Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Hot Flashback With a Disappointing Update

Sunday, July 27, 2008: Today's Special: Life Lessons

Although July has been a blessedly restful month for me at the café, it has not been without its dramas. The “I want hours, no I don’t” scenario has continued to play out with several of my longer tenured employees.

Cook in Training No. 1 continues to be [a problem.] Back in June, after graduating from her high school completion class, she left me a long, impassioned note about how she was now available to work any hours, wanted to work forty hours and, in fact, needed the hours/money in order to pay her bills. And then she requested a week’s vacation.

After her return about four weeks ago, I took her at her word and started giving her as many hours as I could send her way. ...Cook No. 1 got between 30 and 40 hours on the next three schedules. Essentially, she got exactly what she asked for, within my ability to grant it.

By the end of the first week of her new schedule, Cook No. 1 was already draggin’ her wagon. All we heard when she showed up for work was how tired she was, and she was the first one to raise her hand if the need arose to send someone home early. Odd behavior for someone who needed the money so badly, but I figured perhaps it would take a few weeks for her to get used to working so many hours.

Long story short, after three weeks of working what passes for full-time these days, young Cook had apparently had her fill. She went home sick two days in a row the fourth week. But found time to research and register for some school program for which she will begin classes August 11. And left me a note about how she was sorry, but she needed to go back to school and would only be available to work Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays after school started. Was I surprised? Not really. Was I disappointed? Not really. I knew in my heart that young Cook did not want what she was asking me for.

In another life, I would have been proud to fill the role of mentor in her life. She’s a smart, talented girl, and if she was inclined, she could have become an important part of our team. Working at the café could have been a valuable learning experience for her, instead of a constant tug-of-war between her issues and her desire to rise above them. It’s been obvious for some time that the issues were winning...

And (here's the update...) They did.

It took seven more months of tug-of-war, but in the end, her demons dragged her right out the door.

Little Cook No. 1 and I pow-wowed on the sidewalk behind the café last Friday afternoon. Or, more accurately, I stood in nearly speechless disbelief while this twenty-year-old basically tore me a new one. And then she stalked off into the sunset presumably never to be heard from again.

My great transgression, this time, was to cut her back to three shifts, totaling eleven hours, on next week’s schedule. How dare I? “Eleven hours? Eleven hours, Lisa! I can’t live on that! How am I supposed to live on that?” Followed by a twenty-minute diatribe which assigned me the blame for every evil short of the 9/11 terrorist attacks…

She has worked her ass off for me for two years (Her tenure at the café has been a two-year maneuver through the minefield of her personal dramas, up to and including a pregnancy and miscarriage in December of 2007, through which we unconditionally supported her, held her position for her and welcomed her back when she was able to return.)

She needs money. She can’t pay her bills. How dare I cut everyone’s hours just to save a buck??? (The economy sucks, sales are in the crapper, and I have eight people depending upon me to provide them with some kind of living. If I don’t ‘save a buck,’ the doors close and nobody pays their bills. I have not taken one dime out of this place in two and a half years. And, let’s see…you’re so desperate for money? Can I have Valentine’s Day off? You can’t pay your bills? Can I have the Thanksgiving Weekend off? You can work a full schedule and go to school? I can’t work tonight…I just got home from school, and I was so upset I threw up twice…so I just need to stay home and rest.)

I treat her like crap. I mentally abuse her.
(Just a few days ago, a customer called to complain that Little Cook No. 1 had gone out of her way to make a nasty remark to her. I repeatedly told the customer that I was sure she must have misinterpreted…that Cook No. 1 would never do such a thing. I stood behind my Little Cook 100%. And, as it turned out—there had been an incident, and the customer had not misinterpreted. Did I fire Cook No. 1? Did I suspend her? Did I scream and yell and call her names? No I did not (more fool, I.) Very quietly, with tears in my eyes, I told her I was disappointed beyond words, there was no punishment, and it had better NEVER happen again.)

So, out there on the sidewalk Friday afternoon, indignant tears streaming down her face, she pronounced that she COULD NOT DEAL WITH MY “SHIT” ANYMORE…

…and she quit.

I guess it will be that much easier for her to make ends meet without that $150…


Kathy said...

Ah, the joys and the pitfalls.

You stood by her, she dumped you ... and well, maybe she can wait on ignorant thirty-something mommies at Mc'ee Dee's.

cw2smom said...

Wow! I am sorry! I sure don't envy you for a minute! Hope things are better soon! Lisa