Wednesday, August 30

Learning On The Job

The Beautiful

One of the more interesting aspect of working in the F&B industry is, regardless of how long you've worked, you're always learning on the job.

I waiter in a mid-sized hotel in the CBD, and understood the true meaning of 'learning on the job' several evenings ago.

Working the busy dinner shift, a regular customer by the name of Brendon Roughead must have had a truly bad day at work. He must have made it a point to be the meanest man-bitch to anyone who was serving him.

Unfortunately, that was me.

Brendon asked for a Carlton Cold, which i duly obliged. The beer was served, and while working the register several minutes later, my manager came up to me and whispered that Brendon didn't like the way his beer was poured.

I paused for awhile. "Bad luck," i thought, "the beer glass was freshly washed and there weren't any cold glasses."

Brendon called out to me several minutes later, and asked for a glass of red. "What kind of red?" i asked.

"Do you have a shiraz?" he asked, barely looking up at me as he flipped through the papers.

I had checked the bar counter earlier in the day, and remembered seeing only bottles of merlot. The bar has seen lots of action the night before.

"I may have to check with the manager. I'll get back to you." i quirped.

Going through the wine store thoroughly, i found 3 bottles of Little Penguin shiraz sitting idly in one corner. The shiraz was poured, and i brought it to his table.

"What shiraz is it?" You could almost sense the sinister sneer from his voice, snarling and cursing at my youthful face.

"It's Little Penguin from South Australia."

"Which region of South Australia?"

I was bowled. I honestly had no idea. Brendon was trying to make it difficult for me. Perhaps it wasn't obvious enough that i was a casual staff, not a fully certified sommelier. But i was more incensed at his remarkable lack of courtesy at a staff. I've never agreed with taking your anger out on someone else, and though i may at times have been guilty of it, it's always been at people i know really well. This Brendon dude, i've only seen twice.

A beat. And i told him honestly, "I've no idea."

Brendon looked up and peered at me for the first time. He shook his head and waved me away. "Oh nevermind."

If this was a Hollywood movie and i was a blonde teen, i'd have ran to the back of the kitchen and cried. But i saw in this awkward situation, a challenge. Brendon had presented to me a perfect opportunity to learn a little about wines. I'm not much of a wine drinker, though i do enjoy a nice glass of sweet white from Brown Brothers or sweet red from Monichino.

A full hour later, Brendon stood up to leave. I stopped polishing the glasses, looked up and wished him goodbye. And threw the wine region at him.

Unexpectedly, Brendon laughed.

"You're quite a character, John" Brendon's face flushed red with wine and food. "I just had a bad day at work, i apologise for being nasty."

We stood there for a moment or two and chatted.

Before he left, i told him cheekily, "Ring in the next time you come for dinner. I'd like to serve you again."

Brendon laughed heartily, bid me good bye and left for his room.

Now, if you'd excuse me, i've a sommelier course to attend.

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