Posts tagged ‘serving’

April 15, 2011

Addressing the Workplace

by Robyn

I have, in one form or anther been working in the service industry since I was 15. I started off working in a restaurant kitchen, then at deli counter, followed by a grocery store, and for the last four years, I have busted my balls for a little company known at Boston Pizza.

This company, according to has sales that range between $500 Million and $1 Billion, and employs over 16,000 people. I am one of them. Now I don’t know how accurate the information on is, nor can I say that it’s a reliable source, but I do know that Boston Pizza earns lots of money. They are one of the most popular chain restaurants out there. They put Pizza Hut practically out of business in a matter of a few short years. With even the most basic knowledge of the money they earn, it’s easy to conclude some of they things they can afford. One of those is putting money into outsourcing proper training programs to teach their managers how to communicate with their staff. Too bad, they haven’t made that investment yet.

I don’t serve because I love the work. I serve because I have amazing co-workers, and we’re all there for the same reason – to make a quick buck.

If I was to be summed up on one word, it would probably be opinionated. I always have an opinion about something, and in many cases I’m rather vocal about it. I try not to be crude, or crass, or outright mean to people’s faces, but yes, it happens from time to time. Never in my life, until now have I done this. I’m more prone to bitching, complaining, whining and stomping my feet with the faint hope that someone will take notice and make some sort of change. Of course, no matter how much I make a stink about things in the workplace, things don’t change, and yesterday was the final straw that broke the camels back.

So this morning, I picked up the phone and called Boston Pizza Head Office to make a formal complaint about communication issues at my store. Or rather, lack of communication?

It’s sad to know that I can count, for every shift that I have worked in probably the last 2-3 weeks where something was not properly communicated by management to myself as well as co-workers. This has caused stress & confusion amongst staff, which results in poor customer service and me making no money.

I was yelled at last night for not attending to a table after they had been sitting, unattended to, in the restaurant for over 15 minutes. The reason I didn’t go to them was because they had been seated in my co-workers section. Too bad, my co-worker had been cut for the evening and management had just forgotten to tell me this. Just like they forgot write me into the floor plan for that evening and left my co-worker to get upset thinking the closer wasn’t coming in. Just like they forgot to tell me my relief wasn’t coming a few weeks ago and I missed the first 2 hours of a staff appreciate party, which I ended up ditching because I was so upset over the whole thing. Just like I got screwed into working an 11 hours shift because they forgot to tell the closing supervisor I was working a split.

It’s been one thing after another, and it happens on every shift. And if I’m not working several hours beyond what I should be, I’m usually being yelled at for something that isn’t my fault. Something that could have been avoided with communication. Some people have told me to quit, or transfer to a different store. My boyfriend really wants me to quit (he’s the one who has to listen to my end of shift rants).

I’ve dedicated over 4 years of my life to this company. It’s allowed me to survive living on my own while still in school, financed several trips, given me valuable work experience, and I’ve gained some really good friends and work references. I’m hoping that by having made the call, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Get your shit together or I’m jumping ship. If things don’t change, I’m leaving and finding something else, where they will treat me like a human being, and not a gypsy mind reader.

The gratification of making that few extra bucks is nothing when you feel like a mistreated animal half the time.

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April 12, 2011

The Big Money Drop

by Robyn

One of the best things about being a server is the tips. It’s the tips that make serving, I feel, such a hard industry to get out of. Not only do you make, on average, double your hourly wage, but you also have cash on hand all the time. The downside with having cash on hand all the time however, it that it’s always there for you to spend.

I’m not a hardcore saver, but I think I manage pretty well. Many adopt the habit of never carrying change, EVER. I find this difficult, however, a great adaptation of this habit, is to never keep your change, in the form of tips, and never carry more than $20 cash on you.

After every serving shift I take all my tips and them put them into my tip jars, less the $20 I keep in my wallet. If you can, always change your bills to larger ones, like $50’s. I’m always less likely to spend a $50 bill over a $20.

I keep my tip jar tucked away so that it’s out of sight, out of mind. The back corner of the cubby of my night table. I rarely see it, and almost never count the money in the jar. Until a few days ago. Holy Crap! Somehow I managed to save $740 cash in just a few short months. And that’s just in dollar bills. I haven’t even counted my coin jar. So this afternoon during my lunch break I zipped around to RBC and deposited the money into my savings account. It’s a little scary realizing that you’ve got that much cash just sitting in your apartment and not locked away safely in your bank account. I also got my GST cheque in the mail too.

