This is my journey as I return to school and work in a profession I once dabbled in as a means for funding an after college 7 year long ski trip...not as a viable career choice. I hope I entertain, enlighten and learn something from any readers I may attract.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On getting run off

Today I am broken-hearted. I had to quit my job this weekend. It is quite a story but I'll share. First a little background. I was working at a catering company. I loved it! The hours, tasks, and pay were not a problem at all. I walked into this field knowing about monotonous tasks, 16 hour days, and small paychecks. I had done it all before, and none of that bothered me. I really dig cooking and the satisfaction of a job well done. I work well under deadlines, and can get along with most anybody. That is under most circumstances. Last week, I had to work on an event with the regular cast of charecters. No problem, right? The menu had baby carrots on it. I noticed a coworker was panning up a tray of said carrots, when I noticed they were filthy. Like out of the garden filthy. My personal philosophy is to act like every dish will be eaten by you and your loved ones. If you wouldn't give it to your Mom, don't give it to a customer. I discretely said to her, "hey those look a little dirty, want me to rinse them for you?" She rolled her eyes and put a drizzle of water over them, and called it good. I let it be at that, figuring I had done all I could and the exec would see them and correct accordingly. More about that later. I didn't realize that being discrete, and not tattling would still press her buttons. I moved on not realizing the fatal mistake I had made. This apparently was wrong. And now, I had hell to pay. Timeline-wise that is when it all changed. I believe she thought I was being bossy or something, when in reality I probably should have told the exec. After this very quiet and simple exchange, I became a dead woman walking. I had no idea! This lady then took every chance she could get to be in my way, and boss me around. Arrgh! Dirty looks and interruptions became part of her MO. I had had enough. After watching her sit and watch me do a task we were all assigned, I decided one more time and I was gonna have to do something. I didn't want to involve the exec who already knew I was tiring of X's behavior, but rather act like an adult, and take care of it myself. It took no time for it to happen. X and I returned from a break (2hour) to finish prep and do the event. There were things that had to be done post haste. I had completed one task and had my sights set on another. I was at the walk in furiously searching for an ingredient when she stuck her arm in front of me, forcing me to move, so she could grab some lunch meat for her own personal consumption! After a 2 hour break! Not even an "excuse me" or anything.Here I am doing a work related task when X feels the need to serve herself instead of helping with what everyone else is busting their asses to finish. I finally had to call her on it. I could take no more. So I did. I spoke as calmly as possible, using specifics, and appropriate language. I really hate confrontation so I was shaking like a leaf. her reaction was to throw her hands in the air and walk away. Now before we go much further, Yes, I do know it is a kitchen, not cotillion. Still. If X had reached in front of a stranger at the grocery, she would have said "excuse me"....right? I use coarse language at times, no problem. My coworkers show up hung over and dragging, that is okay by me. There are times manners and civility get pushed aside in a rush and I do understand. Consistently being rude is what is not okay. When someone makes it obvious that there is no room for any sort of respect for others, that's when I have a problem. Respect is universal. I understand that respect is not always given, that is fine. It does have to be earned but I am talking about just normal decency! If you have to move someone out the way to get something for work, do it. Try to say excuse me but if you don't you don't. If you have the time to saunter to the fridge and feed your face, you can either wait for the person to move or just say pardon, or excuse me. I realize I just entered the grey area of situational, but I feel like I am not far off the mark. Sometimes we all forget to say excuse me and that is not what I am ranting about. It is a consistent disrespect that is why I am jobless. Upon her throwing her arms in the air, I could stomach no more. So I hastily took off my apron and said "later" In retrospect, it was not the right thing to do but I was shaking like someone with a seizure disorder and felt like breath was not coming fast enough. (Did I mention I hate confrontation?) I walked outside to "cool down" and then asked to speak to the exec. She came out and I immediately told her I was wrong for what was basically quitting and lamented about how I said that in haste and really regretted it. I went on to explain to her that I had had all I could take and had not wanted to trouble her with going to battle for me. I reiterated that I did love my job but could not handle a rude person sidetracking me constantly. I still did not "rat X out" or take any other low road. I felt that I had shown my dedication by being on time and on task. I even came in at 6:45 one morning when the exec had overslept with a breakfast due at 7:30. I was not scheduled until 9 that morning but did not mind the jump start to my day. We had even discussed my future with the company and shared similar visions. I could not believe what transpired. The wedding coordinator, who really knew nothing about what was happening or the back story, told exec to send me home. Still I understood. I had screwed up after all, and her actions made sense to me. This is the OMG factor. I was told as I left that I would talk to exec on Monday. She would get in touch with me, she said. At 5pm Mon I had heard nothing,so I called. Of course I had to leave a message but I put on my professional attitude and said I would still love to talk to her and discuss other things not appropriate for a voice mail, thank you, and blah blah blah. Did I get a call back? Hell no! All I wanted was common respect in the workplace and a healthy dialogue about that. It became crystal clear that a hard working dedicated employee was not what they were looking for, and that poor behavior gets rewarded. That lady still has her job and will continue to run off good hard working employees because they will continue to let her. Again, I was not totally right in how I reacted but I certainly never saw this coming. If they chose to part ways with me, fine. I will be okay. The part that stinks is that nobody even had the courtesy to call as promised and tell me to go to hell or whatever. That would have been fine. So, what is the lesson here? I need to not speak in haste. I have learned that. I have always been told to work out problems with whomever I have the problem with. The exec is not a referee. I get it. I will now have to evaluate better when to just involve the chef and trust the right thing will be done. I hate tattling but I like what I do. I realize not everyone is going to get along. That is okay, too. I don't have to be friends with everybody. I just don't need dirty looks or your hand in my face or your instructions on what I need to do after I finish whatever task I have at hand while you sit and watch me work. Ask anyone, I am always asking what is next?Obviously based on the chain of events, respect is not prized at that particular environment. The coordinator's disinterest in the whole story, both sides, led to her keeping a problem employee, and basically rewarding her behavior. Too bad for them. One day, I will be the competition and they will be serving dirty carrots.

1 comment:

Bob del Grosso said...

Very sorry to read this CG. Don't be too hard on yourself there may be things between your rival and the chef that you know nothing about.

On a broader scale the sort of unprofessional behavior that you witnessed is very common in small businesses in large part bec. they function well under the radar screen of regulations etc. If you don't go off on your own soon, you may want to consider a job in banquets at one of the better hotel chains. You will get lots of catering experience, and have better protection from that sort of nasty stuff.
Stiff upper lip and all that.