Monday, June 29, 2009

162 - When your coworkers shift all their duties on to you

I've been bartending for over a week now, and I've been doing exceptionally well at it. I come in every morning, pour myself a glass of orange juice, and for the following twelve hours, I do my job as if I love it, because I truly do.

I can see the same passion and work ethic in the eyes and behavior of the man that hired me. He owns four restaurants, and in order to fully respect my Boss, I must adopt his internal devotion to providing customers with high-quality service.

The thing is, though, I can't say the same about some of my coworkers, especially this one guy, who I will give the alias, Gaston, for now.

As people in the food and drink industry, us waiters, waitresses and barmen, all have our preferences as to who we want to serve. My Boss likes to serve the big tables, keeping track of what twelve different people are eating and drinking at the same time, while I like to cater specially to the customers who seem to be a little wealthier. My logic is that my extra bit of effort put into serving these diners will generate more tips, and therefore more profit for the business, and more wages for the entire staff, including me, of course.

Now, Gaston is an assistant manager. Gaston enjoys what he does, and is good at what he does -but that's only if he's focused enough. What I mean is, he likes to talk to the ladies.

It ticks me off. Because he then gets too distracted with his lady-friends to actually do his job. He tells me to clean this, pour this into that, hand this over to that person over there, while he gets to entertain beautiful women sitting at the bar.

He shouldn't even be behind the bar. And I hate how every evening, he orders me to clean the beer taps, and the coffee machine. They're really annoying to clean, to tell you the truth. So shouldn't we take turns cleaning it, as it's such an undesirable job?

I guess not. Just because he's my superior, wearing the black shirt that demonstrates so, then I, wearing the white shirt that signifies my inferiority, must always perform these difficult and tedious duties.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

161 - When your boss gets impatient or bossy

So today, I started working at my new bartending job. This is my first job, and with it, I got a new boss.

Actually, I got three new bosses. I think one is the owner, one is the manager, and one works the floor. What the difference is between their three jobs is beyond my apprehension, but I'm sure that the three of them are all equally important in keeping the Belgian restaurant/bar I now work in running.

So let's start with the owner. I think he's French. I was delicately handling this piece of weirdly shaped drinkware (pictured right), when all of a sudden, he exhales a humongous sigh. I look at him, and he's shaking his head. He comes over, and he tells me not to be afraid of using force when cleaning the glasses. Now, look at the glass of Kwak. The glass looks fragile, doesn't it? Why the Hell would I use force...? I'm just trying not to break anything!

The Belgian manager told me that I looked bored when I polished glasses, and that I should always up my game. Hell, yeah, I'm bored. After wiping a hundred glasses, it gets boring! (I guess he has a point, though. Bartenders need to look energetic.)

The Chinese floor manager was the most impatient. He kept making kissing noises to get my attention, instead of actually calling my name. What that's about, I have no idea. He would then direct me to something, just to make me move here and there, climb this ladder, place these bottles in the lower fridges, clean the glasses on the left, wipe the coffee maker clean on the right, check behind me for any new orders, look in front when polishing, turn back to answer phone calls, turn back again to pour beer, one Stella Artois, two Leffe Brunes, one Kwak, two Hoegaardens, one cranberry juice - no ice, three Cokes, one Leffe Blonde, polish these glasses, go get more ice from the kitchen, go throw out the trash, go get more milk, go give a pint of beer to the chefs in the kitchen who will use it to flavor their mussels Belgian-style (????????), there's another order for three Leffe Blondes!, one fruit punch, two glasses of housewine, that tab is being paid for, tell Alex to serve these gin and tonics to those ladies over there...

This was all over the course of two hours, so I had plenty of time, and it was okay. It all went down smoother than I expected, and nothing broke, nothing spilt, nothing went by with flaws.
That's not to say that I don't have a newly discovered respect for bartenders, though. They have to remember a ton of stuff. I guess bosses are meant to be bossy, in that, they're just trying to train me.

That Chinese floor manager still could've helped a bit, though...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

160 - When people don't take advantage of the opportunities to do stuff when they're on vacation

I went to Bintan, Indonesia with my class for a week on our graduation trip. The Nirwana Gardens Resort was so nice. To be honest, it was a lot of fun, and there wasn't a whole lot to hate. There was one point on the trip where I was reading my biological-anthropological book, by the pool, near the beach, tanning in the sun, with a citrusy alcoholic beverage by my side, next to a plate of spaghetti, and half a dozen sticks of chicken satay. Life could not get any better, all my needs were satisfied.

I know my classmates may be reading this, waiting to see what Michael hates now, what Michael just didn't feel right about, like the many times he didn't think see any good in something or someone.

So I will give it to them.

Half of us tried to go out as much as possible. We went kayaking, swimming in the pool and at the beach, played beach volleyball, ate local food (e.g., pineapple fried rice, calamari, seafood, nasi goreng), saw the sunset, drank, sang karaoke, played poker and blackjack, did some archery, and rifle-shooting, and dancing at the resort's club. Right now, my skin is peeling like crazy from going out in the sun so much, but the finished product should turn out to be awesomely tan in a couple of days.

