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How I Waited Upon 120 People for Breakfast One Morning

Jul 21, 2008
As a waiter you should always be ready for the unexpected and be ready to adapt to any situation. The restaurant can be slow one moment and all of a sudden a bunch of people can come in and the restaurant is packed.

One of my most memorable shifts occurred to me back in the summer of 1990 when I was working in Jasper Alberta. Jasper is nestled in the beautiful Canadian Rockies and has a population of about 3,000 people but during the summer the number swells to 25,000 tourists per day that fill up the local hotels and inns. Jasper becomes a mecca for the service employee who wants to make some good money during the tourist season.

During this summer I was working breakfast at one hotel and dinner at another restaurant so I was making some good cash. Where I worked for breakfast each morning we would get what I like to call the bus people in early enabling them to grab the bus by 8AM and continue on their tour. This meant we were slammed hard right at the beginning.

There was 3 of us that worked the breakfast each morning but on this morning there was one that asked for the day off which left two of us to handle two bus loads at 7AM. That was about 90 people. Our supervisor had just quit too. It was going to be busy for sure but with a fully loaded breakfast buffet most people headed that way as it was included in the price. Some would order off the menu but not many.

That morning I arrived to work the usual time at 6:15 to set up the buffet , put the creamers and assorted jams on the table , and start making the coffee. Time was speeding by and soon I realized the other waiter was not there yet. I checked the time and it was 6:45. The chef came out and asked if I was the only one to show up. At that moment I looked at the locked entrance door where I noticed the hungry wolves licking their chops ready to attack the buffet and anything else that resembled food. The way I was feeling at this moment I probably looked a little like roast beef on a plate.

Summoning up courage I said to the chef just watch the buffet and I will take care of the rest. Having prepared up to 6 pots of coffee and a couple more of boiling water for tea I opened the doors to the throng of people awaiting.

As they hurried in to grab a seat I gave everyone a couple of minutes to enter, then made my big announcement. Using my experience in public speaking and holding two coffee pots I said , " I am the only one on this morning so I am coming around with coffee and here is our buffet so help yourself. If you need anything off the menu I will get it for you. Be patient and you will all be served and seen to within a couple of minutes."

All I asked of them is anyone who orders off the menu and needs to settle up their bill line up at the cash about 7:50 just before it is their departure time and pay me before leaving. This way I can give the best service possible to everyone leading up to that time.

Well it worked like a charm. I got everything everyone wanted and the kitchen helper kept the buffet replenished. Not one complaint at all , in fact the front desk did not even know of the missing waiter.

Once the crowd left and caught their busses , every table was heaped with dishes that I was unable to clear while serving. Buffet plates , coffee cups , juice glasses , and plates ordered from the kitchen all stacked on the tables. I began with a huge tray to start clearing tables but then suddenly there was more people coming that were not on any schedule and just were coming for breakfast. As they came in I cleared a table for them to sit on and wiped it down. Until 11AM when we closed for breakfast I served another 30 people.

The kitchen helper gave me a hand to clear some of the tables during this time and thank heavens we were not open for lunch. The Food and Beverage Manager came and asked why I didn't call him. He had no idea. The one thing when you are a waiter is if you are busy you are usually too busy to call anyone!

At the end of the day I survived and I guess I made a good impression because when I went to visit two years after that summer the dishwasher did not remember my name but did recall that infamous morning when I served the entire breakfast myself to 120 people.
About the Author
His motivational speaking engagements are both funny and informative. Find out more about Steve Nicolle at his website which is at http://www.stevetalks.ca
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