My change jar is near overflowing so I’ll be stopping in at the credit union later this week to have that money counted, sorted, rolled and deposited. It’s always so satisfying tossing money into a jar for weeks on end because you never know what that collecting will amount too. This jar, I’m guessing at least $300. I’ve got a lot of loonies and toonies in there.

I’ll give you the grand total once it’s been counted. A good portion of this money will be going towards paying off my plane ticket to Toronto and some spending money while I’m in the city, but in the end I’m still up a few hundred.

April 6, 2011

365+ days, when will the saving end?

by Robyn

So we shall see if this on and off dream ever comes into fruition. I have 436 days until my tentative departure date. June 15th, 2012. That date sounds pretty darn good to me. That gives me 1 year, 2 months and 9 days to work, save, and sell my belongings. And maybe attending a wedding before I leave…. well see…it’s complicated.

So this my plan. Granted it’s been my “plan” on more than one occasion. Clearly I’ve failed in the past. I think this is attempt #3. Third times the charm right? Things are looking up. This time I’m not fresh out of school, working part-time, in between jobs, or doing a summer term position while trying to pay off debts from spur of the moment trips that I hadn’t adequatly saved or planned for. I’m in one place, working full-time, (working two jobs in fact) with no chance of upcoming vacation time to blow my money on a week long trip to Mexico which I’ve done more than once while working as a part-time server.

Oh the flexibility of working as a server, when you can trade shifts, drop shifts, pick up shifts, and you have loads of tax free cash at your fingertips. It can get you into messy financial situations. Like $4000 worth of debt in a mere 3 months.

One thing that I find frustrating, understandable, however still frustrating is that many travel bloggers are hush hush on what their financial standings are. I want to know HOW you saved up $xxxxx.xx. And not in terms of, instead of going to the movies you watched an old VHS at home. That saved you $20, which will amount 1 meal and a 1 night stay in Thailand. Or the fact that you pinched and saved and scrounged for a year and bingo, you have $23,000 saved at the end of a year. I want to know that along with your full time day job, you worked 15hrs serving over the weekend. You made $100 in tips and it went straight into your trip jar. Play by play! I love that shit. It makes it feel real, and that I can do it too….

Because, this weekend, I did serve for 15 hrs, and I think I made something in the range of $140. All of which has gone into my “money jar.” It will likely pay for my expenses when I fly to Toronto in a few weeks to get tattooed. 60% of of the flight which will be paid for with my RBC points that I’ve collect over the years. Budget travel….only to go and spend probably $1000 on a tattoo I’ve been saving for and waiting to get for over year.

I hope that in my blog, however it may evolve, will give people true insight into how I’ve done it. Friends and co-workers are always blown away by how I do it. Like how have I financed 5, (yes count it) 1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE, WEEK long vacations to destinations like Mexico (twice), New Jersey, Cuba & Montreal working 20 – 30 hours a week as a server at a pizza place. I hope to break it down so that you can do it too.

My current debt amounts to just over $3,000. That’s amazing considering I purchased a previously-loved $10,000 car in November. But with diligence, hard work and the sale of my old Nissan, since making the purchase a mere 5 months ago, I’ve somehow mananged to pay off $7000. With a fat income tax cheque expected in my mail box in the next few weeks, and a $400 autopac cheque enroute, I can expect to be putting money to savings in just over a month.

Having been able to consistantly put $500 – $700 away monthly to pay off my car, I can expect to be able to continue that into savings. Take that times 1 year, 2 months and 9 days, makes for $7000-$9000 put into savings. Add that to my existing $4000 saved in my high interest esavings chequing account fittingly nicknamed “RTW TRIP” and I’ll have somewhere in the range of $11,000 – $13,000 to buy a one way ticket westbound to SE Asia or Australia to live, work and play until I’m broke or dead. Which ever comes first.

Until then, I will feed my obsession with books, blogs, forums and the like. As the date gets closer I’ll be forced to explore details of the trip that can no longer be approached in theory. Like where is the best place to purchase traveller insurance, what are my most affordable banking options, what vaccines to get for the regions I hope to visit, and what I’ll need to pack. I’ll pull out a map and examine where I want to go, what I want to see, and overall, how much a really want to plan. A part of me wants to get the necessary vaccines, buy the longest insurance I can get my hands on GO. It probably won’t happen that way, but until then, I shall BLOG and DREAM.