When The Training Is Waning

, , , , , , | Working | September 19, 2017

(I’m a university student looking for a part time job to help with my tuition fees. This year I’m rooming with someone who works at one of the delis around the city, and they tell me their place of work is in need of additional staff. I call them up, do a short phone interview, and initially the job sounds ideal. I will be able to work hours when I don’t have class, the pay is decent, and the commute is manageable. I ask about training, having never done food service before, and they assure me it’ll be provided. Fast-forward to my first day. I turn up, greet the manager on duty, get handed my hat, apron, and name-tag, and am asked to put on gloves. Upon doing so, my manager gives me a nod.)

Manager: “All right, you look good. Now start serving; the lunch rush is about to begin.”

(He walks into the back, leaving me alone at the front store with no idea of what to do. After a moment’s hesitation, I head into the back.)

Me: “Um, sir?”

Manager: “Yes? What are you doing back here? You can’t leave the food counter unattended!”

Me: “Well… it’s just… I was told I’d get training. This is my first day after all.”

(The manager just shrugs.)

Manager: “You cut meat and put ingredients between slices of bread. It’s not that hard. Now get back out there. I’ll be out shortly to man the register.”

(He shoos me out of the back. I am thus left by myself to try and figure out how to make the menu items. There are dozens of ingredients to deal with, and as the customers start pouring in for lunch, I start panicking, as each time someone orders something, I have to repeatedly check the menu behind me for what is used to make what. Of course, it doesn’t list the amounts I’m supposed to use, so that’s a different problem. When the manager does come out to ring up folks’ food, he ignores any questions I try to ask, and just shoots the breeze with the customers. The only saving grace is that most of the lunch rush people are regulars, who are kind enough to help me along with how to make their sandwiches, which bread to use, which spreads, and so on. Even so, the line keeps growing and growing as I keep making mistakes and having to redo orders, until finally the manager notices the hold up and sends me to sit in the back while he finishes the lunch rush. After the store quiets down, he walks back, sifting through a small wad of bills.)

Manager: “Here, that’s for the hours you worked today. This clearly isn’t a good fit for you, so you can go now.”

Me: “What? It didn’t work because I had no idea what to do! As I said on the phone, I’ve never worked in a deli before! I was told you’d provide training!”

(The manager shrugs again.)

Manager: “The training was to see if you can sink or swim. You sank, and made the lunch rush a total mess. I need someone who can come in and get straight to helping out. Leave your apron and hat on the desk please. I need to start cleaning up now.”

(Not wanting to argue further, I head back to my dorms, chalking this up as just a harsh learning experience. That is, until my roommate storms in later that evening looking utterly enraged.)

Me: “[Roommate], what are you doing back? I thought you had your shift at the deli right after your classes were over.”

Roommate: “So did I, until I showed up. [Manage] told me what happened during your first day, and said he didn’t feel comfortable having me work for him, since we’re rooming together. He claimed ‘conflict of interest’ or some crap like that and told me I was fired.”

Me: “Wait, what!?”

Roommate: “Yeah, seriously a**-hole move.”

Me: “I… I am so sorry!”

Roommate: “It’s not your fault. Honestly, I guess I should’ve paid more attention to how often he let me run the food counter solo, and only came out when his regular customers came in to chat. Kind of a red flag now that I think about it.”

Me: “So… what do we do now?”

Roommate: “Well, he said my apron was dirty and that I had to launder it before returning it.” *He pulls his work clothes from his bag.* “Want to vent some anger by running over this with my bike a few times?”

(Sadly, to this day, four years later, that deli remains in business, though it apparently has a ridiculous staff turnover rate, and every time I’ve passed it by, there’s an ad for new employees in the window.)

They’re Really Popular In Charlottesville

, , , , , , | Working | August 31, 2017

(I manage the deli section of my store. Today I’m inventorying the cooler, when one of my employees enters.)

Me: “What do you need?”

Employee: “[Brand of cheese]. I’m making a racist sandwich for a customer.”

Me: “You’re making a WHAT?”

