Thursday, December 2, 2010

Respect, where art thou?

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T!"  Those letters spell out a very important word; an essential concept, a gift, and a right.  So why is it that so often in this industry, it becomes a forgotten term?

So someone tell me, what's the deal with management and their lack of courtesy?  And I'm not talking above-and-beyond polite, I just mean basic common courtesy toward another human being.  Not only is there no "good morning," "please," or "thank you," which is downright rude, there is actual verbal abuse in the workplace.  (Somebody call APS!)

Ever have someone speak at you?  No, I don't mean speak TO you, I mean speak AT you.  There's quite a difference.  Take the owner, for example.  Say something slight went wrong during your shift at the diner.  She came careening toward you, lunacy in her eyes!  No quiet inquisitions here.  Instead you got the full treatment - top volume, maximum screech, peepers bulging, spit flying!!!  Sometimes she even went so far as to physically grab you, to be sure you weren't going anywhere while she got her scream fix.  And if you dared to try and stand up for yourself (oh horror of horrors!) or explain anything, you got this in response: "I don't want to hear it.  I'm talking, not you.  See this?  (gesticulates around her head)  This is my boss's cap.  Nobody can steal my boss's cap.  I am the boss."  It was either that, or the valley-girl hand in your face, and the command, "Stop."  ...Charming thing, isn't she?       

I'd like to know whatever happened to discussion.  Not once have I ever experienced "please," "thank you," "I'd like you to try it this way," or even "please make an effort not to let that happen again."  The people in charge at these places just love to feel important, and they walk all over you to get that feeling.  I realized something hilarious though - it's the school bully syndrome.  Remember as a kid, there was some little boy who always picked on everyone and made you cry, pushed you down in the playground and stole the quarter your mom gave you for milk?  And remember when you learned about bullying, and how it meant that the person was just trying to make themselves feel better about their own life and problems by making others feel worse?  So essentially here we have a fully grown adult who feels the need to harass and belittle her staff in order to propel herself to a feeling of superiority.  ...Well hello, schoolyard bully, thy name is Diner Owner!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You can tell them to look at the sky, but you can't make them see the light...

I suppose that's another way to say you can bring the camel to water, but you can't make him drink.  I'm talking about the behavior of restaurant staffs.  True, much of the unrest in our workforce comes down from the managers and owners, but as much as I'd love to blame it all on them I know it isn't entirely true.  Their behavior is allowed and exacerbated by their workers.

Take my last job, for example.  You remember Maggot and The Wind-Up Doll, don't you?  Well the way they treated their workers was appalling, but the fact is that it was permitted and inflamed by the staff themselves.  They were always pulling the Bitch-And-Hide.  I'm sure you know the phenomenon I'm
referring to.  All day, yak yak yak, moaning about everything that's unfair in the workplace - Jerky Boy is getting all the tables, etc - then acting like nothing is wrong when the higher-ups are around.  Instead they switch into "best friend" mode.  Is that the way to progress?  I think not!  And so I would say to them, "stand up for yourself!"  But no, they clammed right up and instead tried to buddy up with them, asking yours truly to do the talking.  Nice.  While it's true that I consider myself to be a strong person and a strong worker, I can't be everybody's go-between.  Nobody else wants to stick out their necks, but they'd love me to do it for them.  The thing is, I know they'd never back me up.  One moment of conflict, and they scatter like rats, and there I am, holding the proverbial bag.  Argh!  I'm trying to bring awareness to people, but I can only bring them so far if they don't want to help themselves.  If you can't stand up for yourself or for each other, how far do you really expect to get?  How will the managers become aware of the discontent if everybody acts like everything's hunky dory?  Hel-loooo, *knock-knock!* 

But no.  They'd rather just complain about it, and then in the next breath buddy up with Maggot or the Dolly, trying to be best friends.  Is it easier to just try and get on their good side, hoping they will begin to treat you well?  I suppose it may look that way to some, but is it right?  Sigh.  If I were Weird Al or Cee Lo Green I'd write a hilariously ironic song about this...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Wind-Up Doll

Anyone who's ever worked in this industry knows restaurants are full of gossip... So let's gossip.  Let's gossip about managers, particularly.  Ever work for a defunct manager?  I have.  This last woman was a doozy.  She even earned herself the nickname Maggot, if you can believe that.  (Ahem, waitress who came up with the name shall remain anonymous...)  She was just such a slime, know what I mean?  And I can't understand why behavior like this is allowed to go on.  It's not specific to her, it's pretty much universal in the industry, but let's just discuss her behavior as an example.

Playing favorites, ohhhh boy did she ever.  One favorite in particular.  We'll just call him Jerky Boy.  I'm sure you know where I'm going with this.  Anyway, this guy got all the biggest tippers and the non-squatters.  (For those of you not in the industry, a squatter is someone who stays at the table forever.)  Not only was he stealing from the rest of us, he was out to get us too.  When Maggot wasn't available to harass everyone, she sent her little minion out to do it for her!  Talk about a lose-lose situation.  Those two were joined at the hip (amongst other places...!) and heaven help you if you got in the way.

Now for the owner.  This is the one I call The Wind-Up Doll.  She and this manager were peas in a pod.  When the Dolly would come in, Maggot would take full advantage of her presence.  From the second this woman got behind the register, Maggot was there whispering in her ear.  Any little thing that had bothered her over the last few hours got blown up to volcanic proportions.  And aside from anything that had actually gone wrong, she would make up stories about the staff.  (Except Jerky Boy of course.)  She was basically out to cause trouble for everyone so she could stay in the owner's favor and to make herself look super productive and competent.  So I'm sure you can figure out what happened.  The Dolly spent the first fifteen minutes of her shift hearing about everything that was wrong in the place, so she exploded at everybody the second Maggot was finished poisoning her mind!  Yikes.

Now, I ask you, how is this for ethics in the workplace?  (Especially within earshot of customers?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hot Plates, Hot Plates!

Why is it that when the cook is angry, he has to bake your plate before handing it to you? Do they think this is normal behavior?  What am I thinking - of course they do.  The story goes, "lets take Jose, suit him up in white and give him a crash cooking lesson.  What the hell, we'll pay him five bucks an hour and he will work a 16 hr. shift."  What about the foul language?  Sexual remarks?  And when you stand up for yourself management steps in, insisting the server did something wrong.  Is he kidding?!   Where is the justice?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let's begin at the beginning...

To waitress, or not to waitress; that is the question.  Do I have the answer?  The money is great.  We are never without a dollar in our pockets.  But yes, there are repercussions.  Through personal experience and from what I have heard from other waiters and waitresses, anywhere from thirty to fifty percent of all restaurant and diner owners are maladjusted psychopaths.  They use their staffs as battering rams and unfortunately most of the workers allow it!  Why?  Because they need the job.  It is pretty much what I'd call an "employee hostage" situation.  Sigh.  Norma Rae, where are you when we need you?

Working in the food industry is full of both joy and pain.  Rude customers - what are you gonna do?  Just serve them and send them on their way.  But when your boss is crazier than a loon, then what?  No sending your boss on his way, is there?  Nope.  You're stuck.  But he is forgetting - we, the servers, are the ones who generate the revenue that pays the salaries.  Hmmm.  As for the joy, well, that's where the great money comes in.  But there has to be a better work environment for us.  We have to make a better environment.  As the backbone of the industry, we have the right to do so.