So You Want To Be A Waiter

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So, have you been doing your uniform checks without me bugging you?

Tell the truth. You haven’t have you?

Time to look at those shirts, pants, aprons, jackets and shoes.  Just because I haven’t been around doesn’t mean that you can let yourself go. You know that mom doesn’t give me visitation very often.  Still, never forget that your mom and I love you very much and that it wasn’t your fault that I can’t see you very often.

Love ya much.

Dad.

End of month uniform check

Yep, it’s that time again.

Time to inspect your uniform from top to bottom. Look at each item with a critical eye. If you have any unserviceable item, time to wastecan it. If you have any “marginal” items, put them in your emergency pile.

You’re going to be busy for the next 30 days, but the next 3 or 4 days are usually the calm before the storm. Now’s the time to buy new shoes, stock up on socks, ties, aprons, or anything uniform associated.

Your uniform affects your mojo. Don’t let it suck the mojo out from under you.

“Hi, I’m Rusty and I’ll be your waiter. Can I bring you a nice Chardonnay”?

(Actually, Emmitt Kelly Jr. at the New York World Fair – 1964)

Halloween uniform check

No, I’m not suggesting that you wear a costume while working tonight. I’m sure that some of you will. I once wore a costume for a Halloween.

I was “The Invisible Man”.

No, I didn’t pull a no-show – I actually dressed up in the style of Claude Rains, the original 40s “Invisible Man” from film fame (he was the same actor who played CPT. Louis Renault who said the famous line, “Round up the usual suspects” in Casablanca).

I wasn’t an exact replica of the movie character. I didn’t own a smoking jacket. And I didn’t have the wide cloth wrapping that he used – I was forced to use three-inch gauze. A lot of it.

I went to the Salvation Army and found the most old-fashioned, thin lapel gray suit that I could find. I bought a fedora, some big old clunky sunglasses, a black cane with a white tip and white gloves. It was great, but it would have looked better with a smoking jacket, like this:

But I have to say that I wasn’t about to pop for an expensive smoking jacket, just for Halloween, especially as I had already paid a bunch for the other stuff (and this was around 1980, so i wasn’t making a huge amount of money waiting tables). Just getting enough gauze to wrap around my big head was about $10 (which was about a fifth of what I was averaging on a typical dinner shift).

Anyway, you can imagine what waiting tables while swathed in gauze and wearing shades was like. Fortunately, the restaurant that I worked in was small and easy to maneuver in. After work, I went to a big “Halloween party” held in a movie theater and sponsored by a radio station and I won second place!

Anyway, it’s not about wearing a costume but reminding you that it’s the end of the month and time to make sure that you your uniform doesn’t look like you’re wearing a hobo’s costume.

Look for the usual suspects – frayed, stained or tattered cuffs, faded blacks, impossible to remove ring-around-the-collar, worn out soles, etc. Once you get in the habit doing this either at the beginning and end of the month, it will become second nature. What you’re doing is looking very closely and critically at each piece of your uniform. During the month you’ll do spot checks but this is the time to determine whether a piece needs to be discarded, refreshed, put in the emergency stack or tended to.

This is called managing your appearance. Don’t let your appearance manage you. By this, I mean that there’s nothing worst than to have your manager tell you that you need a new shirt and you’re on your last shirt and you’re 5 days behind on your rent.

There’s something also to be said for keeping a brand new shirt in safekeeping for when a corporate visit is announced, especially if you have to order it through the company.

A couple of interesting things about the movie The Invisible Man – the movie was directed by James Whale, the British director of Frankenstein. And who’s that beautiful lady in the picture? Why that’s Gloria Stuart, the actress who played the Titanic survivor in James Cameron’s epic movie. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 100 just a few weeks ago.

Uniform check

Well kids, it’s the end of the month. Time to give your uniforms a really close look.

Use the eye you don’t use every day. Try not to ignore that nagging stain or frayed cuff. Do your polo shirt’s collars refuse to lay flat anymore? Is your white shite noticably yellow around the neck? Has your left shoe developed a small crack in the sole?

The point of this exercise isn’t to throw out uniform items with little flaws – it’s to evaluate the effective remaining lifespan. Is it close to time to get a new polo shirt? If so, then you need to budget for it. If you don’t wait until it’s too late, not only won’t you have to buy a shirt with the money you needed to pay your light bill because your manager made you throw away your shirt, you can probably reserve that shirt for the “emergency pile”. It’s always nice to have clothes that you can grab when you forgot to do laundry or you are stuck with a shift that you weren’t expecting.

So get all of your uniform items together in the next week and give them a really good fine-tooth combed inspection. Do this once a month and you’ll never get caught flat-footed.

Photo by smtaylor1