Thursday, May 15, 2008


I stayed up until 2:30 am with my computer in my lap, trying to decompress from an extraordinarily crappy day. The following is just sort of stream of consciousness, isn’t great writing and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But I’m going to post it anyway. Because it’s my journal, and maybe seeing this in print will help me get over it.

It was a jolly day, all in all…

I had service men trying to tear the covers off dusty filter panels in the dining room ceiling in the middle of lunch.

I had the landlord pestering me about turning on the swamp cooler, then telling me it wouldn’t work and intimating he might want ME to buy a new motor for it (ummmm…NOT.)

I had the health inspector wander in on his twice-yearly "surprise" visit.


Just after I made the always difficult decision to terminate an employee who’s been hanging by a thread for the past two months, I had another employee call in and take her place at the top of the $#%* list.

That last proved to be my personal undoing today. I’m so upset, I’m numb.

Three days ago, we did a tremendous Mothers’ Day worth of business; the crew was laughing, singing, making jokes while cleaning up the horrendous mess. I was counting the money, I was dog-ass tired, but the happy voices lifted my spirits immensely. "This is it," I thought. "We have finally made it. We are a group of people that can laugh and have fun together, but we can turn on the afterburners and really crank out the food. This is as good as it gets."

Today was nearly as bad as it gets. One of my heretofore most valued young employees, after having called in sick once already this week, calls in a half hour before her shift with yet another personal crisis which will cause her to be unavailable to work. And all I could think was, "Oh my god, what is the MATTER with these children!?!"

At the risk of sounding like an old fart, what has happened to the good old fashioned American work ethic? This girl today called in to say her boyfriend had been injured at work and she had to rush over there and take him to the emergency room.


Let’s assume boyfriend really WAS injured at work badly enough to need urgent medical care. Then why didn’t WORK call 911 and have him transported to a hospital? Why did my employee have to play paramedic and ambulance driver?

Obviously, one of two things is going on here: Either the entire story is bull crap from start to finish, or employee’s boyfriend’s employer is really dodging a worker’s comp bullet. When I tried to encourage my employee to figure out some other way to deal with this "crisis" she acted as if I was the biggest bitch in the whole wide world. "I’m sorry…this is more important than any job…!" she huffed.

This self-same employee collared me after our last employee meeting and raked me over the coals about how I was punishing her for going to school (and requesting additional days off besides her school days) by not giving her enough hours to enable her to pay her bills. Obviously this was true, because a NEW employee was getting more hours than she was!

I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with this schizophrenic "I need hours, I can’t work" bullshit. Today was really the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. This girl who basically accused me of being an unfair, punitive bitch when it came to doling out hours, and claimed that she, by right of seniority, deserved more than she was getting…calls in two out of the five days she has on the very next schedule. And then once again makes me feel like a bitch for questioning her reason for calling in.

Today’s story was at worst a lame lie….at best a ridiculous way for someone who "needs the money" to handle a crisis. I gave it some thought: Flashed back thirty-some years to when I was young and in love, husband-to-be and I were co-habitating, and maybe something happened to one of us at work. Would we have called our mate, or have allowed our mate to be called in a panic, to drag us to the emergency room?

No. We would have gotten transportation to the emergency room, got our x-rays or stitches or whatever, called our significant other and said, "Hey, I’m at the emergency room because I hurt myself at work. But there’s no reason for you to rush over here. I’m fine and I’ll see you when I get home." There would have been no panic, no crisis, no emergency. And, I’m sorry, part of making the decision to leave or not to leave work would have naturally been, "What bill am I now not going to be ableto pay because my paycheck will be x number of dollars short if I miss a shift?" (Even though we wouldn’t have had to worry about the hospital bill, because in those days there was a such thing as employer-provided health benefits that actually paid medical bills.)

But today, life is lived at 100 mph, punctuated by high drama and histrionics. Everything is a crisis. You don’t take a breath and think about how to deal with a situation with the least amount of panic and pathos. You run around like a chicken with your head cut off. You make (poor) snap decisions in the heat of the moment.

The last thing in the world you take into consideration is your job—especially a crappy, unglamorous job like cooking at a restaurant (ew!)—and the people who may be depending upon you there. You only work there because it’s what was available. You make it very clear at all times that it’s "just a job." Oh, you want every gimme and benefit of the job, but you have no intention of committing to it in return. Any more than you’ve ever committed to anything in your short life—parents, school, relationships. If you commit to something, that puts a burden of responsibility on you that you have no intention of accepting. Because then you would have to consider how your actions affect other people. It wouldn’t be ALL ABOUT YOU anymore, and we can’t have that. It always has to be about YOU.

So now I’m stuck with one of my longest-term, best trained employees either on the verge of quitting (or being fired) because every other thing in her life takes priority over her job, and I cannot count on her to fulfill her responsibilities at work at the expense of anything else. I was just about to hand this girl a great big piece of responsibility. I had discussed it with her the last time I worked with her. And now I have to put her on a back burner somewhere, only schedule her when I know that it won’t be a disaster if she craps out on me. If she decides to stay at all. I don’t want to fire her, but she’s useless if I can’t use her skills and experience in key positions.

And once again I’m left realizing that the only one I can really count on is myself. And that I cannot run that restaurant by myself.

And wondering if I just should not just give up.

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