Fire Walking

50th Post! Woo to the Hoo!

I very much appreciate everybody that reads my blog. I’d like to have a beer with each and every one of you. And someday I’d like for one of these blog posts or live performances to somehow make a positive difference in the way restaurant workers are treated and perceived. That really is my mission in life.

Sadly this post will not accomplish any of that.

This time we will be saluting fallen comrades. And instead of departing like most would do, these heroes lifted their two-fisted single-finger salutes to the powers that be and challenged them to by god make them leave.

Whenever I’m talking to someone about all the jobs I’ve been fired from, they will invariably ask this:

‘Nine times? Nine friggin times, JerBear? Nobody gets fired from the same place nine times!’

I’ve heard it before. There are many who doubt my claim that I was fired from the OB nine times. Shit I wouldn’t believe it either if it hadn’t happened to me.

But if you’ve worked in the business long enough you have probably worked with someone who had been kitshanned but was still working there somehow. It’s not all that uncommon. And given that restaurant workers are disposable employees it’s not all that surprising.

Recently a friend of mine underwent the process of getting fired and then coming back to work the next day. I have dubbed this Fire Walking. Anyway my friend, who I won’t call Steve, was told by a rookie manager that he was fired and to clock out and leave the restaurant. Since all he was guilty of was trying his best not to eat too much shit when the rook manager was chewing him out for some minor bullshit (And really is ANYTHING that could happen in a restaurant major enough to warrant yelling at an employee in front of customers or anybody?), my friend was back to work the next day.

One could argue that Steve was never actually fired if he was allowed to come back to work the next day. I would disagree.

I feel like it counts if you are told by your boss that you’re fired. And getting told to immediately leave the premises is like the field goal kick–yeah you get extra points for it but it doesn’t change the outcome of the game very much. If your boss is capable of firing you and tells you that you are fired and then tells you to clock out and leave, then: Dude, your ass just got fired.

No matter how soon you start back to work, you still get to chalk one up in the fire column. Even if you start back to work the next week, the next month, or the next day. Even if the worst thing that comes from it is a good story and getting an early start to the nightly post-shift festivities, you still got canned.

Getting fired is a bad thing. It can be a life-changing, personal and financial tragedy. So many people lose their jobs every day that there’s almost nothing funny about it. It’s just not a happy thing.

But out of all those people getting fired, a percentage (that I don’t care to research) will be restaurant workers. And out of all those fired restaurant workers a percentage will have been a casualty of indiscriminate firing practices. And out of those I know for a fact that an even smaller percentage will be able to return to work after their manager comes down from his coke bender and realizes it will be more trouble than it’s worth to fill out the paperwork explaining why Steve-O should be fired for just standing there letting the manager throw plates at him while calling him racial slurs, or whatever the ‘reason’ was.

If getting told I was fired but not having to fill out new paperwork each time doesn’t count as getting fired then my real fire count at Outback is really only four times. Maybe even three. I don’t know for sure. I filled out a lot of paperwork at Outback, especially considering how my file would mysteriously disappear from time to time. But still . . . three times! That’s something to be proud of.

Oddly enough I got fired at least four of those times on my day off. Yes, just like in that movie. Only it actually happened.

I was working in the kitchen during my second tour at the Outback and the KM, Dan, was a fat useless fuck who didn’t like me too much. And the feeling was mutual. The schedule had a nasty habit of changing right after I went home. I was going to school at the time all day Tuesday and Thursday so those were the only two days I was unavailable to work. You know where this is going. Several times I would clock out Monday night, go to school all day Tuesday, come in for my next shift on Wednesday night and I would hear the words ‘What are you doing here? You got fired yesterday!’

Sometimes it would be a coworker that told me how I got fired the day before, sometimes it would be Dan. Which would always beg the question ‘How the fuck do you get fired on your day off?’

A reasonable response in my estimation. My school schedule was provided on numerous occasions and it wasn’t exactly top-secret, nor was it difficult to work around. I had two whole days out of the week that I absolutely could not work but I was available every other shift of every other day. Yet at four different times the schedule changed without any sort of notification and an X was penciled in next to my name and a shift I couldn’t work and I would come in for my next scheduled shift and be told by the KM that I had been fired the day before.

