This turned into quite a long piece, so if you wanna TL;DR, I get it.
It’s well known amongst those who know me that I am mental. I don’t like that I am, but acknowledge it and deal with it on a daily basis. Because of this, I have a very hard time dealing with people and I have an even harder time dealing with bullshit. Anxiety flares at the sign of either.
Due to those things, amongst a few others, I have a hard time maintaining relationships with anybody, and I have an even harder time keeping a job. I have lost many friends over the years due to this, disowned members of my family, had members of my family disown me, and as far as jobs go, I go through quite a few every year or two.
I recently lost a job because of this. The only difference between this place and others is, I liked this job. I liked where I worked. I loved who I worked with. It was a restaurant/sports bar that wasn’t corporate owned. It was an independent restaurant, and I got the perfect job for someone like me. I was their dish washer.
When I interviewed, I spoke with a girl who told me they hate drama there, they don’t put up with trouble makers, and everyone who stays typically gets along with everyone else. That looked great on paper. What I found out was, the girl who told me that was the owner’s daughter, and nobody liked her. She thought they all did, but they didn’t. She was young, highly unqualified for her job, and a bitch. When people started with drama, it was usually because they disagreed with something stupid she said and she got rid of them because of it.
Since I needed a job, not once did I ask how much money I’d be making during the hiring process. I had just left a job making over $11 an hour and would’ve loved to make near that again, but realized as a dish washer I’d be making less. That was fine, I just needed a job.
When I spoke with the GM on the phone and he told me I’d been hired, I still hadn’t found out how much I’d be making. It wasn’t until my first day on the job when I finally asked and was told by the GM that I would be making $9 an hour. I was fine with that.
I was looking forward to the job. I’d be by myself at the dish tank, washing dishes and dealing with nobody. I’d be in my own little world, doing my thing, and not being bothered. I couldn’t wait. That’s my kind of job. You might look at washing dishes as a shit job, and by all means it is, but for me it was the perfect job.
Also, to defend the job itself, the restaurant wouldn’t be able to operate without clean dishes, so it isn’t as shit a job as it may seem. However, restaurants typically don’t pay dish washers very well even though they typically do a lot more work than anybody else. Seriously. That’s the second dish washing job I’ve had and both paid nothing but were the hardest jobs in the place.
Everything started off great. I loved everybody I worked with. I looked forward to going to work for the first time in a very long time. I was thinking how I might be there for awhile, maybe years. Who knew? I loved it there.
A couple months later, on a pay day, I was told by one of the two owners that the two of them (a married couple) had been talking about me and had noticed my hard work and wanted to give me a raise. I was flattered. I had never had any boss, let alone owner, tell me anything like that. That meant more to me than any raise.
I had already got my check and looked at it, noticing that it was slightly more than it normally was, so I excitedly opened it back up to see if the raise had already gone on. What I saw was that my pay had gone from $8.10 an hour to $8.15.
I got a five cent raise! And I still wasn’t making the amount I had been told I was going to make.
That night as I was leaving work I saw my GM. This exact conversation happened.
Me: When you hired me you told me I was going to make nine dollars an hour, right?
I told him what happened and showed him my check. He said he’d look into it and get back to me.
On Wednesday I saw him and he told me my raise hadn’t gone on yet, that the five cents was a state-wide raise in minimum wage and that everyone got that. I inquired why I wasn’t making $9 like I had been told. He said the system was set up so that a large raise couldn’t be given to anyone, so he would have to bump me up to $8.50 the following check, and then to $9 the one after to get me to there. I then asked if I was going to get my raise after I was at $9 and he said “probably not.”
A couple days later I was done working and saw the owners were there. I pulled one aside and told her what was going on. We went outside to talk about it. I told her everything I just said, and while I was talking to her, the GM came out to join us. I asked her if I was going to get retro pay for all the hours I worked at the wrong wage and she said she didn’t have any proof that I was told $9. She then asked the GM if he remembered telling me that and he said NO. It had just been a week before that when I asked him and he said “Yeah.”
That was the money issue. Jen said I should’ve walked out then and there, but I didn’t, because I did like my job. I was just starting to see who I could and could not trust, and I could keep them on my radar.
The kitchen manager is like a snake in the grass, and so is the assistant kitchen manager. Up until recently I had befriended and trusted the assistant kitchen manager, and he was the only one there I trusted. But when I saw how he wanted to keep things in managements favor during a dispute I had, I saw what side he wanted to be on. I understand, it’s his job on the line. But he didn’t have to do me the way he did.
The general rule was that smokers were allowed to smoke once every two hours if they asked first and were told they could. But not during dinner rush. I was also told by the GM that that’s what he expected out of the front of the house, not the back of the house. He said the kitchen is so randomly busy that whenever we found time to go out we should take it. And that’s the system that had been in place the entire time I had been there until my last week.
One day I had to work with the front of the house manager, the girl who first interviewed me. I got there at noon and she was busy cooking the few lunch orders. I helped the best I could, and then at 1 when the rush was over, she went out to smoke. I was about to do some prep but had to ask her how to do it, as I had not done it before. I followed her outside in mid conversation and then said “Well if you’re going to smoke I will too.” She brought up how I had just got there an hour earlier and how it was too soon for me to smoke. It didn’t matter that I stood out there with her the time it would take to smoke a cigarette just to talk about the prep, but I couldn’t smoke.
It doesn’t have to make sense, she’s 24 and lives in a fairytale world.
