Today was That Day

Sometimes, you know your new job is a bad fit right from the start. By day three, the voice you try so hard to ignore is saying, “Yeah, this is not for you.” Or worse, you are already crossing off calendar days in anticipation of getting through the next 11 months and 27 days so you can have a year at said dreadful mistake of a job on your resume.

Sometimes, you are thrilled with your new job. Giddy, in fact. I love giddy, even when I know a crash landing has to be just around the corner, because NO job is that great. But, for the first few weeks, all is very good indeed. Then your manager quits, is fired, or one day just doesn’t show. The giddiness is very quickly replaced by the “Oh shit!” feeling.

Sometimes, you get along pretty well at your new job. But the reality is that you are coasting. You have performed no amazing feats, yet you do okay–just not great. You don’t do damage, thankfully, and a few times in those first months, you might even do some good. You are dependable, earnest, and you are pretty sure your GM knows that. Thus, your work life is good.

Then you have the day that rattles your comfort zone, even when you haven’t allowed yourself to feel too comfortable, because you are still a new girl, sort of. Today, or rather tonight, was that day for me.

And yes, you could say, the honeymoon is over, or you could come up with some other cliche. Regardless, after seven weeks at this job–a job that involves doing multiple jobs with varying levels of responsibility that varies with the shift–I had that day.

I sucked. I underperformed. I didn’t keep up. I screwed up. I tried to smile through it. I succeeded in smiling sometimes; I wasn’t always successful.

“You okay?” asked the assistant manager.

“Sure,” I replied, smiling brilliantly. Was I frowning? Guess so. I am horrible about wearing my emotions on my sleeve, forehead, cheekbones–you name it.

“Everything alright with you RG?” asked one of the servers.

“Of course,” I answered brightly. God, get it together and quit scowling, I told myself, even though I hadn’t realized I was scowling.

To be fair to myself–but only a little–the Saturday night guests were an unusual assortment of characters on this night. I take full responsibility for my idiocy, but they didn’t help any, and they certainly contributed to the circus-gone-bad atmosphere.

Their fault: Being rude and crude beyond “normal” rude and crude.

My fault: Letting it get to me.

Their fault: Being humorless and somewhat dense.

My fault: Letting it get to me.

Their fault: Poking my arm while I handed out menus, my back while I walked them to their table, my shoulder any time they pleased, and even the podium countertop while I took a reservation on the phone and tried to gesture I would be with them in just a moment.

My fault: Letting it get to me.

Their fault: Lingering forever over dinner.

My fault: Still not being able to update the tables as quickly and accurately as I should.

Their fault: Scolding me three times about how horrible their tables were, even when they were the only tables we had and they didn’t have a reservation.

My fault: Not moving them to the only other equally horrible tables, because that probably would have made them feel happy in the notion that they had beaten the system, or something.

Their fault: Treating the ladies room like a laundry basket or trash can.

My fault: Not being able to take a moment to clean the ladies room because I kept getting pulled away to update tables, seat people, answer the phone, etc. And someone complained about the condition of the ladies room. Great.

Their fault: Making a reservation for 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m., and 9:30 p.m., and then showing up when they damn well pleased, which was the initial reservation time they requested: 7:45 p.m.

My fault: Not helping the busboy reset tables fast enough because I am, and always have been, clumsy at clearing dishes and carrying multiple place settings. Don’t even get me started about pouring water so the ice doesn’t splatter all over the floor.

Their fault: Oh, never mind. It was what it was.

My fault: I just didn’t get it done tonight.

I hate “that” day. This day. Because it is so necessary and so predictable. And I know it’s just one night, and everyone has a bad day, and I am only human, and all will be forgotten and forgiven (I hope) by my next shift.

But this day–“that day”–it still feels like crap.







10 responses to “Today was That Day”

  1. Sharon Avatar

    I’m having one of those days, only it’s lasted about a month. I know it will pass, and so will yours. But it does suck while it’s here.

  2. last one home Avatar

    Saturdays are always the worst for me. 24 years of having one day a week that is almost always just a big pile of “worst case scenario”. There isn’t any help or repair for it other than a hydrogen bomb–people are unfortunately people, and it always seems that the best people stay home or go to someone else’s restaurant on Saturday night. I have the unique perspective of seeing my entire staff go through the same thing every week, and it may help you to know that everyone probably feels just like you, you’re just too busy to notice their stress. Hopefully you have some days off soon–it will all fade away quickly–till next week ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Katie Avatar

    Those days are the worst!

  4. Kim Ayres Avatar

    This is where you should spit in their spaghetti, pee in their champagne and do all the other things we hear waiting staff do to customers that treat them like crap. I wouldn’t make a habit of it – clearly that kind of behaviour could become addictive – just reserve it for those days when it would really lighten your evening…

  5. Julie Avatar

    Oh, I hate days like that. After they’re over and I’m home, it’s all I can think about… and, boy, can I obsess. I hope you’re not.

    I’m sure that everything is fine since everyone knows what those days are like.

  6. Willow Avatar

    Bad days in a new job are kinda like a dent in a new car. You can relax a little now that you’ve had your first one.

    You sound like you did a good job really holding it together. You avoided blowing up. God, I don’t know what I would have done if I were poked that many times. I think I would have snapped at a customer, heaven forbid. But you didn’t do that. Good for you.

    Does it help to hear “I’m sorry”? And, “I’m pulling for you”?

    (And that on bad days like the ones you’ve described, I always have a warm, purring companion/comforter who loves me unconditionally and will cuddle up next to me while I try to decompress?)

  7. Jenni Avatar

    on the upside… now that you’ve had that day you don’t have to worry about when it will happen… and even though you let them get to you in the moment.. the moment has passed =) and tomorrow will be better!

  8. Ex-Restaurant Manager Avatar

    Hey, RG, sorry to hear about your bad day. As I used to say “Buy it, own it, and move on. Don’t let the Bastards win. Just let them think they have.” To remain sane in the “Paradise” that is South Florida, you need to erase your hard drive after you walk out the door. Although it does make for good blog posts ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Gypsy Avatar

    I feel your pain. My fiance and I opened a restaurant 3.5 months ago and it is such a learning experience for me. He’s the one with the restaurant experience (chef and management); I’m just along for the ride. My first really bad night is still haunting me. I just try to keep smiling.

  10. Restaurant Gal Avatar

    Sharon–Hope that month-long day is over soon!

    Last One Home–Bad feelings fading away as we speak.


    Kim–Now, now, sir. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Julie–Didn’t obsess. Just felt a bit down about a lousy evening. Pushing beyond it now.

    Willow–Yes, it always helps to hear nice thoughts from my readers. Really. And, by the way, very good, sneaking in the reference to the pet! Still pondering what to do about that. Will keep you posted on what I decide.

    Jenni–Actually, that is exactly what I was thinking as the night went from bad to worse.

    Ex-RM–Crap erased from hard drive and replaced with beach scenes.

    Gypsy–I don’t know whether to offer best wishes or condolences on opening a restaurant! I do wish you much success, however. I have opened three restaurants as a staff member. Makes working in an established restraurant seem like a cake walk. Good luck! (Would love to know where the new place is and how it goes for you–drop me an email, if you like.)