not been listening, and said, “Wait- what’s the vegetable of the day?” This is when I take a deep breath and repeat, in the same exact tone, the exact words I was just saying.
- Elbows on the table. Now my mom would surely call me out on this right now as I am notorious for commiting the elbows on the table bad manner crime. However, it drives me absolutely bonkers when I’m resetting a table for a second course and I barley have room to put down a dinner fork and knife because a person and their elbows are taking up 3 feet of table space. Later when I drop of their entree, they’ll ask me for another fork and I just have to point a foot to their left where their lonely fork is lying due to the previous space occupied by said customer’s elbow.
- Stating the obvious. Say there is a table set for six and three people sit down leaving three empty chairs at the table. I go over to the table to offer the first three to arrive water. “Would you like bottled or tap wa-” and a woman interrupts to say, “Oh we’re still waiting for our husbands.” My response, “I can see that. Would you like some water?” Like DUH lady. There are three empty seats with menus in front of them and your reservation was for six people. Obviously you are waiting for more people can you please just let me pour your some water.
- Refusing to assist a struggling waitress. I know it’s not your job to help me clear your table, but when I go to clear a table of four and I’m carefully balancing a stack of plates and awkwardly reaching for that last fork wayyyy across the table and everyone at the table is just watching me struggle I often have to resist the urge to scream, “Can ya help a girl out and pass her your fork, please!?”
- Lastly, but probably the worst question you could ever ask a server….”So, what else do you do?” Do not assume that your waiter or waitress has another job. Also, at some restaurants, there’s a pretty good chance your waiter or waitress is making more money than you, so try to resist the urge to be demeaning.
This is a follow up with some must-adds agreed upon my coworkers and I. Please feel free to share any you feel I have missed! And remember, servers are NOT second class citizens.
Is it true that we don’t deserve something unless we suffer for it first? And do we really want to suffer for it if it means success brings about loneliness?
Sometimes I wonder if it’s true that we, as Americans, feel we need to suffer in order to make a reward ” well deserved.” I also wonder if people fear success for the inevitable loneliness it brings with it.
I was thinking about what to write for a post today and I got to thinking about what I like to write the most. Coincidentally, the posts I get most fired up about writing are the ones that people like the most. At first, I thought these were my cynical rant posts. At a closer look at my WordPress stats, that was not the case.
I got to thinking what these three posts have in common and started questioning their popularity.
The three themes these posts have in common is overcoming a challenge. The fist being overcoming the negativity a quarter life crisis can bring about, the what-not-to-say in a restaurant comments are overcoming and making light of difficult people and the published piece story is about the months of hard work I put in to a story I believed in to see it finally get published, overcoming fears and stereotypes.
These are all seemingly very difficult challenges that involved a lot of uncontrollable factors. People love to read about things that are difficult and love to read about how to deal with them. In each one of these posts, I don’t actually overcome th uncontrollable factors, I just find ways around them. People admire that, but do people want to go out and do things like that themselves?
It’s not easy to accept that some successes have to be achieved in different ways than originally planned. It would be easier to just sit around and complain and say, “Well, that’s not going to happen.” I know because for many years I was like this.
Now it is true that I posted all these stories on my Facebook timeline and that surely lead to an increase in traffic, HOWEVER, I have posted other blog posts on Facebook that haven’t gotten nearly as much traffic.
That brings me to another point. People love to be part of a group, just look at Facebook’s success if you don’t believe me. People want to feel that their successes are shared. I think our generation has a hard time succeeding on their own because of this.
I am no different. I recently undertook the task of changing my life. No easy feat for sure. I changed my “career path” to one that is seemingly very difficult to break into in the time of a down economy where the industry is constantly changing. I am planning on moving across the country. And I’m learning to let go of the things in the past that I cannot control. Growing up/changing my life- whatever you want to call it.
To know that most days I’m doing this all on my own is exhausting. Most days it doesn’t affect me as I’m excited for all these changes, but some days it’s just straight up difficult. I guess if it were easy, people would do it more often. What’s more is when you do something independently like changing your life and you do it for yourself, it’s not a bad thing, but it’s uncomfortable at times and lonely and most people avoid loneliness.
Which reiterates my second question, do people fear the loneliness that comes with success?
While you should almost ALWAYS leave a 20% tip, here’s a list of things you should almost NEVER say to your waitress. It’s not that they are so awful they are unbearable, it’s just that, well, EVERYONE says them.
I too have fallen guilty of these clichéd statements and questions at certain low points in my life.
