Sunday, November 11, 2012

Is a fish stupid because it can't climb a tree?

I saw a quote tonight that has me thinking.

"Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." --Albert Einstein

I think it is interesting how the mind works. Everyone thinking differently about the exact same thing amazes me. I'll admit sometimes it is extremely frustrating to explain something to someone every different way you can think of while they stare blankly back at you like "huh?"; however, I know that there are certain things I "don't get" or perceive totally backwards from how others do.

For example, I often forget how long I've been in the restaurant business and that things that I find as "common sense" sometimes are only second nature to me because I've been around this atmosphere for so long that certain things are "no brainers" for me but may not be for others. I started waiting tables when I was 19 (nearly 7 years ago), and many things were brand new to me and I had no idea what I was doing. I try to think back and remember the first time I ever rolled silverware, something I'm a bit of an expert at now and could probably do in my sleep, when we have new employees so that I don't get frustrated with having to explain "simple tasks". I remember the girl that was training me, and we all sat down at this big round table with tons of silverware in front of us with stacks of napkins and "tabs" to hold them together. I had no clue what I was doing or if I would ever be as fast as those other girls. The trainer looked at me shocked when I said, "Can you show me how? I've never done this before."

At least every other week or two we have new servers in training at the restaurant, and I often have to remind myself that I once didn't know how things worked and had to be explained the things that today are now part of my auto-pilot behavior. This is one of my biggest weaknesses for me I think. It is hard for me to not get frustrated with the "dumb questions" that I get asked over and over day in and day out. I always think "Why is this so hard? What aren't they getting it? Why don't they know this already? Haven't I already explained this 73,268 times today?" And this is where my sarcasm comes in.

For anyone who knows me very well at all--especially the adult me--knows that I am one of the most sarcastic and quick-witted people around. This works to my advantage in social situations. If I am out with a group of people, it is not usually difficult for me to make conversation with people--even the ones I don't know very well. Usually this is because I will spout off something quickly. Some little meaningless "dig" into someone. It's all in good fun. Everyone laughs and we have fun. This is not always true for me in my job--especially with my newer employees.

I tend to answer questions that are in my mind "dumb" with sarcastic responses--not always on purpose, and they are not always received well. Some people view me as hateful or rude because of it even though 99% of the time in my life I have the best of intentions. I am an extremely empathetic person. I go above and beyond to make sure my employees have a schedule that they like as well as what works with their life. I feel like I am a pretty fair boss and a genuinely nice person. I feel like I have my employees' best interests at heart as well as the restaurant's. However, that is not always what is perceived because of these quick witted responses.

Here's an example from today (there are many more every single day): we have a mandatory training class scheduled for a day next week. As the manager that does the schedule, I am fully aware that this meeting occurs during some people's normally scheduled shifts. This class is being offered once in the morning and once in the afternoon in the same day. The schedule will be posted tomorrow for our employees to see even though it has been ready since Thursday (so I already know who is scheduled when and they do not). An employee asked me today "So what if we're scheduled at the time of that meeting? How are we supposed to go if we're scheduled to be here when we're supposed to be there because I always work on that day?" I looked at her and with a straight face said, "Well, believe it or not that girl that makes your schedule (me) is aware that you have to attend one or the other of that training class so you will be off in time to attend." It just rolls off my tongue. I should've probably been more sympathetic and explained for the 1,315th time this week that we are going to have them scheduled differently on that day than we normally do, but at that point I couldn't help but have the reaction of what do they think? We scheduled this class with no plan as to how they'd be scheduled? Wednesday we were just going to say "oh sorry we forgot we needed people to run the restaurant while this class is going on?" I guess it wasn't a dumb question I was simply tired of answering it over and over again as I do with every question ever asked. I wish I had an "off switch" for these responses because they probably make me seem like a jerk, but I'm the boss--aren't I supposed to be the jerk? haha. just kidding.

I guess the point to all my rambling is that I should start to give the benefit of the doubt to my employees and better explain things to them even if I think they should already know them. Even if it is something I've done a billion times, like rolling silverware, it may be their first time so I need to take a deep breath and think before I speak... even though if I turn over a new leaf on this subject  I know some of my more veteran employees will be quite disappointed without my responses to the "newbies" that aren't getting it, but you can't please them all I suppose.

You always hear them say "There's no such thing as dumb questions. Only dumb answers." Well, if you're ever wondering "What would be a dumb answer to this question?" I've probably got one for you.


  1. Ha! This reminds me of how I have to be with Andrew and his 7,000 questions right in a row. You have 20 Andrews throwing the same 7,000 questions at you every day!

    1. Lol it just makes my brain start rattling in my head... Today when I walked into work before I'd even put my purse down (the first thing I do after walking in and to the office) I'd been asked approximately 3 questions and been told 2-3 other things... It just makes me wanna turn around, walk out and start all over lol