Imminent Change

I stayed at each of my first serving jobs for 11 months.  That’s all I could handle between shitty coworkers and horrible management.  When my year mark rolled around at Chili’s, I was surprised to notice that I didn’t feel like slitting my wrists.  I’ve enjoyed my 2+ years at Chili’s, but I’m keeping an eye on other opportunities.

Obviously I don’t want to wait tables forever, but I can’t get a different kind of job as easily because of my school schedule.  My tips are decreasing, the traffic in to Chili’s is dwindling and, quite frankly, I’m sick of the corporate bullshit they’re slinging around trying to stay afloat in this economy.  I need to find a new serving gig.

An old Chili’s coworker and my cousin are both working at the Olive Garden down the way.  They both claim that the management is awesome, and tips are even better.  Looking at my past few months of tips, I’ve been lucky to get $70 a shift.  In the past month I’ve been lucky to make $60 a shift, often only scraping 40-50 bucks on average. I was making over a bill each shift before I moved here, and while it’s understandable that the clientele change would lead to a decrease in tips, the amount of traffic we’ve been getting has also been steadily decreasing since my first shift at this location.

All in all, it looks like I may need to make a change if I hope to keep paying for food, gas, and bills.  My husband and I are attempting to start up a tutoring business (more on that as it develops) but until it’s gotten off the ground I’m still going to need an income.  I’m thinking we won’t be able to replace our jobs with our business for at least a year, maybe two.  Until then, I’m thinking Olive Garden may be the way to go.

I’ll keep you updated on this front, and fear not — I’m sure I will still have bitching to share once I make the change.  So for at least the next few months, continue to enjoy my bitching about Chili’s, and I’ll continue to contemplate my job situation.  Woo-hoo.


Filed under My Life

22 responses to “Imminent Change

  1. Well, you know that whatever you do your readers support you. And hopefully your tutoring business will fly. That sounds awesome.

    I’ve heard the tips at most Olive Garden’s are great, so I’d DEFINITELY look into that.

  2. London

    That’s too bad about the tip situation. Itsucks when you find a job that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself and you have to leave it through circumstances beyond your control. Hopefully you can get your tutoring business up and running successfully.

  3. Kristin

    I currently work at chili’s and before Chili’s I worked at Olive Garden..
    I like Chili’s a lot more because it is completley laid back, yea at Olive Garden you might leave with 20 more bucks per shift but you will also want to choke yourself with the tie you have to wear as a part of your uniform.
    I’d say if your looking for another place to serve try a nice steakhouse or something in a downtown area.. thats what i’m going to start looking for.
    Good luck, and I love your blog It is always making me laugh, it’s so true!!

  4. Kristin

    I don’t know how the Olive Garden by you is, but the one where I used to work definitely has none of that. Management was awful and the corporate b.s. is just as bad as the stuff you’ve talked about from Chili’s. Tips ARE NOT great. $6.95 Soup and salad will drive you crazy with in two months. You run your butt off for an hour refilling the salad, soup and bread (and the ice water…) and then you get $2…Also, you get a 3 table section (and there are a couple sections that are 2 table sections). Trust me, it sucks.

    • Fuck My Table

      Perhaps I should reconsider. Although, at Chili’s we also have the $6.99 bottomless soup/salad/chip combo. Everyone orders water anyway. The sections would be a problem, though…I’m used to having 5+ tables at a time. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll wait until summer rolls around and take on the Olive Garden during the shifts I’m not at Chili’s. That way I can try it out and, if I don’t like it, I can run crying back into the arms of Brinker. *sigh* What I really need is to not have a serving job, but that looks like an impossibility right now. -_-

  5. Me, The JerBear

    You DEFINITELY need to reconsider. Darden is the largest restaurant corporation in the world and as such it is the most corporate of all the chains. Brinker is right up there with them but nobody tops Darden for its soul-stealing stifling work atmosphere. I’m not sure if Brinker has an online content policy but thanks to some idiot that made a bunch of comedy songs and put one on an obscure website so an out of state buddy of his could hear it, no Darden employee is allowed to have any kind of blog, website or creative endeavor of any kind that they deem to be unacceptable. That means that if anyone ever found out your identity then you would be fired immediately.

    I like your blog. I read it. It entertains me. I would hate to hear that you jumped ship only to get canned like I did.

    Good luck, FMT.

    Dignity and Respect
    Me, The JerBear

    • Fuck My Table

      Hmmm. Well, my official statement on Darden’s online content policy is that THEY CAN SUCK IT, so I guess I should look at the local steakhouse instead…as a preventative measure to getting fired. I’m actually sure Brinker has a similar policy, and they can also suck it. Employees bitch, customers are actually assholes, and if they’re hire decent managers we wouldn’t bitch about them. There’s no reason for corporate monkeys to prohibit something they undoubtedly do themselves.