I was so surprised by the fact that the other half of us stayed inside the resort villas as much as they did. They even brought their laptops, and their Playstation 3, and all the technology they would fill their time up with back here in Hong Kong. At night, they would watch movies, and in the early daytime, they would sleep. They did go to the pool, but only for the poolside bar, and they did go to the beach, but only for a few hours altogether.

I don't get it. Why not just do that in Hong Kong, on an island in Hong Kong? What a waste of money it is to go to some foreign place only to sleep in and stay indoors. Why is everyone just going to sleep when they feel tired? Sure, everyone is tired, but now that we're back, you have the rest of the summer to sleep and rest, don't you? Wasn't this supposed to be a graduation trip, filled with late-night chats, and late-night dips in the ocean, and late-night card-playing, and drinking, and bonding?

Sigh, but to each their own, I suppose. Some people like to take advantage of the locally available facilities, while others would rather use the time to relax. There are people that actually like to travel the world, and 'test out' different hotels' services, to compare their customary quality. I could never be one of those people... I must try out the food, learn a bit of the language, explore the place...

What do you guys think?
And did you miss me? (I promise noooooow I'll be a more active blogger.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

159 - People who insult something that you like

"What's so good about the beach? Who cares about the beach, man?"

A line like that irritates me, and pains me. I certainly don't hold that shitty attitude when people are talking about their favorite places to go. I try to be open-minded, I try and enjoy the environments that other people are fond of and are well-adapted to when they bring me there, but of course, of course, I have my preferences.

Given that we're all different people, sharing is caring. Seriously, why disrespect my life, and what I like, so rudely? I spent a fair amount of time living next to the beach, and I love it.
I don't go, "What's so good about shooting each other with little plastic balls?" or "What's so good about having fifty pairs of shoes?"

I don't say, "Canadian education's a frickin' joke, man" or "Screw the USA, UK for the win!"

Jeez, some people...

I understand, though, why some people may not be fond of the beach. The water gives your hair this unbelievably discomforting feel to it, and for some people, the consistency of the water hurts their eyes. You also risk getting sunburnt, and there's all the trouble of spreading sun-protection lotion over your entire body, giving this totally unpleasant, oily feel to your physique. And the sunscreen gets washed off by the sea anyway, and you have to put on sunscreen once more after every time you enter the water. And the lotion makes the sand stick to you. Lotion or none, when it's time to go home, you spend ages brushing the sand off your back and your limbs, between your toes, inside your shoes and your bag, in your hair, in your towel, in the little crack on the screen of your phone...

Okay, I get the point.

But, that's precisely why we go to the beach. That's why we go hiking, and trekking, and camping, and backpacking... getting dirty is the whole point. Don't complain about the sun. Don't complain about the water. Don't complain about the sand. The beach is there for adding a bit of color to your complexion, for swimming in the great blue sea, for building sand castles, and for playing volleyball on.

You know, it's just 'cause some of the people I know are city kids who don't know how to appreciate the beauty of nature, and would much prefer spending the majority, if not all, of their leisure time on this treacherous contraption known as a computer for days on end, getting a bigger and more cushioning arse, getting obsessive over the vast variety of digital wonders and media available on the internet 'til they're braindead, and getting sickeningly pale from basking in their tenebrous rooms like a crepuscular creature of the night.

Buuuuut, I like doing that, too, so who am I to talk? I guess my personality is too all-embracing to really limit myself in any way.

But going back to the beach, there's very little that I personally find wrong with it. My eyes don't get red in salty water. And my skin doesn't get burnt.

But I do hate sand in my stuff, I have to say...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

158 - The cup sizes in coffeehouses

Say I wanted a large cappuccino to go.

The barista will then ask me, "Do you mean a

No, I mean a
large, because venti is Italian for 'twenty'. Tall is a synonym of large, and grande is Spanish for large. It's actually quite amusing, because, in fact, venti is the only one that doesn't mean large, and it's the only one in Italian.

And when I say I want
large, I am speaking in American English, implying that I want the biggest of all the cups, the cups available being small, medium and large.

I find it quite ridiculous that if I wanted the smallest cup, I would have to request a tall.

To them, tall means small.

I seriously, don't get it. So, to you, your
smalls are talls? What?

You call
smalls, 'talls'?

Seriously, why don't you just
call your small, 'small', afterall, from what I can recall, small does not mean tall, small means small, 'cause tall is taller than a small, and small is smaller than a tall.

Is this some sort of joke? Is this an attempt to make us feel like we're getting a lot of coffee for the same price? To make us feel like we have tall cups, and grande amounts of coffee in our cups? Is this Starbucks trying to give us the sense of "we can be like sophisticated Italian coffee consumers, 'cause we've got venti-ounce cups."

It probably is a marketing ploy. But, dude, it doesn't make any sense.

I refuse to play this game with the coffeehouse people. I want 'the big one' and that's final.

No, not a venti, not a grande, the big one. If you give me anything smaller, I'll only ask you to supersize me.