Friday, April 16, 2010

D is for Donuts

It was a big change going from gymnastics coach to donuts, but I'm a firm believer that to graduate from high school, you gotta serve time in food service. There are so many good life lessons to be learned. I learned mine at Winchell's.

First there's the lesson of humility and having a servant's heart. Once you've been behind that counter having to politely wait on all manner of people, from the nicest little blue haired grandma to the drunken, slobbering, reach-over-the counter-and-grab-your-D-cups fool, you'll have more patience and compassion for the pimply, shy boy who forgets your french-fries.

Respect for authority. Regardless of the idiocy of said authority. My boss was a stoner who somehow missed the memo that we were no longer in the 60s. He used to go into the men's room to smoke his marijuana. For long periods. Customers would want to use the ONE restroom. And couldn't. I'd apologize. “It's out of order, I'm so sorry.” I'd finally had enough and confronted him. Casually. “Jerry, someone's been smoking marijuana in our restroom, and I think we should alert the police.” This brought his eyes UP from where they usually rested during our conversations. (Finally!) His reply, “But we don't know which customer it is!” Too which I calmly replied, “Oh, but I do.” And stared him down. I guess he had some functioning braincells left because he didn't do it again. He just came to work already stoned. SIGH.

Hard work. Do a good job at whatever job you find yourself. It just makes it more pleasant for everyone. It wasn't long before Jerry had me working the oh-dark-hundred morning shift. “You're so fast, I need my best girl in the morning.” If you want to get on my good side, making me get up at 5 am is NOT how to do it, buddy. But I'll say this, time does go by a lot faster when you're on your toes for a morning rush than it does in the afternoons when all you're doing is cleaning up the grease in the back room and making frosting for tomorrow. And you don't have to mop in the mornings.

Customer service. People appreciate extra attention and the personal touch. These days a lot of us make regular stops at coffee shops for lattes and such. Back in the 80s when I was schlepping donuts, people made regular stops for our coffee. It was good coffee, and being a coffee snob, I always made sure we had fresh pots, and I did memorize which regular had which size and what they took in it. And since I couldn't help but also know what car they drove (my dad worked for a car company, I'm always looking at cars) I'd have their order ready when they hit the counter. They liked that. Ok, there was that one time that I spilled LargeCoffeeBlack's order all over the counter...but that was when my apron got stuck in the cash register...which is a whole post by itself.

So if there's ever a petition going around adding fast food to graduation requirements, I'll be signing it. But apparently I didn't learn my lessons well enough at Winchell's, because I had a few more hard ones to learn at Wendy's. In costume.


Amanda Lee said...


Steph said...

I agree. Everyone should have to work at a restaurant at some point. It build character and teaches you what it's like to actually have to work.

One Photo said...

I agree - when you are the one behind the counter you realize just how awful it can be for that person with hard to please customers etc. A definite lesson in humility. I did my service in a large grocery store in the days before bar coding and it was hard and thankless work for little pay. It as hard work but at the same time getting my first pay check was very rewarding.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

What a way to learn. I was a waitress once upon a time and it is hard work.

Jenny said...

Wow. Wow. What a great post. Girl you can write. I mean, write!

I was right there with you and I have to say you didn't help my WW's willpower much...

I could smell the donuts.