Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thoughts on Veteran's Day.

Today was actually not bad at all. I went in to it somewhat anxious and stressed out - bad juju from the last V Day I worked. Which I realized today that I never actually wrote up, and that was a big part of why I left the restaurant last time, so let's go back in time to 11/11/11 .....
These were the dark days, when Chicken Little was still in charge. Lapdog was constantly on the verge of a mental breakdown. Bitter Divorced Man had left a couple of months before; his replacement had died in a car crash soon after; his replacement was Junior. Pot Smoking Manager had left just weeks before and been replaced by HotPants.
At that point, I think we were still one of only a couple of restaurants doing the free food for military thing, so it was an insane day. We opened an hour early and were full for the next twelve hours.
CL was psychotically in to Veteran's Day. If there were a base around here, she'd be a total barracks rat. Instead of doing useful, managerial things on V Day, she would wander the restaurant, talking to military people and literally fucking crying over their stories. Now, it's not like she lost her father in Vietnam or anything like that - there was no military connection in her life. She was just in to it in a creepy fucking way. So she'd spend her time talking to customers and then go in the back and have one of her spectacular fucking meltdowns when she found out the kitchen had high ticket times or whatever.
I wasn't having a very good day. I'd had some really rude customers - and I don't mean veterans, I mean people coming in demanding they get a free meal because their son was in Iraq, or their husband died in Korea, or whatever. I'd gotten some really shitty tips. Half my section had been taken up by a big top - one of whom showed up at 11 and the rest of them didn't wander in until almost 1. At two in the afternoon, four hours after we opened, I had made fifteen dollars.
As that big top was finishing up, I was cleaning a table next to them. Junior was helping me bus it, and asked why I was so quiet. Now, at this point, Junior was still a sleeper agent - none of us realized she was in CL's pocket. So I very simply and quietly said "I don't want to work this day next year, it's not worth it." That's it. I wasn't scowling, I wasn't bitching, I answered her question.
Her response was "It's not about you today. It's about honoring veterans."
(More on that later.)I said she was right, I was just stressed about money, smiled at her, and went back to the kitchen.
A bit later, Chrissy came storming up and slapped a receipt down next to me and went on a rampage about the two dollars she'd gotten off a four top who all had free meals. She went on about how they were cheap bastards and they could at least tip when all their food was free. I remember my exact response: "Yeah, that sucks." I knew better than to say anything else.
Well, after that, my day got better. People were nicer, they started tipping, the big top left, and my smile was no longer fake. Right up until CL gathered us in the back with the evening floor chart. She told this person they were staying where they were, told this other person they were moving, told this person they were cut ... and then pointed at me and said "And you are going home."
I thought it was a mistake; I was clearly scheduled for a double and politely told her that. She told me I was cut and I told her I'd really like to stay if I could.
"You're leaving and we'll talk about it later."
Everyone was looking pointedly away from me; I was completely confused. My confusion didn't lessen when I was taken in to the office and told I was being sent home because of my bad attitude. Apparently I was saying "disrespectful" things about veterans, and I wasn't welcome there any more today. I was told that my statement the day wasn't financially worth it was inappropriate. CL also said she "didn't like" how I treated my big top - I never did figure out what the fuck she was talking about there, those Korea/WWII vets loved me and tipped me excellently.
Obviously I knew Junior had to CL what I said about money, but she wouldn't explain what she was talking about with the "disrespectful" stuff. About a week later I found out that Chrissy had gone to CL and told her that I was the one ranting about the bad tip and calling people cheap bastards! And of course, because Chrissy was so far up CL's ass, she believed her.
And that was the beginning of the end of my job. After that, CL started cutting my shifts, giving me shitty sections, sending me home early, refusing my attempts to pick up shifts ..... and very soon I didn't work there anymore.

I practically feel like I'm breaking out on hives just from writing about how the place used to be. Anyway, fast forward to today .... and it was awesome. The kitchen was in absolute top fucking form. Lapdog and Harley were working their butts off right along with us. Our new (and so far awesome) district manager stopped in to help ... and then left after half an hour because we didn't need him. It was great.

Oh, except for the dishwasher freaking the fuck out because someone asked him to wash silverware. He walked out. And then came back later with a baseball bat. I'm not sure what scared him off. It was an interesting interlude.

Anyway - super smooth day otherwise, smiles all the way around. The only thing that kind of sucked .... was I only made $63. There were three reasons: We slowed down in the afternoon and I was cut, I had two tables (half of my section) that thought it was totally fucking cool to camp for an hour when the lobby was jam-packed and they were sitting right next to it, and then probably 75% of my tables tipped a really crappy amount. If you go by what my final sales were, my tips were 25% - but if you go by what they were before the comping off veteran meals, it drops down to just ten percent. I was pretty disappointed by that, I'll be honest. 

Because here's the thing about Junior's statement from 2011, which I heard repeated several times - yeah, the day is about honoring veterans. That's awesome. If it were a volunteer to work day, I would have no problem with all the managers and corporate people repeating that over and over. 

However .... it's now a mandatory work day. So they're telling us "you HAVE to come in, and don't expect to make money because it's not about you." And I'm sorry, I have to call a little bit of bullshit on that. I can't tell my credit card company "I can't pay my bill, but I honored a lot of veterans!" And not only because that sounds kind of dirty, but because it just wouldn't fly. This is my job, not community service, and I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to make some cash. I would never say a word against a military member because of their tip today - but I don't see what's so wrong with being disappointed that, on the busiest day of the year, I made about what I make on an average Tuesday lunch shift. 

When I handed in my checkout, Harley asked what I made. I was immediately nervous, afraid when I answered I'd sound pissy or something and I'd get in trouble (the trauma from CL hasn't completely healed!). I told her and her jaw dropped. "Are you serious? I'm so sorry!"

I love her.


SkippyMom said...

GAWD this is such a topic of discussion on the internet - running in favor of the servers to be tipped, but boy do you run into some assho**s that think they deserve it all for free, including their wife/husband and kids.

I saw one guy write "You'd all be dead [servers] if the veterans hadn't fought for you." I mean, really? The possibility of wiping out an entire working section of the population of the US existed before the wars? The stupidity, it burns.

I come from a long line of military, and not one of them would ever stiff on a free meal, nor would their family members demand "their" free meals. I respect the service of the men and women who serve[d] - but they chose their jobs*, we chose ours and our pay is based on tips and they KNOW IT. [*With the exception of those drafted - whole different scenario]

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