Monday, February 26, 2007

Office Politics...

Okay, here’s the story. There’s this server, K, who used to work at another GD a while back. She was a hostess there for two years (and then I think she became I server, but I’m not totally sure), but she’s at Glen Burnie now. She’s been there a couple of months now and been working on flirting the managers. Since she started there, she’s tried to improve the servers sidework and stuff but it didn’t work because she is, after all, another server like everybody else. Since she can’t change how the servers run, she moved on to the hostesses. Yeah. She was heard to say, from several reputable sources, “I’m going to come in on my day off to show the hostesses how to do their job.” Or some equally insulting sort of comment. And because she’s now manager’s pet, she is basically allowed to do and say whatever she wants.

The Friday that I went on retreat was her first shift as Bossy Hostess. I got a text message from M that night telling me that she’s horrible and doesn’t know what she’s doing. The following Friday, I’m on the schedule. Before the shift (I worked a volume and she came in a few minutes before 5 while I was on my dinner break), she tried telling me what it was she wanted to do, and I had reason not to do it for everything she said. I kept tripping her up and asking questions, “What about this?” and “Okay, well what about that?” and eventually she didn’t even know what she was saying anymore! She finally just kept saying, “Well, we’ll talk about it at the meeting.” There was a “Mandatory Hostess Meeting” scheduled for the following Sunday in handwriting that didn’t really match any of the managers. Surprising, huh?

So originally K tells me that she’s going to just hang back that night and watch and she doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Yeah. Right. She didn’t hang back at all (otherwise I might still be working). Even though I was “running” the wait list, she was running around checking on tables and counting how many people had menus still and how many tickets were in the window in the kitchen ready to go and telling us how many tables to seat and when to seat them and where to go. We were basically her puppets. We were only there to cater to her ever command. And I do mean “command”. If we even breathed in a way that she didn’t like or before she told us we could, she would be in our faces about it asking why we did that. If we sat a table before she gave us permission, she would come up and rudely ask, “Why did you seat them?” or whatever.

What she was doing that night was not hosting. She didn’t greet any of the guests the way we’re suppose to (or at all for that matter), she didn’t check the bathrooms like she wanted us to do, she didn’t sweep the floor like she mentioned we had to do every hour (yeah right), she didn’t even seat tables when she said to seat the next name on the wait list! If she said to seat a table and I handed her menus, she’d either pass them off to the next hostess or tell me to wait until M or the other hostess got back and have them seat the table. All she was doing was checking menus and tickets. She never explained what she was doing or why she was doing it, she just did. She was suppose to be training us when all she was doing was bossing us around. With the way she was doing it, it was no good because the whole point was for the other hostesses to learn what she was doing so they could do it on nights she’s not hosting. If the other hostesses have no idea what she’s doing or how she’s doing it, how are they suppose to do it when she’s not there?

So the whole night, we’re all giving her attitude, me most of all because I’m the one who’s dealing with her the most (i.e. she’s the one bossing me around the most). She hates that I was giving her attitude. Apparently (I wasn’t conscious of this but I’m glad I was doing it), I was interrupting her a lot, almost every time she said something I would interrupt with a counter-point or I would get defensive. That’s what she said. She interrupted me to say, “Excuse me! Every time I try to say something you interrupt me!”. Haha, talk about hypocritical…At one point, The Beaver (our GM) comes up front to talk to all four of us. Apparently, K had been running back to the managers telling on me every time I did or said something she didn’t like. She’d go back there and whine that I wasn’t listening to her (which would be a lie because I did everything she told me to, I just didn’t do it happily). The phone rang so I answered it. When I got off, all I heard was Beaver telling the three of them that I was running the board and I was in charge, and K’s face was the whitest and unhappier of the three of them (because the other two wanted me to be in charge, not Bossy K) and then he went back into the kitchen. I don’t know what he said before that because I was concentrating on the phone call.

Eventually, M can’t take it anymore and mumbles a name under her breath. It wasn’t directed towards K, but it was definitely meant for her, and somehow, K got wind of it. Either she heard it herself or one of the servers that’s friends with her (one of a few) heard it and told K. K of course told Beaver. Beaver took M back towards Carry-Out to talk to her and then send her home. That leaves me and the other hostess alone with K. Fantastic. The night just gets worse and worse by the minute. K and I are really going at it by this point. I had started writing a note to Beaver telling him that if he didn’t tell K to let me run the board, I was walking out. I was about to have the other hostess give it to him (he was cooking and I wasn’t leaving the front) when things finally boil over. K says something to me about how we have to pace the kitchen (make sure they don’t get too many orders at once).
“I know how to pace the kitchen.” I snap.
“Well then I may as well go home then.” She says.
Just then, another manager, D, (also one she flirts with and complains to) comes up.
“She knows how to pace the kitchen.” She says to the manager, who rolls his eyes.
“I’m going to settle this once and for all.” He says and tells me to come back into the kitchen with him.

