Feast or Famine (How to be in three places at one time)

Having recovered from my meltdown last week, and feeling like I actually wanted to crawl away from the computer and resume life among the daylight dwellers, I passed a pretty pleasant weekend volunteering for a church fundraising event. Fortunately, God smiled and gave us glorious weather. I devoted my day to being official timekeeper and score keeper in the 3 on 3 basketball tournament. Sunday, following church, I indulged myself, and my daughter, by doing brunch at Red Lobster for "All You Can Eat Shrimp Fest". I went with the intention of consuming enough yummy shrimp to become ill, figuring that would cure my desire to go out and eat until they run the promotion again next year. As eating out isn't in the budget, I thought this was an excellent plan, and so much more satisfying than fast food. Had the best of intentions, and once again encountered a bunch of people who are employed, and yet show no evidence of being thankful for that employment.

We were seated promptly enough, and the menus were brought forth quickly. The hostess asked if we would like something to drink, of course informing us that she was not our server. Probably five minutes passed before the drinks arrived. Didn't understand what was so time consuming about lemonade, unless they had to send to Florida for the lemons. Besides, this is a seafood restaurant and one would think that lemons would be pretty commonplace. We let our server know that we were there for the special, and that seems to be the point in time that things derailed....She took our salad selection and disappeared. Twenty minutes passed and the salad arrived. Certainly not a work of art in the world of salad making: romaine lettuce, a few croutons, some grated parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of Caesar dressing. My daughter, at 12, could have put these salads together in under two minutes, and possibly even made them more appealing. But, we weren't there for the salad anyway. Salad is just a way to kill time for the main event. We did enjoy the first basket of biscuits, which were warm and garlic laden and cheesy. My daughter made her selections with french fries, while I elected to have the steamed broccoli. I guess that I had to wait for the broccoli to come into season, because another 30 minutes passed before any other food came to the table. At this point, my child was so hungry that she was getting sleepy, and the focus was no longer on the meal, but whether she would have time to take a nap at home before going to her Youth Group meeting at church in the evening. Another server in our area, took pity on us,removed the empty salad plates, and brought us refills on our lemonade.

I was dismayed to note that the broccoli, which I had anticipated greatly, was stone cold, and very yellowed. The shrimp selections tasted fine, but portions were small, more of a sampling rather than an entree. But that is OK, as you are allowed to ask for more. The problem is that our server disappeared again, so we had to wait to indicate that we did, indeed, want seconds. And of course, the wait for the seconds stretched on and on, so that I decided to order our next round immediately as she put the small plates in front of us. Once again, we finished the portions with loads of time to spare, and now my daughter is becoming concerned that we won't even be back in time for her to go to her meeting. Needless to say, this put a real cramp in conversation and Mother/Daughter bonding. Instead, I had to answer endless requests about what time it was. (I had decreed that the I Pod stayed home and we do something really radical, talk to each other.) My soon-to-be teenager was completely done with "quality time" and asked our server for a box for the rest of her Alfredo pasta. Our server assumed we were finished, never bringing me the shrimp scampi I had requested, and instead, bringing along the bill...."Here's your hat! What's your hurry?" So, while lunch was decent (aside from the broccoli issue), I never really had a chance to determine if it were possible to actually consume enough shrimp to be physically uncomfortable. But what really irritated me was the whole attitude of the serving staff during our meal.

Restaurant work, by its very nature, is customer driven. If nothing else, a server should be concerned about the guest experience to enhance a tip. But beyond that, the job title is server, or waiter (implying by definition that you are going to wait on folks, assuring their pleasurable and satisfying dining experience). Restaurants do not survive for long without repeat customers, no matter how great the cuisine might be. I watched several tables around us being seated and served long before we received food. I saw those same customers pay bills and leave, while we were still somewhere in the first half of the process. Most of our surrounding dining neighbors were second, and even in one case, third seating since our arrival. The head hostess breezed through the section twice, inquiring if everything was satisfactory. Her visits were at a pace that would have qualified her for the 4 minute mile, and without a break in stride, you really didn't have an opportunity to voice either praise or criticism. And I swear, she watched the sections like a hawk to insure that her "drive by" occurred while you had a mouth full of food, thereby further inhibiting any sort of actual communication or commentary. And these folks all have jobs....jobs that I am theoretically not qualified to perform. Nobody even was interested in trying to up sell us on dessert, which is probably just as well, as I imagine that a trip to Switzerland would have been required to provide the chocolate in the brownie sundae, or perhaps a quick flight to Washington state for the apples in the Crostini. So I don't suppose we will be going out again really soon, but not for the reasons that I had envisioned, but rather because the experience was a real let down. Obviously, they "Sea Food Differently." There doesn't seem to be any pressing concern to get the seafood to the customers, at least not by our server.

