Wednesday, January 19, 2005


$20, for a cheeseburger?!?!?!?!

So here is the aforementioned "job" post.

My first real job was my summer after my freshman year at college. I was a night shift room service attendant at the Sheraton Civic Center in lovely Birmingham, Alabama. I completely lied and said that I was looking to get into hotel management and this was a good way to start. Hotels are cool and if someone gave me one, I would run it, but only if it was small and on the beach.

So I got hired and realized that I was the only white kid working there. This didn't bother me but being the sheltered little suburbanite that I was, it honestly took me about 2 days to learn the slang, accent and euphamisms of my co-workers. So after acclimating to the job and workers (after all I'm an introvert, it takes me a while to warm up to people), it was a great experience and I am now a much better tipper than before.

Basically the job was: sit around drinking water or juice from the dispenser, occasionally eating a roll that we had in the warmer, phone rings and the receptionist takes the order and prints out an order and it simultaneously sends the order to the kitchen so they can start making it. But it was a good idea to check and make sure they got the order, just in case. Then we would grab a tray and a fancy paper placemat. Get their glass of water, silverware, tiny salt and pepper shakers, basket of rolls, butter, oh and a flower in a vase to class it up. Then we would wait on the order. Or if it was soup or dessert, we would make it ourselves. I had one or two people bitch about how their soup wasn't hot enough, so I began to ensure that never happened again. We had an industrial microwave in our "waiting/prep" room, and I would put the soup in for a good 3 minutes. I could barely touch the bowl when it was done. I feel sorry for the people who dug into that soup too fast.

So after the order was ready and nicely plated, we would grab a silver plate topper, put the tray onto a cart, and put the food into the "hot box" which was a metal box with a lit can of Sterno, and wheeled all of that to the service elevator and delivered it piping hot to our customer. And sometimes got a tip. Hopefully. I had a few good nights, some awful nights, and mostly mediocre tip nights. But I wasn't really smooth at the beginning, but I caught on and got better.

All of you know that room service is expensive. The cheapest thing we had on our menu was the cheeseburger or chicken sandwich. They were both $10.95 I think, but add in tax, delivery charge, and 18% gratuity (goes into a tip pool and is equally split depending on hours worked) and those sandwiches cost $19.89. How do I remember that price so well? Because after someone hands you a $20 and says "Keep the change" you tend to remember that 11 cent tip. Thanks Baller. I should've changed that dime into pennies and thrown them at his car from the roof.

It was an awesome job really. The fast nights were crazy and the time flew by, and the slow nights were fun because you had to make some fun. Once on a wicked slow Sunday night (yes, 3 orders in 7 hours is wicked slow) the manager left for a hot date or something, so we sat around, played some cards, talked, the cook made some mashed potatoes with sauteed onions and some wings, which was amazing, and enjoyed our "time off". It was great.


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