The following list was generated by me, my co-workers and my fellow industry friends:
- “Do you have coke or Pepsi products.” Seriously? Does it REALLY matter? Are you going to order water if they don’t have Pepsi and you want Coke?
- “Oh my god, I hated it!” *guest gushes dramatically as the server clears their empty plate* False. You loved it. Variations of this obnoxious reply include “It was AWWWWful.” “Send it back.” ”It was horrible I need another one.”
- “I’ll have a decaf coffee. Decaf, please.” Server walks away. Makes coffee. Brings back to the table. “Are you SURE this is decaf?” No. I’m not. I made a cup of coffee two seconds ago and now I can’t remember if it’s decaf or not. This is the ULTIMATE. It’s a clear assault to a server’s intelligence. You may not think so, but trust, they do.
- You go out to dinner a little past the rush and the server tells you, unfortunately, that they are out of the soup. “Oh but that’s why we CAME!” No it’s not. And this isn’t funny.
- Fries placed in front of the guest. Server: “Can I get you any ketchup or aioli?” Guest: “Yes, please.” …… Yes is not a defining response. Do you want both? Or just the ketchup? Stop drooling over your fries and focus, please.
- Guest: “I can’t decide between the steak or the fish. Which do you like better?” Server: “The steak.” Guest: “Okay, I’ll have the fish!!!” Why do you even ask?
- Guest: “Could we get the check?” Server:”Absolutely.” Server walks away, waits in line at the POS system, prints the check. Walks back to the table. Guest hands the server the credit card or immediately places the card on top of the check presenter. Why ask for the check? If you’re not going to look and just pay for the thing without checking your bill, why not save your server some time and just hand them the credit card in the first place?
- Guest: “I’ll have the steak.” Server: “How would you like that prepared?” Guest: “Can I have it between medium and medium-rare?” No, you may not. This temperature does not exist. Medium rare is the temperature between medium and rare, that’s why it’s there. There is no “medium-medium-rare” temperature, probably because it sounds ridiculous.
- ”I’ll have the fish, but will you ask the chef not to over-cook it? No ma’am, I won’t, because I’m not going to tell him how to do his job. Would you like it if I came to your place of work and told YOU how to do YOUR job? Didn’t think so.
- Any statement that starts with, “I know this is a pain, but…” So you KNOW you’re being difficult and you STILL don’t care? It’s almost worse.
- The act of asking for bread IMMEDIATELY after your server has taken your dinner order. Generally, in nicer restaurants, bread comes after the order. Relax, you will get your carb fix momentarily. Try not to sound like you’re starving to death.
- “Can I have water with NO ice and lemon?” After your server pours you a glass of water with ice…REALLY?
- Server: “Are you folks interested in dessert this evening?” Guest: “No, but we’ll take a look at the menu.” WHY?!?!!
I’m sure there are others, but these are some of the classics. Next time you go out to eat, take notice at how frequently the people you are with uses one of these faux pax statements, or even take note of yourself and how frequently you are tempted to use one.
If you are striving for the best restaurant behavior (as my mother used to say) avoid these statements at all costs.
The other night a fellow struggling artist (would we call me that?) stopped in to the bar for a quick beer and we got to chatting about our mutual quarter-life crises. He was telling me how some of his art work was finally getting some long-over due attention, from what I hear, and he was starting to make a little bit of cash. I was happy for him, but I wasn’t envious. He was still struggling. He was living his passion and has seemingly more woe than wealth (not talking financial here) to show for it.
We then got to talking about my desire into PR. The main reasons being:
- I want a 9-to-5 job, incase you’ve been reading my blog and didn’t pick that up.
- It’s an industry that still allows me to greatly utilize my writing and my creativity.
- It gives me satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
- And, lastly, you can make a decent amount of money doing it.
When I was in high school, I was a naive, wanna-be anarchist that had long hair and a “f**k- you-authority” attitude (sorry Grandpa!). I listened to a lot of Nirvana and the Ramones and went to high school in a poor city where a majority of the teachers were kids who got picked on too much when they were in school and were on a power trip to get the “cool” kids back.
I didn’t need money. There was more to life than money and to conforming to consumerist society. I swore I would never be a part of it. I just wanted to write and I never wanted to sit at a desk from 9-to-5.
Enter me seven years later. I am aching for a 9-to-5 job. One that ultimately has me assisting in fueling a consumerist society. What can I say?
Maybe it’s because there aren’t any jobs now and I have always had a tendency to want the things which I cannot have.
Nah I don’t really believe that. But I do want that job, and, more importantly, I want it to pay. I know I may sound like a total sell-out, but hear me out.
