Sunday, July 15, 2007

You can be TOO good at a job

Early career lesson: You can be too good at a job
While in high school, I worked at a steak house restaurant. The entry level job was Coffee Girl. Coffee Girl walks around the restaurant and asks if you would like coffee, prepares such beverage and tries to look busy when the manager instructs her to offer coffee every three minutes. Round and round the floor I would travel, interrupting diners to ask, AGAIN, "would you like coffee?" In short time, one learned the subtle cues, like eye contact and body language. The trick was to ascertain the cues but still look as if you are asking each and every diner.
Thankfully a new chick was hired and I was able to retire the Coffee Girl laps.

The next step up was Salad Bar Girl. Really, this was a shit job but it was a step towards the more desired level of Order Taker Girl with Microphone. I decided to kick ass on the salad bar so as to get to the desired microphone. I filled in empty containers, fluffed salad, wiped and wiped and wiped spills. The worst part of salad bar duty was clearing the bar after closing. At hunch back posture. Coffee Girl was gone, Order Girl was gone and I have 20 feet of food and ice to make disappear. Alone. So, with no help, I wrapped food, poured endless gallons of hot water and wiped and wiped and wiped.
But hope was around the corner. Newer Coffee Girl hired so New Coffee Girl is next up to take over salad bar.
WooHoo! First night at the microphone! I am shining. My uniform does not have bleu cheese stains. My big job is to replenish cheese cake and Jell-O desserts.
Until new Salad Bar Girl flounders. Cute but trampy former Coffee Girl cannot seem to maintain salad bar in a timely manner. Salad is low, the counter is a mess and at least 12 items are low. During a lull on the microphone, the manager asks me to assist Salad Girl. I jump in, being full of teamwork attitude, ask her what she needs. Her big eyes look at me in wonder. Which items are low? You don't know? Go look. She tells me three items. I look. More like thirteen now. I instruct her to write down the items, go to the supply refrigerator and pull the items meanwhile I tidy the area. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally I go to see what the hold-up was.
Little BITCH is calling out orders. What the HELL? The manager tells me that Little Bitch just cannot seem to keep up the salad bar and would I mind taking over for the evening? I am PISSED. Will I have to do break down? Oh, no, he said, she will help you.
He lied. She leaves, I am doing the food sling again. I ask him if she will return to salad bar. Of course.
Next day, guess who is working salad bar? Guess who is New Order Taker with Microphone? You are so smart. Smarter than a 15 year old me.
The life lesson smacks me on the head: YOU CAN BE TOO GOOD AT A JOB.
Little Bitch is happy and bubbly. Manager is happy. Old Salad Girl is bitter. As the night goes on, Old Salad Girl's inner rage boils. Manager actually DARES to utter one minor critique of appearance of salad bar.
Old Salad Girl loses it. She does the unthinkable and shovels a piece of cheesecake in her mouth while shivering in walk in 'frig. She slings food. She curses. She gathers lettuce. She scoops out jalapeno peppers. And then she stops.
That's IT. It helps her deal with her unspent anger. She actually grins. She finds her inner peace and takes a long cleansing breath. Her eyes sting a little as the jalapeno juice is poured from a gallon bucket to coat the perfectly cut lettuce. Back to the salad bar, the manager smiles as the bountiful greens are filled. Salad girl smiles back.
In just minutes, a diner motions to her and asks for a glass of water. "Something in the salad is really HOT and spicy."
"Sure," she says, "I will tell the Coffee Girl to bring some water right away."
She sees Coffee Girl but says nothing. And smiles.

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