The Lesson Theory

I have this theory about mistakes, lessons, and the way I try to live my life.

"Learn each lesson only once."

That's pretty much it.

As many of you know, I've started a new job bartending and waiting tables at a restaurant. I happened to get hired at what is, quite possibly the most innopportune time anyone could ever be hired.

A list:

  • The old owner, a complete crisis-manager is being replaced by the new owner, who is very interested in being in control of everything and presenting a cool, collected front.
  • The servers (with three or four exceptions) are all pretty new, young, and clueless to some stuff.
  • I am working as a bartender, and in a sense replacing a manager, only I don't have any of his power.
  • The person from whom I have recieved most of my training is the back-of-house manager, who, obviously doesn't need to be bothered answering every off-the-wall minimalist question I have.
  • The 'bar manager' that has been working some of the shifts opposite me is rarely there at the same time I am.
  • The bar manager is 8 months pregnant.
  • A week after I started, we were nearly hit with a hurricane. A week after that, we were hit with a hurricane.

So you might say that my training experience has been awkward at best, and nonexistent at worst. Since this is my first job in this industry, there are many things that I should have been taught, and would have been taught, had anyone at work actually bothered to train me. There are entire procedures that we are supposed to go through daily that I am still discovering or being told to do, and I have been working there for a month now.

Conversations like this are common:

Manager/Owner: "Oh, and you haven't been completing your tip sheet."
Me: "Tip Sheet?"
Manager/Owner: "Yeah, you should be filling it out every day and putting down an approximation of how much you make in tips."
Me: "Oh."

That conversation occured yesterday.

So my method for dealing with the this chaotic learning environment is to attempt to learn each lesson only once. One mistake is completely acceptable, if you don't know any better. But as soon as you're taught the proper way, keep doing it that way and don't make that mistake again.

The lessons range from small (The milk does not go in the bar cooler) to large (fill out your tip reports for tax purposes) -- but applying this theory seems to take pretty much all the hassle out of the process of learning all of the things I should know in order to work where I do.

In a completely unrelated note: I don't know if this was aimed at me or not. I certainly don't know what to make of it, either way. If it is aimed at me, than I suppose I wouldn't feel hurt, since my heart and soul are appearantly composed of Emotionless Granite and Cold Unfeeling Iron, respectively.

I would like to note, though, that at least part of it seems to fit me perfectly. I think (har!) that the bit about thinking too much is spot on.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


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