Aug 2010 13

What a fun little incident that FINALLY sent me "over the edge", so to speak, or more accurately that finally was the "final slap across the face" needed to make me actually walk out the door of the job that I've hated going to for quite some time now. I work in the food service industry - have for a long time. I've been at this particular place for a couple years. It's had its ups and downs, periods of time I've loved going to work and times that as soon as I walk in the door I can feel my soul being sucked out. The latter has been occurring on a regular basis for several months now. this particular establishment caters to tourists and their children who run around and scream their heads off, getting in your way, and for me personally - no doubt increasing my heart rate and blood pressure. Almost worse than the little beasts and the parents who not only let them behave this way in public !?! is the fact that even though it's a 1940's themed bar, the owners think that all the customers want to hear is beach music because of the location. Not only beach music, but Jimmy Buffett and Reggae - not only Jimmy Buffett and Reggae - which, again - really goes with the theme of the 1940's, and by that I mean NOT - so not only Buffett and Reggae, but THE SAME AWFUL PLAYLIST CONSISTING OF MAYBE 11 SONGS, PLAYING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER, EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY OF EVERY WEEK...well, you get the idea. It is THE WORST MUSIC CASE SCENARIO I probably could have ever come up with. As soon as I would get to work and hear the "music" I literally would start to have a sick feeling in my stomach. Seriously. I love the people I've worked with, and aside from the awful parents with the awfully behaved kids that come in, I've generally loved the guests I've been waiting on. If I were allowed to go into work and make good money by interacting with the guests in the manner I do, which 99% of the time makes the vast majority very happy and come back - and not have to hear that God-awful "music", my job would have been pretty good. But then there are the owners, who are doing a swell job of running the place horribly. I've never worked anywhere in my life where the employees were regarded with so little respect. We are the bottom of the totem pole as far as they are concerned. And as I mentioned in the title - these were FRIENDS of mine - not casual acquaintances; friends of mine for the past 16 years. I was at their wedding. I knew them both indiviidually as close friends before they even met each other. To the owners, hands down, the most important thing is that the customer is happy and treated to a good time and treated well. Hey, that's not a bad philosohy. but when it overshadows all else - any other reasonable thing - when it becomes more important than even the well being of long time employees for any reason, that's when I have a problem. But let me tell you what happened yesterday. The owner's wife has been a friend of mine for years. She's not too much hands on in the restaurant but is in there a good bit, usually with her three children. (see where this is going?) Very nice people, and compared to all the horridly behaved children that are in there all the time, the three of them are really not too bad in comparison, especially the older two. The son is around 11 and is generally polite and well mannered and well behaved. It's the youngest girl, if any of them, that is the worst, and not that she's even that bad, but the point is that everytime they come in, the staff goes about the general eye-rolling - we know what's going to happen: They are going to run around, be loud, go into the back room where the servers go to roll silverwear, etc., get popcorn, go behind the bar, try to get their own cups of ice, takeout containers, whatever - again - it's their kids, their restaurant, they can do what they want, right? They usually end up making a huge mess at their table, the bathroom, and the back room, and their mom always makes sure they clean up after themselves. However, an aside - she's well aware that the little one won't flush the toilet - ever - and always seems to go when she's there. If you know she doesn't flush the toilet, why don't you MAKE her do it? It's always so pleasant to go in there after her and clean up the mess. They could be a lot worse, but I don't expect to be expected to "babysit" anyone's kids in a restaurant where I'm working and trying to make money. Yesterday was particularly annoying: the mom was having lunch with two girls and was in the bar area, for the better part of two hours, while her three kids were all the way in the other side of the restaurant - unattended, eating alone, while another server was waiting on them. they would have been fine in that capapcity, but they kept screaming and being loud, getting up and running around and getting in the way, going places they shouldn't be, such as the back get the idea. It wasn't busy at all, but the few customers in there were watching them, no doubt wondering why they were alone and running around. Another server had to, at one point, go into the back room and ask them to be quiet because you could hear them back there from the whole restaurant - you could hear them over the man who was playing the guitar at lunch as entertainment. I personally think it is horribly unprofessional to bring your kids into the place - even if you ARE the owner and can apparently do WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want. I took some silverware into the back room and I had just had it: there was popcorn and paper all over the floor and the tables, a couple of chairs were overturned, and guess what - no kids in sight. I'd been back there earlier that morning, as had the other servers, and I can assure you - the room most certainly was not in that condition earlier. I went back out front and told the other server that the back room was a mess. She said, "I know. I saw it too. Tell their mom. She's still sitting up there." I didn't even think twice about it. I'd never before asked her, or had to ask her, to get her kids to clean up their mess. She always makes sure they do it. It was just one of those things and one of those days. She looked like she was sitting up there with two younger girls, having a pleasant lunch conversation. They'd been there for probably an hour and a half. I also never thought twice about asking her politely because as I said, we're friends. I don't feel I was out of line at all, and I was certainly polite, if perhaps not coming off a bit exasperated. I went up to her and said, "I am so sorry to bother you, could I please talk to you for a minute." She said yes, and I hesitated because I figured she'd get up so we could move away from her guests. When that didn't happen I said, "could you please get them to clean up the back room? It's pretty trashed." she looked at me like I had two heads, so I continued, asking if we even had a vacuum cleaner. she suddenly took the form of someone I've never seen or known, her tone became icy, and she smiled through clenched teeth and said, "I always do." I said thanks, and sorry to bother you again, and walked off. Never thought anything of it. Now before I get to the good part, let me tell you - I've known this chick for close to 20 years. She is your typical very nice, southern girl, sweet as tea. I've never ever seen her