Six ways to weather the next storm

October 30, 2012 in Coping, Fears, Life, Restaurant Industry


We knew it was inevitable when we first heard the news.

The storm was coming, and there was NOTHING we could do to avoid that.

We also knew that because of that fact…how we planned to weather it, also came into question.

While we’re heading to the grocery store for bottled water and to make sure we have a full tank of gas, just in case the power goes out, our beloved other halves were devising a different game plan.

Like fireman and policemen, our chefs, managers, servers and bartenders are all part of an Emergency Response plan to keep the restaurant open and in business. Like an elaborate dance number, our restaurant men and women are called to “take their places”, so to give those in need of a good meal and a warm escape from the storm, a temporary respite from the elements.

Most of the time, these Emergency plans can be as intricate as some Government defense strategies, with those who have the most reliable transportation, picking up and delivering those who are not as lucky. Coordinating when their next deliveries will arrive, and how to keep the precious food in the walk in cold if the power goes out. It is this time when your husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend seems to be focusing on everything else BESIDES house and home and how you’re going to stay safe.

Needless to say, this can (and does) become very frustrating and can be the cause of us feeling like we’re the last on their list.

Most of the time, it seems like they go on automatic pilot… responding to their restaurants needs like a man (or woman) on a mission while having tunnel vision to anything else going on around them.

That’s why I wanted to write, to talk about how this makes US feel and hopefully come up with a way to be at more peace about it. I know that for most of us, this has become second nature, as we adapt and manage…but it doesn’t quell our frustrations and inability to shift them out of this mode, until the storm has passed, and all returns to their regularly scheduled program.

So here are some suggestions to hopefully be at peace, the next time the storm comes our way (AND IT WILL). These are not miracle cures.. just thoughts to consider to bring yourself some peace. Dealing with a scary storm situation is emotional enough… why not prevent additional upset by finding ways to bring calm to what’s going on in and around you.

Let’s start with a few that might be pushing your buttons, BIG TIME, right now.

1.  Whether we like it or boils down to SUPPLY and DEMAND.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, what your beloved does for a living is a BUSINESS. The owners, managers… shoot most likely even your chef sees the potential in how this storm can bring in additional business (read: finances), and will do all they can to ensure that they keep things up and running. As you know… groceries run out of stock and lines begin to form when the DEMAND is there. The restaurant is the same. People will flock to the places (and spend more money than usual) they KNOW are open. Therefore they do all they can to make sure all systems are GO.

2. It’s NOT personal.

I almost cannot believe I’m saying this, partially because I personally resist the belief of “It’s not personal, it’s business.” but in this case, I think it’s wise to talk about it. I know it feels like it’s YOU that he/she is overlooking but let me assure you… IT’S NOT PERSONAL. They go into automatic pilot NOT because they want to. They are not deliberately leaving you to fend for yourself. NO. Unfortunately, they are reacting based out of the the long established and underlying belief in what I mentioned above. I’m sure if you were to question them in the midst of their auto-pilot behavior, they would say “But I have to… this is what you do”.

I can’t speak for wives of policemen and firemen… but my guess is, how they cope with this First Responder behavior is the same as what we need to develop in ourselves.

If we knew that their jobs were to save the lives of others… how would that change how you feel about their instinctive GO GO GO mode?

I know that in reality, keeping the restaurant open is not saving lives, but I think the mentality is similar. Food, Shelter, Water. What our beloveds do, is to make sure that the food part is in abundance. The adrenaline kicks in, they “Don their Cape” , and AWAY they go.

How does this help you? Well, it might not in the moment, but while you’re preparing for the storm, it might be good to regularly remind yourself that it’s NOT personal. This is a train that has been on this certain track for a LONG time, and instead of getting run over, it’s best to stand aside and watch it as it passes by. If you watch it from afar, and see it as it really is (You’re other half is a part of a very old train system… running a track and it doesn’t know how to stop) then hopefully it will minimize the feeling that he or she is personally neglecting you and your needs.

He or she is just doing what those before them have done. Not saying it’s right, but knowing that he/she is a part of a larger system, hopefully can diminish how personal it can feel.

3. Create a three step plan of your own BEFORE hand.

That way, by the time he or she goes into Superman (or woman) mode, you have already initiated the steps in your own plan first. Maybe one of those steps is the intervals with with he/she needs to check in with you or how long they can be away (specifically in the cases of Hotel Restaurant men/women where they can and usually do stay at their place of business to keep the shifts moving. ) Maybe it’s BEFORE he/she takes off (think Supermans lift off… leaving Lois Lane  standing there by herself) they have to make sure you are safe and secure (with enough food) to leave you, wherever you are.

Know your non-negotiables (Things you will NOT settle for) Like…

  1. I expect to hear from you every 12 hours.
  2. I want you to make sure there are always enough batteries in this house, for just this occasion.
  3. Make sure YOU call your mother/father to make sure they too, know you’re alright.

Create the plan BEFORE the adrenaline kicks in.. and their off saving the appetites of those around them.

4. Take advantage of the LULLS.

Just like a storm has a lull, the adrenaline will wear off and he/she will come to his/her senses and remember that there is someone at home, weathering without them. Take advantage of these lulls when you can. You probably notice that on a regular basis, they usually call you before dinner service, like the calm before the storm. Use these cues to find ways to remind them that their only responsibility is not just at the restaurant. Send them a picture of how you’re hunkering down (or in my case yesterday, the completely unfortunate leak in the living room ceiling) so remind them that what is happening in front of them is NOT the only things.  We cut our beloveds a LOT of slack for being the passionate and driven men and women that they are… still doesn’t take away the fact that the need for work/life balance is necessary.

5. Reach out to your fellow significant others.

You’re other half is not the only one who is ‘coming to the rescue’ when a storm hits. So are his fellow co-workers. If you are so inclined, why not reach out to the wives/girlfriends, boyfriends and husbands of those who work with your beloved. Connect ahead of time and collaborate on a support system of your own (like a phone tree) so that you don’t have to wait for your restaurant man/woman to call you back, when it’s been a few hours and you’re worrying.That way whomever checks in first can call the other for an update.

*Yes, it takes a bit of coordination to do this but we already know (or are beginning to know) that we are STRONG and resourceful and what better way to empower yourself that you are doing all you can to make sure they’re doing okay.

6. KNOW You’re right.. it’s not FAIR.

Really there isn’t much more to say than you’re right.. it’s NOT fair. It’s not fair that you will be the one doing most of the coordinating on the home front. You will most likely be battening down the hatches, lighting the candles when the power goes out and soothing your childrens fears from the wind. It’s not fair that you’re going to have to do the leg work while it seems like they off doing something that you just can’t grasp to be THAT important. It’s not fair that nothing seems to work to get him or her to realize that they could be home, with their families instead of always picking up the phone with the restaurant calls to tell them to come in.

It’s not fair and frankly, there’s nothing do DO about it but KNOW IT. Is it always fair that we seem to be lower on the totem pole when it comes to these moments of Emergency? NO. Is it that we REALLY are unimportant? NO, it just might seem that way while the tide is high. It is my hope that you will feel just a bit less alone that you are NOT the only one going through this… that SO MANY of your fellow significant others are thinking the same things and feeling the same. We CAN take steps to be MORE at peace.

I want to know.. How do YOU handle life with your restaurant man/woman during an emergency situation? What works best for you?