Employee: *cheerfully* “A racist sandwich!”

Me: “What the h*** is a racist sandwich?”

Employee: “Plain white turkey and plain white American cheese, on plain white bread, with plain white mayo. You know, a sandwich for somebody who’s so terrified of dark-colored people that they can’t even eat dark-colored food. Also known as a ‘Klanwich.’”

Me: “…Are you serious right now?”

Employee: “It’s totally true. Remember that scene in ‘American History X’ where the fat guy won’t eat the black jellybean?”

Me: “That was a MOVIE.”

Employee: “Hey, truth in fiction or whatever. Besides, this is the South. Pretty much everybody here’s a racist.”

Me: “You didn’t call it a racist sandwich where the customer could hear you, did you?”

Employee: *cheerfully* “I’m pretty sure he couldn’t hear me!”

Me: *putting down my notebook and grabbing the cheese* “I’ll help the customer. You stay in here and skewer chickens.”

Employee: “I don’t wanna do that, that’s gross.”

Me: “It’s less gross than whatever’s going on inside your head!”

Deconstructed Reconstructed

, , , , , , | Working | August 21, 2017

(I’m the customer. We love our deli’s meatball sandwiches, but we want to buy them to eat later and don’t want them to get soggy. So we’ve started buying them as “DIY” sandwiches — we order the pieces separately and construct and heat the sandwich at home. I stop in today for a sandwich.)

Me: “I want 4 meatballs, 4 pieces of cheese, a sourdough roll, and a pint and a half of sauce.”

Counter Guy: *with confused look* “…”

Me: “Is there a problem? It’s a DIY meatball sandwich…”

Counter Guy: “I’m trying to figure out how to charge for this.”

Me: “Well, it’s basically just a meatball sandwich with one extra meatball, one extra slice of cheese, and an extra pint of sauce.”

Counter Guy: *with a deep look of concentration* “Okay.”

Me: “Also…”

Counter Guy: “Not right now; I’m doing math.”

Me: “…”

(After a couple of minutes, I add a pint of potato salad, gave him my name, and am told he’d call me when my food is ready. 15 minutes later, my order comes up. I see the potato salad and the paper-wrapped roll.)

Me: “Where’s the rest?.”

Counter Guy: “It’s all there.”

Me: *concerned, picking up the paper wrapped package* “Oh. You… built the sandwich.”

Counter Guy: “Wasn’t I supposed to?”

Me: “No. That’s why I…”

Counter Guy: ” Next time, ask for four meatballs and a roll…”

How Do I Put This Deli-cately

, , , , | Working | August 15, 2017

(My manager is chewing out the night crew for the lazy cleaning job they did last night.)

Manager: “This is the best deli in the area, and we want it to stay that way. But it’s not going to stay that way unless we all start putting a lot more effort into it. Now, I’m going to lunch. You guys know what you’re supposed to be doing.”

(He walks away.)

Me: “Did he just say this is the best deli in the area?”

Coworker: “He did indeed.”

Me: “This isn’t even the best deli in a ten-foot radius.”

Manager: *from behind me* “I heard that!”

Seriously Cheesed Off

| MA, USA | Right | July 18, 2017

Me: “Hi, how can I help you?”

Customer: *distracted* “A sesame bagel, please, toasted with cream cheese.”

(I slice her bagel and put it in the toaster. While it’s toasting, I scoop out the right amount of cream cheese and put it on the deli paper.)

Customer: *suddenly annoyed* “Can you not finger-paint with my cream cheese, please?!”

(I’m shocked, but luckily her bagel is finished toasting so I grab it and spread on the cream cheese. I go to wrap it in the deli paper when she stops me again.)

Customer: “Can you at least wrap it in a clean piece of paper?! I don’t want cream cheese crap on the OUTSIDE of my bagel!”

(Still shocked, I got a new sheet of deli wrap and proceeded to wrap her bagel. She snatched it from my hand and stalked to the register. I was still shaken from the encounter, but my coworkers had a lot of fun calling her “the bagel b****” for the rest of the day!)

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