Being somewhat of a purist, I requested lemon with my shrimp. I received a cup of cocktail sauce, as did my daughter, who wound up using it for her french fries because nobody seemed to care whether she might like ketchup. We were given minute slivers of lemon wedge-exactly one per shrimp dish brought out, and had to ask for more with each new dish. Obviously, the server didn't understand that if you ate one portion of shrimp with lemon wedge, you would likely eat the subsequent portions in similar fashion. There was a serious lack of napkins provided, and asking for them meant that we got them rationed as well, one at a time. We were the only people who were not given straws for our drinks, and I just considered myself lucky to have my unlimited drink refilled at least one time. By the way, the unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits were obviously lost in the fog somewhere, because we didn't see refill on that. The upside to that was that once the biscuits were gone, we could apply the napkin in the basket to other purpose, and my ravenous child did not fill up on bread. But lest you think I am being surly and grouchy for the sake of being so, well, it just isn't so. Actually, I did enjoy my meal, and did spend some time with my daughter that was not bordered by the usual questions regarding homework and school. She managed to maintain civility for at least half of our meal, which is pretty good for an almost teenager. It could have been better, and it could have been worse, but it did serve the purpose of boosting my mood.

Monday morning finds me back at my resolve of cracking this job thing. Life is not all bad. I got a phone call very late in the afternoon on Friday, asking about my availability for interview...Of course, at that point, the schedule was wide open, and Tuesday morning, bright and early was agreed upon by all parties. I was instructed to expect to spend an hour or more, because of course, they have this "Little typing test" and short "Phone etiquette" assessment. No big deal really. And then I get to meet with the HR person for my interview, which if it goes well, will be followed by sitting in with somebody who is already doing this job, so I can see the nuts and bolts first hand. Basically, this interview can take anywhere from 15 minutes to half the day. So, consequently, I planned nothing else. Even made arrangements for somebody else to get my daughter from school and make sure that she got to her volleyball game-just in case. (late to volleyball means running laps for each minute late, and the last thing Mom wants to do is be responsible for her child having to endure extra exercise at a sports practice) So, Tuesday is pretty well blocked off, and come 5:00 pm, I shut down the application mill, eat dinner, and prepare to go about living my life for the evening.

On the evening agenda: Getting daughter to volleyball practice and attending a meeting at church for training for another volunteer enterprise. Left the phone at home, because it would be rude to have to leave in the middle of the class session, or worse yet, have the phone disrupt the speaker. By the time our seminar session was finished, and I collected my child, it was already almost 9:00 pm. When I get home, I have my phone doing the jitterbug on the counter to alert me to missed messages and voice mail. Seems that one of the applications, which I filled out today, caught somebody's attention. I debated greatly about returning the call at such a late hour, but decided that I could always leave voice mail and catch up again tomorrow for further details. Lo and behold, my mystery person answers. I had my voice mail speech all prepared and must shift gears to apologize for returning a call so late in the evening. Now, mystery caller wants me to be at their offices, bright and early, with sunshine faces etcetera. OOOOOPs! I am already booked for 9:00, and so mystery caller suggests 10:00. It had not been my original intention to divulge the nature of my appointment, rather to assert that I had one. But.....I needed to explain that this was a multi-faceted appointment without a specific time frame. I did not know exactly how in depth the process would be, and nobody had given me much of a feel for the process other than to recommend that I allot at least two hours. And let us not forget that there will be commute time from point A to point B, depending upon the "where" of point B. Then the 11:00 o'clock hour is suggested, and I wonder what part of "I am not sure how long this appointment will be." is my caller not registering. Finally, we compromise that I will phone immediately upon finishing my first appointment to coordinate a time that is mutually convenient to my second caller. Now if I can just remember which of the million or so applications this relates to....another hunt through the contacts folder is going to be required, and I need to get on that right away. I guess you folks will have to tune in tomorrow to see how the day unfolds. It is tough to remain positive and upbeat, and at the same time not get expectations too high. I have the funny feeling that I will be practicing typing in my sleep tonight for the "Little Typing Test" Wish that I could just do it the same way that I rip off my blog entries, let the fingers fly and the words flow....but more than likely, it will be some drivel about foxes and dogs with their relative colors completely specified as well as their individual exercise habits and personality traits.

Filed under: The Job Search

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