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My worst summer job: Gerry Dee on being a bad bartender and why smokers tip best

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‘The Keg taught me to be a performer. You have to surprise the guest, which is actually like standing. Except if you bomb, you get a new table in an hour ‘

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In My Worst Summer Job, FP Work asks famous Canadians about the jobs from their youth that inspired them, through thick and thin. Today, the comedian Gerry Dee at his concert at The Keg, the best tippers and ‘Keg-mares’. As told to Rosemary Counter.

I started at the “pit of dishes”, which is exactly what it sounds like and it’s not fun. They all started at the back so you could appreciate everyone’s roles, which I do to this day. After two weeks, I was promoted to bus attendant and finally to waiter.

The barrel taught me to be an interpreter. You have to surprise the guest, which is actually like standing. Except if you bomb, you get a new table in an hour. It was a lot of fun and great practice, but it wasn’t easy. People talk about stressful jobs, but no job is more stressful than a waiter. We would all have these things we call “Keg-mares” which are bartender nightmares where you find out you have 13 tables when you thought you had four.

You never wanted to have children in your section, because children were a real nightmare. Now I’m the guy who brings his kids, so I know. They constantly order smoothies and ice cream. Oh man, the shovel. Two fathers and nine baseball players, ages eight to ten, are screwed up overnight.

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A much better place to be was the smoking section, although he hated smoking and couldn’t breathe, because smokers tipped better. It is a fact. They smoke, they drink, they hang out and they tip better. Sure, he’s slowly developing lung cancer, but at least there are no children.

I don’t know if I was a good waiter. Probably not. Sometimes I would just make things up, which is not great because I know people have allergies, but if someone says, “What’s in snail butter?” I’d just make it up: butter, onion, salt, snail flavoring, maybe a little oil and a little egg. Are you allergic to eggs? Not? Well. If they said to me, “I’m allergic to eggs,” I’d always say yes, there are eggs. Just to be sure.

So there was always a person who wanted decaf. Are you kidding me? I was running like a blue-ass fly, as my Scottish dad would say, and I’m by no means making a pot for you. He would stick a straw into a cup to differentiate it and then say, “Who made the decaf?” They’re all regular. A little shake will do you good.

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Horrible tips were the worst. No, no tip is the worst. Some people just never tip, but you don’t know who those people are until the end. However, sometimes I deserved it. Sometimes they would ask me when the food would be ready and I would check it out only to find that I had forgotten to call. You now have 30 more minutes, so every time you go through his section, avoid eye contact. So, if necessary, lie. You blame the kitchen. I would say: “He’s the new cook. He’s just not getting it. ”Fortunately, The Keg lets you cook a meal if someone’s really unhappy.

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If I went out at the end of the night with $ 100 in tips, I’d be rich. That’s a lot when you’re 18 – $ 200 would be like winning the lottery. Then you would get your actual paycheck, which was nothing, but felt like free money after everything else.

I didn’t love waiting tables, but I loved my job, if that makes sense. Except when, as they say in the restaurant business, you’re “in the bush.” That’s when you’re out of control, you can’t catch up, you start to break down. Then it only takes one person to order pepper sauce and that’s it. That’s a barrel mare. I’m probably going to have one tonight.

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