You Work In a Restaurant and Not In an Office When…

Posted on Thursday 8 June 2006

you come to work sick, and no one else on the staff cares if you are sick, because they’ve had whatever you have or are getting whatever you have. In an office, when you call out sick, it’s just fine. You work a little from home, and everyone thanks you for not sharing the bug. At a restaurant, you drag your sorry behind in, pump yourself full of Tylenol or Dayquil or whatever, and function. If you are REALLY that sick, the managers will send you home.

…going to the restroom is part of your job. To keep it debris-free and clean, that is. That’s right, I chose this job.

…at first glance, you don’t recognize many of your coworkers when they are wearing their “civvies.” When crisp white shirts, ties, and starched aprons are replaced with baggy jeans, T-shirts, and baseball caps, I have no clue who anyone is until they look me in the eye and say, “What, you don’t recognize me? I work here!” We have 100-plus employees, remember. At my office job, I could predict with great accuracy what everyone would be wearing on “casual Friday.”

…you never know when quitting time is. Some days I get cut at 3 p.m. Other days, I am hanging around until 4:30 or 5 p.m., because someone called out or didn’t show up on time. I figure I have a possible 8-hour range of workable hours. At my past office job, I counted down to 5:01 p.m., and then–see ya!

…each day begins as a question-mark, and no two are ever alike. In an office, Tuesday melds into Wednesday, and Thursday feels like it will never end. Every week someone at my old office piped up with the predictable: “Can you believe it’s only Tuesday? Doesn’t it feel like it should be Wednesday?”

…the minute you walk out the door, you leave it all behind. You can’t take the podium home “to work on it later.” Thankfully.

15 Comments for 'You Work In a Restaurant and Not In an Office When…'

  1.  
    Wilson828
    June 8, 2006 | 9:31 pm
     

    Geez ….. when people who work with and serve food are sick, they should especially stay home and not pass the germs. Dedication to one’s job is admirable and commendable, but not when you have access to germing so many people. There are those of us who carefully wash our hands before we eat. We carefully stay out of the way of those who sneeze and cough all over, etc. Then we go to a restaurant and expect a lhigh level of cleanliness and sanitation and you’re telling us that people are working while sick? This isn’t odd to you?

  2.  
    Jackie
    June 8, 2006 | 9:54 pm
     

    It’s true though. When I worked in the biz, you didn’t call out unless you were on your deathbed or in the hospital. I once had pneumonia and could barely sit up and my boss ordered me to bring in my doctor’s note THAT DAY. The restaurant needs “x” number of people to run efficiently, and your calling out screws it all up. And NO ONE wants to work for you on their day off. We learn to cough into our elbows and try not to breathe on your food.

  3.  
    June 8, 2006 | 10:30 pm
     

    Ditto on the sickness. It’s not worth the teeth-pulling to get someone to work your shift; you might as well go in. To Wilson, just because someone is sick doesn’t necessarily mean your restaurant experience will be contaminated. It isn’t a bunch of preschoolers back there. We know better than to sneeze, cough, or breathe on your food. We wash our hands as often as we can; frankly, you’re in more danger of catching a cold from the booth next to you than you are from us. If the server is really drugged up, you might not even be able to tell that they’re sick.

    And Amen to leaving work at work.

  4.  
    June 9, 2006 | 6:52 am
     

    Wilson–Don’t fret. We do send people home from my place if they are clearly sick–trust me. And, my hands, and those of my coworkers, are raw from washing them so often with antibacterial soap. Besides, I am pretty confident I caught my latest bug from someone riding my bus who didn’t wash their hands or cough into their sleeve.

    –The Gal

  5.  
    SkippyMom
    June 9, 2006 | 8:57 am
     

    I thought this post was great! Especially the melding of the days in the office and the leaving it all behind when you leave. Nice!
    As for working sick – no one wants to work sick or make others sick – but restaurants frown on calling in for any reason – you run the risk of not being put on the next schedule or of getting a crappy station or in some cases fired – mgmnt doesn’t care – they have an establishment to run. A doctor’s note isn’t always available either – b/c how many workers actually have insurance? Not that mgmnt would even look at them…..
    Thanks for the post!

  6.  
    June 9, 2006 | 9:37 am
     

    It’s funny to see people dressed casual, when you’re used to seeing them dressed a certain way. It almost feel unnatural. =)

  7.  
    June 9, 2006 | 12:37 pm
     

    My restaurant is severely under staffed. There was a day where I would take an order, barf in a sink. clean up. Bring the food out, barf in the sink, wash up. and so on. My manager wouldnt let me go because we had so few people. I wonder if anyone could tell I was sick.

    I work both an office job and a waiting job right now and I agree 100%. I like knowing when im going to get out. I like making a mess in the bathroom and not cleaning it up… well from being the person that has to clean it up, I clean it up. At least I dont have to wear a dumb uniform at the office

  8.  
    June 9, 2006 | 8:50 pm
     

    peppers waiter–which job do you like the most?

  9.  
    AppleBarGirl
    June 12, 2006 | 12:23 am
     

    To Wilson– Of course, it’s odd. But that’s what it’s like to work in a restaraunt. Calling in is simply not done.
    And please, before you tell me to get a “real” job or a “different” job, let me just say that getting a 9-5 job isn’t feasible when you’re in college. This is the only job where I can make up to and including $15/hour +, and still be able to attend to my school work. We take precautions to not contaminate our customers, but the real problem lies with management. Restaraunt workers are a dime a dozen in nearly all chain restaraunts and it’s easier to fire a sick worker than to cover a week’s worth of shifts. If you see you have a sick waiter, ream the management, not the server. Odds are, it was easier to excavate the lost city of Atlantis than to get their shift covered or call in.

  10.  
    Ex-Restaurant Manager
    June 14, 2006 | 1:01 am
     

    AppleBarGirl is right – I worked for a nice Annapolis restaurant for a year or so, back of the house, on the line. Near the end of that stint, I got a wicked case of the flu. Fluids coming out all over the place. Nasty. The kitchen manager told me that I needed to come in. I was young and stupid, and came in, and my fever was so high I was completely loopy. AssManager told me I needed to work it off, sweat it out on the line, youll be fine tomorrow.

    I sweated it out, and the next day called in, and AssManager asked me for a doctors note.

    Which I gave him, but he was still pissed that I didnt come in and work.

    So, yeah, some of them dont care about infecting their patrons, they only care about how many covers they can put out, and know that if they can get the grunts to come in, then they wont have to actually dirty their hands on the line.

    Some of them. They arent all like that.

  11.  
    Jen
    June 15, 2006 | 10:25 pm
     

    Love your list. Every point could be made about working in a retail pharmacy chain. You do not call in when that means condemning the rest of the shift to a night of complaints about waiting…. Only difference is that in a pharmacy the only distinct day of the week is Sunday, otherwise known as birth control day.

  12.  
    June 16, 2006 | 10:00 am
     

    Hi

    Do you miss the office job sometime?

  13.  
    June 16, 2006 | 10:04 pm
     

    Mukta–Sometimes I miss being a professional writer and editor. But I never miss the office. By the way, your blog is great. You are a gifted writer.

    –The Gal

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