Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Not so Fine Day

Friday started out not so different than any other day. That is until my phone rang. One of my waitresses mothers had passed away. We had been aware of this. Her son and daughter work for me also. The daughter had planned on working but found she could not which was so understandable. She called to inform me that she had found someone to cover her shift.

Then the cashier called to let me know that he did not feel well and was looking for a replacement also. We worked through some names until we found a young son of one of the waitresses who had cashier experience. He was very excited to get his chance and came right down.

On Thursday, another waitress who had been very pregnant, had her child. So, that made the count of downed employees to three waitresses and a cashier. With yet another waitress and her son who was now cashiering going away on vacation the next day, I could see an interesting situation coming up.

Trin could have possibly helped out but she was down in California with friends until Monday.

I balanced myself between work and helping out with Judy's garage sale and was there when I got the next call. I was just about to go and pick up Jayden from soccer camp when Jim called. "I need you down here, Lyle", he said, "We have a situation".

I jumped in the car and came down to find Jim on the line cooking. He was trying to work on a cater job for Saturday where he was catering for his son's wedding.

I have a young cook who has a drinking problem. I have worked with him to try and help him and have actually gone overboard in that assistance. I actually laid him off once allowing him to draw unemployment while he sought help to get himself straight. I let him back in, however, when we needed him in a pinch and he stated that he was working on getting straight. He had been twice given written notices just trying to get his attention. I felt and still feel so bad for this young man who is killing himself with drink. He had come to work and called Jim who at the time was out to ask him to cover him. Jim thought he was just sick and told him to go home. Jim's thought was that he was on his way in and could handle the situation.

He arrived to find a very angry other cook who was not happy about being inconvenienced with the first cook. She began ranting at Jim about the fact that the other cook had come in drunk. She was mad because she thought she might have to close and did not want to. She was also angry in that she felt we were giving the other man too many chances. Her passionate rant to Jim who was trying to balance many things in his head also ended up in a shouting match between the two. She told Jim there were things she needed to do and Jim told her to go and handle her affairs. She left angry leaving Jim on the line.

After picking up Jay and dropping him off with the girls (it actually gave me some time to think through possibilities), I drove over to the young alcoholic's house and knocked on the door. He was sitting on his couch staring a some pieces of paper. He muttered something that I could not understand so I asked him for the papers. They were an eviction notice giving him 72 hours. I asked him why he had not paid his rent. He said he did not have the money. Empty beer cans covered the room. I pointed at them and asked him where he got he money for them. At first he denied but then broke down telling me that he did not know how to stop. I told him that I had already given him his options but could not force him to take them. I told him that he could not stop on his own and needed to call the people that I had already set up for him.

His immediate problem was very evident. He had received his eviction notice and feeling sorry about it, had turned to his normal crutch. The problem was this time he did it when he was scheduled for work. No more excuses could be made. No more compromises. I knew exactly what I had to do but still my heart cried out. He asked me what he should do and I told him the first thing was to get sober and the second was to come in and apologize to his fellow employees who had to cover him. I then drove back to work.

Now, the count is three waitresses, one cashier, and two cooks.

Another cook came back to cover the evening shift and we attempted to contact the angry one to see if she was going to return. I figured to give her the benefit of the doubt if she would have apologized to Jim. I have always been one who looks for the reconciliation route first.

Now, I must also at this juncture bring in yet another cook. One not hired yet but who had promised to begin work after giving his notice at his previous employ. He had been unhappy there and after discussing what I could offer him had said he wanted to give his notice and start up with us. So, Jim was figuring him into the mix in the next week and was not as stressed over the loss of the young alcoholic one who he too had worked so hard to try and help.

Jim looked at me and said, "I think we will be OK.....after all the new cook starts next week.". "Has he contacted you?", I asked. "No" was the answer.

I have been in this game long enough to know that a person who is anxious to get started will be at least contacting his new supervisor for training scheduling. I contacted the cook who had referred him to us and asked him to check. We later found that this cook had used my offer to gain a raise at his other job (a fact that I had worried might happen).

I immediately placed an ad in Craig's list looking for applicants. It was now evening and I walked out to find the evening cashier had arrived. I noticed the cinnamon rolls had not been wrapped so I reminded him of it. My management style is probably more of, I might say, consistent hounding when I see things. If that gets ignored, I am known to get more demonstrative. This young man is one who often needs that sort of push and I think I probably reminded him a couple of times to insure that it set in.

What I didn't think about was his state of mind. He was the son of the waitress who had lost her mother so......he had just lost his grandmother. Had I thought, I would have replaced him myself but with all that was going on, it did not hit me. That is until I got the call that he was not there.

I drove to his house and no one had seen him. I told them I would drive around and look for him. I remember all to well the day I lost my grandmother and his grandfather informed me that he had been walking around in a daze all day long. I asked them to call me if he contacted them and went out looking for him to no avail. I ended up getting the same young man in who had worked earlier in the day.

So, the count at the end of the day was three waitresses with one leaving the next day, two cashiers with one leaving the next day, and three cooks. To further access, the fatalities are in the kitchen with the angry cook deciding not to come back. She said no one gets away with yelling at her (funny, it was OK for her to yell at her supervisor though).

In my 30 years of doing this, none of these problems individually surprise me. But, I have never in my recollection had so many in one day.

Nobody said owning your own business would be easy.


keeneye said...

Whoa. Now that's a bad day.

Isn't unemployment high in Central Oregon? You'd think that it would be easy to find good employees.

(I hope you hear the sarcasm in this)


diner life said... would think that would be the case.

From Craig's list, I found only one applicant. Go figure.

Double Sigh