  6. Me, The JerBear

    I could not agree more.

    Please don’t think I was trying to throw a bucket of piss in your Captain Crunch–I was just trying to give you a fair warning.

    Much love:)

  7. a

    i work for darden and enjoy it. i also have a blog where i write mostly about work stuff. as with anything you just have to be careful with what you post. don’t post a video of you in uniform singing a parody (i did love her video though)…something you would want to consider is that along with three table sections you would also have to split any tables over 7 people (depending on the managers though is depending on how much of sticklers they are)…and as far as managers go every company will have its share of good and bad managers, i’ve been lucky to have decent managers at both og’s that i have worked at….a trade off for the smaller sections though is that as a server you have a relatively small amount of side work (if any) at my first store as a server all we did was refilling salt, pepper, sugars, and hokeying. at this new restaurant i have transferred to all we do is the table top stuff. and the money (even with the SS and the pasta bowl promotion) does tend to even out most of the time.

    • Fuck My Table

      Well, yes, obviously. But it sounds to me like ANY negative comment about Darden will get you fired…and I’m certain that Brinker has the same policy. The management at this OG is very good, even though the GM seems a little creepy at tables. Their service/food/management is always spectacular, something I don’t see at every OG.
      I would NOT want to split tables with more than 7 people. I comfortably handle tables of up to 15 in addition to the rest of my tables. Any more than 15 and I start giving away my other tables because I know my limits. Anyway, I don’t think I could deal with the smaller section thing…the limited sidework would be nice, though.
      Right now I’m a slave doing an hour of sidework for my wage of $2.13. We have to clean our sections (sugars/salts/sweep) which isn’t bad, but then everyone must run dishes (also not bad), roll silverware (GAHHHHH), and clean up whatever the closers tell us to. That can mean redoing the entire beverage station, refilling chips/soups/garnishes, cleaning out the dressing cooler (my most hated), or reorganizing and wiping down the passout. Often it’s more than one of these in addition to silverware and dish running.

      I’m thinking maybe the steakhouse across the road would be better. It’s a small chain and less subject to corporate bullshit. I need to ask my server about everything next time I go in there. Sections, sidework, etc…management seems okay every time I go in.

  8. breadsticks

    From someone who has worked at both Chili’s and Olive Garden:

    Pros of switching-
    -more money
    -less complaints about the food
    -generally the clientele is a little classier (less ghetto kids and rednecks)
    -better discounts for employees (25% instead of 10%)
    -nice benefits (health insurance, 401k with a nice match, etc.. yes even for servers)
    -Way less sidework, even for closers. The most you’ll ever have to do is sweep, refill sugars, salts, and peppers, and put silverware and wine glasses on the table. That’s it.
    -Never rolling silverware again!!! The bussers do it, poor souls. Same with refilling the ice, making iced tea, etc. Poor guys/girls do everything.

    Cons of switching-
    -Corporate bs.
    -Stuffy/demanding requests.. ex. we have to lift up our pants at the beginning of every shift to show that we are wearing black socks, we have to have our shirts neatly ironed and pressed (I’ve gotten yelled at several times for not having it exactly perfect.. my dad who works for the government doesn’t even have his shirt that neatly pressed!)
    -Pressure to sell a certain amount of wine
    -You always have to use a tray. Even if you’re just bringing out a ramekin of ranch.. put it on a giant ass tray so ya look like a fool.
    -The soup & salad combo
    -People who order chicken alfredo with chicken & gnocchi who then proceed to drink 4750634 diet cokes and eat 7405647354 breadsticks
    -Choice of soup or salad plus breadsticks before every meal. Sounds okay, but some people will need 946549374 refills.
    -Chili’s is wayyy more laid-back and low-key.

    The only thing keeping me at OG is the money and location.

    • breadsticks

      Also the three table section really isn’t so bad. It sounds like you’ll never make money but I make way more at OG. And three tables keeps me busy as hell what with the breadsticks/soup/salad/drink refills/normal stuff, I don’t want a section any bigger, no thanks.

    • Fuck My Table

      Wanted to point out that Chili’s employees get 50% discounts on food now, with up to three guests. Once you have 4 or more guests, the discount decreases for each person, but that’s cool. Also, we have health insurance and 401k offerings, but they’re not worth taking IMO. The sidework at OG sounds like absolute heaven. Poor bussers! :)

      Sounds like the laid-back atmosphere of Chili’s is a better fit for me, but I may try the OG out this summer just to see. Or there’s a steakhouse nearby that’s pretty busy and laid back as well…I guess we’ll see when summer rolls around! Thanks for sharing – it’s good to get feedback from someone who’s worked at both places. :)

      • breadsticks

        WHAT. haha I guess I missed out on that! I quit back in June.

