The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Douchebaggery and an Anniversary


That's all I can think right now as my restaurant takes leaps and bounds down the corporate path.

The gang and I were discussing how we all went to work for our place partially out of disgust for the corporate restaurant atmosphere.

Unfortunately it has caught up with us in the end.

Our owners are starting other ventures and to make our store self reliant has brought on a new General Manager.

He comes to us after 15 years working for a large nationally known chain.

Without any training, understanding of our clientele, our professional staff or business culture, he has been given carte blanche as our overseer.

I have with held judgment on our management staff on this blog partially as respect to the hard working and intelligent ones and partially out of concern for my employment.

But our management staff no longer exist, ever single one is either gone or on their way out, and good for them.

I suppose the last straw for us was our new absence "policy"

A friend of mine called in ill the other morning, he had to call every employee on the phone list as the new manager wanted him to find a replacement.

After doing so to no avail, and really there isn't a single server about to pick up a Tuesday lunch, my friend was given a giant guilt trip over him daring to not show up while sick.

My friend had to play phone tag all day with the management and our new GM called him wanting him to come in for his afternoon shift.

That in itself would look like my friend just wanted the morning off or was hungover, but still wanting to make the night shift money after he recovered.

This led to a new announcement.

We are responsible for covering our shifts, and if we can't, we are expected to come in.

I know way back in the archives I've covered this before, I just was sure I've seen the last of this.

I don't think I have a giant problem with us trying to cover our shifts, I just think it is horseshit that we would be threatened with penalties including termination if we can't get someone to come in.

I can't think of any other business that would do this. If I sell insurance and fall sick do I have to get another agent to come in for me?

If I make tires at Firestone is someone expected to come in and cover?


What should happen is the management steps up and gets it done, it is their responsibility to make sure the shift runs, short or no.

Our old management understood this and were willing to throw on the apron and pick up a wine key.

And we respected them for this.

Of course since we have all new management, and they aren't trained at all, they don't even know the menu and while many of us could do their jobs, they sure couldn't handle ours.

It just seems that we are treated as disposable employees, that is until we are actually needed, then we become important.

I guess its just hard to take orders from the people we view as our lessers, that won't take care of their employees.

I'm sure everyone in some capacity has had to deal with this.

Hell most jobs pay you if you call in sick, because they are there for their employees and may actually care.

But I'm tired of it, tired of this business.

I know that this isn't exactly brain surgery, but why can't we be treated in this industry as actual long term employees?

So here I am, I might be moving on from this job and the type of environment that has grown around me.

When I can't even call in sick without being threatened or made to feel like I should feel guilt it is ridiculous.

This is just a small example of what changes have been on my plate at work, I might have another offer at a smaller, locally owned restaurant and if it goes though I'm there.

It sucks to leave behind so many people I like working with and care about, but shit, if I can make more money working a part time schedule than I am now I'm all about it...

And the best thing, no managers!!!

Apparently the owners trust their staff to take care of management duties and they apparently take the staffs opinion to heart and make changes based on us, not comment cards from asshole customers.

But that is neither here nor there.

Classes start in the morning and I'm actually excited. I'm going full time now, as I have said, and ready to continue taking steps to improve myself and to get the hell out of this business as well.

Also I'd like to add this, its been just over a year since I started this blog. I'd like to thank all of my readers for hanging around and adding to this forum of mine. I'd also like to congratulate the Waiter of Waiter Rant on his book deal and offer encouragement to our little gang of wait-staff and bar bloggers.

Restaurant Gal, Bueno Appetito, Red Lobster, Strip Club Server, Server Stories and the gang at Bitterwaitress...

If we can't change the way things are done in our industry, at least we are here for each other, maybe be can both rant and laugh at our shared experiences...

And for you customers, we are here for you as well...

Only hopefully we are dishing up entertainment instead of fois grass...

Except in Chicago, they'll just have to deal with pate...

Peace and thank you!~


At 9:15 PM , Blogger mmmmmm Donuts said...

I can't believe this new sick policy. What kind of management forces employees to call for backup or even worse, to come in when they're sick???? Aside from the lack of civil treatment this shows, why on earth would the management want to spread the guy's germs all over the restaurant?? If I was eating at a restaurant and I had a server who was sick, I'd be less than pleased. And the only time an employee should have to call around to get a replacement is if they are trying to get out of a scheduled shift for personal conflicts, such as tickets to a concert or something. This call-around requirement when sick is ASSanine. You are absolutely right, other industries do not treat their employees this way.

So I'm wondering if you're not blogging anymore...this sounded very much like a farewell speech...? I hope it's not, but keep us posted on your next move.

At 1:45 AM , Blogger Lobster Boy said...

I blogged/ranted on management/corporate management tonight, and then read your post. Corporate management blows goats. You'd be hard pressed to convince me otherwise.

Thanks for the mention too!

Lobster Boy
Red Lobster Blog

At 5:57 AM , Blogger caramaena said...

What a ridiculous policy. Go find something better.

At 8:56 AM , Blogger Ranter said...

Calling everyone else when you're sick and dying is stupid. Our company used to be like that, hardline, but we know they won't fire us straight away (maybe make us pay by giving us crap shifts) so if we are genuinely sick, we can be paid sick leave provided we have a doctor's cert.

