TalesFromYourServer: Understaffed and SLAMMED; or, how I earned my day off.
Obligatory LTL, FTP. Been serving on and off since I was sixteen. I’ve been at my new serving job for about two months, and only yesterday seemed to be material for this sub.
Our little Americana Chic diner has had trouble with the schedule lately. We have three strong servers (A, B, and Me), for day shift, then two strong servers for evening shift, plus a handful of teenagers who can’t be scheduled to work more than four hours without parental permission. We’ve been desperately trying to hire someone, anyone, who would be a good fit for the team. We’re all close, and we all work hard and watch out for each other.
Day before yesterday, our head server A came down with a stomach bug. And so did her husband, our head cook. The manager sent them home, after triple checking that I’d be okay until my 11 am Teenage Relief came on two hours later. Yeah, no problem. Got hit with a bit of a rush, it stormed and the power went out in the afternoon, but all in all, not a bad day. I get out, go home.
Right before scheduled closing time, A messages me asking if I can take her opening shift at 7 am. Yeah, no a problem, I’d rather work 7-3 than 11-8. I call the manager, she calls the manager, it’s all cleared, we’re good.
I get in and open and at 8 am B comes in. B is great, if a little negative, but hey, any team is better than no team. As I learned at 11 am, with three tables of my own, and a party of six that B has taken.
Then came the phone call that changed my entire shift.
B’s grandpa was in the hospital, in another state. Her grandma had called her on shift. I sent her to the back, promising to run her food, if I can get a five minute breather after she’s back. She runs back in, crying, and grabs her stuff apologizing and rushes out (which is completely understandable!)
I had just been double sat on top of my original tables, and now I have this party of six to take care of as well. And it’s not even noon.
We were in a steady rush for three hours, from eleven to two. Which would be great, with three servers on the floor, and a host seating people, taking cash and delivery orders. But nope. Just me. My teenage relief from the day before came in, but just to get her check.
Here’s the kicker; everyone was SO NICE TO ME. My manager, the cooks, the customers, everyone was so extremely wonderful. I was stressed, frustrated, and trying my damnedest to keep the FOH going. And everyone was so nice. Big tips, customers trying to clean their own tables, no one bitching at me about the ticket times or if we’re out of something or not.
So of course my natural reaction is bawl like a baby.
Did I mention I’m three months pregnant?
I ended up staying an hour over my scheduled shift to cover until the next server came in, and talking to the manager about how we can possibly avoid me coming in the next day (especially since I have my three year old, and I miss the kiddo when I’m at work), getting free fried pickles and chicken strips to take home. He hasn’t had contact with A or B in hours, and he tells me straight up: we might not be able to open unless you can come in, but only if you can find a babysitter.
I get off, get home, and crash. I was exhausted after 9 hours of almost non-stop working on my feet with my back killing me. I play with my kiddo in the hose/pond, I feed him dinner, and I ask around for a sitter.
Then at 7 pm, when I text my boss telling him I can’t get a sitter, he replies:
“I got in touch with A and B, they’re coming in tomorrow. You enjoy the day with your son and take care of the baby. See you Sunday!”
TL;DR: I took on a Friday lunch rush by myself with the best customers and coworkers ever and cried myself into dehydrated jerky, and came out on the other side, alive, with a full day off.