I’m too stubborn and too independent to ever work a job where my creativity was stifled. Further more, I have a great support system who knows the real me and won’t ever let me lose touch with myself.
But money matters. And it matters so that I can do all those things I love and believe in. I don’t want to make a ton of money to have a nice house or a sick car, I want money to live comfortably, to travel, to experience life to the fullest and then write it all down. One does not get to do that for free. In fact, very few paid writers get to live that lifestyle.
So here enters the question that many 20-somethings are toying with, “Do I fund my passion or do I live my passion?” Each individual has to ask themselves that on a case-by-case basis, but I think the answer lies in what will bring you the most amount of happiness, of love of true life, for that is real wealth.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~Charles W. Eliot
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” ~Mark Twain
“Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.” ~William Hazlitt
“In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.” ~Stéphane Mallarmé
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ~Richard Steele, Tatler, 1710
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” ~Harper Lee
Reading, like grocery shopping, is a past time, a hobby even, that I think many people do without even realizing how special it is.
I love to read. Given my current hours, I’m trying to make more time to read before work. But due to all the other work I’ve taken on, I spend most of my morning, as I’ve discussed, running around like a crazy person multi-tasking my behind off, not always so successfully.
As I get out of work much later at night, reading instantly puts me to sleep if I try and read before bed.
I am trying to take 30 minutes before I have to leave for work to sit down and read, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Usually I’m using those 30 minutes to make one of my infamous make-shift lunches or tie up emails, etc. that I did not get to during the day.
Reading is, no doubt, a relaxing activity. It’s hard for me to spend 30 minutes of my go, go, go-style day relaxing, but I am trying!
However, due to the growing stack of books in my room, the activity now even seems daunting at times! How am I ever going to read that many books?!
How it is that I can turn a relaxing, enjoyable activity into a seemingly impossible task says something about my mental state these days and my inability to CHILL OUT.
Hence the above, said implemented 30 minute reading program, greatly encouraged by those concerned with my stress levels these days.
I keep reminding myself that I’m working towards something and that soon a sense of normalcy and some more free time will return.
The idea of coming home, cooking dinner, then snuggling up on the couch to read a book is so, so attractive to me.
“The barkeep-drinker relationship is a sacred one – like with a doctor, or a priest.” ~Anthony Bourdain on The Layover: San Francisco episode
This is the bar I spend most of my nights, and Sunday brunch, behind.
That’s a lot of time. A lot of funny, happy and even disturbing moments have happened at this bar. Mostly happy.
The souls that sit their behinds down upon these uncomfortable, but spin-able bar stools, have acted as a soundboard, assistants in my character development, a sources of entertainment and my therapists over the past few months.
I envy these 9-to-5ers who can call themselves regulars or just patrons passing though. I long to have the title of a bar regular. Where I can go into a bar, sit down by myself, have a nice dinner and a glass of wine and stumble upon unplanned conversation, be it with the barkeep or my bar stool neighbor. Where the bar tender remembers my favorite glass of wine and the troubles of my day job. Soon enough!
Speaking of regulars, the regulars that sit at the bar at Petite Jacqueline, you know who you are, are some of the finest human being I’ve ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with and I truly feel blessed to be graced with their presences through the weeks.
Anyway, the one part of my job that I still find excitement in most days, is the unknowingness of who will come and sit at my bar and what kind of conversations we will have. There are definitely some dull nights in which only couples who don’t really want to be disturbed and canoodle in the corner come in or bigger groups who are namely interested in themselves or on those dreaded nights when I only interact with a handful of people.
Despite some of the slow times, most nights I have at least one intriguing conversation. And, call me selfish, but as the cruise director of sorts, most of the converstaions end up being about something I’m interested in. Whether it be my big move to California, the nature of the industry I majored in, trends in the restaurant industry, Boston, traveling, wine, food, etc. I get to have a conversation with a total stranger, someone who I may have absolutely nothing else in common with, about topics I find interesting. That’s definitely a perk to the job.
One of the greatest feelings is that sentiment of contentness you have after having a good, stimulating conversation about a topic you find interesting. That feeling, that hey, maybe the world does make just a little bit of sense feeling is so gratifying. It’s relieving. It’s what sets us apart from other species, that ability to connect with each other. And it happens, more often then many other places, at the bar. The bartender- bar drinker relationship is an age-old one that is truly unique.
I believe that is what Bourdain is referring to. Despite my dissatisfaction with my current occupation and my driving desire to be in another one, I think that being a bar tender is a VERY important job and I’m proud to hold the title for as long as I do.
