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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)

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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 been a month or two since I reminded you to check your uniforms.

For newcomers, I suggest that you do a complete uniform check once a month.

You can either do it at the end of the month or at the beginning, since it’s pretty much the same thing. Whichever way is easier to remember is the way that you should do it.

Obviously, during the month, you should be spot-checking your uniforms as you wear them, but the monthly uniform check is more complete. You want to look closely at all of your pants, shirts, shoes, ties, jackets, hats and aprons. You’re looking for frayed edges, spots that refuse to come out, faded colors, etc. If you have some items that are still serviceable but on their last legs, you should consign them to your “emergency” stash. These are items that don’t get used during your normal work week. You’ll use these items in a pinch; for instance, if you’ve neglected your washing and find out that you need a piece of uniform that day or maybe you’re about to do all of your laundry but you get called in. This way, you have something clean that hasn’t been used.

This is the time that you make sure that you have all of your tools as well as backups for those tools. Check your lighters, corkscrew, crumbers, pens, check presenters, captain’s pads, etc. There’s nothing more annoying than to find out that you bent your last crumber. Crumbers aren’t something that you can pick up at the drugstore on your way to work. You should always have at least two of them, one of them kept in reserve in a safe place.

Why do I suggest doing this? Is this just bowing to The Man?

Not exactly.

It’s more for you.

Eventually all uniforms get worn out or trashed. We tend to keep using them until the day that The Man notices that the uniform item isn’t serviceable and then they say something to you and require you to replace it. Due to Murphy’s Law, this always happens when you’ve had a light week and you don’t even have enough money to pay your rent.

It’s much better to buy new shoes when you can afford them yourself. If you are checking those shoes every month, you’ll get a heads-up that you need to buy shoes shortly. This gives you a week or two to do it at your own leisure. Also, you might actually have to order restaurant specific items through the restaurant and this can take time if they don’t keep them in stock in your size. So, instead of only having two logo shirts instead of three for the next week, you’ll have some extra time if you catch the shirt before it gets noticeably trashed.

What are you looking for?

Aprons that don’t hold starch anymore or have a stain that just won’t come out.

Shoes that are looking threadbare, don’t hold a shine, have a cracked sole, etc.

Pants that have frayed cuffs in the back where they contact the floor, are faded, don’t hold a crease, have tiny starch spots from being around kitchen cleaning, etc.

Shirts that have a perpetual ring around the color that has creeped over the top and is visible, collars that are pilled from contact with whiskers, collar points that roll and don’t stay flat, white shirts that have yellowed or dark polo shirts that are faded, etc.

Ties that are pilled at the knot or have permanent creases near the knot.

Hats that are all greased up or have bills that have lost their shape.

If you do the monthly uniform check, you won’t be caught with your pants down, so to speak.

You might want to live in a Norman Rockwell painting – just don’t be this guy.

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.

Uniform check

It occurs to me that I’ve missed my monthly reminder for checking your uniform for the past couple of months. Apparently, life happens and it got swept by the wayside.

Well, isn’t that the way it happens?

You get busy or otherwise occupied and one day, a manager points out that your shirt collar is yellow and pilled (those little furry balls that guys with heavy beards get on the outside of their collars due to rubbing against neck whiskers) or your shoes are worn, your pants threadbare. And, according to Murphy, whose law seems to impose itself in your life at the most inopportune times,  you need every penny of the next week’s tip to make your rent and really can’t afford to buy a new shirt, or your car recently needed a new alternator and you spent all of your reserves on that.

So, I remind you that the best way to avoid this situation is to spot check your uniform weekly and do a monthly intensive uniform check, paying attention to the areas that turn out to be problem areas (the backs of pants cuffs, the color of black denim, shirt collars and cuffs, ties, aprons, etc.). If you stay ahead of the curve, you’ll never be caught with your pants down (so to speak).

One thing you can do is to consign clothing items that are on the verge of being tossed to an “emergency stash”. If you catch them before they’re unserviceable but as they are approaching that status, you can save them for the time when you don’t have the cash to replace an unserviceable item. Reserve them for those times. Don’t wait until they’re so threadbare that you have to toss them out.

This has been a public service announcement from your surrogate mother.

Picture taken from site that advises on how to clean ring around the collar:

http://tinyurl.com/Cleaning-shirt

End of month, end of year, end of decade

Well, this is my last exhortation about uniforms this decade.

Now’s the time to take a close look at your uniforms from head to toe.

Shoes intact and non-skid? Check.

Pants not frayed at the cuff and in the back? Check.

Pants have oil stain that won’t come out? Put in emergency inventory. Use only when all else fails.

Shirt collars not pilled and stained? Check.

Hell, you know the drill. At the end of every month, you do what you don’t normally do day to day – give a close look to the uniform. Not only do you look with more of a critical eye than when you’re grabbing and going, you get a heads-up about uniform items that you are close to having to replace. It’s really bad when you’re broke and suddenly your shoes rip on the side and you’re forced to spend money that you don’t have. Better to buy new uniform items on your own schedule, not the waiting god’s vengeful wrath. 

No, you don’t have to be THIS put-together, but it’s something worth shooting for, I suppose. Just can the haughty look.

End of the month nag post

Yep kiddies, it’s that time again. Time to look over the old uniform with a critical eye. Tennis shoes just about split at the seams? Pants frayed at the cuffs? Shirts irrevocably stained?

If so, replace them and get into some fresh duds. With business picking up, you’re going to be needing to look good, plus, you should have a little money now to take care of the things that you’ve been needing to replace.

Here’s to a great and profitable weekend. Watch out for low-tipping ghouls.

End of the month uniform check

Well kids, it’s that time of the month again.

At the end of every month, you should give your uniforms a good, close inspection. You should use a keen eye to observe signs of wear and tear. If you do this once a month, you probably won’t be caught with your pants down, so to speak, by a manager who has to tell you that your uniform is lacking in some way. Once you get into the habit, it’s almost routine. this doesn’t replace checking out your uniform before you put it on every day – it’s a really close look to see what’s going to have to be replaced soon.

On my inspection this weekend, I’ve noticed that I’ve got no more than 2 months left on my shoes. I’ll be buying a new pair while I’ve got the money instead of having to wake up one morning to find a rip where the top meets the sole. who knows – I might not have the money at the time. Best to take care of it now.

I’ve had to throw out two shirts. Time to buy two of those puppies as well. And the tie is getting a bit pilled, so I’d better have a backup ready.

I’d rather buy things on my own schedule than have the gods of wear and tear thrust buying on me.