I think it’s been well established that I work for $2.13/hour. And, really, that’s fine. The tips make up for it. I never see a paycheck, though. The $85 that I earn is eaten up in taxes and other things.
In other words, while I work for this pittance, I don’t rely upon it for anything. It’s like ghost money.
I am scheduled for about 38 hours a week. Once in a while, though, I come close to or go over the 40-hour mark. When this happens — and it is a rare occurrence — management carries on as if I had murdered someone, like their first-born. In my defense, the only reason I ever exceed the 40 hours is that I have a couple of shifts where I can’t get the hell out of Dodge because I have customers who refuse to leave. I’m not sure what, exactly, I’m supposed to do about that? (But, I think I’ve formulated a plan!)
My late presence over at The Annoying Bar and Grill has nothing to do with poor time management on my part. I do realize, in management’s defense, that for some of my younger, rookie co-workers this is not the case. Learning to use one’s time wisely in a restaurant environment takes, well, time. Some of these kids are barely out of training. They are still figuring out how to wait on tables efficiently.
Last night, being Sunday and the end of our pay period, these youngsters were scurrying around nervously. It came to my attention that they were racing around the kitchen like a bunch of lunatics because they “HAD TO GET OFF THE CLOCK!”
I just shook my head and told them to take “deep, cleansing breaths”, but asked them nicely to please cease running through the kitchen. As amusing as it was to watch a bunch of people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, it just wasn’t safe — for anyone.
By “anyone”, I really meant me. I had already been burned by soup and had my head smashed by a door by people whose behavior I would liken to that of Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit. These injuries were, thankfully, minor and wholly survivable. Still, I feared what might come next. An anvil to the head, perhaps? A bread knife to the thigh, perchance?
Finally one of the newbies became flustered and blurted out “IF I DON’T GET OFF THE CLOCK I’M GOING TO BE WRITTEN UP!” That statement got my attention.
I asked him if he had picked up shifts during the week without management approval. He told me that he had not. We determined that he had only worked his scheduled shifts. I told him to relax. I explained that he could not be written up for going into overtime as long as he was working his schedule.
It was then that other co-workers chimed in to tell me that they, too, had been given the same warnings about overtime. Further, they had been told that if they couldn’t work their scheduled 38-hour-week in those 38 hours, they would be “removed” from a shift the following week.
So, it wasn’t just about THIS week. Oy-freaking-vey! “Go ahead.”, I told them exasperatingly and while I was looking for a hardhat, “Let the running around recommence!” Who was I to tell them otherwise, particularly when they might lose a shift — shifts they sorely need to pay for school, car insurance, etc.? I didn’t want their loss of revenue on my conscience, that’s for sure.
I can’t get it off of my mind, though. Like it’s not bad enough to be unworthy of being paid .52 for ten minutes of overtime. Now, apparently, we will be punished for circumstances that are, by and large, out of our control? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do — because I can’t afford to lose a shift either. (And, yes, I was told repeatedly over the weekend that I was “very, very close to OT”. I wasn’t all that close, to tell the truth.)
I’m going to have the managers wait on any late arrivals from now on. They want to start this game? That’s fine. I’ll finish it. And, yes, the result will probably be the same — I’ll lose a shift or get written up for insubordination, but I don’t care.
If I’m going down, I’m going down fighting. That’s for damn sure.
Writing people up (and, yes, eventually terminating them — that’s what the “write-ups” are for; evidence used by management to show a “pattern of behavior”) because they go into overtime seems like it would be (or should be) illegal, but what do I know? If anyone has any information regarding this — or can point me to a resource where I can get the information — I’m all ears!