I currently have two different lives. The one before 3:30 and the one after 3:30 behind the bar at the Bistro. These days I find that I love going to work behind the bar because it’s when I get some time to relax. I get to chat with the customers and mix cocktials, it’s really more fun then work.
That before 3:30 time has me cramming in getting my freelance PR and social media work done, going to meetings and making connections, exercising and doing any other errands I need to get done. That time stamp, 3:30, haunts my entire day. I am constantly estimating how long things will take and planning my day and wake up time accordingly.
I almost always over estimate all that I can get done in those few hours before the bar. Often the reason I overestimate is because I don’t factor in distractions.
Focus and motivation. The two hardest things for me to come by. Focus more so then motivation. I’m pretty stoked to be working towards a career in public relations which keeps me amped and raring to go most days. While I have no idea how I’m going to get there I constantly remember a quote my dad read me from The World is Flat:
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.” ~Thomas Freidman
While I am usually eager to get up and start running, distractions often take away from that motivation. I place alot of this problem on my working conditions. I spend all morning in my apartment. When I don’t have meetings at specific times I find my focus is even worse. If I have meetings I at least know I have a deadline to get something done by.
However when I have unitl 3:30 to get a list of things done with no specific time or no serious consequences whether I get them done or not, it can be difficult not to stop and clean the kitchen, or the bathroom, or go through my clothes, or check facebook, or go through old pictures, or call a friend, or stop and have a conversation with my roommate, etc. etc. The distractions in my apartment are endless.
Simple solution: having an office.
If I had an office that was meant only to do work in, I think I would get a lot more done. Having a work space sets a trend for automatically putting you in the mindset of working, period. Given my lack of funds to rent office space, having an office is not going to happen until I have a 9-to-5 job.
Recently I wrote a post expressing one of the reasons that I want a 9-to-5 job is so that I can go grocery shopping more and cook dinner more frequently and with more variety. But, as I don’t have a 9-t0-5 job, grocery shopping is traditionally a little different for me.
I have mastered the grocery shopping trip experience for someone who doesn’t have a whole lotta money or time.
In and out. Two weeks supply. Sixty minutes or less.
It’s a true talent that has come with time and lots of practice.
First and foremost, a list is key. I must have a list to keep me focused otherwise I get easily distracted instantaneously by the unique and exotic fruits, vegetables and flowers when walking into Whole Foods.
Due to my schedule, I don’t very often eat dinner so that’s an important factor to keep in mind as well. If you aren’t in the restaurant industry, I strongly discourage you from following this plan.
I like to keep it down to the basics, which means pretty repetitive forms of breakfast and lunch, however you will note areas where variety can come into play. Here’s a pretty basic breakdown of my eating habits and the necessary ingredients.
Upon waking up I have some coffee, half and half and then make a protein shake. This involves vanilla whey protein powder, 4 bags of frozen fruit (you can mix it up and try all kinds of combos!- a new favorite is pineapple and berries), almond milk and occasionally I mix it up and throw some almonds into the mix.
After doing some running and writing I usually have a mid morning snack, an english muffin with either peanut butter, jelly or butter and maybe another mid morning snack of an apple or whatever other snack like food is around.
For lunch, this is where the most variety comes in, I generally pick one or two of the following combos…
I usually buy some produce for the first week. This is usually limited to tomatoes, cukes and maybe a few avocados dependent on what lunch combos I have planned for the next two weeks.
- Veggie burgers, pickles, a condiment (there are plenty of other condiments in the fridge to keep rotating, so one is enough.) buns, sliced cheese and the above mentioned veggies.
- whole wheat pasta, parmesan cheese, condiments (This is a go-to classic that has been a staple at many points in my post high school life)
- Sandwich thins, turkey, sliced cheese, pickles
- Beans, rice, shredded cheese, hot sauce, and, I recently introduced whole wheat wraps to this category. unfortunately my “wrapping” skills aren’t exactly up to par, so it’s usually just beans and rice on top of a wrap eaten with a fork and knife.
- cans of soup, rice can easily be added to this to make a pretty hearty lunch
- Rice, vegetables, salad dressing, feta cheese
(I try to cook in bulk as often as possible to save some time)
Keep in mind that I don’t buy all of these items every time. I usually only buy one to two kind of lunch options, usually that combine ingredient usage. Further, I usually buy coffee, half and half and protein powder every other week.
Therefore my list usually costs around $100. True story.
