China Town

February 12, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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  There’s so much excitement going on at The Three Jakes that I cannah hardly stand it.  We’ve been open now for what–five or six weeks?  It doesn’t seem that long, because of all the fun I’ve had.
The manager I’ve worked with the most is Tony.  Tony is your typical angry young guy working in food.  He is unhappy and bitching most of the time.  I should say way, because he quit, except I’m sure his bitching hasn’t stopped.
He talked about quitting quite a lot.  On one hand, he was a bit lazy and liked to piss and moan about his raw deal.  On the other hand, he really did have a raw deal, and anyone in management on salary does also.  He was nominally an assistant,  but salary.  That means on paper 55 hours a week.  But they want you to go the extra mile because The Three Jakes is the best and everyone needs to have gung ho squirting from their ass, so consider that 55 a starting point to the 65 or 70 hours you are actually going to work.
I’ve done it before, too, so I feel for them.  Hell, between two jobs now I work about 60.  But doing it on one job–for salary–is bullshit.  I had an epiphany the other day that I couldn’t have had when I was doing it because I was too close, I guess.  But as an impartial observer, I know why corporate bosses in all manner of food service want their managers to work so many hours.
It’s not for the bullshit reasons they give, either.  Oh, sure, it’s important to put in “face time” in your store.  Management is all about being there, because management is largely babysitting.  Anyone who says otherwise is completely ignorant or a fucking liar, or both.
And babysitting doesn’t pay much, either.  Two bucks an hour?  And since you’re already there, why not stay?  This way, instead of paying three people for forty hours, they can pay two people for 40 hours, and get 60 hours out of them.  How’s that for efficiency?  You get sucked in by the money, because the money is not bad–for 40 hours.  Five hundred a week?  Not a fortune, but for someone with little education and less ambition, it’s not bad.  For 60 hours, however, that is less than minimum wage.
So the reasons for salary are obviously to save money, and to make you spend more time in the store.  But the epiphany I had revealed something more subtle–and more sinister:  they want you to work all those hours so that you don’t have time to look for another job.  Basically, they trap you.
Even if you do have any time off, your life is structured so that you are too tired to do anything, and won’t be able to get up early enough to make it too an interview.
That’s how they get you, brother.  That’s how they get you.  God, do I not want to do that again.
And here at The Three Jakes, where everyone is happy all the time or else, the managers work some insane hours.  I would never agree to this shit, so if for some reason I do, I need one of you to come over here and slap the living shit out of me.  How about 5 am to 5pm?  How aout 5pm to 5am?  On some days, it might be 3pm to 3 am, when they close early.
There is other ridiculous crap as well.  There is a bunch of paper, a list of shit–prepared everyday.  Let’s call it the bitch list.  So all this stuff has to be done on the bitch list for each shift, and there is some special stuff every day.  It is all encompassing, covering prep, money counting, paperwork, and clean up.  And this, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with The Three Jakes and any other food service organization that operates by a list like this:  What about actual managing?
The bitch list is the final word, and so there is no wiggle room for decision making or adjusting to circumstances, or thinking.  The bitch list is an excuse–a tool for upper management to use–to dock the managers on their “bonus.”  And when you say it, you have to put your hand in the air and make air quotes when you say “bonus.”
For example, on a recent inspection (which I’m sure had some sort of bullshit corporate pseudonym, like “development and education opportunity” or BOSWCFU–“Bend Over So We Can Fuck You”) everything was executed correctly–which I guess means we killed everyone properly?–but the bitch list was found lacking.  Initials and signatures which are required in 116 places were only found in 113 places.  That’s enough to severely cut the bonus to the managers.  Where does that money go?  Back to upper management.  A cynical person might think upper management would grade in an overly harsh manner to improve their own bonus…but I’m not the cynical type, am I?
And even through all of this, you’re supposed to be deliriously happy to be working at The Three Jakes, and they want “buy-in.”  They want you to believe.  Like a group of fucking Muslim extremists, it’s not enough that *they* believe, everyone else has to also.  The Three Jakes is the best.  Do things The Three Jakes way.  Following The Three Jakes Policy will remedy this situation, no matter what it is.  The Three Jakes serves the finest food to the luckiest people in the world and cures cancer and gives hand jobs while doing it.
One problem I have with the bitch list is that, while it allows for everything to be executed perfectly (lined up and shot between the eyes, I hope), there is the next day’s bitch list, and part of the job on there is to go back to yesterday’s shift and find three things that could have been done better.  And this is mandatory.  The manager MUST find three things.  And then there are essay questions on the bitch list:  “What can be done in the future to make this better?”  How about, not be such an anal-retentive prick?
What if the store is brand-goddamn-spankin-new, opened for two days, and there is hardly any business because no one knows we’re here yet.  We hired a bucketful of assholes, and they tripping over each other looking for things to do, and there are extra managers all over, looking for things to have them do.  And the place is so clean you could eat off a turd dropped on the floor.  What then?
Doesn’t matter.  You still have to find three things that could be done better.
I manage to avoid much of this, partly because I’m a driver, and partly because I don’t have all of this foodservice experience for nothing.  I know how to avoid shit.  If someone needs something, I help them out.  I do my few things but I don’t sign off on them.  The manager can do that crap.  Why don’t I?  Stubborness.  Also, I saw Tony once get ridden up and down for crossing something off the list first, and then going to do it.  He was stopped in mid-stride, and Brian the manager said, hey, that’s marked off but not done.  Tony said, “I just marked it off, I’m doing it right now.”
That’s now how it works.  Do it first, then mark it off.  And it was a serious enough infraction that it merited him being chewed out for it.
So I’m not initialing ANYTHING.
The money is still good, which is why I’m still there.  There are some projects north of us that just discovered us, so I do get the occasional stiff now and then, whereas before that was non-existent. I just unplug the cartop sign when I go there.  Why encourage them?  My sister told me that this neighborhood–the nicer part of it–is actually an up-and-coming gay neighborhood.
And that’s fine with me.  It’ll be cleaner, for one, and better decorated.  They’ll tip better, because for the most part they don’t have kids.  That also means no kids in the streets, but I still have to watch out for the occasional wandering homeless and the numerous  staggering drunks.
It should also be lower in crime, too, being a gay neighborhood.  I don’t worry to much about getting robbed but I still keep my eyes peeled, both out of habit and I’m wary of traveling bands of gang-bangers.  In a gay neighborhood, that means something else entirely.
And since this is a becoming a gay neighborhood, that means my suspicion are confirmed, and when I see two hot women together in an  apartment on a delivery, they are actually lesbians.  There’s nothing hotter than a lesbian taking 8 inches from me and putting it in her mouth–
Even if it is a tuna sammich.  So we just got a new assistant manager this week.  Is her name Jessica?  Yet another perky 20-something with big dreams and limitless potential that I feel like crushing.  She has a brand-spanking new bachelor’s degree in psychology.  I guess the obvious choice from there IS to go into restaurant management.
This weekend is the big thing in Soulard, the thing Soulard is famous for:  Mardis Gras.  The second biggest celebration in North America–after New Orleans, and the third biggest in the world.  I guess somewhere in Brazil is hella big.  I’ve never even been down here for it and now I have to work it.  Just a bit of foreshadowing here–this is gonna suck to high heaven.
It’s snowed here a bit.  I worked last night and I work tonight.  They don’t…they don’t plow the streets in the city.  Or salt.  Or anything.  I have a feeling they might wanna, what with Mardis happening in a couple of days.  God, is it going to suck.

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