Don’t Get The Grilled Cheese

, , , , , , , | Working | April 16, 2018

(I work for a fast food corporation as an assistant store manager. Our store is going to have its 18-month inspection conducted by senior company management. In addition, the owner and senior management of our own franchise group will be present. Consequences for failing the inspection range from the store being put on probation to outright dismissal of any member of staff deemed to be directly responsible for the failure in severe cases. As a result of this, our store schedules for a considerably beefed-up evening shift that works until midnight to complete major cleaning tasks, and then a three-strong overnighter team to focus on specific areas and generally raise the standards as high as they can go. The opening staff also arrive at six rather than seven to allow for any last minute do-overs of anything deemed to still not be up to standards. The opening shift is lead by our most senior shift manager, and I arrive at seven, mainly to ensure all the needed paperwork is ready for the senior management when they arrive at eight. I arrive to find the opening staff in a frenzy, and my normally very relaxed shift manager red in the face with fury.)

Me: “What the hell’s going on? Almost all of what you’re doing should have been done by the overnighters.”

Shift Manager: “Yeah, I know. [Overnight Manager] basically had them do nothing all night, so far as I can tell; even drink cups and lids haven’t been stocked. And then he, [Female Crew Member #1], and [Female Crew Member #2] just walked right out as soon as we clocked in.”

Me: “Terrific. They’ll have to be dealt with later. Keep at it; I’ll ring everyone who’s due in at eight to see if they can get in earlier, and then I’ll come help. The paperwork can wait.”

(I ring all staff and get three of them to come in ASAP, and then help the shift manager get everything as sorted as we can in the 50 minutes we have left. At 7:30, the business manager arrives and also questions why it’s still such a mess, but also thankfully informs us that all parties of senior management are stuck in traffic and will be at least 45 to 60 minutes late. We eventually get everything just about ready at 8:15, just after we open to customers, and I retreat to the office to sort the paperwork. The business manager comes with me, leaving the floor to the shift manager.)

Business Manager: “So, any idea what went wrong this morning?”

Me: “[Shift Manager] said he arrived this morning and it looked like the overnight shift did pretty much nothing and walked out as soon as he started. I really don’t get it; he’s normally a solid worker, and it’s not like we gave him a pair of idiots to work with.”

Business Manager: “Yeah, [Female Crew Member #1] and [Female Crew Member #2] are both in line for crew trainer promotions; I really don’t get it. I’m going to check the store cameras and see if I can figure out what happened.”

(A few minutes pass whilst the business manager logs into the CCTV system and starts fast-forwarding the recording. He gets to midnight, when the evening shift leaves without anything unusual happening, and at this point all three people from the overnight shift are visibly working. However, barely five minutes after the evening shift leaves…)

Business Manager: “I think I’ve found the source of the problem.”

(I turn to look at the screen to see the overnight manager go into the crew room to return with two six-packs of beer and a large bottle of vodka. He immediately cracks open a can and passes the vodka to the girls. The next hour of footage is the overnight manager going through seven of the cans whilst the girls go through roughly half the vodka, using the drinks machine for mixers. After around 90 minutes of them drinking, things are clearly starting to get a little ropy. The cameras don’t record audio, so we have no idea what’s being said, but one of the girls proceeds to peel off her work top, pants, and bra and does several laps of the kitchen in nothing but her shoes and panties, using a burger box to cover her chest. We already have more than enough evidence to sack all three of them, but we are worried as to how much further things went, since obviously we’re working with food and contamination is a serious danger. At this point, we have one of the women still only dressed in her panties, and the manager and other girl looking on; however, from here on, it only gets worse. The already mostly undressed girl encourages the other two to undress, and shortly after, both girls and the manager are stood all dressed only in their underwear. The business manager and I exchange very worried glances, because we know where this is going. We are simply dumbstruck at what we’re watching, but after a minute we get it together, and I march out to the shift manager on the floor and pull him aside.)

Me: “Okay, we found out what happened. I’ll need you for a statement later. Right now, I need you to fully clean grill two, and I mean a really good clean. I’m going to clean down [kitchen counter area] with disinfectant, and a lot of it.”

Shift Manager: “Sure. Do I even want to know why we’re doing this?”

Me: *after looking around to be sure none of the crew will hear me, whispering* “[Overnight Manager] banged [Female Crew Member #2] whilst she was bent over the grill.”

Shift Manager: *with a very shocked expression* “Sure. I’ll get right on it.”

(We decontaminate the affected areas, and after a discussion with the business manager, we opt to not turn the affected grill back on and just cite an electrical fault during the inspection. Then, we finally welcome the senior management when they arrive. The inspection goes just about all right, and we pass with a mark just slightly above the minimum requirement. The business manager at some point informs our group management that there was an “incident” with the overnight shift, but says it’s better discussed after the inspection. Once the corporate management leave, the business manager and I return to the office with our franchise group management to discuss the results. The owner is somewhat displeased with our results, given we got a significantly better passing mark for the previous one. In response, the business manager simply asks that they watch the CCTV footage for themselves. The senior management watch in disgust as we proceed through the drinking, to the stripping, and then on to the adult activities.)

Business Manager: “How should we proceed?”

Owner: “Obviously, fire all three of them right this instant. I cant believe anyone would be so depraved as to have sex on the grill; it’s utterly disgusting. I’ll reach out to my food safety contact and lawyer to see if, and how, we can press further punishment on them. Also, I’ll see if insurance will allow for a replacement grill; that one’s been soiled permanently, in my eyes. If we have to buy a new grill outright, then so be it.”

(Ultimately, all three members of staff were fired, and they then faced further legal action in the form of a lawsuit from the owner. It concluded in them having to pay between them for the cost of the new grill, which came to around £15,000. In addition, all three were blacklisted and have lifetime bans from working in the food industry in any capacity. None of them could ever provide a satisfactory explanation as to why they actually did what they did. The closest we ever got was that they planned to just have a couple of drinks to motivate them and it got out of hand. Given the amount of alcohol on hand, we obviously didn’t accept that claim.)

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