It is interesting to think how old these original jokes are. I wrote them years before I started the comic. Part of me wants to reboot and make them a little more subtle. But we are going to go with it.

The other day I was thinking about my resume in restaurants. I’ve been in so many different places. Different styles, different clientele, different levels of success. Overall I’ve been part of 10 different establishments. I’ve watched some succeed while others crashed and burned. It has taught me a lot. Both about people and business. So, let’s discuss my resume.

1997 (Busser) – An all you can eat buffet spot. My first restaurant gig. Started as a busboy and worked my way up to the pasta station. There weren’t waiters at this place and rarely were there tips. I feel like we were left pretty much unsupervised most of the time.

This was my second job ever (the first was a dishwasher at a butcher shop, so that’s a half on the restaurant experience scale I suppose. I made $4.75 an hour and quit after about three weeks when I got offered a better job with better pay). This would have been the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school.

I lasted a little over a month before quitting. I had told the manager I wouldn’t work more than five days a week and kept getting scheduled for six. Then, my last week, I was scheduled for seven days. I called and argued with my manager, who dropped me down to six. I dropped the job.

I would have a similar job working a salad bar in a Whole Foods type place during the summer of 1999. That too would be short-lived as I found a better job. I remember being so confused there about who my boss was that I just printed out about a dozen resignation slips and dropped them into every manager’s mailbox.

2001-2005(Busser)/2008-2010(Server) – The diner. I started there as a weekend busser and worked on and off for a few years. I got laid off a couple times when things got slow but would eventually be asked back. Near the end of my first tour, I was waiting tables once or twice a week (usually on Mondays).

This was a turn and burn place on the weekends and a locals spot during the weekdays. Great customers, great staff, great owner (A crazy Korean lady who had been in the industry for 30 years. A real typhoon of a personality and a complete matriarch. I fully believe that married Korean women are the most dangerous force on the planet. They could rule everything if they wanted to).

I loved the job, even when I had to get up and drag myself there at 6:30 in the morning. I learned a lot about regulars at this job. Also, it taught me a lot of fast paced service.

2005-2006 (Server) – Mid/High end restaurant. This is the job that influenced this comic the most. It was my first restaurant gig in a place that was nothing short of constant chaos. Both a good restaurant and an incredibly frustrating place. Half the time it was managed brilliantly and half the time it was a complete mess. It taught me a good deal of cynicism.

This is the place I got my first taste of bartending as I worked weekends as the bartender (and a few weekdays). It was the first staff I worked with that had that family feeling (an incestuous one) and was the place I developed many of my long term friendships. I walked away frustrated from that job, but don’t regret having it. This is probably the space in time where I became an industry person for life. I think I got addicted to the high of a busy night at work.

Summer 2006 (Bartender/Caterer) – A brief stint at a high end golf course during the summer season. The place was poorly run and had a disaster of a staff. I quickly got assigned to all of the big events because I knew what I was doing. Good money, but a long drive. Also, I had to do battle with a lot of raccoons at the bussing station.

My last day was the day it snowed and they didn’t call me off. I drove 45 minutes there and made $6 in tips for a 5 hour shift (Servers pay was still about $3.50 an hour at this point). My only patrons were the pro shop staff. I had already been planning to leave the job, this mismanagement sealed the deal for me.

This is the place where I learned you can’t hire high school students to wash dishes. Young, American kids who don’t have bills don’t last long. This was one of two times I worked with a kitchen without immigrants. Both kitchens were disasters.

2006-2007 (Server/Bartender) – The Irish bar (true Irish bar, owned by a Irishman). My first real bartending gig. This was the first place I worked where I was allowed to be myself, something I’m sure many future employers probably wished I would dial back a little. I’ll get into it in later posts, but I was essentially told to stop worrying about being nice to people and to keep their drinks filled.

I loved it, but I decided it was time to head back to Oregon and would leave before a year had passed.

2007 (Server/Bartender) – This was at a long established jazz club that was being slowly run into the ground. The owner succeeded in doing that about a month and a half after I started. I learned what a kitchen shouldn’t be like. They had hired a young kid (maybe 23) to run their kitchen despite having no experience. This was a $20-$25 a plate place. If it had been a bar kitchen (where this kid would end up years later) maybe it could have flown.

Again, I’ll tell many stories from here. But to sum it up, the owner drank up his profits and the kitchen was always 86 on about half the menu. This was a front row seat for a train wreck.

2007-2008 (Server) – Mid range Thai food place. A small place struggling to survive because of a terrible location, this restaurant produced great food and put me in a spot where I had a little bit of authority. There was a lead server who was close to being a manager. She was a clever middle aged Korean woman (again, scary) who would take advantage of young, inexperienced servers so that she could make extra money. She would do little things like skip you in the rotation when you both were working in hopes you wouldn’t notice that she had taken a few in a row. Every large top had apparently requested her (something very far from the truth).

I was older than the rest of the servers and smarter than this woman. I learned how to get ahead of her and keep things moving fairly. I butted heads with her often which was even the cause of one employee meeting, but was able to even things out for the rest of us over time. In a lot of ways, this was my first taste of managing.

The money wasn’t great though. And was inconsistent. So, when the diner had space for me to come back full time, I jumped on it and went there to serve for the next three years.

2010-2013 (Bartender) – The college bar. A lot of fun, a lot of regulars and a lot of drinking. I don’t miss this job. It was incredible while it lasted. I made a lot of good memories and great friends. I reconnected with people I used to know (I’m back in Denver at this point) and even fell in love. In the end, it just wasn’t meant to be (for both working there and the relationship). It took a lot out of me and wore me down.

I only worked there a couple days a week most of my time there because I was splitting time with another job. One shift was great and one shift was the worst I ever worked. Two of the four personalities on that shift (one being the GM) couldn’t work together and should never have been allowed under the same roof. Because the GM didn’t want to deal with it, the problem became toxic for everyone on the shift and that negativity started to bleed into the bar. I left when I couldn’t take it anymore.

2011-2013 (Bartender) – The brewery. This will probably go down as the best job I ever had. It was fun to show up every day. Great staff, great regulars and an incredible product. Occasionally ridiculous things would happen (it was in Aurora after all) but they were outweighed by how enjoyable working there was. I possibly could have stayed there the rest of my days if I didn’t get an offer to start a career out here in San Diego.

The product there was incredible. And the love for making the best beer is something most other breweries aren’t even close to. Every year the brewery would go to GABF and walk off with a few medals (5 this year). Everyone working there could talk your ear off about beer. I arrived in San Diego already informed with most of the knowledge I would want about the local scene just because my co-workers loved beer that much. An incredible place to work.

2013-Present (Manager) – I’m back at a mid/high end restaurant. Lunches are a bit of the turn and burn I got used to at the diner and nights are the slow, fine dining experience. In many ways, I’m back to where this comic began (accept that I’m in a place with a lot more class and professionalism). I won’t be writing about being here too much simply because I can’t risk my position.

In total, I’ve been in 10 (and a half) restaurants and have 12 years of experience. I’ve done a little of everything in the FOH and worked at most types of places. I feel it is a strength now that I’ve moved to management. I have the empathy necessary to work with the staff and the understanding of what is going on around me. I see most customers before they’ve walked in the door, I see which servers need help and I’m aware of most of the mischief going on (though, in truth, quite a bit of it is me). I enjoy my work and am told I’m pretty good at it. I’m having fun in the industry. It may not be glamorous, but I wouldn’t trade it.