Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Guys From Guatemala c2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     There were these four guys from Guatemala. Each one had been in the United States for at least five years. They all had jumped throught the appropriate legal hoops to live and work here. At least two of them had fathered children that were American citizens. The shittiest English speaker among them spoke English pretty well. They each worked two jobs. Until Tuesday that is, when they all got fired from their AM gigs.
     When I got to work at 10:30 that day, the shit had already happened. I saw my four coworkers from the kitchen sitting in Israel G.'s '02 Sentra. I waved, said "hola" and went inside. This place is always stressing about labor cost and making employees go on breaks so I didn't think too much about what I'd seen but I did wonder why they were all on break at the same time. Oh well, not my business or my problem.
     There was a lot of activity inside. The assistant manager, whom I call Cy Young because her actual name sounds like that of the pitcher who lost the most games ever in Major League history, was on the phone, talking frantically about something. Several people I didn't recognize were in the kitchen, apparently getting us ready to open. It was time for our daily Front Of The House confab, dubbed Power Shift by those in charge and Time-Wasting Yapfest by me. Cy Young told us what the SOD was, mentioned some possible upcoming uniform changes and annouced that things were going to be different in the kitchen, perhaps for just one day. The waitstaff were instructed to deal with it and refrain from asking questions. We were promised the 411 the next day.
     I like Cy Young (at least, I did). She and I have always gotten along and had no problems in the six months or so that she's been at our store. I'm aware, though, that she has a temper. It turns out that she'd snapped at the Latin American quartet about an hour before I got to work. Voices were raised and my green card buddies walked out. They were in the Datsun, awaiting the arrval of GM Brenda B., who'd been summoned on her day off, expecting she'd sort things out.
     I had a spare minute and headed out to the parking lot. "¿Que pasa?," I asked.
     "We're waiting for Brenda," Isreal replied. I asked if they still worked there. "We hope so," Israel said. I wished them luck and went back inside.
     Brenda got there soon afterward. I saw her conferring with the guys in the Nissan and a couple of minutes later she'd donned an apron and jumped behind the cooks' line. We got pretty busy that day and of course things weren't real smooth. I was lucky; most of my tables were low-maintenance deuces who weren't in a hurry but my coworkers had a rough couple of hours. The food came  out of the kitchen correctly and it looked great, maybe even better than usual. Ticket times were crazy long though. The very lovely Veranda B., that day's mid, had to comp a lot of chow.
     The scab cooks had been imported from various stores in our franchise group. We've got my store and six others. There had been seven; one property closed recently due to the loss of their lease. So after a (perfunctory) meeting that afternoon, the aggrieved Latinos were told not to come back.
     Arnulfo P. and Señor Sunshine are kind of emotional but Mahogany Rush and Israel are quiet, almost meek, nice guys. I spoke to Arnulfo yesterday. Of course I counselled him to apply for unemployment because it can't hurt to ask. He's the worst English speaker of the four but I understood him to explain that Cy Young just kept ragging on them about something they considered bullshit and they were tired of it. He totally dismissed my suggestion that there may have been a sinister plan. They weren't thinking about how easily replaceable they'd be, what with the closing of the Giffords Blvd location. They may have thought that Brenda had their backs. My erstwhile coworkers merely took umbrage at something said by an emotional person who needs to hone her people skills. For family men during a recession, they demonstrated some spectacularlly bad timing.


  1. You weren't there, so you don't know exactly what went down. Neither was I but it might be possible that someone who "needs to hone her people skills" might have gone too far one too many times and the guys were done.

    Not everyone is magnanimous as you and will take their power and treat people poorly based on their position and the fact that the men are foreign. I have worked in enough restaurants and customer service positions to have seen this happen.

    The "hone her people skills" makes me believe that she is in the wrong position.

    I am sorry they lost their jobs, but I hope that they find positions where they can be given more respect.

  2. One time, the MOD was talking crazy to the hispanics in the kitchen and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WALKED OUT. Did I mention we only have hispanics working in our kitchen? They had a big meeting the next day and they all still have their jobs but that manager has moved on.