        If I were you, I’d hang on to the Chili’s job, get a job at OG, then work a week or two and see how it feels. If you hate it then you can just quit and you’ll still have your old job. I bet a steakhouse would be fun to work at though.. I loooove steakhouses :)

  9. Me, The JerBear

    Chiliheads party harder than Garden Ho(e)s–undisputed fact.

    That’s another consideration.

    D & R
    Me, The J

  10. I HATE switching restaurants. I always feel like I’m not smart enough to learn a new system.

  11. NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not the OG! Have I taught you nothing?

    You know, reading these comments that came before, I am reminded how much the OG is the epitome of the corporate restaurant. Even though these folks work in different OGs in different parts of the country than the two I have worked, they have the EXACT same complaints. It’s the same damn Tuscan farmhouse nightmare everywhere! (And I happened to have worked at two separate and ultra-rare non-farmhouse locations. So what does that tell ya?)

    If you think Chili’s is uptight, imagine this:

    - Must check in with a manager before every shift where they will quiz you on the featured dishes and wine pairings. Yes, they will actually lift up your pant legs (both of them) to check your socks. Socks not black? Can’t come on the floor. Shirt not pressed to their liking? Send you home AND write you up for missing your shift.

    - Failure to give a proper “wine conversation” to each and every table you greet results in a write up–even when you can see that the table is annoyed and ready to order, never mind that it’s Friday night and you just got triple-sat.

    - Portion more than two–count them, dos–peppers in the salad bowl: that’s a warning. Same goes for the number of breadsticks you are allowed to bring each table (number of guests at table + 1).

    - No tray underneath a single drink or ramekin of sauce? That’s a warning.

    - Can’t say the phrase “no problem” to guests or staff. Manager overhears you: you’ll get hassled.
    I’m not even joking.

    - Buona Festa song.

    - Constant pressure from management to push wine on your tables. Constant push back from tables who don’t want to hear your three-minute spiel on something for which they have no interest. Or worse still, ghetto-ass tables who will run you back and forth sampling their three alloted samples of wine with no intention of buying.

    - A corporate that feels entitled to regulate what their employees can and cannot say about their business even outside of work. Now you understand why I never type out the Shmolive Shmarden’s real name on the Interwebs. (And I don’t even work there anymore! The ever-present, all permeating fear of being written up or fired is that deeply ingrained in me.)

    This is what you can look forward to when you become family. Every second you are on the floor you will be looking over your shoulder, fighting with management so you can take care of guests, and fighting with guests because you have to enforce bs corporate policy.

    As someone who strikes me as being particularly sensitive to corporate bullshit, I really believe you should look somewhere else.

    And if you take away nothing else, let me leave you with these four words: NEVER. ENDING. PASTA. BOWL.

    ’nuff said.

    • Fuck My Table

      I think I’m going to shy away from the OG. Holy shit, just reading that made me want to slap a bitch.

      Steakhouse, here we come!

      Oh, and I should mention that after posting my bitching about getting shitty tips (remember, the post with the “vintage” photo?), I started getting about 20% again. What the fuck, universe? SCREW YOU.

  12. Matt

    For some reason people tend to think of Olive Garden more as fine dining, and Chili’s as a place to get food to fill their faces with. I don’t get it, but that’s my understanding of the matter.

    I think of things that way, too….but I don’t tip differently based on where I am.

  13. First of all you should move to California. I make 8 bucks an hour where I believe you said you make 2.13 an hour. Not only that, 100 in tips is considered a shitty night here. I had my best shift in tips at my current restaurant last Thursday at 300 before tipout. Of course the night before I made 40 before tipout so you just never know. My point is that we have a higher minimum wage here and a higher average of guests who tip properly. Do not waste your talent and skill by allowing a corporation to make you their bitch while lining their pockets. Fuck chilis, fuck olive garden. Find a restaurant that’s not a chain, where they serve real food to people who know how to tip. Like I said, come to Cali you won’t regret it.

    I would never move to California. I like my home state, where I am not taxed out the ass, only spend $1000 on all monthly utilities and rent, and may carry a firearm and keep them in my home. I may not make as much money, but my cost of living is lower and I have more freedom.

  14. Dear FMT and Star, you are both right. When I lived in Cali, I ended up working for a famous chef after graduating with a BA in Psych (go figure) and was making 15$ an hour but with my rent and bills, monthly expenses were over 3000$. If you ever go to Cali, I am sure it wont be to work in another restaurant to get a higher minimum wage, you are better than that!

    Yep. Higher minimum wage means absolutely nothing, because the higher the minimum wage, the higher the cost of living. Look at the states who voluntarily pay more than the minimum – they’re the ones that cost a fortune to live in.

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