He tries to tell me how what we’ve been doing isn’t working (I disagree, plus if they think it’s not working they need to let me train the hostesses, not have the new girls training new girls) and K has this new way of doing things that worked at her restaurant and worked last week, so we’re going to try it. First of all, even if it worked for the kitchen last week, it didn’t work for everybody else. K triple and quadruple seats people whenever she wants and she had guests cussing about her and her methods too! Thank God B (a cool manager) came back at that point and was there for, if anything else, moral support for me. He’s on my side and hates K. I told D that I wasn’t opposed to trying something new, but don’t tell me I’m in charge and then have K walk all over me and tell me when and when not to breathe. I also told them about how K wants to quote people when we’re on a wait. She doesn’t want to give them a time in minutes, she wants to tell them how many people are ahead of them and how many open/dirty tables there are. Want to know why? Because she doesn’t want to give them a quote and be wrong. Easy, it’s called: OVER QUOTE. Not by a lot, but give yourself an extra ten minutes or so to cover your butt. No biggie. People are happy to sit sooner than you tell them. B even agreed with me on that (not to mention that the wait quote covers two questions on the secret shopper list, that’s two she’s missed plus she never did get the door all night so that’s two more right there. She’s already almost failed the shop for the host section!).

B said he’d go talk to K about being bossy (not the wording but you know what I mean). The rest of the night K ran the board and did away with the menu counts (which is basically what I do all night anyway without her…grr…oh well) and I shut my mouth and did exactly what she told me to the letter until I finally got cut. I decided way earlier in the shift that I wasn’t going to the meeting. I’d rather not say anything if I couldn’t say something nice. She had also asked me back before her shift started (when I was tripping her up) not to “say anything” at the meeting. She didn’t want me arguing with her in front of the other hostesses. Oh well, too bad. If I’m going to the meeting, I’m going to give you my opinions as a hostess (and a damn good one at that) and if you’re going to ask me to relinquish my first amendment rights, then I’m going to make a statement by not going period. I told M I wasn’t going and I told the hostesses I worked with the following night (Saturday) that I wasn’t going and why and it was up to them if they wanted to go too. But, before the night was over (Saturday) I showed them K’s method and we even used it for a little while until the managers came up and said to just seat all the open tables don’t worry about the kitchen. So even though I disagreed with K and her “new” methods (they actually weren’t knew, another manager showed them to me back in the day), I still showed the hostesses and explained how to do them, which was more than K could say.

I don’t have to work again until the following Friday, so almost a week later because of my school schedule and some days I had requested off. Thursday, I get a myspace message from one of the servers saying how it was too bad they fired me and how much of a bitch K is. 0.0 Fired? Since when? Not too long after that (and after I had sent a message back saying, “What? Did they fire me without bothering to tell me?”), M called me to tell me that she had called to find out her schedule and the manager she talked to (another awesome manager) said that the hostesses that didn’t show up to the meeting were suspended until further notice. Nobody really knows what’s going on, not even B (who got transferred to Bowie, permanently I think and awfully convenient considering the current office politics) and he knows everything, so I go up Friday after school (but way before my shift was suppose to start). And there, right inside the doorway, is Beaver. He confirms the rumor that I was fired and says that nobody was suspended, everyone who didn’t go was fired. Five hostesses in all were fired, only three actually showed up to the meeting. I stayed calm (no crying or yelling for me, yay!) and told him why I didn’t go to the meeting. He told me that it wasn’t professional or the best way to deal with that, maybe if I had come to the meeting we could have “worked it out” (yeah right). He got me my tips and my paycheck and I was out of there.

The rest of that day I spent filling out online applications and putting my resume up online at Dan’s house. Around 9 or so, I remember that I just about have a guaranteed job with a former boss, no matter what. So I fill out an online application for Applebee’s. There’s not much to it, not even a job history really (just like where did you work and who was your manager), just your availability and stuff like that. After I got home, my dad told me Applebee’s had called around 9:30! I tell my mom the whole story before I give the nut-shell version to my dad as an explanation for Applebee’s calling. Saturday, I go up to Applebee’s to fill out the full application and take a questionnaire. The manager (not my former boss, but nice just the same) who gave me the test told me that she would call later after she was interviewing me. I didn’t get anything back from her (I did have a voice mail at one point that wasn’t anything, so that could have been her), and I waited until Tuesday (you’re suppose to give them a couple of days, Internship class said so). My mom and grandmother were going up that way to get something at The Italian Market and my mom asked if I wanted to come and stop in at Applebee’s to follow up in person (which always looks better). I did.

My former boss met me at the door and asked if I could come back later for orientation. I had the job, no "ifs", "ands", or "buts" about it. I've been there ever since, almost a week later, and can already tell that it's going to be a much better situation than GD, even if it is farther away and I don't know anybody really yet, at least as far as management goes. Yay.