And sometimes I actually start to think human life is just as cheap to corporate America as animal life, so long as there are big profits to be made.
Corporate doesn’t fucking care about you.
The only time they even pretend to care is when a customer is throwing a shitfit about something.
Sad, but true.
So one day there were two customers. One customer was a regular at the burrito joint I work at. Not a regular we recognized, but a regular never the less. The other was a first-timer.
The regular really liked us. She wrote us a handwritten letter. We really brightened up her day, she said, with our friendliness and our (occasionally bizarre or random) antics.
The first-timer had been to a different joint of the same chain in another town. Apparently he’d had a bad day. He got one of the larger sizes of burrito, but that wasn’t enough. He came back through and got two tacos, and still was not full. He said our customer service was the worst and said that there was no line (somehow this was a bad thing…) He wrote an email.
Both letters were put up on the wall.
Guess which one we were required to read and sign? Guess which one is still up there, with the nasty note about “If you cannot give good service then this may not be the job for you?”
The policy for customers is ass-kissing. We apologize to a customer if someone is not there to wait on them the moment they get to the head of the line. Two seconds or two minutes, doesn’t matter. I’m not even allowed to finish sweeping, if a customer walks up to the head of the line I have to drop what I’m doing. I often feel like Fillerbunny…”We have temporarily run out of salsa, I shall cut off my arm to appease you! Are you not appeased? Does my pain not suffice to make amends for your incredibly minor inconvenience?” I’ll tell you what…bitchy customers get everywhere, and the nice ones that are cool with the crap that sometimes happens when you’re trying to balance upward of ten or fifteen employees all at once go unrewarded.
The chain I work for went corporate shortly before I began working there. The chain’s gimmick is weirdness. You can hear just about any song ever put out on the radio played inside. The uniform is meeting health code requirements plus a name tag. I’m still waiting for someone to come to work wearing a sombrero. Our managers don’t discourage us from dancing, singing (sometimes badly), or throwing tin foil at each other. One of my managers used to offer free cookies to people who could name the band playing on the radio. Half the name tags have nicknames on them.
Slowly but surely Corporate is trying to change everything. A manager was demoted for playing “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. Someone apparently complained that the song was inappropriate. After the nasty note we got, the manager on duty was told he had to change his name tag and shift manager sign to read his first or last name and only his first or last name. I imagine if my old manager had been caught giving away cookies she would have been fired. I’m sure they would have frowned upon Josh and Tina swapping name tags for shits and giggles.
We get reprimanded if a secret shopper reports that we didn’t try to “engage” with them somehow. Let me tell you, trying to engage with fifty different people in one day doesn’t always work. You get people who don’t want to be engaged or people you don’t have anything to say to. I can only ask people’s opinion of the weather so many times. I prefer to leave off engaging unless I actually have something genuine to say. At the same time, we have to keep within a certain time limit when dealing with the customer. At one point my store manager was timing us as we handled customers.
My manager and I don’t see much hope for the chain in the future. It’ll slowly become weird in only the most shallow ways. Oh, hey, he’s got a tattoo, her hair is dyed, but there’s no real weirdness. Real weirdness is talking to a customer for several minutes about fucking dog treats or Smashing Pumpkins or something else. Real weirdness is having the entire staff and several tables of customers all singing “Margaritaville.” Real weirdness is one of the employees taping his cell phone to his head so he can dance to his rap music while he mops around the tables. It’s hiring people, not fucking robots.
Here’s something I really don’t understand. Why is it, that if we’re so damn terrified of “germs,” that we don’t give sick days to service industry employees? I’m not just talking about food service, I’m talking about any industry that regularly deals face-to-face with the public. The industries that are generally staffed by the young, the poor, and the broke. They don’t let us have “sick days.” We either stay home and get a write-up (or possibly just fired), or we show up sick as a dog and hope our manager sends us home. Our managers don’t even get that choice. They work or they get fired. No one sends them home early. Not to mention that most of us can’t afford to take the days off necessary to quit being contagious.
So even though the health department will come down on our asses for the smallest thing, no one comes down on Corporate’s ass to give us time off for being sick. One of my own co-workers was written up because she was too busy vomiting to even make it out of her apartment, much less to work. Our store manager is salaried. That means Corporate won’t let her call in. Period. And for people living on a food service “salary” with a toddler, you don’t disobey Corporate. You can’t take the risk of getting demoted or fired.
Just another ugly truth about the life of a wage slave. The health department is more worried about food temperatures and making sure everyone is wearing a hat or a hair net and doesn’t even stop to consider the hand that’s giving you your change. Or the air you’re breathing.
In order to keep costs down Corporate never hands out raises unless they promote you, and even then it’s next to nothing. I made more at the mom and pop pet store, even though it made substantially less money. Granted, the pet store also expressed a very big interest in keeping on good, honest employees. Corporate doesn’t give a rat’s ass about keeping anyone on. They burn through (and burn out) so many people it’s been weeks before I’ve noticed that someone got fired or quit.
But Corporate doesn’t care. The burrito joint is just one of many very diverse brands they own. They’re in it for the money.
That’s really what it boils down to. Service industry employees are treated like mindless automatons, by Corporate and customer alike. Very little leeway is given for individual variation in personality, and no consideration is given to the simple fact that I cannot be happy and perky and smiling if I’m sick as a dog or trying to plot the demise of a particularly assholish manager.