So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

End of month uniform check

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve reminded all of you waiters to do a monthly uniform check.

For newbies to the blog, I recommend taking a quick look at your uniforms every week or so as you wear them, but to take the end of the month to really examine all of your uniforms at one time and do it with a critical eye to every bit of wear and tear. This means looking at the cuffs of your pants to look for signs of fraying, especially at the rear if they tend to be a little long. I’ve found that the backs of the bottom seam of the legs of my pants can get frayed just from occasional contact with the floor. while you’re checking out the bottom of the legs of your pants, and you wear black pants, look for small bleach spots. They look slightly reddish. You get them because you work in a kitchen where people are spraying cleaning fluids on the floor. You don’t realize that the spray is hitting you with pin drops from 10 feet away, but you’d be surprised how often you’ll find these little spots if you look closely. If they are small, a Sharpie will make them less noticable. The stronger the solution, the better the chance that eventually you’ll end up with a hole there after you’ve washed your pants a few times. So file that away in the back of your mind. The last thing you need is to pull out your only pair of clean pants after washing right before a shift only to find that you now have a hole in them.

Check the cuffs of your sleeves if applicable. You’re looking for stains that won’t come out and early signs of fraying.

Check your tie if you have to wear one. For guys, we have to worry about the whiskers on our neck causing pilling around the knot. We can even wear through the outer lining to expose the white batting on the inside, especially if you keep your tie knotted in the same place so that you don’t have to re-tie it every time you get dressed. And speaking of pilling, check your collars. Not only do they get pilled, especially if you’re wearing an Oxford shirt, they get the dreaded “ring around the collar”. If you don’t treat them regularly, they can become permanent.

Do your aprons still hold starch? After a lot of cleaning, sometimes they look like limp dishrags that are paper-thin. They won’t even hold a middle crease. And you have to check them for black marks that won’t come out. These sometimes occur when you brush past a garbage can or rub against the foot of a chair leg that’s upside down because it’s stacked upside down on another chair in a hallway that’s too narrow to negotiate.

How are your shoes? Do they still hold a shine? If they are tennis shoes, are they showing signs of fading? How about the sloes? Close to cracking?

Do you have spares of all of your tools? An extra winetool? An extra crumber if you use one? Plenty of pens? A couple of lighters? You’d think that since many of us now work in non-smoking places, we wouldn’t need to carry them (hell, I used to have to carry a cigar cutter). However, if you have to put a candle in a dessert, you’re going to still need a lighter.

If you find uniforms that are still “serviceable” but are approaching the end of their functional life, you should “retire” them to the “emergency uniform” category. Separate them from your daily uniforms but keep them in reserve for the day that you got behind on your cleaning or have to pick up a shift at the last moment and you don’t have any clean uniforms. If you’ve got a clean “emergency uniform”, you’re golden.

Why is it important to do this monthly check? First of all, we tend not to look all that closely at our uniforms when we’re working back-to-back doubles and long stretches of work. Second of all, if a manager notices and calls you out on a funky piece of uniform, it’s always at the time when you don’t have the money to replace it. Or you’re stuck with a sub-optimal apron when the district manager comes for a visit.

So, the best thing to do is use the end of the month/beginning of the next month as a window to really get critical with your uniform. Do this regularly and you’ll be golden.

2 responses to “End of month uniform check

  1. Freebie March 30, 2010 at 12:16 am

    For many girls it’s checking the uniform shirt for wear and potential bra showage. Our restaurant requires black Lacoste shirts which even with the newest shirt shows bra without an undershirt. At 120 dollars a pop they’re surprisingly flimsy. Nothing says how ya doing like a pink bra shining through a black shirt on a busy Friday night alley rally.

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