raise her voice, get angry, upset, whatever. A few minutes later, I look up and she has FLOWN around the bar and is in my face, raising her voice, shaking, saying, "don't you EVER do that again! That was so unprofessional! I can't believe you! that was so rude! I was in the middle of a business meeting and I can't believe you would be that unprofessional." The words were something like that. I think I was about in complete shock. Everyone around me was in complete shock. Not only that that was out of character for her, but also that she thought I was so "rude", "Unprofessional" and "out of line". I literally just looked at her. I think for a moment I wasn't even believing the scene. I had something in my hand to deliver to a table, so I walked off. I think she was done with the tirade. The FIRST one. When I came back up front, the other servers were like, "WTF? What was that about?" I was like, "I don't know, but there's my first foot out the door." But wait, there's more! I turned around to get more food to run to a table, and she is flying around the corner again! She's up in my face, voice raised more, shaking, YELLING at me - stuff along the same lines, the word "unprofessional", possibly the word "rude". At this point I'm just looking at her. I go to continue taking the food and she marches off in a huge huff, talking to herself, loudly enough that EVERYONE around literally stopped. The guy onstage with the guitar STOPPED PLAYING and said into the microphone, "what in the world?" he had a half smile on his face, was saying, "who pissed her off?" as if he wasn't sure she was being serious - it was that outrageous and out of character. She ran off to the back room, I'm continuing running food, the other servers are standing there stunned, in total disbelief. I go to get the last plate, a large salad on a large plate, I go to turn the corner, and there she is again, having FLOWN around the corner, still yelling at me, right in my face! I'd just turned around and was walking and she flew right into me and I walked right into her chest with the salad - pretty hard, as I'd had some momentum going. I looked up, incredulous, and was like, "WTF??" The salad didn't even stop her. She was following me, still half muttering, have yelling. EVERYONE was stopped, staring at her. When I come back to the front, she's back yet again, going "The room wasn't even that bad! You made it sound like it was trashed!" she went on with her rant saying that most of the mess was from the soccer game(?) earlier, etc. how could I be so rude(?!). at this point, the mess her kids made in the back room was so not the point. For whatever reason, SHE LOST HER FREAKING MIND!!!! I've never seen anything like it. she got in my face again, while I was trying to print out the check - I'd remained totally calm somehow this whole time - guess I've learned over the years to just sit there and let the other person make a complete ass out of themselves while saying nothing. she kept going on about the mess, how it was there before, and I finally said, "Um, not that that's even the point anymore, but the room was not, in fact, like that earlier this morning." She gets closer, voice raised, SHAKING, pointing her finger in my face going, "YES IT WAS! I was hear before you this morning!!" Like she was trying to convince herself, you know? It was BIZARRE. At one point in between mad rants, the female server said to me, mouth open, "She should be so EMBARrASSED! She should be ashamed of herself!" And I'm like, "right? talk about UNPROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR." I can't imagine what those two girls she'd been with were thinking, let alone EVERY customer in the restaurant. she just kept coming at me, and with more fury and venom each time. In retrospect, I'm thinking I must have hit a nerve. All I asked was that she have her kids clean their mess. I don't feel I was out of line by asking that. and I know I wasn't rude about it. It was close to shift change. We would have gotten yelled at for that mess, and I was FINALLY beyond tired of cleaning up other people's messes. No one would ever say anything to them about their kids, how they treat us, how they run the place into the ground worrying about ALL the wrong things and never the right things. No one would say this. I guess after all this time I do say things no one else will say, or will only think. but in this case? I didn't do anything wrong, and even if it was (obviously) misconstrued by her as rude, it certainly didn't warrant that kind of behavior. I've rarely seen that much venom and hate and rage in anyone, let alone a sweet girl I've known forever. other underlying issues going on here, obviously, but I decided then that I was through with that job. I shouldn't have stayed as long as I did. No one is going to talk to me like that. the funny thing, again - in retrospect - is the hypocrisy of it all from her - it's like, um, hey lady - YOU are the one being unprofessional, okay? Let's get that straight. You are throwing a fit of mass proportions in front of EVERYONE. YOU are the one having a so-called business meeting? Seriously? that's news to all of the staff in there. You're having a business meeting with two young girls? In your husband's restaurant? That you're bringing your KIDS to? You're seriously having a "business meeting" for several hours over lunch while your kids are running around the opposite side of the restaurant making a mess and getting in the way? And I"M UNPROFESSIONAL?? It's making me laugh now. I've lost a lot of friends in my young life, and worse than that, the vast majority has been because of death. I hate to see such a long friendship dissipate like that, but I'll be damned. that was so uncalled for, so rude and obnoxious, so disrespectful, and so...what's the word...UNPROFESSIONAL. No one talks to me like that. I'll gladly lose a job for standing up for myself. I finished my monetary responsibilities for the day, took my belongings, and said goodbye to my co-workers. I figured something was going to push me over the edge and make me leave there. Just NEVER thought it would be her. The whole thing was so shocking, so surreal, such an unnecessary reaction - I literally was in shock for a bit. I came home and thought about it and actually - briefly - started to second guess myself. But I called the other female server later. If only for validation. She was still floored. she said she couldn't believe I was so calm and just looked her dead in they eye every time she came at me. she also said she didn't know how I did it, that if it had been her, she'd have felt compelled to slap her or something. She told me I handled it like a "princess" and had absolutely no reason to be upset or to blame. she said "the crazy one" went absolutely nuts for no apparent reason, and agreed that I probably struck a nerve as well. A nerve, perhaps, that she realizes her kids aren't as well behaved as she fools herself into believing? Hmmm...During one of her rants, she actually got in my face and said something like, "You know, You're LUCKY that my kids aren't ill-behaved". something to that effect. Thinking about that now, I'm like, seriously?? Why would you even say that to me? I never said that. I never said a word other than my initial request, other than I wasn't going to stand for anyone talking to me like that. Wow.

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