Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

After staying up and seeing in the new year with my grandson, Jayden, I awoke early and headed into work around seven. The diner was already fairly busy with a large crew of men who had just help clean up the mess from an accident down south.

As I walked around the room pouring coffee, one customer asked me if I was happy that another restaurant had gone under. His feeling was that now I would probably increase by it. I told him no. I know how hard it is to make this kind of business work and I don't like seeing anyone go under. Although I don't know Jody, I do know how hard that must be on him. The demise actually makes you more aware of all of your own costs.

I took note of another customer at the counter grumbling on his bill. I wanted to say something about the minimum wage law but held back knowing that the customer would probably not understand what I was saying or just wouldn't care. I reassured myself that my prices were very fair.

An error was made on an order. The highlighted ticket clearly said, "No Gravy". The cook put gravy on it. I quickly looked through the tickets for another similar order that we could use it on. Not finding any, I gave the order to the dishroom. The waitress was a little upset at the cooks mistake. I told her to let the customer know and asked the cook to get the redo out quickly. As I worked, the cost thing came to my head. OK, the waitress is angry because she might get less on her tips. I have just lost profit on at least three orders. Those are thoughts that a good restaurateur pushes out of his head or it will drive him nuts.

A short time later, one of the waitresses took out the wrong order. Now the same cook who had made the error earlier starts to get angry because she is busy and must now redo that order because of the error of the waitress. I chuckle inside at the fact that she must have forgotten her own mistake not an hour earlier and then began thinking, "Wait a minute, I am the one losing here.". I mark down both of the mistakes on my mistake list and then notice that no one has put anything down on it since before Christmas. "No one is logging the mistakes!", I declare. "That is because we haven't made any.", the same cook slyly replies with a grin.

I had figured on a steady day but had decided not to open up the back room. I felt that we would probably be able to keep up pretty good up front. Two large groups came through the door and that idea was quickly shelved as I called up Judy and asked her to come join me. Judy arrived shortly thereafter and took over the serving in the back room.

My next couple of hours were a steady stream of lining up orders, pushing waitresses, cleaning tables, pouring coffee, serving customers, helping the greeter figure out where to place the larger groups, scanning the floor for problems, backing up the register, and talking to customers. Although it is stressful, I smile inside realizing that I am doing what I enjoy.

In the middle of it all, I took a call from an old friend who lives where Casey has moved to. Casey is having some medical problems that have concerned both Judy and I and it felt good just knowing that an old friend was close by in case he needed it. I ducked out to the office to talk with him and was really enjoying the conversation when Judy stuck her head in and said, "Gas smell in the kitchen.". I quickly broke off the call and went looking for the problem. The only thing we could figure was an pilot light on one of the grills but all seemed to be in order as we checked all of the things on the line. The smell left and we went back to our chores.

I realized that I had not heard from Jayden so I stuck my head in the office to find him working away on the computer printing out some NCAA football helmets for something he was working on. Jay is a very bright young man who loves creating things. He will keep himself occupied making up games. His latest is setting up football leagues all over the world. He has even came up with logos for the teams in his various leagues. "Hey Papa, guess what AFA stands for?". "I don't know, how about A Funny Apple.". "No", he giggles, "Australian Football Association.". And then he will proceed to tell me all of the teams, their names, their mascots, and show me their logos.

A few minutes later, I notice Jay standing next to me. "Papa, can I have some lunch?", He asks. Looking at my watch, I realize that it is nearly 1PM. "Not yet, little buddy. Wait till it slows down.". He frowns and then notices Judy walking across the floor. He heads her way as he knows she will not deny him.

Around two or so, Judy and I sit down to lunch and joke with one of our regular customers who sits with us. She had been helping out Judy in the back room so we purchased her lunch for her. She said that maybe she should apply for work here and I told her that she probably would not like me as much then because I do push people when we get busy. Without looking up from her food, Judy agrees and tells her that I even push her. I go off on my lecture on how we are not on the main road and we must keep everything as sharp as possible to insure that the customers will remember their experience and want to come back. Realizing that no one is really listening and knowing that I have work to do in the office, I kiss Judy and leave to finish my job.

The next few hours seemed to fly by as I worked on a variety of projects and took note of the changing of the shifts. As Judy left, I told her that I would wait until the evening cashier showed up before leaving as we seemed to be still pretty steady. As I worked away on bills at my desk, a knock on the door brought one of my customers into the room. He wanted to know if I knew the score on the game. "I wouldn't have to ask if you put it on your TV on the floor.", he said. I put the TV in my office on and we watched and talked as USC was soundly beating Penn St in the Rose Bowl.

He left to join his group and I called Judy to let her know that I would be coming home soon. I grabbed up all of my stuff and headed into the diner to say goodnight only to find that the diner was nearly full. Putting my things down on one of the chairs, I dove back into the work. Pouring coffee, joking with customers, delivering food, and cleaning tables, the next couple of hours flew by and I finally headed home around seven.

Judy fixed us some supper and we ate while watching a food show on the travel channel. After supper, I looked at my options for the evening. I could read a book. To tired. I could look for a movie to watch. To tired. I could work on the computer. To tired. Realizing just how tired I was, I drug myself off to bed. Just another day.

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