Aesop said “destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.” I’m sure he wasn’t referring to the restaurant world when he told tales including such wise words as these but if you’ve ever worked with a less than enthusiastic co-worker you can understand the sentiment.
I love being a server but not all in the industry enjoy what they do. Many wait tables as a second job, either to bring in a little extra income or for a change of scenery from their more serious day jobs. Then there are the ones who do it for the money and schedule but don’t generally even like people. Other still who are left with serving as the only option due to a lack of professional experience.
Here in Jackson many of us are shouldering the responsibilities of as many as four jobs at a time during any given season. So it’s not unusual for a co-worker to come to work at the restaurant already burnt out from the rest of their hectic day. Herein lies the dilemma of “the bad seed” (BS) and the threat they pose to an otherwise happy functioning staff.
This server comes to work distracted and disheveled. They are probably at least 10 minutes late, which means they skimp on their side work, affecting everyone’s section for the entire evening in some way shape or form. They forgot to wash their uniform so they’re often found spot cleaning and ironing “real quick” in the locker room. If it’s ski or fishing season they may be guilty of coming straight from the mountain and river so they’re probably lacking in the hygiene department (if you know what I mean…). They probably have early morning obligations so they’ll try and be the first server out at the end of the night and that’s if they haven’t already tried to bribe you to work for them the next night so they can hit up some awesome free concert. A server who behaves like this may enjoy the job but their level of commitment is certainly questionable.
Another aspect of the predicament is that most restaurant staffers become friends with each other. The work shift turns into a shift drink that often turns into going out together on a pretty regular basis. This camaraderie leads to a tolerant working environment where BS gets away with more than is fair.
If BS is moody because he’s overworked it overshadows everyone else’s happy mood. If BS gets a bad tip we all have to hear about it (often more than once). If BS gets written up for having an unkempt appearance then the entire staff comes under closer scrutiny by management. God forbid BS is having a relationship issue. That’s an absolute nightmare that could drag on for days, years even. All of this drama in a restaurant becomes personal and can be quite distracting creating a domino effect on the people who come ready to work and have fun.
I’m sure every job has someone who blames his or her unpreparedness on extraneous factors. How is it that I grew up knowing that if I didn’t get my work done at job#1 it would not be an acceptable excuse to blame it on job#2? I think everyone should come to work as if it is the only position they hold and value and do the best job they can do, no excuses, aside from the occasional emergency.
Does it make you cringe as much as it does me when your BS shows up day after day sans Dansko’s, blaming it on the same traffic that they encounter each and every day, always forgetting to budget time for it and then you find yourself doing their work so that everyone is ready to go and set up for success when the doors open?
How do you keep the bad energy out and maintain good vibes on the floor when BS is driving everyone crazy? At this point in the season, I am open to suggestions!