An hour later at 2 I went out to smoke. A moment later she came out and lit one up. I mentioned how she had just had one an hour before, but the logic was too much for her to handle and she argued how I had just got to work and wasn’t allowed to smoke, totally ignoring the fact that I had been there an hour and here she was an hour after smoking, lighting one up.
A couple weeks went by and I had just got to work and everyone went outside to smoke. There was nothing going on inside and I had no dishes to do at the moment. In addition to me there was the kitchen and assistant kitchen managers, her, and the GM. The GM had just got there and he was on his phone and smoking. The assistant kitchen manager had just got there too, I believe, but can’t confirm.
Never mind that she isn’t my direct manager and my direct manager was standing right there… She asked me if I had just got there and I said I had. Now, I understand that I’m technically not supposed to smoke that early. However, had she not been there, nobody would’ve cared that I was out there, because there was nothing going on. And hell, they were out there. That has happened on many occasions.
Her and I got into it because I hadn’t asked anybody to go out. My manager could’ve said “It’s cool that he’s out here.” He could have, but he kept quiet. The assistant KM could’ve said the same thing, but instead he decided to say “Come on Matt, just go back inside.”
That made for an awesome night at work. I was so mad I was ready to burn the place down, but I didn’t. I put a smile on my face and did my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to do that, but because I liked my job so much, that’s what I did.
On my last day I showed up at 4. My routine was to show up at 4, smoke at 5 because that’s when the dinner rush started and I knew I couldn’t smoke again until 8 when it was over, and then smoke at 8 because all the dinner dishes were coming back by then. It had worked up to that point and nobody had had any problems with it, mostly because it didn’t affect anything negatively. Nobody noticed what I was doing. Remember, I kept to myself there. So if it’s not affecting the job at all, where’s there a problem?
Since I had started asking to go out and smoke because of the previous engagement, I asked the GM if I could go out at 5 and he said no because there were new smoking rules in effect.
We weren’t allowed to smoke within 3 hours after showing up to work, and we weren’t allowed to smoke between 5:30 and 8:30. So, I had shown up at 4 and wouldn’t be able to smoke for four and a half hours. And then because the dinner dishes were all coming back then, I wouldn’t have time to step out at all. He said the rule was for everybody including management, which made me laugh because they never followed the previous rules at all WHILE enforcing them.
That night I got no break at all in a nine hour shift.
I started to wonder if that was a big fuck you to me for the previous argument.
As I was leaving I checked the schedule for the following week to discover I had gone from 5 days to 2. Yet another sign that I was being pushed out. All too often jobs will give employees less and less hours if they want the employee to quit so that they don’t have to fire them. It’s childish, really, but a whole lot of jobs do that. And it would seem they were doing the same.
The following day I texted my kitchen manager to tell him I wasn’t coming in. I got no response. That’s when I knew. The day after that I didn’t bother calling at all, and nobody from there called to see if I was coming in or not. Also childish and very unprofessional, but that’s a restaurant for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mom and pop place or a corporation/chain. They’re all the same. They’re revolving doors with employees, and they know that if they lose someone, they’ll have them replaced soon enough with some other nobody.
When they find someone who works hard, they use them as much as they can and milk them dry of any desire to continue living, and then when that person is all burnt out and can’t do it anymore, they leave or get fire or more likely are forced to quit, and someone else takes their place. That’s the restaurant life. Very few go to work at a restaurant with the desire to make it a career. It doesn’t have to be that way, restaurants could treat their employees better, but it is that way and they suck.
And they’re not alone. There are tons of shitty jobs out there, and they need to be worked. And there are tons of people out there who need those shitty jobs. I’m one of them. Unfortunately I can’t hold a job because of my inability to put up with anyone’s shit. I could have been brought back at one of my former jobs for Sara Lee in an office working with computers, but I ruined that too with my bullshit.
This is why I discovered I just can’t work with anybody. Management sucks, owners suck, rules suck, customers suck. I just can’t do it. I need to become independently wealthy or move into a cave. I’m fine with either.
Oh yeah, I discovered that very soon after I quit, one of their main bartenders/servers quit and so did the GM. And I’m sure the owners don’t give a flying fuck, because they don’t care about their employees.
Back in the day when I served at an Applebee’s I had a manager who would frequently lie to get shifts covered. I was off on Wednesday and Friday one week and he needed a Friday shift covered, so he called me on Wednesday and said “Where are you? Your shift started 20 minutes ago. I told him I didn’t work that day and he said I was on the schedule. Since I was on a boat in the middle of a lake at the time I told him I couldn’t make it in, so he said “That’s okay. Since you can’t make this shift can you work Friday to make up for it?” And I agreed, suspiciously. The following day I checked the schedule and saw that the big X on Wednesday saying I was off had White Out on it and BS shift written over top of it.
That’s how they’ll do you. Don’t let them. If you absolutely need a restaurant job, and they’re a dime a dozen, go get one for some extra cash or for a second job. Don’t let them control you like they’ll want to, and don’t let them abuse you, which they absolutely will.
Lastly, know your state laws on what benefits you deserve to get. In my state, if you work an 8 hour shift you are, by law, supposed to get two 15 minute breaks and one half hour/hour lunch. If you work in a restaurant, they will most likely NOT give you any of those. If you’re lucky enough to get a smoke break, take it. If you don’t smoke, you probably won’t get a break. And you most definitely won’t get a lunch break. Like I said, I worked a nine hour shift at my last job without one break.
How do they get away with it? They probably lie their asses off. They’re very good at that.