The Penguin

We have a new manager. He seems like a nice enough guy. Normally I hate getting new managers. In this case I’ve made an exception because, ultimately, he replaced one of the worst managers I ever worked with. And I’ve seen some doozies in my twenty-five years in the corporate restaurant business. So, that’s saying something!

This guy was one of the stupidest people I have ever met in my life. He would do things that completely and utterly defied logic. And not once in a while. Sometimes on an hourly basis. You never knew what new horror awaited you when he was on a shift. While I could write a book about the idiotic things that he did, I’ll just tell you about a few of the standouts.

We use five ounces of salmon in our salmon salad. We use ten ounces of salmon in our salmon entree. He once ran around telling everyone that we were out of salmon for salad. I thought it odd that we would only be out of salmon for salad, so I asked if we were out of salmon for entrees. He said no. So, I asked him why we couldn’t just cut the entree salmon in half? When he realized his mistake, instead of playing it off, he barked to me and several other people who agreed with me that he wasn’t going to do that. Do what? Cut a piece of salmon in half? This would have required zero effort on his part, by the way, as the cooks would just attend to this relatively minor detail if and when a salmon salad was ordered. I pointed out that salmon salad, which uses only five ounces of salmon costs $13; the entree costs $15. The entree comes with a side and a salad, so the salmon salad actually uses less product, but makes the company more money. He removed the salmon salad from the computer so that no one could ring it up. Dimwit.

Of course it wasn’t about the salmon, it was all about the power. He was all about the power. For a very limited time he had been assigned to do the server schedules. Whose bright idea that was, I’ll never know. He got into the habit of using the schedule to “punish” or “reward” certain staff members. The funniest part of this was that it never worked. He was always foiled. He would decide that servers on his “good” list could have eight shifts a week or something equally crazy. Most times the “good” server would be unable to work the schedule due to conflicting school or full-time job availablity issues. So, the “bad” servers would get their shifts back anyway. And he would get so pissed. You could tell by the way he would glare it you with his one eye. Did I mention that he had one eye? Normally I don’t like to poke fun at someone’s physical impairments, but in his case I will make an exception.

You should know that he is not originally from this country. As a result, pop culture references often eluded him. He also had the annoying habit of speaking out of one side of his mouth in a high-pitched tone normally reserved for dog whistles. This, combined with the one good eye and the fact that he was short and dumpy, put me in mind of Batman’s “The Penguin”. One year around Halloween he was talking about dressing up and going around with his kids. I helpfully suggested that he go as “The Penguin”. He thought it was a good idea. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing in his face. Seriously, though, it would have been the perfect costume. He only would have needed the monocle, the cigarette holder, and the umbrella to pull it off. He could have worn his regular clothes. Why go to the expense of the tails and the striped trousers?

He was also in the habit of telling customers his life story, which was sad and pathetic and, to my mind, not conducive to a pleasant dining experience. He claimed at one time to have lived in a car with his wife and son. I did not believe that bullshit for a minute. I knew his wife. No way would that woman be living in a car with anyone. And certainly not with a young child. But, really, would this be a story you would/should tell to total strangers? I asked him nicely to refrain from regaling my customers with his tales of woe. He continued. And I could tell he was doing it. I could see by their faces that he was unloading on them. When I would finally get him to leave the table, usually by telling him there was a small kitchen fire, I would have to spend time undoing the damage he had done with his delightful story. After reassuring them that he was just a harmless, pathological liar I would offer them dessert as a “thank you” for their counseling services. Plenty of these tables never returned. I wonder why?

Inevitably he would give me shit about buying dessert. So, I would have to tell him again and again, over and over, that he absolutely, positively had to stop spinning his yarns at my tables. Please. For the Love of God! No amount of begging by me or other servers would stop him, though. Our general manager issued a gag order, to no avail. Finally, he told his story to the wrong guests. They called corporate and reported that their dinner had been ruined by a crazy manager who asked them to “put in perspective” their overdone steak. At least they weren’t homeless, living in a car, like he had been. At least they could afford the luxury of dining out. Yeah. That’s what he told them. I have no idea who they were. I’m sure they never came back, but bless their hearts for seeing through his nonsense.

And he was all about nonsense and drama. He would do all that he could to make your job harder. Like our jobs aren’t hard enough. He would create friction amongst the staff members, usually through the use of gossip and innuendo. I once had a server who I was very fond of stop talking to me. After a few days I asked her if I had done something to offend her, which is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Sometimes my attempts at humor are lost on certain individuals. Somehow, though, I didn’t think that was the case. She’s a pretty smart cookie. She explained that “The Penguin” had told her that I had said x, y,and z about her, which I had not. She was fairly new. I gently explained to her that if I had a problem with her, she would surely know about it. And she would get this information directly from me. Luckily it didn’t take much for my coworkers and I to convince her that I was a stand-up gal while he was a lying, conniving piece of shit. Can you even imagine a manager telling a new employee that another employee had bad-mouthed them? Talk about unprofessional.

These are just isolated examples of his lack of professionalism. He pulled crap like this on an hourly basis. Finally, after two years of his tomfoolery, he was moved to another store where he was promptly and unceremoniously given the axe after just two short weeks. Apparently the staff mutinied. They just flat-out refused to work with him. I’m thinking of transferring there.

I have to wonder if he’s living in the parking lot with his wife and (now) three children in his late-model BMW SUV. Yeah. Life comes full circle, doesn’t it?

9 thoughts on “The Penguin

  1. javaj240 says:

    Even a deceased Burgess Meredith would have been an improvement. This guy did, pretty much, quack. Oh, and suck. Yeah. He quacked and sucked. Something to aspire to.


  2. surroundedbyimbeciles says:

    Don’t you wish Burgess Meredith had been your manager instead? Quack, quack, quack, quack


  3. Oh man…I was dying at the one-eyed part. I’m so glad I wasn’t there when you suggested the Penguin costume. I would have totally lost it!!!


  4. javaj240 says:

    Sad to say that this probably won’t appen in your business. It does sometimes happen in mine, though, and it is sweeeeeet!


  5. peachyteachy says:

    Power-hungry, unethical superiors getting their come-uppance? Hoping that trend sweeps the nation. But not holding my breath.


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