In case you haven't heard, New York City was hit yesterday with a bitch of a hurricane named Sandy. The only way you wouldn't know about this is if you live under a rock or a bridge like a skanky gutter troll, so yeah, maybe Springs1 hasn't heard yet. Anyway, it's pretty bad around here. Trees are on the road, there are millions of people without any power and the subways are not running because there is more water in the tunnels than there is in a Jack and Coke at a dive bar. It is a time when you really learn to set your priorities in order like food, water and survival. However, if you are the general manager at 5 Napkin Burger in Hell's Kitchen, your only priority is to get that restaurant back open so you can serve some damn hamburgers!
I was contacted by a reader, who shall remain nameless since we don't want to get him or her in trouble, about an email about their job at 5 Napkin. It was sent by the general manager last night at 8:00 PM, which is pretty much when Sandy was at the height of her bitchiness. It alerted all hourly employees to expect to open the next day. So while buildings were falling apart and tankers were being washed ashore, this asshole was all about "how can I sell some more bacon cheddar burgers." This morning at 11;45, they got another email telling them that since the subways are not running, to take a cab in and they will be reimbursed the money. I was told that this was the same offer given to them during last year's Hurricane Irene and they are still awaiting that reimbursement money.
Hey, 5 Napkin Burger in Hell's Kitchen: have some fucking compassion, assholes. Most of your employees probably don't even have fucking electricity so how in the hell are they supposed to iron their uniforms before they show up to work. Do you really want a bunch of wrinkled servers taking orders today? Maybe some folks didn't sleep last night since there were 90 mph blowing through their apartments but sure, you wanna sell some Lobster Roll Sliders, so by all means force your employees to figure out how to get to work.
It's really a double-edged sword for those if us in the restaurant industry because if we don't work, we don't make money. As much as someone would want to stay home and pump the Hudson River out of their bedroom, maybe they need to go to work so they can make a few dollars to replace all the food in their fridge that is spoiling since the power has been out for 18 hours. Being a waiter isn't like working on salary in an office where if the place shuts down, you'll still get paid. When restaurants close down, we lose money and we don't get a chance to make it up. We can't claim a personal or vacation day because for most restaurant workers, those are as foreign as 401K's and pensions.
Maybe the right thing to do was for 5 Napkin Burger to see how many servers were able to make it to work and how many of them wanted to do so. It's just plain asshole behavior to demand attendance the morning after New York City's worst storm in the history of ever. I get it: 5 Napkin needs to make money. I also get that some servers would want to be there if they could. But there has to be a balance of business and compassion. If your employee says he's not going to be able to make it into work because of a natural disaster unlike anyone proceeding it, then you just have to buck up and say, "Well, we'll do without you, but as soon as you can get back to work, we'll be ready to have you." If the mayor of New York City is telling people to stay home unless they absolutely must go out, I don't think selling french fries is enough of a reason to change his mind.
To my friend who has to go to 5 Napkin today, I'm sorry. I hope you either figure out a way to make it to work or your boss changes his mind. If you do go to work, I hope you make shitloads of tips and if you end up staying at home I hope missing out on another day of tips doesn't put you too far into a hole. And speaking of a-holes: 5 Napkin Burger.
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