"We're going to have to let you go..."
So I was fired.
Many moons ago silly, not from my job today, I’m far too stellar of a waiter for that.
So many moons ago I was a bartender for a BBQ joint. Now that could sound good, who doesn’t like eating out with the common people in a roadhouse BBQ joint with B.B. King on the juke and a huge plate of ribs on your table with a checkered bib over your shirt to prevent the inevitable spillage?
Except this was a corporate restaurant with a fake roadhouse look with fake antiques on the wall and a decidedly TGI Fridays feel to it.
And the “common folk” were a bunch of suburbanite entitlement junkies with appetites for whatever restaurant opened in the last six months.
This was the place I was accused of being a racist for apparently shorting a nappy headed hoe on her dozen chicken wings.
Oops, I should be fired for that one, well I digress…
So I rolled into work one morning for my bar shift and I’ll be honest, I was about five minutes late. Of course in the restaurant world time runs a bit faster and five minutes means twenty in the eyes of both management and the customer.
Example #1: If a table waits five minutes for their bar drinks because it is busy, then it turns into twenty minutes magically when they bitch to the manager.
Example #2: If a party has to wait twenty minutes for a table, they go to the host desk and claim they’ve been waiting an hour, even when the host has what time they checked in, it is still an hour and they’re “HUNGRY/Have a show to get to!”
So walking in I checked the computer and noticed a large to-go order for a corporate account that wasn’t quite up yet, so I decided that I should use that few minutes to “drop the Cosby kids off at the pool.”
Shit, maybe I am racist.
So returning to the bar I find one of the waiters behind there getting the large to-go order ready, I thanked him and sent him on his way.
About that time the General Manager, who we’ll call Tim*, walked by and gave me a queer look as he made his way to the back office.
* A note about General Managers, they are always named Steve, Tim, Brian or some other short name as such.
About five minutes later, Bret*, the Assistant Manager came behind the bar and said, ”Secret, could you come back to the office, I need to talk to you.”
* All Assistant Managers are named Bret, all.
I acquiesced to his request and we made our way back for “the talk.”
We passed Tim and he shot me another queer look.
As he pushed a write up towards me Bret said, “Secret, Tim said you were twenty minutes late today and he wanted me to give you this.”
“Well I was about five minutes late, sorry about that, but twenty, I don’t think so.” I said as I studied the write up.
Bret responded, ”Well he didn’t see you until twenty after.”
“I went to the restroom about five minutes after I checked in, the to go wasn’t ready and I needed to go so I went.” I said.
“Did you ask anyone if you could go?” Bret asked.
“I’m not in kindergarten, I’ll go when I need to.” I responded.
“Well I more meant did you tell anyone, in case the phone rang or something.” Bret clarified.
“Anyways, Tim wanted to you to sign this and he wanted me to tell you that we’re letting you go home.” Bret said.
“Ok, are you letting me go home today, or am I being let go?” I asked.
“We’re letting you go.” Bret said with trepidation.
“Really now, after two years, for being five minutes late?” I said.
“Well Tim says you have a history of this and here’s a write up for tardiness that we documented.” Bret said.
“Why isn’t Tim here to tell me this?” I asked.
Continuing I said, “Look at the date on that write up, I remember when that happened a YEAR ago when I overslept my shift, so I’m getting fired because this is my history of being late?” I stated.
“Well maybe you can come in and talk to Tim next week about your job…” Bret stammered. “Fuck that, if he had any balls he’d be here right now instead of sending you.” I said.
“Further more, he’s been on my ass for weeks since I dropped down to part time for school, what, is he pissed that he has to do bar inventory now and all the other bitch work?” I yelled angrily.
“I don’t know, this isn’t my decision.” Bret said.
“You know Bret, I always liked you, but Tim is a chicken-shit fuck, why isn’t he here to do this himself?” I demanded to know.
“Just wait a week, I’ll talk to him and maybe we can work something out.” Bret said.
“Seriously, fuck that shit, I can walk into any restaurant in town and work, I have friends managing across the street that would hire me in a second* and I don’t have to sit at home for a week hoping I can have my job back, you can tell Tim to take this job and stick it up his ass.” I countered.
* I did just that and was training on the floor that very night.
“And I’m not signing shit.” I said as I crumbled up the write up and dropped it on the floor.
I walked toward the front door, I was right, Tim had been riding me for weeks now that I wasn’t of use to him and making his job easier anymore.
Tim was behind the bar talking to the suit picking up the catering order, he shot me his look again, one that was filled with fear.
“Hey Tim, I just wanted to tell you you’re a fucking chicken-shit and you can go fuck yourself.” I said to him as I leaned over the bar and grabbed my soda.
The suit looked startled and offended Tim winched back.
I felt free.
Tim always talked shit about employees that were let go, I think he took some pleasure in it actually.
He always said, "We were here before you and we'll be here after you're gone."
So I was feeling a bit nostalgic and I stopped in for take out seven years after walking out the door.
As I picked up my order Bret came and was quite surprised to see me, we shot the shit for a minute and I asked if he was running things yet as GM.
"Well Tim's still here, he's doing the best he can with what he's got." Bret said.
I laughed as a shook his hand.
"Catch you later Bret," I said making my way out the same doors I did seven years earlier.
I guess Tim's aspirations for a corporate management promotion didn't work out, but he was right, he's still there long after me.