The next key factor to keep in mind would be the utilization of free snacks, food and meals. However it is important not to OVER utlizie. No one likes a mooch, and of course, the incident that sparked the Michael Kors project was not pretty.
However, I find my grandparents are always willing to prepare me a lunch and my mom, who recently lost a lot of weight and doesn’t eat that much any more, is always looking to give away food.
Why my mom packs leftovers EVER is beyond me. She never eats them. Sometimes I’ve come home with 3 to 4 Tupperware containers of my parents dinners. Enter free lunch and potentially extending the grocery shopping trip another few days.
Also, my parents always buy in bulk, packs of Canadian bacon, boxes of pasta, things of that nature. So I usually can score a few snack/base lunch items. Recently, my mom bought a bunch of steaks from a door-to-door meat salesman (yup, in midcoast Maine this actually exists). My dad, a true carnivore, refuses to eat the steaks that he deems not up to par. So now I get a few frozen steaks every time I go home. Unfortunately, they are almost all gone. There’s also the gift basket items, such as different jams and packs of english muffins that are of no use to her.
I think this post may give you some more insight as to why I crave a 9-to-5 job and normal eating habits so badly.
Seriously. I should write a how-to-guide on how to survive for two weeks off of $100 worth of groceries- from Whole Foods. That’s right I more or less get by for two weeks off of one grocery shopping trip. Mostly because I know I’m only cooking breakfast and lunch and won’t have time to dedicate myself to preparing a full meal. Also because I’ve been doing this for years and consider myself somewhat of an expert. (blog post explaining this phenomenon coming soon)
Given as I’m almost always working during dinner hours, I typically have breakfast, a mid morning snack and then a late lunch/ early dinner right before dinner service at the restaurant starts.
I hate not having dinner every night! I want to be able to go to the grocery store every few days. (Though not with that mass influx of people from 4pm to 6pm, but I guess I could deal.) I want to be relaxed and attractive and calm and enjoying my grocery shopping experience like everyone else in Whole Foods.
I want to be able to go and chat with the attractive produce guy as to what veggies he thinks will best accompany my pasta dish instead of tearing through grabbing only a few perishable items knowing if I buy too many they will just go bad and won’t be money well spent towards the two-week grocery plan.
What a novel idea it is to me to be able to go to the grocery store with a list of ingredients needed to make dinner and take my time in selecting which ones are best! Where I could stop and chat with the overstaffed team of green apron-wearing Whole Foods employees and make stupid jokes that aren’t actually funny but you laugh at each other to be polite and then encourage each other to have a nice day. Seriously, this appeals to me.
So today, given as it’s my day off, I did just that. It was nice. I didn’t have the usual sense of anxiety that accompanies my typical frantic shopping trips in which I’m just trying to cross off another item on my to-do list. I went and slowly perused the veggies, the wine and the fish overly excited to accept the tips that the staff so willingly wants to give. (On a typical shopping endeavor the over-friendliness of the staff really aggravates me, but I’m pretty sure this is due to my feelings towards not being able to grocery shop more frequently and buy what I really want to cook. I’m sorry Whole Food’s staff, it’s not your fault. You’re just doing your job.)
I even joked with the bag lady about how I was going to eat the whole thing of whipped cream and strawberries that I bought! She loved it! In all seriousness it will most certainly be gone by the end of the night but she doesn’t need to know that.
While I say the reason is grocery shopping, I think it has more to do with wanting to have a sit-down dinner every night. I think it is important to sit down with your family, your friends, your significant other, whoever really, and have dinner. It’s a tradition of humanity.
Growing up my parents stressed the importance of having family dinner every night, complete with a glass of milk. Even in high school. We could go out after school and after dinner, we could bring whoever we wanted, well, almost whoever we wanted, over for dinner, but we HAD to be there. No exceptions.
As much as I begrudgingly followed this rule, I’m glad I did. We had some of the best laughs over that dinner table. Most of the time, however, it was a serious time in which we talked about what we did that day, how school was going, etc. As you can imagine of a family complete with two, rebellious teenage girls some serious fights occurred too. Salt, pepper and any other available condiments that could be used to cover up the rock hard, grey steaks my mum had made were passed aggressively back and forth. Or not. I remember frequently denying my sister the ketchup when she stole all the attention. My dad would angrily reach over my plate to grab it and pass it to her.
We look back now and laugh and cherish those moments of dysfunction. While you could probably make a reality television show out of our family dinners then, and now- still, I love that food, that dinner, has always brought us together and probably always will and am eager to get to a place where I can continue this tradition in my own ways.