how to be a world class multi-tasker.

3 Jun

Something really unprofessional that I do lately is that the word “hold” on the portable phone at work rubbed off and I can never remember which one it is so I never put people on hold anymore, just keep my thumb over the receiver so they can only hear a partially muddled version of the shit I’m talking about them.

Anyway…

Sometimes in the restaurant business you get really really really unexpectedly busy and you have to multitask. This isn’t like the amateur night texting and driving kind of  multitasking, this is the real deal – if you had to do it I promise you that your feet would blister and you’d be begging for a cigarette break whether or not you’re a smoker*. Nights like these are usually a Thursday or a Sunday when you aren’t anticipating a big hit, or maybe a weekend that some asshole server and bartender decided to get concert tickets together and both call in sick. Regardless of the reason, sometimes the staff-to-customer ratio is just off balance, and what that means is that I occasionally have to do work other than schmoozing and updating the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Tonight was one of those nights. I don’t usually work on Sundays, but all the guys skipped town for a bachelor party and left me with a B-team staff to-the-max. No offense, but this crew was seriously like the Bad News Bears of foodservice. And rain on a Sunday might ruin your afternoon, but for me it’s like ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching. So as the clouds rolled in, so did the phone calls. On nights like tonight, it gets busy faster than you realize, and suddenly you’re sprinting across the dining room carrying an armful of menus, a full tray of beers and a new roll of toilet paper on your forearm like a chunky new bracelet. You’re also on the phone taking reservations and saying hi to all of the customers who want to know how your kid is doing these days.

That was me (complete with toilet paper accessory) except I also had to pee like so bad it was making my eyes water. I felt like I might have a chance to go, so I unbuttoned my pants as I headed over towards the bathroom. A waiter came jogging by (we all have to jog when it’s this busy. You should know this) and asked me to quickly grab him a tea from the back. While I was pouring the tea someone else called to order takeout, and I put them on a quick hold so I could get the waiter his tea. As I handed him the tea he asked me to drop a check at a table, with whom I decided it would be a good idea to have a 5 minute conversation about what’s on TV tonight and how I’m so excited to watch Mad Men and Girls and the MTV Movie Awards and that Harry was missing out on all this quality programming and instead choosing to watch tits at some rundown strip club in Atlantic City even though my bladder was starting to scream in pain. After I finished up I sprinted to the party room bathroom (I had my pants halfway down before I even got there because sometimes I forget that it’s in front of a full wall of windows and that even though it looks like a mirror on my end it does not look like that from the other side) and as I sat down on the toilet the phone fell out of the pocket of my pants and I saw but it was too late. The phone was on. And my thumb wasn’t over the receiver. So instead of getting takeout, the dude on the other end got to hear me pee.

Tonight wasn’t the first instance of multitasking gone awry, oh lord no. My most impressive habit is that if I’m ever doing anything (this includes listening to music or staring at a blank computer screen) I NEVER remember to ring in takeout orders. The other day I was in a meeting working on some marketing and I took an order over the phone for a well done burger and roasted chicken. They’re the two things on the menu that take the longest amount of time to cook so to cover my lazy ass I quoted them a half hour so I could mozy over to the other side of the restaurant to put the order in the computer and the kitchen would still have ample time to get it prepared. Except that I didn’t mozy at all, nor did I saunter, or even get up. My marketing guy asked me how I get the order to the kitchen. “I send it telepathically,” I told him in the most sarcastic asshole way I could muster up, because obviously I was gonna go ring it in, how stupid was this guy?? Twenty minutes later a waiter came into the office asking if I knew anything about a takeout order. I had to take the back route to the kitchen and hide behind the line while I gave them the order without the dude who was picking it up realizing that I totally just never placed it. That’s the thing. If you’re gonna fuck up, you need to be able to  giggle through it like a ditz and then people don’t hold it against you.

In the case of my work husband Ryan, multitasking sometimes becomes insulting. This weekend he was in the middle of calling one of the servers a clown when a table headed towards the door. Bidding them adieu turned into “Have a nice night, Clown.” Bet we’re on that family’s list for places to come back to immediately.

*Sidebar: Everyone in the restaurant business is a smoker. It’s pretty much a prerequisite. If you don’t smoke cigarettes there’s a major reason – you’re pregnant/you have no lungs anymore/you prefer crack/your mom instilled incredible morals upon you/you can’t afford them and everyone is tired of you asking them to bum a smoke. For me, it’s the crack thing. Cigarettes are for boring people.

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