Here Comes Trouble[maker]

, , , | Working | June 9, 2021

I am the assistant manager at an Indian cuisine restaurant, and due to staffing shenanigans unrelated to this story, I’m left with three newbies, two coworkers, and some kitchen staff.

One of the newbies I shall dub [Troublemaker]. [Troublemaker], [Newbie #1], [Coworker #1], and I are on the schedule one night.

[Newbie #1] has a look in her eye that I don’t like, and I ask her what’s wrong. She takes me aside for a few moments as we are setting up the bar and tells me some unsettling things about [Troublemaker].

[Newbie #2] is apparently a sweet girl, hadn’t worked much in a restaurant before, and is learning quickly. It was her second night and [Troublemaker]’s first. She was following [Newbie #1] around, helping her with tables, when [Troublemaker] manifested in front of her and screamed at her.

Troublemaker: “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE TABLES! YOU’RE POSSIBLY THE STUPIDEST PERSON I’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED!”

[Newbie #1] and [Newbie #2] were stunned, and [Newbie 2] was quiet for the rest of the night. I had the day off, unfortunately; otherwise, I would have taken care of that pretty quickly. [Newbie #1] felt that if [Newbie #2] came back, it would be a freaking miracle.

Newbie #1: “[Troublemaker] has been rude to me personally and to our customers, and I know for a fact that he is going to be rude to you.”

Me: “Thanks for the heads-up. If he’s rude, I’ll handle it.”

Forewarned, I don my metaphorical brass knuckles and prepare for war. Dinner shift is when the brown stuff meets the fan.

It is slow at first, and we have a reservation for eight at 6:00 pm. I casually ask [Troublemaker] if he would like to take them, since [Newbie #1] and I already have a table.

Troublemaker: *Snapping* “I already have a section!”

He waves at his section, which is completely empty. He has been basically doing next to nothing around for about an hour, other than straightening things and giving people malevolent looks.

Me: “Well, then, since you clearly have nothing to do, kindly roll some silverware, as we’ve run out.”

Troublemaker: *Loud and angry* “YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

Me: *Calmly* “Oh, but I do. I’m the assistant manager, and you have been here for two days. I give the orders here. You don’t. Roll the silverware.”

I walk away. He is absolutely fuming, and of course, he doesn’t do as I asked. That is just the beginning.

As soon as we start getting busy, I send customers into [Troublemaker]’s section. Things eventually slow down again. I notice that [Troublemaker] hasn’t been bussing tables, so his section looks awful.

Me: “[Troublemaker], bus your tables.”

Troublemaker: *Screaming* “You don’t tell me what to do!”

That’s it. I’ve had it.

Me: “BUS YOUR TABLES, [TROUBLEMAKER]! WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL THAT YOU FEEL YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BUS?!”

[Troublemaker] looks amazed but still wants to argue.

Troublemaker: “You don’t tell—”

Me: “BUS. YOUR. TABLES.”

Troublemaker: “You’re just a woman!”

I narrow my eyes dangerously at him.

Me: “BUS YOUR TABLES OR GO HOME!”

I then go for a cigarette. When I come back, he has pulled [Coworker #1] and one of the kitchen staff aside and is talking at them in Hindi while pointing at me.

I am not about to put up with him hiding behind his language. I approach them and stand squarely in front of them.

Me: “Hi.”

[Troublemaker] switches to English.

Troublemaker: “She needs to be fired!”

Unfortunately for [Troublemaker], he doesn’t know the history of our restaurant. I’ve stuck through thick and thin with the restaurant and was basically the reason why the restaurant lifted out of a slump that would have destroyed the business. If the General Manager fired me, the restaurant would crash and burn, and he knows it. Plus, he is the rare manager who really values employees for more than just the warm bodies filling a spot.

Coworker #1: “She’s not going to be fired. Do what she tells you, or you’ll be the one who gets fired.”

Me: “[Troublemaker], I don’t know what you’re used to, but here, you take orders from me.”

[Troublemaker] tries to interrupt a few times but I cut him off.

Me: “No. You take orders from me. NO, [Troublemaker]. Be quiet. I am talking. This is not negotiable. If you can’t handle taking orders from anyone, or worse, can’t take orders from a woman, we can let you go to find a new job. Your choice.”

Troublemaker: “You need to learn your place. You have no business giving orders to a man!”

I smiled at him like a shark, and at the end of the shift, I typed up a long, detailed email to the General Manager.

[Troublemaker] was gone before he had even worked a full week, and apparently, the loss of his job was also a loss of his ability to even stay in the country.

I made a phone call to [Newbie #2], letting her know [Troublemaker] was gone and she would never have to deal with him again. She thanked me, and after some gentle encouragement on my part, she agreed to continue working with us. 

Staffing this place is going to be a challenge.

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