Thursday, August 26, 2010

Play Nice

Working in the restaurant industry, you can imagine the less than favorable patrons that that often permeate my workplace.  When you go to dinner, I think you should generally be in a good mood.  You have someone waiting on you hand and foot, you're probably with family or friends, the least you could do is be nice to your server...right? 

Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

However, last week, one of Inlet Seafood's patrons happenned to be four-time Oscar nominee, Julianne Moore.  As fate would have it, she was seated in my section of tables.  I was beyond excited.  I'm a huge fan of her work and I had just seen her latest film, "The Kids Are All Right", which I fell in love with.  I approached her table and said hello, mustering up as much confidence as I could and trying to not become too starstruck. 

It was like it happened in slow motion.  She looked up at me and smiled the kindest, most genuine smile I have ever seen.  I introuduced myself and we began talking.  However, I did not once mention that I was a fan of her work or anything too fan-crazy because I assume, being such a great actress, that she gets that a lot.  I wanted her to feel comfortable and at ease.  Afterward, I jotted down her order and made my way into the kitchen to tell the chef to rush the order out for the VIP. 

What truly moved me though was just how kind and congenial she was.  She was not pretentious, condescending or rude, as other celebrities tend to be.  She was a beautiful, down to earth person who treated me with courtesy. 

It made me think about a quote I heard once; "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."  I mean, I think that quote was written for Julianne Moore.  Here she is, an award winning actress with oodles of success and fame, and she is still such a kindhearted and friendly woman.  It made me think about just how important it is to be nice in life.  It can get you so far.  Farther than say, talent or skill sometimes.

Think about it.  I'm trying to find a career right now and no one wants to hire someone mean or boring.  They want employees who are friendly and nice to be around.  I mean, you could have the greatest grades in the world, be the smartest person on the planet, have the brain of a supercomputer, but if you aren't a joy to be around, who's going to want you?

I think personality and friendliness outshines a lot of things.  Don't get me wrong, no one is going to find success if they don't have a good head on their shoulders or have minimal intelligence, but I think people sometimes forget just how far being charismatic and friendly can get you.   

I've always been a pretty happy go-lucky kind of person who values kindness and respect.  At the end of the day people want and need to be around other people who treat them warmly.  There is not a doubt in my mind that if I had an employee who got his work done perfectly but was neglectful personally, I would exchange him for someone who maybe had to work a little harder at the job, but was nicer.  And my assumption is that my potential employers feel similar...

Moral of the story: be nice to everyone because you never know who you're going to meet.

So after Mrs. Moore's food was served, I periodically stopped back at her table to check on her to see if "the kids were all right".  We ended up joking about wine and laughing together, a moment I will cherish for a long time.  And I will remember Julianne Moore the next time I see her on screen not only for being a great actress, but also for being a nice person.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't Fret, We're All In Debt

Debt is a funny thing. I mean, the majority of Americans are in some sort of debt whether it be from mortgages or car payments, or in my particular case, student loans, and that's a scary thing. We've built a society around the idea that it's acceptable to get things right away and then pay for them later. Rather bizarre if you think about it. And what's weirder is, a lot of people in my generation who have graduated or are about to graduate from college are going to have some sort of debt to pay off. We're all in this great big boat of debt and at times it feels like we're going under.

You know why else debt sucks? It doesn't really improve your chances of wooing women. I mean, you'd think it would be such a turn off for ladies to be interested in a guy who's $40,000+ in the hole. But the fact of the matter is, almost everyone, men and women alike, owe money to someone. Creepy.

Today, as I waited on America's upper crust, I pondered about the general idea of debt; that is "Something that is owed or something that one is bound to pay for" and I realized that my job sort of feeds into that idea of debt. Hungry people bark at me what they want to eat and I bring it to them as soon as they tell me. They don't have to pay for their food right away, but instead they put off paying until the end of the meal. Sure it would be weird to think about paying for food right away at a restaurant because it's not what we're used to, but don't you usually have to pay for something to get it? Not in America.

This thought arose in my mind when one of the women who was sitting at my table, a party of 11, said to me, "Thank you so much for doing all of this for us. You really accomodated us well." They were a needy bunch and I bent over backward to please them. Frankly, when she uttered that phrase, I was taken aback. Her daughter's fish tacos came out 5 minutes after everyone else's food and I was sure she was going to rally. However, much to my surprise, she did not. She was grateful. But after she told me how appreciative she was, it made me think that she was indebted to me for providing her and her brood with exceptional service. Now honestly, I don't have delusions of grandeur and think I'm the greatest waiter known to mankind (in fact, sometimes I think I'm not even that good of a waiter, but my uncanny ability to smile through anything and talk my way into peoples' hearts helps me out) but the woman felt like she owed me something, which was interesting.

It turned out, the kindly family tipped me extra after I added the gratuity onto their bill.

So, debt. It's everywhere, all around us, lurking behind every American Express card and palatial mansion. It's interwoven in our culture into things we do not even think twice about. Though it, according to my collegiate peers, "feels like you are paying for things and can't catch up", it's an all-too-real facet of society that we have to suck up and deal with because it probably will never change. Sounds like a bright future, right? Bring on those student loans, baby...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting Tables While Waiting For Dream Job

So, I'm a recent college grad and everyone knows what that means...I'm jobless, careerless, and money-less.  I studied Journalism and Communications in college, which I utterly enjoyed, but now the time has come to stray away from my college fun and all-night-cram-sessions and dive full force into the "real world"; whatever that is.

In a last ditch attempt to squeeze in one last summer vacation before I enter the land of bills, taxes, and all the other grown up responsibilities along the same vein, I escaped to Montauk, NY, the perfect beachside paradise at the very end of Long Island.  I scored an incredible job waiting tables at Inlet Seafood, a delicious seafood restaurant resting on the banks of the Long Island Sound.  Sounds incredible, right?  Well, I can't lie, it is pretty awesome.  The money is great, the people are a ton of fun, and whenever I go into work a celebrity sighting is not uncommon.  In fact, I made special friends in Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romign, who frequent Inlet Seafood when they're in town.  Hearing them call my name and giving Jerry a casual handshake like we've known each other for years really lifted my spirits.  I felt cooler than probably anyone I ever knew.  I just hope they remember me when I see them on the red carpet some day...

It's a charmed life, or so I'm told.  However, my real focus is on what's going to happen next.

In this job climate, prospective employers aren't exactly breaking down the door with job offers.  I mean, I worked very hard for my degree, but I can't help thinking that all my hard work was in vain.  Who's going to hire my bachelor's degree over an industry professional with 20+ years in the biz? 

If nothing else, it motivates me to be the best I can be and always be on top of my game and ready to network.  I'm usually such an optimistic person, but the daunting thought of waiting tables forever is permeating my mind.  Don't get me wrong, walking away with butt-loads cash every night is rewarding, but I went to college and I want to put my hard earned (and expensive) degree to good use. 

Which brings up another fun fact: student loans.  Boy, am I looking forward to that treat.  In just a few short months I'll be getting calls about owing money to the government.  Good thing those celebs tip well; I'm saving almost every dollar I can spare.

So until that date with destiny when my career path starts unfolding, I'm waiting in the Hamptons.  I'm waiting tables and waiting, quite literally, for the opportunity to kick start my career!