It really got to be comically stupid after a while.

It wasn’t so comical the other times, though. They were mostly the result of pinky-dicked managers losing their shit and going stark raving mad and then firing me for reasons even they had trouble identifying afterwards.

For example one Fire Walk happened when the general manager at the time and I were debating some completely unimportant topic and he flew into a rage during the middle of a serving shift told me I was fired and that he wanted me to leave his restaurant Right Now. I didn’t know what went wrong. I didn’t know what I did wrong. All I knew was that I had been caught in the blast radius of a manager meltdown. And that manager wanted me, above all else, to clock out and leave Right Now.

‘Right now?’ I asked. ‘Are you sure? But I don’t even know what I did wrong.’

‘Yes I’m sure! Clock out and get out of my restaurant before I call the cops!’

So I did. Maybe two hours later I got a phone call from the batshit crazy, bitter bastard. Anybody who is familiar with serving and was paying attention to the last little bit should be able to guess what that phone call was about.

I did exactly as instructed and left immediately. What I didn’t do was my checkout paperwork or turn in my money. This jackass fired me for no reason, told me to leave Right Now, and had the nerve to demand that I bring ‘his’ money back to him (again Right Now), or else he’d call the cops and tell them I had stolen it.

I told you he was crazy, but don’t take my word for it. One of the reasons he was so unstable and bitter was that his girl had the good sense to go all Nancy Reagan on his ass when he proposed and she just said No. After that I guess the kid just didn’t have any room left in his ego to be wrong about anything, ever. Plus he had a tiny dick. She was quite vocal on that point.

But even if he had called 20 minutes after I left (I lived 15 minutes away) instead of a couple of hours, my response would have been the same: ‘Boss, I am in no way sober enough to drive right now. I’ll have to bring it to you tomorrow.’

‘No! Call a cab if you have to but if you don’t bring me my money back tonight you’re fired! And I’m going to call the cops!’ The guy was all about dropping some dimes.

‘Wait . . . I thought I was fired. You know, cause you told me like five times.’

‘Yeah well just bring me that money. I really need that money. I need it-‘

‘I know: Right Now.’

‘Yeah. Or I’m-‘

‘You’re going to call the cops. Yeah, I get it. I’ll be there in a little bit.’

So that was Fire Walk number five. Six through eight would be thanks to the infamous New Sheriff’s similar emotional meltdowns.  He would go apeshit and fire me. Then I would just call the GM and get myself unfired because he knew what a psychotic piece of shit his AM was.

Number nine came at the hands of Jerry ‘The Child Rapist’ Blott. I’m not saying Jerry Blott was a child rapist, but the sixteen year old hostess he unsuccessfully tried to foist himself on sure is. Jerry actually used to be an alright guy when he was a floating manager. Then his particular blend of mental imbalance caused his girlfriend to leave him (anybody seeing a pattern here?) and his full dickness came out. One day I came in when the place was short-staffed and in the shit so bad nobody could even answer the phone. At the end of the night I made the mistake of asking Jerry (‘The Child Rapist’) Blott to comp my employee meal. This angered him for some reason and he refused to do it and I refused to pay full price for my food. So he fired me from my key manager position by demanding that I give him my key Right Now, stating that I didn’t ‘deserve’ it. Okay, whatever man.

I got another job and they kept intentionally scheduling me on the days I requested off to train for that other job, so in the end I was fired for trying to quit on good terms. Sheesh.

Getting fired is never fun, but if you work in this business long enough you will eventually work under some unhinged individuals who will fire you for anything and everything. It’s almost a rite of passage.

And if you can walk through the fire and not get burned and still have a job, I think that shows you are doing something right.

Fire Walkers we salute you!

 

Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear

1 Comment

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One response to “Fire Walking

  1. I don’t care what industry it is, that is still an impressive feat. Congratulations

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