Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Professional Prego Stands Her Ground

Typically, I only sit down to write an entry when something or someone applicable crosses my mind. I try to keep my blogs upbeat and meaningful, and always on task to the mindset of pregnancy. Today, I sit here thinking – what has been going on with Jackie and Kangaroo lately? It dawns on me that we have been undergoing a lot of change and growth together, and as of late, we have unfortunately been under quite a lot of stress. I hate to be a whiner, I want this pregnancy to be blissful and without complication, but I also want it to be honest. Honestly, this body and mind and soul has been tested these last few weeks, and only with the help and guidance of loved ones and my beautiful heirloom tomato have I come out with the strong willed attitude I’ve always strived for. Here is the story of Jackie and Kangaroo’s first big road block:

I am the manager of a fine dining restaurant in the white mountains of New Hampshire – a position I take pride in because of the amount of work it took me to achieve. Among other responsibilities, I help to orchestrate the flow and direction of lunch and dinner service five nights a week as well as designing an exclusive wine list that requires constant maintenance and change. First and foremost, I am a bartender who provides a high quality of food and drink service backed by a wonderful staff and the best food this area has to offer. I brag about my job, I love this restaurant, and would never do anything to discredit it.

That being said, there has been and will always be a level of stress associated for anyone in this position. I bring it home with me almost everyday, wondering if my inventory will be sufficient, or if my service was what it consistently should be. I regard my stress level as healthy, a sign of respect to the people I serve as well as the establishment that I strive to make the best in any way I can.

There is a widely known level of respect in restaurant work that is represented almost exactly by the numbers 1 and 5 – as in, 15%. If you dine out relatively often, you should definitely be familiar with the amount of work that goes into waiting on you – and most people do. As a matter of fact, I am so rarely disappointed with a tip, the conversation some servers are forced to have with themselves (“what did I do to deserve this?”) hasn’t crossed my mind in a very long time. It is, however, impossible to disregard this self-chat when helping to serve friends, colleagues, or anyone you otherwise have a distinct and definable relationship with. In my case, adding insult to injury, I was pregnant and dealing with 7%. Embarrassing, shameful, what did I do to deserve this?

The unspoken rule to this business is don’t say anything. Don’t stand up for yourself or question the inadequacy of the gratuity, just move on – take the good with the bad.

Kangaroo had a better idea, and I’m so glad she did.

I am a professional, growing another person inside my body, waiting on people for a livelihood – please don’t suggest that I simply ignore what could possibly be an error in counting (or alcohol-induced judgment) and just move on. This isn’t just my life anymore, Mama has to bring home the bread for what is soon to be two mouths.

American girls tend to be mislead from childhood – that if you work hard at something, it will always pay off in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, my job has paid off for me financially, I do very well. I wish I could say the same for the amount of respect and support I receive for performing well so consistently. I was suspended, without pay, for a week, for confronting my 7% slap-in-the-face.

Someone with thick skin, someone like me, would normally take this standing up – but it’s not just me anymore. The Roo-hormones got the best of me – the absolute best of me – and I spent days in a dark place, up against a road block I never anticipated. Even the jubilation of Mama Lisa in town couldn’t entirely tear my mind away from my professional catastrophe. There was no amount of meditation or mantra that could bring my spirits up, and for the first time in my life, the words “I think I am depressed or something,” left my lips. What a weak feeling to admit – like staring at a brick wall you know you have to conquer, but nobody left you the rope to climb over it with.

Then, late one night, after Stacey was snoring next to me, I was left to my own devices, and the barricade crumbled to the ground….


He groggily answered, “Wh-wh-whaaaaat?”

“I just felt our baby move.”

And a simple smile crept over our faces, and a lot of things seemed O.K. again. The baby inside me now moves and grooves to her own beat – much like her Mommy and Daddy – almost every hour of everyday, and nothing in my life has ever made me so unbelievably joyful.

Why in the world would I ever allow a harem of mean-spirited and disrespectful women have any impact on the happiness of my pregnancy? Seems silly now, looking back, but it is just how seriously I take my employment. I love meeting new people, and giving great service to my regulars – I really do! I need to put my hormones aside and remind myself that the world is full of good people, and I’m one of them. Good people have to put up with not-so-good people everyday, and as long as God is watching over us, Kangaroo and I will be just fine.

Nudge, nudge, wiggle, wiggle, nudge, poke – I think she agrees.

**Servers and Bartenders are faced with the same financial trials and tribulations as any other career-oriented person on the planet. Keeping in mind that most servers are paid between three to four dollars an hour, and bartenders typically get a dollar or two more: If you receive good service, it is considered courteous to leave 15% of the price of your tab. When you are garnered with exceptional service, 20% or higher is standard. Simply expecting quality service without the anticipation of leaving an adequate tip should be considered theft of services, or at the very least, bad manners.**


  1. Excellent piece Jackie. I completly support your pint of view. Like you said..."take the good with the bad" and next time...take your gripe to management. Thats what they get paid for. I have worked for tips many times in my life and I willadmit that I was not a good tipper until I worked for tips. Some people truely do not understand and some people are...well...assholes. Keep blogging and do not buy any firearms during the third trimester!

  2. I AM the management! The "friends" in question work for tips themselves, unfortunately that excuse would not work for them. I sincerely believe it was alcohol-induced faulty mathematics, but the way it was handled was horrible.

  3. So proud of you for posting this Jack- Its an outrage that the "people we wont mention" chalked that up to alcohol induced mathematics. They must have been drunk on thier lunch breaks then... GOD I LOVE YOU!