Monday, February 28, 2011

Waffle House® Confidential ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Celestelle is an ordinary-seeming American white woman, about 50 years old. She's kind of tall but not outrageously so and just a little plump. She has a nice smile and a pleasant demeanor. She wears glasses and keeps her hair cut kind of short. On Monday at about noon she bellied up to the bar and ordered a large top-shelf margarita.
     Celestelle worked at Waffle House, the one over in Ashcroft Heights, off and on for 28 years. On this day she walked out during her shift. One of Celestelle's coworkers, Bonnie or Bunnie, Celestelle's not sure about the name, had gotten all up in her grill about something and it really pissed Celestelle off. It pissed her off so much that she stepped into the dry storage room to calm down. Celestelle won't tell what was said but it had to be pretty fucked up.
     Celestelle had been off the floor for about two minutes and only needed another minute or so before she'd be ready to smile and get back to work. Then Jeremy, the manager, knocked on the door. "I need you to get the hell out of there now!" he shouted. She did get the hell out of there and out of the building too. Jeremy had only commited a venal sin but it compounded the effects of Bunnie's mortal one and sent poor Celestelle out the door and into the arms of Jose Cuervo.
     Celestelle only had one (albeit large) cocktail. It calmed her down and cheered her up. She got out her cell phone and called Jeremy. He correctly guessed that she'd gotten into the tequila, although she was far from drunk. She told Jeremy she was still upset (by now that may have been untrue) and she'd come in the next day to get her tips and turn in her uniforms.
     Celestelle is very confident she'll be invited back to work at Waffle House. She's been there for years and has a lot of regulars. Besides serving, she can cook too. She's never been in trouble at work. She's pretty tight with the Area Manager. And she's kept her mouth shut about the fact that Bunnie and Jeremy are fucking.
     According to Celestelle—and this might be just her franchise group, she's not sure—Waffle House servers only get $2.13 an hour. That wage gets a nickle a year added to it but if you're a server there and leave, however briefly, all the accumulated nickles don't come back when you do. Every Waffle House employee has four dollars "meal money" deducted from their pay for each shift they work. That money is deducted from everyone's pay even if they don't eat anything. And guess what? Lots of items aren't available under the employee meal policy, especially the new ribeye that I've heard a lot of good things about.


  1. I hope they hire her back if she wants to go - that is just hooey after that many years of service.

    It is illegal to take money out of an employees check if they don't eat. At least that is what I thought - and 4 bucks is a lot for W/H food.

    If they don't hire her back they are going to find a long list of regulars that aren't anymore.

    Give her our best if you see her again.

  2. The legality of the wage and the food allowance completely depends on the state. Most states have moved away from the $2.13 wage in recent years, but a few have maintained it. The food allowance is far more likely to be an issue, but it depends on how they are applying it to the P&L. Recently a number of companies that did this were fined for taking the money from the staff as revenue and taking a tax credit for providing food as an expense. Depending on the state, taking this food allowance may jeopardize their ability to also claim the tipped employee tax credit to lower the wage to $2.13.

  3. Hi
    thx 4 commenting. I can't belive they can take $4 form someone even if they don't eat, even in Mississippi. David, you mite find the link up there interesting if you didn't c that already. And thx 4 the optimism!

  4. I just read that article. What a load of $%^&. The owner handled the complaint situation wrong. You don't fire a server over the customer card. You write them up and you counsel them on how to improve. When that fails you write them up again as a final warning. The comment card doesnt allow an employee to respond or show that the employer did anything to inform her of her shortcomings. That is why they lost the hearing and why they should have.

  5. Hey, I'm glad u read that! Yea, I thought it was a lot of crizzap too. I'm trying not to get political here very much, but sometimes I'm tempted to...