First off I’d like to thank some of the contributors to the comments sections: waiterextraordinaire, newcomer foodserviceninja, and of course, Mike the Waiter. You all have great, thought-provoking and entertaining comments. Thank you, all!
Also, I happen to know that waiterextraordinaire and Mike the Waiter have their own fine blogs. I urge you to check them out. They’ve provided me many interludes of entertaining reading. As for foodserviceninja, it sounds like the name of a blog, but I don’t know as of yet. From his/her comments here, I think it would be a fine read if there is a blog.
In fact, in finding the URL for waiterextraordinaire, I happened upon his most recent post, Steven I Need To Speak To You. It is a fine topic. WaiterEx was called into the office because of an email complaint from a table in which the guest wanted to give him a $20 cash tip but expected to receive the change left over on his gift card, $8. The guest had uttered the familiar words, ‘No, that’s for you,’ when asked if he needed change. As waiters we all know that means keep the change. Fortunately for WaiterEx, it appears his management understands what went wrong and that it really wasn’t his fault. Management also appears to understand that WaiterEx is indeed extraordinary – and that buys a lot of forgiveness.
It’s tough when you hear, ‘Hey, you got a second? I need to talk to you in the office.’ It’s usually something bad. It happened to me just recently as well.
My previous shift at Michael’s I had made the mistake of paying off the wrong table with another table’s credit card. I caught the error before the second table paid, so that one was cool. But the first table was charged for less than they actually should have been billed. I went to the manager to correct things. We fixed the second table, but she informed me that we couldn’t up-charge a card after the fact, once the guest was gone. She pointed out the difference was something like $27.
That was all she said. So I looked at her, waiting. Finally, I said, ‘So what are we going to do about it?’
‘You have two choices. You can make up the difference yourself –’
‘That’s not going to happen,’ I said. ‘Next.’
‘Or we can write you up.’
Okay then. By the end of the shift she said she wasn’t going to have time that day because she was going into a manager’s meeting. I assumed, frankly, that would be the end of it. Most of the time, with good employees such as myself, management might take you to task about something and threaten the follow-up, but then never do anything. Probably this is partially because of laziness, and partially because they think they’ve already made their point and don’t need to beat a responsible, well-performing employee over the head about it.
Well I got the call at the start of my next shift. It was short and sweet. They (a witness is required at Michael’s for write-ups) pointed out how important it was in this economy to keep our costs down and that’s why I was being written up. Okay. I could understand that. Write-ups aren’t just for misdeeds and things like being late – they’re also for poor job performance. And my screw-up was poor performance.
Side Note: In fact, I wish restaurants would do this more because it would give them the opportunity to legally and credibly fire deadwood waiters. Instead, they wait for them to do something wrong like stealing or missing shifts or whatnot, and it never happens because shitty waiters have a sixth sense about how close they are to the firing line. Whereas, if they would serve write-ups when hacks don’t greet tables for ten minutes, or take orders wrong, or forget to fire entrees, etc., they could cut loose the hacks after three strikes.
I wasn’t going to let it go that easily, however. I questioned why I would even be asked to pay for the mistake myself? Would they chase down a dishwasher for $3 if he dropped a plate?
The ‘other’ manager said that our day manager had been corrected on that. She never should have asked me to do that; it wasn’t legal. Then they started the tape loop again and explained about the need to save dollars, etc.
I responded, ‘Believe me, I do understand that. But it seems awfully inconsistent to go after me with a write-up here when it was simply a mistake I made in the course of the job. Are you writing up the cook when he burns a $50 porterhouse? That kind of thing happens every day and it doesn’t seem likely that you’re doing it.’
They claimed that they did . . .
But I had made my point. I signed the form, told them no hard feelings, we’re all cool, and went on with my day.
I’ve been written up plenty of times in my career. Most have come during ‘witch hunt’ binges that appear to be dictated by upper-management: An announcement will come that ‘we’re cracking down on things around here,’ and 60-70% of the staff will be written up at least once, and then it ends and everyone forgets about it. I remember one place where there was a ‘shoe crackdown.’ The condition, cleanliness, color, and physical properties of our shoes were inspected 5 or 6 times over a two week period. Forms were flying all over the place. A month later, waiters started showing up again in non-conforming ‘Athletic Shoes.’
Waiter Shoes About One Year Before Retirement
Oh, management . . . what would we do without you?