I am now employed with Laurel.wood Public House and Brewery. They have several locations in the greater Portland area; I work at the one in Battle Ground, Washington. That means I live in Oregon and I work in Washington. Fun times. Laurel.wood is a reataurant/bar and they brew all their own beer. Beer is a pretty big deal up here in the Northwest. They don't drink Bud.weiser.
I've never worked in a restaurant before, so what am I doing at Laurel.wood? Well, my roommate, Erin, works there and she helped me get the job. Erin is an amazing server. I am "support staff". That means that I host/bus/expo. I like hosting, it's mostly about public relations and staying on top of open tables and which servers you last sat. Bussing is, in my opinion, disgusting. People are gross. I didn't know what expo-ing was until I got this job. Expo-ing is the art of putting the final touches on the food, making sure the orders are correct, and delivering the food to the tables. Expos are kind of the liaison between the kitchen staff and the servers. I think it's the most stressful part of the support staff position.
This past week I was trained in all 3 areas. Want to hear an embarrassing story? Of course you do. Last Thursday I trained as an expo with this guy named Ben, who is really good at his job. I was kind of enjoying learning to expo, it's kind of fun because you get to prepare some of the food and you're in the kitchen so you don't have to deal with customers very much (I like customers, but they can be so rude). The only thing I wasn't liking about expo-ing was carrying those giant trays. You know, the ones that servers hold on their shoulders? They're really big and awkward and when they're piled with plates of food, you have to be pretty strong to carry them. I'm not. So I was practicing in the kitchen, with empty plates.
So here's the story: It was Thursday night, the restaurant was pretty busy. The executive chef was helping us expo and he told me to carry one of the giant trays, filled with plates. All day I had been refusing to carry those trays and I have been making Ben do it. But this time I decided to be brave. It was my first day on the job and I was thinking I couldn't be a wimp, I had to confidently take on this new job. So, I picked up that tray, put it on my shoulder, turned around, grabbed the stand, Ben held open one swinging door for me, he asked me if I wanted him to follow me, I said, "no, I got it!", I kicked open the other swinging door, started walking through the doors into the dining room, the swinging door that I had kicked promptly swung back towards me, hit the tray that was resting on my hand and shoulder, and clattered to the ground, breaking dishes, and ruining multiple expensive and time-consuming orders of steak, seafood, and ribs. Yes. That happened. My worst nightmare. Maybe the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me. And the ENTIRE kitchen as well as the ENTIRE dining room witnessed it.
I didn't even try to help clean it up. I did a 180, went back to the expo line, and vowed to never come out of the kitchen again. I cannot explain to you how embarrassed I was. I'm kind of a perfectionist and really hard on myself anyway, so this was killer for my embarrassment level. Even now, like 3 days later, I'm still mortified when I think about it.
The amazing part? No one gave me a hard time about it. Everyone was really nice. The kitchen staff (which they all talk crap to each other all day/night long) didn't say anything mean and neither did any of my other coworkers. In fact they all told me their own similar stories of dropping things and assured me it was just part of being in the food service business. I was so thankful and relieved that they were so nice to me. Pretty much all the staff has been working there together since the restaurant opened in September 2009, so they're all really close friends, and they've been so welcoming and nice to me.
So there you go. If you ever had any illusion of my life being fun, easy, or perfect (which if you read this blog, I have no idea where you would have gotten that idea!), now you know the truth.
Battle Ground, WA is about 25 miles from where I live in Portland. I have to travel up 205 North, over the Columbia River, and when it's a nice day, with no clouds (somewhat rare), I can perfectly see a pristine picture of Mount Hood. It is glorious and makes the commute 100% worth it. And even when it's a little cloudy, I can still usually see the bottom half of Mount Hood, and I know the rest of it is there. And even if I can't see it at all, on really cloudy days, I always know it's there, and it comforts me and makes me feel better about living over 2,000 miles away from my home.