Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dealing with Stress!

Sorry pics coming soon!

So I dealt with a very stressful situation today. It's not often that I can say this. A day in the life of Eric Scriven generally goes by stress free. I guess partly because I don't let things get to me, or at least I try not to. Today was different though, very challenging.
Merry Christmas by the way! Today is Christmas here, Christmas Eve there. I chose to work this year. Being away from the family, and being offered 2.5 times my normal wage was plenty for me to work a large lunch function of roughly 250 people on Christmas day.
I had a great morning! Woke up, went across the street to the Vickers’ house to eat Christmas breakfast, and open my presents from home. It was awesome. The whole family sat around and watched as I opened my presents. I think they enjoyed learning a bit more about how we do Christmas in America. Apparently they were talking about it all day. I got some great stuff! Some awesome clothes, a travel journal, a Landscape sketch book, and a cool Padres hat. Thanks Mom, Dad, Adonica, Robert. It was great, but then I had to rush off to work.
When I got there, my job was to pour about 200ish drinks and place them on a table for the soon to be arriving guests. 1/3 of these were OJ, 1/3 were to be champagne, and the other third was to be beer. “Ok, good, that’s my job; I got 20 min.” So I figured I’d pour the beer last to prevent it from going as flat. I go to pour the juice first. No juice in any fridge upstairs in the functions room or behind the bar. Now I have to walk up to the manager who expects me to be half way done pouring drinks, and ask him for a key to the cellar to grab the orange juice. So I get that, pour the juice, pour the champagne, and get to the beer. All I’m pouring is foam! Over and over again, pitcher after pitcher, all I could pour from the taps was foam. It was warm too. Not good. I had about 75 beers to pour in about 5 minutes. All 250 guests were waiting for us to open, and they expected cold beer upon arrival. Not to mention it was raining; they were not in the best mood. I didn’t know what to do; not one of our 10 taps upstairs was working. So I just kept pouring hoping it would settle and beer would start pouring out. Luckily I noticed one pitcher of foam had set for a while and had some beer in the bottom. I immediately started filling the pitchers w foam, allowing them to sit, then pouring the warm bit of beer I could into the glasses. I got the glasses full of beer and placed on the table just in time. But I had solved no problem, other than my boss wanting to see 75 beers on the table. They were warm, nobody was going to want them after one sip, and the taps still didn’t work. I thought, “How are we going to do a lunch function with 250 people on Christmas, and not have running kegs?”
The countdown began: one minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, boom! They were amongst us, hundreds of people. The first guy came up, “Do you have a cold beer?” I replied, “Yeah let me try the tap.” Knowing darn well I wasn’t going to get anything but warm foam, hoping that a miracle would take place and I would magically start pouring beer. I guess I was just trying to postpone the let down of us not having beer for another 10 seconds. Sad, I know. My manager was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he was out back dressing up as Santa Clause to be the main attraction of the party. I just thought to myself and shook my head, “No one is going to want to see Santa unless we get the beer working.” As I was lost in deep thought I heard noise coming from the bar. “Sir, Sir? Can we get a beer?” “No, not just yet, the taps are out. We are fixing it soon.” Saying this was very difficult. As I said it, I noticed the non-verbals and body language of 15 or so people being let down.
“So, are any of beers working?”
“No, not yet.”
“So what did I pay $50 for?”, “Do you have any bottled beer?”
Oh, bottled beer. What a concept, I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of that earlier. “yeah, we have bottled beer.”
“What kinds do you have?”
As I bent down to look in the fridge, I knew what I was about to see before it even happened. I could feel it. I saw maybe about 8-10 beers of Carlton Cold, and VB mid strength, nothing that anyone ever orders. I knew my chances of pleasing these customers by saying the names of those two beers were about 0%. Even if they did like that beer, Only 8 of them would actually get a beer. The funny thing is that all three cellar boys were on yesterday. Their job is to check the kegs and taps before functions, as well as restock all alcohol in all fridges. Nice work! Wow!
Guest: “Do you have a wine list Sir?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s somewhere hold on.”
