One Golden Rule of Catering: Replace thyself. Preferably NOT on the day of an event. If you're heaving or otherwise ill, give the catering company as much advance notice if at all possible, so as not to induce headaches. The last thing a staffing person wants is to figure out who to call as your back up. I learned this the tough way years ago. I was still in cooking school, and learning the ropes.
I had a bloody eyeball when I woke up early on a Saturday morning. My catering call time was for 3 p.m. that day, in Palo Alto. The bloody eyeball hurt and seemed too disgusting to look at, from a catering guest point of view. Or so I rationalized to myself. At 10:30 a.m., I left a voice mail on the staffing company's machine describing the bloody eyeball, and saying I wasn't feeling well and that my eye looked gross. I said sorry a few times throughout the message, and meant it. I thought that was all I needed to do. But no. Two hours later, I received a scathing response from a bitchy woman:
"What am I supposed to do?" she asked. "This is a huge event, and we really need you. How am I supposed to find a replacement? It's late!" she screeched. She was right, but I didn't have a good answer.
"Look, my eyeball has blood in it, and it hurts. I don't think I should be around food."
"Did you go to a doctor?" she asked.
Why would I do that? I didn't have health insurance, and was taking the cheapo/free self care route.
"No," I mumbled. Our conversation-or rather, her continuing to yell at me-continued for two more minutes. I hung up my phone with the understanding I had seriously fucked up and would not be able to work for this company again. Lesson learned.
I was supposed to cater tonight for an elaborate dinner party. But I tweaked my back cleaning and moving furniture at our place last weekend. Because I have excruciating back pain that flares up every year or so, I did the smart catering thing. I backed out of my catering gig as soon as possible. Last Sunday, I emailed my boss apologies and short details of my back woes, along with the names and phone numbers of two potential replacements. I described in detail their background, "works for the Gettys", "catered a huge New Year's party for wealthy Euros," etc. so she could understand who would be working in my place. If either of those two names didn't pan out, I let the boss know I had other great replacement candidates.
I will call her tomorrow to check up on how my replacement did.