Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's The Little Things That Matter In Life... A Long Walk, A Good Friend and Automatic Gratuity.

It takes me a few minutes to scale my way up the sixteen floor parking garage but, finally, I find a spot I like. I turn off the car and grab my ipod. I set it to my “walking music” playlist and head for the stairs. I was lucky enough to have found a spot on the seventh floor today and jog my way down the stairs to the pedestrian bridge. The Rolling Stones’ "Sympathy For The Devil" comes on and I just now realize that Mick Jagger is singing the song from the devil’s perspective. 

I cross the pedestrian bridge and pass a few women walking by in brown and cream housecleaning uniforms. I get to the escalator and politely stand to the right as a few people who are in a bigger hurry than me walk past me on the left. One appears to be in a valet uniform while the other has on a white tuxedo jacket and perfectly pressed black slacks. 

I look both ways before crossing the street and then climb up the stairs leading to the employee entrance. A man goes in before I do wearing a blue and white security outfit and holds the door for me. The Stones finish their “woo-woo”ing and the song switches over to the Talking Heads and their first few very family chords of "Psycho Killer". I begin to make my way down the long hallway in front of me. 

I pass a cocktail waitress finishing up her shift, looking anxious to get out of her heels and tight, sequined dress. Behind her are a group of people heading out for the day as well, all in black pants with matching black aprons and a few different colors of collarless silk shirts. I am reminded at this time to button the top button of my own white, long sleeve collarless shirt that billows as I walk briskly through the corridor. 

Finally, I make my last turn before entering in the back door of my destination. Before doing so, I pass one more employee heading to the break room. This outfit is my favorite. Blue shorts, a red and white horizontally striped shirt and a scarf that is hard to miss. The Gondolier is taking a thirty. 

Welcome to the belly of the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Whitney told me that the Grand Lux Cafe was hiring. I knew it was time for me to get serious about making money again. Roadrunner was a perfect transition from the six months where I was doing whatever I wanted to needing to go back to gainful employment. I was eased back into the job environment with a very flexible four day schedule at a job that was easy and worked for a manager that was one of my very good friends. The five months at Roadrunner were good, but the longer I was there, the more it was becoming obvious that I was going to need to find something more financially stable if I wanted to maintain the kind of lifestyle I had grown accustomed to. Plus, the benefits were awful... and while I am not in need of anything at the moment, I knew that vision and dental requirements would pop up before I knew it. 

So I decided to go ahead and apply at the Grand Lux. Over the course of a few weeks, I applied online, took their assessment test, interviewed, drug tested and bam! Welcome to the team. It did happen rather quickly in retrospect. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a training class with twelve other New-Hires reviewing slides that detailed the 100+ menu items that we needed to know before going on the floor and taking tables on our own. The classroom training went on for five days. 

The second week of training included five shifts where I followed other servers in their four table stations. Serving is serving no matter where you go... however every place has it’s own little quirks and requirements and I paid very close attention to how everyone approached this particular job - from table greets to running food to management interaction. I asked important questions and constantly used my “please”s and “thank you”s. 

When test day came, I was able to list all 40 of our wines and champagnes without any trouble and completed my menu test with a 96%. The night before, I had received what my trainer said was the first 100% “certification follow shift” that he had ever given anyone. I bought three white shirts, another pair of black pants and new non-slip black shoes. I even grabbed a six pack of new black socks for good measure. I was ready to go. 

Am I excited? Hmm... maybe not the word I would choose... 

I guess to a certain extent, I feel pretty accomplished. As a server, that is... thanks to my four years at Chili’s, I have great experience in a high volume, casual dining atmosphere. Thanks to my short but valuable time at Roadrunner, I know even more about cocktails and fast paced banquets than I had before. Combine that with a referral from Whitney, good interviewing skills and a knack for making eye contact and I was a shoe-in for the position at the Grand Lux. And let’s not forget the year and a half I’ve been drug free - my new employer requires both a urine AND a hair test before officially hiring a new employee. 

So yeah, I was happy to get hired. I’m sure there are a lot of people that would love to have this job, especially in this economic environment. The Grand Lux at the Venetian is one of the busiest restaurants in the country, averaging $20 million in sales a year. I have to make sure that I am in a state of gratitude whenever I put on that silly shirt I am required to wear (although in all fairness, it’s beats a tank top and cowboy boots) because it's definitely better than the five bucks a table I was happy to get at Chili’s or the dead nights at Roadrunner walking away with just enough to cover the gas it took me to get to work. 

Unfortunately, I now know what it tastes like to spend my days doing whatever I want from morning to night. And all the mouthwash in the world can’t chase that taste away... 

How to get back to that? I’m still searching... I’m continuing to work on my book outline although for the life of me, I can’t see how I’m supposed to make that into a million dollar product. Additionally, my relationship with Tim is progressing, which is wonderful on so many levels... however speaking strictly from the financial aspect, our beliefs and internal conversations about money and prosperity are very different. It will, without a doubt, take a while to get on the same page financially and this can sometimes cause my thinking-ahead mechanism to skip a beat now and then. I most definitely don’t want to regress back to survival mode. I’ve come a little too far for that... 

I made a cynical joke when I got my new job about having a good serving job being the equivalent of being the tallest midget. While it got a laugh or two, it was also not appropriate... I’m pretty sure they still prefer being called “little people”. 

Okay, okay... all jokes aside, it’s not healthy to be ungrateful for the opportunities that the Universe gives us. We don’t always know why we are given what we are, but the key point to focus on is that we were given something. To scoff at it or make jokes about it not being good enough is really just ignorant and victim-y. After all, believe it or not, whatever it is we have, we asked for it. 

Besides, I legitimately enjoy my trek back and forth from the restaurant to my car. I also made a really good friend in my training class. It’s nice to see Whitney more frequently, even if it’s only passing her on the way to my tables, I LOVE being out from behind the bar and a party of six or more gets an automatic 18% gratuity. Things could certainly be a lot worse. 

Oh, and benefits? Let’s just say this... being a non-Union house (thank goodness), they have to compete with neighboring Union benefits. Therefore, I think I may just go ahead and treat myself to those braces after all. 

Hmm.. I guess when I’m on a book tour, giving public appearances and interviews, I’ll have the Grand Lux to thank for my beautiful teeth. 

See? I knew everything happened for a reason...


  1. Have to say I am more than a little shocked that you just now figured out that Mick Jagger was the Devil in "Sympathy for the Devil." Kind of thought you would have gotten that earlier...much earlier. But, now that you know that, doesn't it make the song that much better? LOL!


  2. I know... I just never bothered to pay attention to the words. :) And yes, it is much better!