Serving is not one of the more glamorous employment opportunities out there. It is a difficult, ugly, and at times a humiliating job. But like all things in life, it has its silver lining. For me and my fellow servers, a good day in the brewhouse is filled with sharks.
The word ‘shark’, in the food server world, is not an acronym. It is just another noun my industry has taken and forced into a verb formation to suit our culinary needs. The closest formal definition I can find to describe a food server shark is a ‘Land Shark’ or “One who comes out of nowhere and snag’s another person’s food before they know what’s happening”. In brewhouse terms, we replace the word ‘food’ with the word ‘shifts’ and we do not ‘steal’ these shifts, unbeknownst, from other another server. It is the opposite: we humbly offer our shifts to others and joyously accept when they are joyously accepted.
Sharking is a lovely thing; for the sharker and the sharkee. A sharkee would think to himself, “I’m not in mood to work that hard, or for that matter, at all today. Let me find someone who does”. A sharker is someone with a car payment looming or just returning from vacation or maybe wants simply to buy themselves a Kitchen Aid Pro Mixer 600. Or their schedule for the upcoming week could just be described as dismal.
I have open availability: there is no second job I must report to, no school classes to work around. I don’t have to finish a shift before a certain time because I must retrieve children from daycare or need Tuesday nights off for wine club. I fill in the blanks when everyone else’s demands are met. Sometime that is a good thing and then there are weeks like the dismal one I was just given.
I started the week feeling a little sorry for myself because I was not granted an easy opportunity to cash in. But that didn’t mean the opportunity wasn’t there waiting for me. I immediately told all servers I came in contact with that I was looking for longer, later, more demanding shifts.
Within minutes I could smell the blood in the water. I had two servers fighting over whose shift I should stay for. Every night thereafter was the same. What should have been a fiscally substandard week, I was able make standard and then some.
Of course after days and days of working longer, later, and more demanding shifts I showed up the next day thinking, “I’m not in the mood to work that hard or for that matter at all”. And there was someone waiting in the wings that wanted to.
For a job that is difficult, ugly and at times humiliating, it really isn’t so bad.