Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How to Not Succeed in Business While Really Trying

Work. I don’t think I’m cut out for it.

It isn’t that I hate work, or can’t handle it. It’s just that whatever I try to do always seems to escalate into a Wacky Series of Escalating Mistakes, that we may Laugh About Later, but might lose A Lot of Business, Money, and Respect in the World, right now.

Here are some of the reasons I’m beginning to suspect that I may not win the Most Valuablest Employee of the Month award anytime soon. These, generally, are true:

1) Employees who’ve been there a month tell employees who’ve been there a week that “It’s okay. He’s new.” Even though I’ve been working there for three months. I guess I just give off that naïve, wide-eyed, new guy aura. I’ll be at my retirement party, spill the punch, and somebody will say, “Don’t mind him. He’s new here.” And nobody will notice!

2) The glares I get from the fellow coworkers are beginning to seem more weary than angry. As if their glares of malice have withered into mere glares of resignation.

3) When I tell those around me that I’ll be leaving in a few weeks, it’s hard to tell if they are *upset*, *saddened,* or merely *chagrined,*- what with their smiles and jumping and heel-clicking.

4) All my pre-packaged phrases and repetitive clichés are beginning to run together into one sloppy, mess of incoherence. “Thank you for hello of the smiling enjoy server right this way balloon crayon one moment burger, please,” I’ll say with a chipper smile naively plastered on my face. It won’t be long before somebody is heading to the bathroom and I say, “Enjoy your food.”

5) Sometimes I say things that I regret later. For example, a nice woman and her child walked into our fine dining establishment. Her child had short hair and a green tanktop. The child looked like a girl, so I said, “Will you want a kid’s menu for her?”

Suddenly, my eyes widened in fear. What if… what if the child was actually a boy. I mean, the kid had short hair and a baseball cap and everything. Then his entire gender identity could be scarred for the rest of his life by my callous ignorant remark! I had to say something. So I came up with the best recovery in the history of Red Robin…

“I mean…” I stuttered, “He or She…”

“It’s a she,” the mother said.

So. While I had had a 50-50 chance if I had just shut up, I completely blew it by saying essentially, “I have no idea if your child is a boy or a girl. He or she could be completely androgynous, like a Sea Sponge or C3P0, for all I know.

6) I don’t seem to be given very… pivotal… responsibilities. When the manager is giving jobs for the hosts to do, he says something like, “Johnson! I want you recalibrating the Silverware Distribution Line, honing it to maximum efficiency! Chavez! I want you to call into Corporate and reorder 12 stock in items 56-32a and 3 stock in 74-23. Pyle! I want you to set up three 12-top tables in sectors 5 and 2, aligning them in a way to not offend the religious sensibilities of Muslims, feng shui advocates, and scientologists! Patton! You’re on command duty, you’re in control of who gets sat where. You have great power, but great responsibility, got it! I don’t want a four-top sat at a two top, or a three top sat at a seven top, you got that! And Daniel… uh… I guess you can open the door for people and say “hi” to them and stuff. Do you think you can handle that? Because if it’s too tough I can have you just stand over there instead… Out of everyone’s way…”

I think my major problem is two-fold. First, I can’t do anything right. That contributes heavily to my failure rate, as you can imagine.

Secondly, I’m too… nuanced.

Most people decide where to seat people via the George Bush Method. They squint at the seating map for a second, grit their teeth, look up and say, “Eh… we’ll seat ‘em at 32.”

“Uh… why… table 32?” I ask.

“I just have maself a good feelin’ ‘bout it,” they say. And then they stick with it.

I decide where to seat people via the John Kerry method. “Well… I guess in this case it is possible to consider seating at 71, but on the other hand, 71 is too close to the child at 72. But if we seat at 70, they’ll be too close to the sidestation, most likely. 60’s too cold, 66 is too close the fire exit, and 44 too close to the kitchen. I suppose 52 is a possibility, but we just sat in that server’s section three minutes ago. But the server at 54 isn’t experienced enough to take more than three tables and we could consider taking them to 13, but they’re probably a bit too large for that table. Table 41, on the other hand, is too large for them. Table 12 keeps wanting refills on their steakfries, so *of course* we can’t sit them at table 22. Naturally. And besides, table 10 won’t work with a highchair, and table 24 won’t work with a booster seat. The light streaming through to table 73 is a bit blinding, and the music is too loud at table 50. They aren’t old enough to sit at the bar, and it’s too hot to consider seating on the patio. 32’s in the center, so they won’t like that….”

By this time, the customer has either left or has faded away into a crumbling skeleton covered in dusty cobwebs.

But hey, with no customers, we can save *thousands* in labor costs, by letting go some of our workers.

But who to start with first?