What do I do? Do I actually look for a wine list? Or do I track down my manager and get more bottled beer, or do I ask him to fix the keg. He knows its not working. What is my order of operations? I was at a loss for anything. I wanted to disappear.
Guest: “I’ll just get a chardonnay.”
Me: “Perfect, let me get that.”
Boom, no wine in the fridge. The cellar boys had put the stock on the counter, but definitely not in the fridge.
Me: “Um, I’m sorry, but the Chardonnay isn’t cold.”
Guest: “What do you have that is Cold?”
Me: “A Semillon,” I thought to myself, “what’s a Semillon?” I could tell she was thinking the same thing.
Guest: “Ok just give me a beer.”
Me: “We don’t have any beer.”
Guest: “Is there anything you do have?”
Now the girl that I’m working with decides to chime in “We have coke!”, with a smile on her face.
Wow, things couldn’t have been more stressful. I had nothing to serve these people. I had about 20 unhappy customers piling up at my bar, and that number was growing. The other girl in the bar was little to no help. She was laying down the floor mats. I looked at her and could only shake my head in disbelief. How on earth did she think that laying the floor mats was even on the top 100 important things to do at that time? She then gave me a big smile as if there was no problem whatsoever. I’m pretty sure I wanted to puke right about then.
I was definitely being challenged. I was growing as an individual, facing a very stressful situation. I had two ways to go, up or down. My nerves were being tested, my brain was being tested, it was hard for me.
Right then, the bickering of the bar crowd became quiet, as a bell rang through the distance. Santa Clause had come to Christmas. He was yelling “Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!”, ringing his bell as all the little kids started running. I even saw a particularly angry guest crack a small smile.
At that moment of Silence a magical thing took place. There was a hush over the crowd, as Santa brought joy to these people. For a brief second, it didn’t matter that we had literally nothing to serve these people. One guy was overly mad about the beer situation one second, then smiling and staring at Santa the next. Even though the man wearing a fake beard was my boss who should have been helping to fix the bar situation, I realized that the spirit of the real Santa was real. Somehow, Santa had turned a terrible situation into a very happy moment for people of all ages. Even if it did only last a few seconds.
Right then I made a decision. I ran up to Santa and asked for the downstairs bar keys. And a skateboard lol. I grabbed three dudes, and went downstairs to collect all the stock I could carry. We grabbed cases of every beer and wine that we serve. They were all cold, as we rushed them upstairs. We broke the news that we were not going to serve tap beer today, but that we did have bottles. We also had a variety of cold white wine, as well as an assortment of reds.
One by one, we took orders from customers until there was no line left. People were not necessarily happy about the bottle situation, but Santa helped them get over it. If not for his timely arrival, all hell would have broken lose at the bar. He gave us the few minutes we needed to escape and get the beer with no time to spare.
I learned a lot today. Mainly that our cellar boys are worthless, but I think I already knew that. I was really challenged today, and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t like it. However, looking back, it was an amazing experience. I grew as a person. I learned that I don’t like stress. I learned the best way to deal with stress to use your head and think through the issues at hand; not to disappear, or to yell, or to point fingers.
I am a better person because of today! I am better at dealing with stress, and my overall tolerance to stress is higher. I’ll forever be slightly better in stressful situations because of Christmas 2009, the year Santa saved Chrissy!
When the function was all cleaned up, the group or us sat down for a delicious meal. We had wonderful potatoes, chicken, green beans, and desert. It had been a great day! Honestly, one of the best days of my life. I wasn’t tired and stressed, but happy that I was alive, and thankful that I had overcome a tough situation. As I ate that chicken, I realized how much I really have to be thankful for. So much!!
So for all of my friends and family, I want to say thank you, for everything. Thank you for always being there, and for your friendship and love. My Christmas was amazing this year; hope all of yours are as well.
When I was leaving the club I hopped into my car, put the key in the ignition, and…nothing. No sound, no start. I had kept the lights on the entire day. My battery was DEAD! Got a ride home and left that ish there! That’s tomorrow problem!!
Merry Christmas everyone!