Instant Hostess

I was unemployed and about to start a job search when a broke my foot. The cast came off after 10 weeks, I then spent another week relearning to walk. By this point I was destitute and had to find a job pronto. I answered an ad for a restaurant hostess, though I had no previous experience. I limped to the restaurant at 4:00pm, as instructed. The bartender instructed me to fill out an application; I was told to wait until the manager had a chance to meet me. I had lots of time to take in the surroundings—an ostentatiously-fancy joint named after the European chef (whose name I had no idea how to pronounce), an ornate display case near the door hawking signed copies of the chef’s autobiography. The manager finally breezed into the bar after 45 minutes. He looked at me and my application, said little, then darted away. I stood near the entry waiting for him to reappear, wondering if I’d been excused. The phone at the hostess station began to ring, by the forth ring the manager abruptly stuck his head through a doorway and gestured toward the phone, implying I should answer it. Then he disappeared.

I did my best, under the circumstances— I accepted a reservation for the following evening, writing the name in the reservation book, though I’d no idea if there’d actually be a table available or any idea how one determined this. The phone continued to ring, I continued to answer, mispronouncing the restaurant’s name with a different variant each time. More reservations, idle queries about a menu I knew nothing about, requests to speak to numerous people who presumably worked there. I was able to figure out how to put calls on hold, but was lost when determining how to transfer calls or to where they should be transferred. I accidentally disconnected the manager’s South American girlfriend twice within 10 minutes—when I asked “who may I say is calling?” the third time, she unleashed her fury in an ear-piercing Brazilian accent. I kept expecting somebody to relieve me of the constantly ringing phone. What sort of established three-star New York restaurant gives an untrained 24 year old stranger total dominion over their reservation book and incoming calls? Maybe I’d been hired, but nobody remembered to tell me?

The manager was no where to be found, and everyone else was too busy to assist me, rolling their eyes or glaring whenever I asked a question. Before I knew it, several hours had passed. Finally, around 10:00pm, the manager reappeared and told me I could leave. I was exhausted, unsteady on my barely-healed foot and frazzled after several hours of unprepared hostessing. I bolted without confirming that I’d been hired—freedom! No more ringing phone, no more screeching Brazilian battle-ax, no more standing, no more nauseating post-modern decor. I limped home exhausted but happy that I’d at least found a job. Apparently. The next day I phoned to see when they wanted me to come back. The short answer was “never.” Outraged that I’d answered their phone for five hours as some sort of unspecified audition, I limped back the next day and demanded payment for my time. The disdainful manager at first tried to give me the brush-off, but finally gave me a few twenties to get rid of me. I spent the $60 on a comfortable pair of cheap shoes, and continued my job search.

Comments (13)

AndrewJune 18th, 2010 at 7:36 am

This story is absolutely ridiculous & I loved every single minute of it.

tronnerJune 18th, 2010 at 8:11 am

I completely understand your difficulty in saying the Chef’s name – but I think it’s pronounced “Boy-Are-Dee”

Jade LynnJune 18th, 2010 at 8:22 am

No training and no offcial hiring paperwork? what did they expect?!

TheRestOfTheStoryJune 18th, 2010 at 8:29 am

Good luck in your job search, or should I say “break a leg”?

ZeppelinJune 18th, 2010 at 10:03 am

Dig your writing style. That place seriously needs to shape up if they want to retain any real talent.

MaryJune 18th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

@tronner: ha ha ha ha ha!

Frau BlucherJune 18th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

something tells me they have a very high turnover.

TMSJune 18th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

That’s if the even let you know you’ve been hired! Sounds like they threw you under the bus there, just throwing you into the thick of things. I did wonder though, all those reservations you made, if any of the people showed up and wondered if their reservations were honored? Well if nothing else, at least you got sixty bucks out of it.

TMSJune 18th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Wow, that’s got to be the worst comment I’ve ever written, let me fix my own lousy grammar:

That’s if they even let you know you’ve been hired! Sounds like they threw you under the bus there, just throwing you into the thick of things with no official confirmation that were even hired. I did wonder though, all those reservations you made, if any of them were honored when the people showed up? Well if nothing else, at least you got sixty bucks out of it.

There, much better.

Garter SnakeJune 21st, 2010 at 9:13 am

OK, this one is tied with that hilarious clown one from a few months back for my favorite story on here.

hellcatJune 21st, 2010 at 10:48 am

Wow. I can’t believe that you didn’t take the opportunity to tell the girlfriend to go [email protected]# herself – being that you didn’t actually work there at that point (and why would you want to, at that point?) I mean, that’s an opportunity that those of us who are paid to be yelled at would cherish…but I digress. Good job getting that 60$, though.

LisaJune 22nd, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Hellcat- I didn’t tell the Brazilian chick to go fuck herself due life’s most tragic inconvenience:

Fuck-you attitude requires fuck-you money.

LisaNovember 16th, 2010 at 7:30 am

Tronner– If only I had hostessed at the Plaza Hotel’s restaurant, circa 1920!

http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/from-plaza-hotel-cook-to-chef-boyardee/

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