Tag Archives: Dealing with the Public

Saturday 20th June – Mixed Salad Malfunctions

I’m back from college, tired and a bit mentally bedraggled. It was an intense year! Soon I can post a backlog of blog entries here. In the meantime here’s an entry from last Saturday. Since my previous post I have got myself a Saturday job in a restaurant. It’s a policy of my workplace that I cannot name it online. So I will refer to it with many different names, starting with The Home of the Giant Scone. 

Restaurants are full of background noise. As well as scores of chatting customers and clinking cutlery, a playlist of popular music is played on a loop all day long. Once I have heard “We are Young” by Fun or “Here Come The Girls” for the seventh time that day I know  it’s nearly hometime.

Restaurants are not ideal places to hear clearly if you have Auditory Processing Disorder like I used to. Thanks to Johansen IAS therapy, Auditory Processing is now only a weak area for me, and I can hear almost every single word that customers and colleagues say to me. My job as a Table-clearer is mostly a physical task of cleaning tables and carrying trays back to behind the scenes to be cleared of food and washed. My job also involves chatting to customers and making sure that they are happy with their eating experience. Hearing clearly and being able to tune out table sounds and Top 40 canned music is very helpful to my job. Something that I lacked before Johansen IAS therapy, and something which after today I’m sure I will have to use all the time are PEOPLE SKILLS. Dealing with the public is part of my job, so good communication is essential. I have a feeling that my new job will teach me a lot about people.

I cycled to the Home of the Giant Scone, changed into my uniform, secured my Beard Net onto my head, put my little hat on and got to work.

Today was business as usual, apart from a few stroppy customers.

The first was a woman who called me over to look at her plate. “Would you say that this is a mixed salad?” she asked me. I wanted to say “Is this a trick question?” There was a varied mix of chopped vegetables and leaves on her plate beside a baguette, so I instead I said “Yes”. She insisted that there was too much lettuce and not enough tomatoes and cucumber. “Not like the plates on display” she insisted, trying to educate me as to what the qualities of good salad should be.

I guessed that she was one of these people who considered that the grass was always greener on the other side, mainly because the other side belonged to someone else. I supposed that in proportion to the fresh lettuce leaves, other vegetables were a minority group. As far as I was concerned that’s what a healthy Salad should look like.

She looked at me, pointing to her salad, again explaining that it wasn’t the mixed salad it claimed to be. Obviously it was only a pretender to the title of Mixed Salad. Perhaps not even a Salad at all. Mixed Salad was a pedigree beyond the qualities of the leafy mongrel creature skulking on her industrial chinaware.

Even although you sometimes can’t reason with these people, it is unfortunately in my job description to put on a smile and at least try.

“I’m sorry that your salad is not mixed enough. How can I make this right for you?”

Still glaring at the Leafy Green Impostor on her plate, the woman asked me to go and get her more tomatoes and cucumber. I took the plated baguette back to the food prep area and explained the situation.

“There’s a woman upset about the diversity of her salad and complaining bitterly about it. Can I have some more tomatoes and cucumber please?”

He spooned on more chopped vegetables and I headed back to appease her. Being as polite as I could without taking the piss, I kept smiling and asked her if everything was better now. Instead of dealing with her Salad malfunction I could have been clearing more tables which were filling up quickly.

She eyed her plate suspiciously. “It is somewhat better”.

There’s just no pleasing some people. I dismissed myself from her table to go deal with some real problems.

Behind the scenes again I bumped into the plated baguette preparer. He asked if the customer was happy now.

“She said her salad is somewhat better”.

He gave a whatever kind of shrug, clearly a veteran of kitchen complaints. “It’s not a salad anyway. It’s a garnish”.

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Saturday 28th February 2015- Bucket Drumming, Junkie Interactions and a Gig

This morning I was tapping away on my buckets, entertaining people, drumming up some cash and dealing with the public.

When I first started busking I was afraid of people looking at me. That then upgraded to photos, videos, far too up-close watching like the Flower of Scotland Man, mid-performance conversations, heckling, and more recently, Junkie Interaction.

Lots of people smiled as they passed, although one elderly man with a great big beard paused in front of me to say “That sound is horrible. Please stop”.  A young guy jumped in beside me with a selfie stick, and a few other people took photos and videos. There’s a lot of tourists in Edinburgh.  I also got some (thankfully friendly) junkie attention. I chatted away, comforted by the knowledge that my Public Relations Frying Pan was within easy reach.

One woman strung out on something said she was a rapper, and wanted to try my buckets. She played along with me, the passers-by losing interest in the tuneless racket. Friendly woman though. She gave me a hug before departing unsteadily.

Previous to her, I had another inebriated admirer. He gave me 5p, which was actually very generous considering he didn’t look like he had much money. He was drinking a can of Special Brew or something similar. He said that he loved my drumming and wanted to marry me. We were chatting a bit and I explained that I busk for confidence when playing drums. He said he drinks for confidence, so I suppose confidence is something we have (or don’t have) in common. Busking for confidence when playing gigs will hopefully allow me to have the confidence to play well without requiring drinks, and have all my concentration to give the best performance I can because I’ll be sober.

Busking makes you kind of a part of the streets, even just for a short time, and people who live on those streets are interested to see what’s going on in their area.

Tonight we had our best gig yet. In an Irish Bar which was packed with people like sardines. The dance area was full, partly because there was nowhere left to sit. The bands there were really good and we’d met one of them before at our first gig in Paisley. One band had come all the way from England. They sounded a bit like Sleeping with sirens. My best friend came to see us too. It was loud, we were all packed together, it was hard to hear anyone talking. Before Johansen and MLC therapies it would have been a nightmare scenario.

I was nervous about playing, but not nearly as much as last time. Bucket Busking and fighting nerves with more nerves seems to be working.

People’s reaction to our music was really good and it was so hot in that wee underground bar all our hair was sticking up with sweat, we all went for it and it was an awesome night. It was so amazing to see people enjoying hearing us and having fun! I’m starting to feel like a proper drummer now.