STEVEN Slater's dramatic exit from his job got me reminiscing about a similar experience I had. Slater, a Jetblue flight attendant, was in the news lately for standing up to a disobedient and rude customer. Slater had asked the passenger to remain seated but instead the client stood up to retrieve his bag from an overhead bin. Slater was struck in the head by the lid and demanded an apology. Instead, profanity issued from the client's lips. The attendant used the PA system to curse back and left through the emergency inflatable slide. My experience is far from it but it is something to remember by now with fondness and a smirk.
I once applied for a job managing a restaurant I'd dine at. The owner seemed to like me and after some dinners later asked if I'd be interested to run it while she's out of the country. It seemed like a good idea to earn extra money despite the fact that I'm not a night person and the job required me to work till late evening. I enjoyed eating there and, so, why not? I felt I'd make a good manager and advertiser for the business. We decided on a date when I could start. A few days later, I paid the owner a visit and told her that I was willing to train before the set date. It would be wise to learn the ropes while she's still here to guide me. She said that since I approached her voluntarily, I can start training but it would be without pay until the agreed date which wasn't far off. I didn't mind that.
With excitement, I showed up, got acquainted with the staff, looked over the inventory, and tried to learn more about the exotic dishes the restaurant is known for. The evening wasn't over yet when I realized that the owner wasn't the same charming woman I knew while I was a customer. She turned out to be mean, disliked my asking a lot of questions on the dishes, the system, and about handling the sales, and treated me like I was a nincompoop.
I tried to be brave and to stick with our agreement but her constant carping wore me out. Until the fourth night came when the waitresses had to be utilized someplace else and I did some of the waiting. I didn't really mind since I believe that a manager should know all the aspects of the business. I didn't mind as long as I wasn't treated like hired help. You know what I mean. Then came the carping and the snide remarks. Oh, dear, more than I could take. And, gee, to think I featured the place for free before. The ingrate!
When the evening went on, I realized that it was no wonder there'd be new staff every time I ate there. I was witness to one of her rages and that should have set off warning bells but I dismissed it as inefficiency and stupidity on the part of the employees and not on the character of the employer. When it was clear that it was the latter, I thought, "What am I being a masochist for? I'm not being paid anyway." I grabbed my bag, went to her and told her to remember that I was new and people do make mistakes. She nodded her head in agreement as if to say it's okay. I had gone a few steps when she probably noticed that I was headed for the door. She called after me with what I detected was panic in her voice, and I retraced my steps only to tell her "I quit!", and made my exit again. That would have been perfect only that I remembered that she borrowed a baking pan so I had to go back to retrieve it from the kitchen. Sayang ang moment! I wanted to do a "you're-nothing-but-a-second-rate-trying-hard..." but I didn't quite pull it off because that would have been too much. Karma is just around the bend for everyone, anyway.
This happened a year ago and it came as a surprise to have Restaurant Owner call me up recently on my cellphone to ask how I was and that our parting wasn't pleasant. She explained that it was caused by stress of the business. She invited me to dine there again but I told her I don't have any intentions of going back. And that I didn't like the way she treated me. To her credit, she apologized for her behavior. I told her I don't think much of myself enough to not accept the peace offering, so, yes, it's all right now. Will I go back?
I'm not sure.
When you're the employer or the boss, there are things you overlook from the seat of power. The heady smoke of being up there screens the view. And the little people who helped you succeed may also be the cause of your downfall. I actually am a better person for that unpleasant incident. I hope my boss that never was is, too.