Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fun at Mr. Steak

Written by J from Thinking About

Back in 1984, I worked as a waitress at a Mr. Steak restaurant in Stockton, California. To say that the workplace was different then than it is now would be an understatement...or perhaps it was working at a restaurant with a bunch of late teen/early 20s people. It was a den of non-p.c. behavior, where no topic was off limits. People asked each other all of the time about their sex lives, and wanted a lot of detail. The manager of the place, Robert, stayed above the talk, and was a fairly professional guy, and for some reason was not well liked by the corporate suits at the regional office. I have no idea why.

There was an assistant manager there, Ken, who liked to joke with all of us in a fairly earthy manner. Not so much asking us about our sex lives or anything like that, but he liked to call us all names, like Bitch or whatever. We swore back at him, told him to F**K off, and it was all laughed at, all good fun. Good fun until I learned a lesson about leaving behind a paper trail. Didn't I grow up in the time of Watergate? Shouldn't I have known not to leave anything behind that might incriminate myself in any way? Perhaps, but I didn't.

In order to show what a friendly place Mr. Steak was, we were supposed to write "Thank-You" on the back of our ticket. Maybe go out of the way and put a little smiley face and our name.

Employees could order food off of the menu at a substantial discount, but a ticket had to be written up for them just the same, for inventory purposes. One day, Ken ordered dinner, and I was his waitress, and on a lark, on the back of his ticket, I wrote, "Fuck-You, J" with a little smiley face next to it. I handed it to him, he had a good laugh when he noticed, and that was that. Or so we thought.

A few days later, the boss, Robert, called me into the office at the end of my shift. He had been watching me all evening, and I foolishly thought he was impressed by what a hard worker I was. He had come into the restaurant when it was a franchise being taken over by corporate, and he had given us all pretty decent training on giving good customer service, etc. We had gone from the type of restaurant with wine in a box, to the type of restaurant where we opened wine bottles tableside. Anyway, I thought he was impressed with how well I had learned the lessons about waitressing, so I wasn't worried when called to the office. Then he pulled out the check. The one that said , "Fuck You, J :) " on it. Nice. He asked me about it, and I told him the story. He said that was unfortunate, because the regional manager had stopped by, and on one of those unhappy coincidences, happened to spy my ticket. There was nothing else on the ticket to indicate that it had not gone to a customer. Robert was not in strong standing with this guy, and did not feel safe standing up for me himself. So I was fired. That very day, I went from feeling like I was doing my job very well, making decent tips and representing Mr. Steak well, to out on my ear.

What did I learn from my stupidity? You never know who might be listening, watching, paying attention to what you say or do at work. Don't say or do anything that you don't want your boss, or his boss, or even HIS boss, to find out about. It was a painful lesson to learn, but perhaps good timing, because that branch of Mr. Steak closed down completely a few months later. I felt like I had the last laugh after all. :)


Py Korry said...

What I like is the Karmic theme in this story (i.e., they went out of business a few months after they fired you). It's too bad the regional manager came in when he did, but you're so right about being careful about what you say or write at work. With computers and people using their work email for personal stuff, people have to be even more careful because all those webpages you visit and every email you send and receive are basically recorded by your employer. So instead of a piece of paper that can get you fired, there could be a whole email thread that'll get you the boot. Damn computers!

Jason said...

Man, fuck Mr. Steak!

Jen E said...

Great article! Thanks for the reminder to watch what we "document".

SingForHIm@Real Life said...

I would have totally done something like this "back in the day"! Where's their sense of humor? I guess you did have the last laugh.

The Farmers Wife said...

Seriously? They sacked you for that? No way! Fools.

Mama Zen said...

Can't believe they fired you for that!

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