This summer has been a tough one for this old waiter. Lots of things went down, both planned and non-planned, that required me to take a lot of days off from the restaurant I work in. Luckily, I was able to get all of my shifts covered and life at the restaurant carried on as the well-oiled machine it is. (The lubrication that keeps it so well-oiled is a mix between I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, WD-40, sweat from Jose’s doo-rag and the leftover grease from the fryer.) At one point, I was out of work for almost three weeks, thanks to a planned vacation, a funeral and the restaurant being closed for a holiday. After my absence, I walked in with empty pockets and a desire to fill them. Being the only opener, there were no other servers to say hello to, but the kitchen staff greeted me warmly and welcomed me back. Five minutes later, my manager walked upstairs from the basement and laid eyes on me. ”
Hi!” I said. “How are are you?”
He replied with his monotone voice and looked at me with his despondent eyes. “Hi.”
He then walked away from me. I wasn’t expecting a parade when I returned. I wasn’t expecting a hug. What I was expecting was some kind of human connection that would prove to me that he is capable of something other than schedules, sidework charts and grimaces. After this very difficult summer, please allow me to write ten things my manager never told me:
- Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the ketchup since you’ve been gone.
- Sorry to hear about the death of your mother-in-law. It’s hard for me to open up and be honest with my feelings, but for this I will make an exception. I know she was a part of your life for over twenty years and it must have been hard. My condolences to you and your husband.
- Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the to-go containers since you’ve been gone.
- Hey, didn’t you go to Colorado for vacation? How was it? Last year when I went on a cruise with my family, you were so nice to ask about my trip when I got back. I told you every boring fucking detail about it. I told you about my wife who has been in here a million times and still acts like she doesn’t know who you are even though you have worked here for over two years and I told you everything my kid did on the trip too. I bored the fucking hair off your balls but you acted like you were interested and that was really nice of you.
- Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the paper towels or the napkins since you’ve been gone.
- I’m sorry about your dog. It was always so cute how your husband would walk down here with him every Thursday night. He was a great dog. You must be really sad.
- Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the candles since you’ve been gone.
- Thank you for being the only one who bothers to put all the tables in a perfectly straight line. None of the other servers give a shit about perfection, but I appreciate that you OCD and do that for me. Also, thank you for working here for so long and never once calling out or being late in two years and a half years. Well, you called once to tell me you were going to be about twenty minutes late, but you actually were only five minutes late which is pretty damn good. You’re really reliable.
- Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the coffee or coffee filters since you’ve been gone.
- I fired your favorite person while you were gone because it was clear you two were having too much fun. You were always talking and laughing. Well, I didn’t really fire her, I just did what my passive aggressive ass always does when I want to get rid of someone; I cut their shifts and ice them out so they will eventually quit on their own so I don’t look like the bad guy. She talked too much to tables and laughed too often and even though this is a casual neighborhood restaurant, I decided that I would rather have my servers be soulless and cold just like like me and just like our menu.
Don’t restaurant managers realize that we need them to be human on occasion? We are all people who work together and even though they are our boss, it does not hurt to share an emotion now and then. Not all managers are like this, but so many of them are. Maybe when they got their degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, there was no curriculum that taught basic human connection. When a doctor becomes a doctor, isn’t their some emphasis on bedside manner? Maybe restaurant managers should focus on their “bedside manner.” Over the years, my favorite bosses were the ones who took some time to get to know what my life outside the restaurant was like. Those are the ones that I want to work harder for and help them make the restaurant a success.
What are some things that your manager has never told you?