Daniel Park at your service: Episode 1


I will share with you my experiences at the six… or seven… restaurants I’ve worked at over the years. Enjoy!

—– 2005 ——-

During the summer, I applied to Woo Lae Oak, a 3.5 star restaurant in Tysons Corner, VA.

I started as a food runner, logging in around 11 hours a day, sixty-five hours a week, everyday except Sunday.

My  (brother from another mother) who worked there vouched on my behalf, promising management that I was indeed a hard worker. I fulfilled his words with the quickness. Food running, though, wasn’t cool. Carrying heavy trays with … Korean food… back and forth and pre-bussing tables at this high-volume diner tortured the body.

A chef in the kitchen pulled me aside one afternoon and asked if I could teach him English. Without hesitation I complied. I sat down with him for an hour, once a week, in his Annandale apartment. Most of you preach that hindsight is 20/20, and it’s true. More than learning the language, the man wanted a goofy friend keeping him company on his days off. I lost his number though, and I still wonder how he’s doing.

—– 2006 ——-

This summer, I applied to Glory Days Bar and Grill. Assured that I could serve, I got the job. I’m now exercising more than silent service, and setting plates down for guests. Serving required us to do the whole nine: inform, interact and accommodate.

We were receiving $2.13 an hour, plus tips, then tipping out the bus-boys for their hard work. That was sarcasm.

I was still a shy high school student, and my lisp beat up my confidence. I found myself standing at a distance from my tables (so I don’t spit on them like Daffy Duck) whenever I addressed their questions and/or when I shared my clever jokes. I think they laughed at my failure to pronounce S-lettered words more than the hilarious joke itself. Shucks.

Ah yes, the Mystery Shopper Evaluation.

Jim, our boss, during a pre-shift meeting, promised $100 to whoever achieves a perfect score on the MSE. Results were in a week later, and my peers informed me that I had won.

“Go get the $100 from him,” they reminded.

Still that shy kid, I stepped into his office and politely asked if I could retain my prize.

Jim: no
DP: why
Jim: because the team as a whole needed a perfect score, that the hostess received a 90
DP: are you serious?
Jim: yes
DP: no way but you never said that in the pre-shift meeting
Jim: oh well I’m saying that now
Me: that’s unfair, can I go to management?
Jim: I am the management
Me: can I report this to corporate?
Jim: said are you out of your mind?
Me: somewhat, but I feel that I deserve this…

Jim snarls: OKAY YOU WANT IT? HERE TAKE IT, WHAT DO YOU WANT.

He aggressively rips out a few hundred dollar bills and couple twenties from deep inside his pocket, places them on the table, and hands me a crumpled up Benjamin. Poor Benny.

Why or how everyone in our restaurant witnessed the confrontation didn’t faze me — I stood up for myself and this, my readers, is how a Super Bowl champion is crowned. Battle in the trenches. Other servers congratulated me as if I’d just won the Nobel Peace prize. That was an exaggeration.

But, maybe that’s how Superman feels after he saves a plane from crashing into a baseball stadium.

Next Episode: Silver Diner and Fireside Grill.

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