Amelia Baker

See below for a link to Amelia’s audio file.


Top O’ of My Summer

As the last days of this past summer flew by, I put on my gloves and dipped my hand into the freezing cold bucket of coleslaw. As the coleslaw fell on my left shoe, which I would have to wear for the next five hours of this lengthy Friday shift, I looked back on the decision I made two months prior: The decision I made to get my first summer job at a local restaurant, Top O’ the River in Anniston. I simply asked myself, “What made you want to waste the summer before the start of your senior year by dipping cups of coleslaw, as well as answering many questions that anyone had over the phone about our Riverboat Special?”   Let me just go ahead and tell you, people had many, many questions about that appetizing catfish fillet plate. Even though I guess I cannot really call it appetizing, considering all summer I never even tried it.

My first day working at Top O’ the River, I was prepared to go in, be respectful, and work, so I could get my first check the next Friday. My parents were convinced I would not last a week working, considering the only job I have ever had is wiping the baseboards of my own house, but I was ready. My first job was to be a seater – doesn’t seem too hard right?  I was not working there to make friends, but I soon realized it would be pretty difficult not to. When I walked in, one of the managers told me I would have to be trained by a girl who was around my age. As I started to walk towards her, she was smiling through her floral print mask, very eager to meet me. She showed me everything and taught me almost all the table numbers in just minutes before we opened. It was a busy Friday night, but by the end of the night I had the hang of this.

When you host at Top O’ the River, you work your way towards the top hostess job, which is working in the To-Go room. My third day at Top O’ the River, they moved me up to “chart person.”  This is the person who asks the people walking in, “Hey! How many?” Then you tell the seater where to take them. I cannot tell you how many times I said that sentence for the following month. Not to brag or anything, but I was told I was the best chart girl they have had in a long time. I enjoyed being the chart girl until the day my hostess manager told me I would be moving on to the cash register.

At this point after working at Top O’ the River for a little over a month, I knew everyone’s name and had an inside joke with just about everyone. I had even taken a few trips to Waffle House with my co-workers. The day after Father’s Day, I began to train on the cash register; it was a little more difficult than I thought. After you take the four-page cash test which asks various questions like, “What do you feed your catfish?” and “What items come on the seafood platter?” you begin to learn how to answer the phones, cash people out, and place to-go orders. 

The girl that trained me had been working at Top O’ the River for a couple years, and before I could even ask how she was doing today, she proceeded to ask me how many stuffed crabs a person gets on a combo plate. Taken a little by surprise, I answered correctly,  and she sighed with relief knowing that I had actually taken the time to memorize all the information the managers told me to learn. It took me about three days to learn everything, and that Friday I was officially a cashier. Sounds like an accomplishment, but I was dreading this job. Math has never been my strong suit, and I was a little nervous to be fooling around with money all night. I thought I did pretty well for a busy Friday night, and I did until I messed up a to-go order. I may or may not have accidentally rung in someone for nine extra pieces of catfish instead of one… oops!

I was a cashier for about three weeks; it felt like three years. That job was  always busy, with very few breaks, but I was excited that the managers realized how well I was doing –  which meant the next stop was the to-go room. When you are in the To-Go room, you make tips; that is why most hostesses get excited when they see their name on the schedule for to-go. I had lots of fun bagging up catfish, running around trying to get people extra sauces, and my personal favorite, crawling under a tiny door close to the same size as a doggy door to deliver curbside customers’ food out to them.

I guess the point here is that I never really understood how rude people are on the phone when they are missing small collard greens from their to-go order. But seriously, I learned so much from this experience at my first summer job. I got my first glimpse of the real world, I learned to better take constructive criticism, and I learned that you control if your day is going to be good or bad. Even when you get coleslaw on your shoe, you make the best of it and be glad that it wasn’t tartar sauce. My time at Donoho helped me a great deal with my first job. You may ask what do seafood platters and school have in common? Well nothing, but Donoho taught me to always be respectful and kind to others as well as to always work hard with whatever task is put in front of me. This summer job gave me a new appreciation for people who run businesses, work for the public, or have full time jobs. The lesson I will always carry with me is that the customer is always, always right, and don’t forget it.

Please click on the arrow below to hear Amelia’s Senior Reading.