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You Can Only Push People So Far

, , , , , | Working | February 22, 2022

I worked in an extremely busy restaurant in a very popular tourist town. We were so busy that we would often have people start, not be able to handle the workload, and quit before finishing their first shift.

I was the sous chef and hadn’t had a day off since I started, over eighteen months before this point. My head chef had worked for over three years without a day off. I loved my job and my head chef, and the money was really good, so I stuck it out.

This was the final straw.

My head chef and I would work from 6:00 am until around 2:30 pm and then from 5:00 pm until whenever we closed. The owners — a husband and wife, both qualified chefs — would cover our break but refused to work any more hours.

Three months previous, I had requested (and been approved) to take time off from the break on Friday until Monday morning to attend my best friend’s wedding four hours away. 

Me: “Great, see you Monday.”

Owner #1: “Haha, very funny. See you tonight.”

Me: “I’m off for the weekend. I’ll be back Monday morning.”

Owner #1: “No, we need you here. We don’t have anyone to cover you.”

Me: “That’s your problem, not mine. I asked for this months ago.”

Owner #1: “It’s not like you’re the one getting married. You need to be here, working, not partying and being a slut. Be back here at five or kiss your job goodbye.”

Me: “Are you serious? I’ve worked every single day for over eighteen months, and now you’re telling me I can’t take a weekend off to be the maid of honor at my best friend’s wedding?”

Owner #1: *Smugly* “Yep. See you tonight.”

Without another word, I turned around, went out the back, and got my personal belongings from the back. As I was walking through the kitchen, my head chef was finishing up before his break and could see I was pissed off.

Head Chef: “[My Name], you okay?”

Me: “Sorry, but I quit. I’ve had enough.”

I walked up to [Owner #2].

Me: “I’ve worked my a*** off for you and this restaurant, but I’ve finally had enough. I quit.”

I started walking out and [Owner #2] ran after me.

Owner #2: “What’s wrong? You can’t quit. We need you.”

Me: “I’ve worked every single day since I started, sometimes up to eighteen hours a day, without complaint. I want two and a half days off for my best friend’s wedding, and your wife tells me I have to work and not party and be a slut. So I quit. Good luck finding someone that’s willing to work as hard as I have. Tell your wife she can go f*** herself.”

I walked out, still shaking I was so angry. I had just made it home when my head chef, who’s also my neighbour, came by.

Head Chef: “You’ve got to be kidding me. I knew [Owner #1] was a b****, but f****** h***. After you left, she had the hide to say that you didn’t deserve the time off and she’d make sure you didn’t get another job in town, so I told her to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine and quit, too. I think most of the crew are doing the same thing.”

I went to my friend’s wedding and ended up extending my holiday. When I returned, I found out that my quitting had caused a chain reaction; not only had the head chef quit, but 90% of all the staff quit over the rest of the day. The restaurant had to shut for over a week as there wasn’t enough staff, and it permanently closed within six months.

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