I agree with Donuts- the it's the managers' job to find covers for shifts if someone calls in sick, and the worker's responsibility if it's for personal reasons. Hope things pick up with the new GM soon (make things hard for him!) or the other job works out.

At 8:57 AM , Blogger Ranter said...

Also, forcing people to work when they are sick is inhumane and probably against some sort of legislation covering workplace safety as well. Talk to your unions if you have any! Or cough on the GM...

At 9:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't sound like the MAN I know, Stay in the fight and kick some ASS. Help is on the way.

Ive tracked down Thom D. and he's headed your way. Man that guy is good at what he does. Who knows maybe Marcus B. will sign on as well. Don't give up yet.....on the other hand where do I send the flowers.

At 1:50 PM , Blogger i'llnevertell! said...

One of the corporate rest's I worked for in the past made you stay "on call" for the first few hours of a shift ON YOUR DAY OFF. So, if you were off on Thursday night, for example, you had to be able to come to work "just in case" you were called in if someone was sick. if you missed your call in phone call, you were written up. Corporate sucks, and many times I considered calling labor boards about their less than perfect break policies, lunch policies and all out fuck you in the ass policies. hang in there waiter, it gets better. By the way, thank's for the mention!

At 7:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That policy is insane. I can't believe they expect the sick person to either work (especially with infectious diseases) or to spend personal time working on personnel matters that rightly belongs to the manager.

GO! Leave that hell hole.

At 11:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a server for a corporate restaurant, and we have the exact same policy. Either you find a replacement, or you must have a doctor's note. This policy backfired on the corporation big time. At one of our locations in another state, an employee tried to call in sick and they made the person work anyway. About 80 or more people became sick with the Norwalk virus after eating in that restaurant where he worked. I think he was a prep cook. Anyway, those people filed a class-action lawsuit against the chain. Since this happened, when you clock-in the computer shows a screen that says " Feeling sick, nauseous, or have diarrhea? If so, tell a manager. If not, clock-in and have a good shift!" They think this is going to cover their asses. I've since tried to call in for the first time in my two years of working there and they refused to let me.

At 12:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never had to work at a place that forced me to come in while sick, but as a customer, I have to say that I find the practice appalling. A sick employee is the last person I want touching the food I'm about to consume. This isn't just about altruism, but self-preservation as well. I'd love a list of such places just so that I can avoid them.

At 1:28 AM , Blogger briliantdonkey said...

I feel your pain. I too work for a corporate restaurant(at one job) and as a manager/bartender at a non corporate one. First I have to say, I totally whole heartedly agree it is an assinine policy. That said, it is probably as much the fault of your fellow employees (or at least those that abuse it)as it is the managers. At some point they get tired of the constant call ins(wayyyyyy too often because of the corona flu aka hungover)and institute this policy. It is no different than anything else, a few people ruin it for everyone so everyone gets punished. I called in at my place for the first time in two years not too long ago. They told me the same thing. I knew of the policy and had always disagreed with it but bit my tongue. When they told me to call people I told them flat out " I will call some people but if I can't find anyone I am not coming in." Their response was as expected "if you don't you won't have a job" or something like that. "Fair enough" I said, "that is your decision, but I would suggest you look at my attendence record before making it, I can find another 3 dollar an hour dead end job a hell of a lot quicker than you can find another employee that calls in sick once every two years." Safe to say I was still on the schedule......Bottom line: if you are right then stick to your guns and let them fire you.(they wont),,,,, It will be their loss. If you are one of the ones calling in with the corona flu(I know you aren't) and get fired (then as a manager I can say, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.) I would much rather work with 3 good employees than 3 good ones and 4 slackers. One more thing. Don't give up on the new manager yet. I am a firm believer that the first month or so any new manager or employee is there you almost have to throw it out the window and not count it. That is NOT the person you will see for the long haul. New managers HAVE to come in and lay down the law at first or they get NO respect. They have to feel you out for your strengths and weaknesses just like you have to for them. If he is still an ass after a little buffer time then by all means hit the road. Great blog btw, not sure if I have ever said that or not. If however, you feel that it really IS just time to move on to bigger and better things GO FOR IT. I myself am on my way out of both places. One I have been at for 15 years and the other 5. It is just time to move on.....

keep your head up either way.


At 5:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've worked at places that had that sort of policy and it drove me insane. at one place (non-corporate) i didnt mind so much because we had enough other perks that it didn't matter. ie: set schedules, more than a four table section, etc. and, at that place everyone knew that rules were rules but they were also meant to be bent.
at the places where the rules weren't meant to be bent, well, i just cough all over the patrons. sooner or later someone requests i go home.

At 5:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having worked in non-restaurant retail as a part-timer for the past six-plus years, I can assure you that nothing's different in that corporate world, either. Especially in publicly traded corporations, it's all about the bottom line. That means staff cuts keep the overhead down, even though short-sighted management fails to realize that less customer service means fewer customers. And sick-out policies will just get worse as more people are willing to work harder to make less money, simply to have a job. Welcome to Darth Cheney's Amerika.

At 10:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I currently work for a law firm but at the job I just left (a real estate company) they told my replacement that SHE would be responsible for calling a staffing agency and finding a temp for her position should she call in sick. Then they would take a percetage of the temp's pay out of her check. Nice huh? So it's not just shitty restaurant managers who treat their employee's like crap. All that from a place that offer's PAID sick leave. Or so they said...


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