Say what you will about corporate human-resources departments, but the one thing they effectively do is keep low-grade morons with a propensity for power trips in line. Though managers and owners with inherent tendencies to be upright prick machines will always invent ways to be walking fingernails against a chalkboard, at least the specter of employees reporting them to the HR Manager looms over them like the ultimate check and balance, preventing their asshole propensities from going fully hemorrhoidal at any given time.
I’ve seen and participated in more fucked up shit in restaurants and retail stores than I can possibly remember or even care to. My current mom and pop scenario, however, has elevated certain aspects of fucked-upness to heights I’ve yet to have scaled until now. And without the HR stopgap, the shitstorm is randomly raining turd drops on whoever’s head happens to get caught under the crap cloud at any given time.
I answered a Craigslist ad placed by a couple of self-proclaimed “two old dudes that don’t surf” for an upcoming Hawaiian-themed burger joint looking for an experienced general manager to help them get their vision off the ground. Turns out they had amassed enough money from their respective careers in banking and real estate – with the help of a few investor friends – to realize their lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. After a few interviews I was brought on board and promptly began the hiring process.
So I’m sitting in a booth interviewing someone who appears to be a qualified candidate for a server position. Her resume includes several prior jobs at some well-known corporate chain restaurants who I know have great training programs and high standards, which is always something I look for. These are the individuals who usually bring to the table a high degree of maturity and experience regarding what the job entails and requires, meaning less potential drama out of the gate for me.
Oh yeah, she was also African-American. Like that or if she were blue or green or yellow should even fucking matter.
So as we’re sitting there interviewing, in walks Captain Curmudgeon, one of the owners. After giving us the once-over, he gives me the silent head nod toward the other end of the restaurant which is the universal non-verbal “get your ass over here” in owner/general manager speak. I excuse myself from the interview, and when I meet him in the kitchen the first words out of his mouth are, “You don’t plan to hire her, do you?”
“Uh…yeah, probably. She seems pretty qualified.”
“No. Absolutely not. You’re not hiring her.”
“Because once you let those people in the door, you can’t get rid of them.”
And out the door he walked, smiling at my interviewee and wishing her a nice day as he left while leaving the sort of slimy trail that would make any snail jealous.
Cut to: the following day. A dude came in applying for a line cook position. Again, his last couple of jobs had included stints at what I considered to be reputable multi-unit restaurants that are known for high volume business levels. As a manager, you’re always on the lookout for workers, especially in the kitchen, who are used to orders rapid-firing at them and can kick the food out without getting all freaky-deaky in the heat of battle. Those are really valuable people to have in the trenches with you when the shit is hitting the fan on a Saturday night and the prick on table two is screaming because the chicken he ordered three minutes ago isn’t sitting in front of him yet, and you know you can run to the kitchen and ask the guy behind the line to kick it out quickly and he’s able to do it unfazed while keeping the rest of the 50 orders he’s working on moving out like clockwork as well. I was getting the vibe from him that he was that guy, and I was getting ready to make him a job offer.
When in walks Colonel Crustacean. I get the nod, and the next thing you know we’re huddled in the kitchen again.
“That’s an interesting one. You aren’t seriously thinking about hiring him, are you?”
“Uh…yeah. He’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
“No way. Absolutely not.”
“You can’t tell? He looks like a Deadhead! The next thing you know, this place will be crawling with drugs.”
He shook the Deadhead’s hand on his way out, leaving me there to finish with the obligatory “we’ll give you a call if we’re interested.”
After that, I began scheduling interviews when I knew Sergeant Shitbag wouldn’t be showing up and was effectively able to bypass his inflammatory contributions and staff the restaurant with qualified individuals in spite of his efforts to otherwise prevent it. Once staff training began, however, he made his presence known and readily gave me his feedback regarding my hiring judgments.
“What am I running here, a Third World Country?”
“I sure hope that Chink doesn’t think we’re gonna be doin’ eggrolls.”
“Keep an eye on that Limey you hired…he might not be right in the head. They’re always a little on edge anyway.”
“I like that one waiter. You know, The Gay. He’s good regardless.”
“I can tell you right now that fat chick isn’t gonna work out. I don’t know what you were thinking with that one – damn, she’s frugly.”
“Keep an eye on that Sand Nigger. Make sure he doesn’t take anything. You know how they are.”
“Make sure the patio furniture is chained together every night, because if you don’t the Armenians will steal it. That’s what they do around here.”
“I expected more of you. From now on, I want to approve anyone you’re thinking about bringing on.”
And so it went. By the time he was through disapproving of and refusing to pay anyone who didn’t resemble his Anglo-prurient sensibilities, our turnover ratio during the first couple of months ran right at 70 percent. Like most racist fucks, his propensity to selectively target and pick on those he sensed were the least likely to fight back has thus far kept him from being sued or prohibited from employing anyone at all – as he should be.
Having a front seat as a witness to workplace discrimination and being able to prove it are two entirely different things, as navigating the law has often made discrimination the norm rather than the exception. Unfortunately, any pale-balled sploogewaffle with a sizable enough bank account can open a business and effectively abuse the people they employ as long as a lack of empiricism exists to put these fucktards out of business where they belong. There are situations that can happen in the workplace that are unfair, unjustified, demeaning and unpleasant. This however, does not make it unlawful discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace can be in your face and it can be hidden in the shadows. That’s what makes it so subtle, destructive and insidious.
Oh, fuck…I have an opening for a busboy and a qualified Buddaheaded-Chingchonged-Cameljockey just handed me his application. You’d think these people would learn…Print