Fishing off the company pier (or dipping one’s pen in the company ink…)

In one my earlier posts I mentioned that one of the basic facts of running a restaurant is that people eventually move on. One of my best servers and her line-cook boyfriend are leaving to go back home to Louisiana. I am saddened by their departure not only because Chef and I are losing two of the best workers either of us has seen, but I am also really jealous that they are moving to New Orleans. Ah, the South…

The fact that they were a couple was known when they were hired. Unlike some, our company has no strict policy against hiring people in relationships but perhaps one should be considered; because when you have two staff members involved in a relationship and one decides to move on, so does the other. Conversely, when you have to fire one, the other one usually goes soon after. Actually, first their good attitude goes; they don’t physically leave until after what he/she has deemed an appropriate period of making everyone’s life miserable.

The good news is that when couples work together and they are getting along, they can work with a great synergy. My wife and I did it in Atlanta and it was amazing. But when the personal relationship becomes strained, it can play havoc on the one at work. Fortunately for me, my two are Rock Stars and always did a great job. They left their personal relationship in the car with a window rolled down to wait for their return.

I was never much of a ladies man in my youth. I’ve already told you what a big dork I am, and that’s pretty much a fail-safe method of birth control until you find The One who appreciates the trait. And I am certainly not one now as I am happily married to The One (no, not Keanu Reeves, you wake-and-bake stoners).

Even during my younger days when I commanded “The Position of Power” I didn’t do too much Hound-Doggin’ (play-yuhs is what they call them now, I believe). Working in the day and age of the Tom Cruise-generated perception of bartenders as demi-gods, I was a young, semi-good looking, semi-eligible bachelor; but I was just too big of a nerdy romantic to play a lot of capture the flag games. I was determined to fall in love and that was a four-letter word for women in the early 80’s. Plus, chicks were a lot of work and I am lazy.

Oh, sure, I had my share of go-to, sure things to get me through dry patches (pun intended) between bad relationships, but I was never a big One Night Stand kind of guy. Add to that the hours that I kept, working from 6 till 2am, partying until dawn, sleeping until noon and then doing it all again, and my only pond to fish was the one at work. So that narrowed it down to two groups: barflies and co-workers. Barflies don’t want to fall in love, and falling in love with co-workers is almost always a recipe for trouble.

Over the years I have found these Postulates on Personal Relationships at Work to be mostly true:
• Rarely, if ever, do two great employees get together. It’s always one really good worker, and the one that you most want to quit and get hit by a bus.
o Corollary: When the relationship goes South, it’s always the good one who quits and the irritating one who stays. Kind of like if your neighbors, who have a pool and throw great parties, move out but leave their yapping Chihuahua behind.
• The relationship is most always between people in different departments so maximum damage can be realized when arguments occur.
• And most often the relationship is one of those “He’s dating HER?!” shockers.
o Corollary: Sometimes you get lucky and the two people involved are deserving of each other; and you can be grateful that they are not out there ruining two other lives.

I had a relationship with a waitress once when I was a Sous Chef (I was really the only cook besides the Chef, so I felt I was Sous Chef by default). We had a fairly hot and steamy start, then it cooled; and because we worked together and practically lived together, we got tired of each other real fast. Actually, I got real tired of her but she was still really into the whole idea. And did I mention we worked together? I cherished the two hours of prep time I had at work before she arrived at 4:30 or 5:00 for the start of her shift. Outside of using the toilet, it was literally the only time we were apart. “Did you hear about what so-and-so did on table 32?” Oh, yeah, you were there. “Did you hear that joke that so-and-so told?” Oh, yeah, you were there then, too. And did I mention we lived together? Thankfully, she eventually quit and moved away. I faked the heartfelt goodbye, and did my best to remind my penis that dating co-workers is not how we roll.

I used to work with this guy named Biff. No shit, that was really his name. Biff. And the guy was a machine when it came to getting laid by women at work. He became known as the “Hose-tess Monster” due to his penchant for conquest of the young, vapid ones at the door. Now, if ever there was a valid argument for not fishing off the company pier, dipping your pen in the company ink, whatever, you’d think screwing, and then screwing over, a person who can control your financial destiny would be it. With the spurned hostesses conspiring, Biff’s station would often be empty on many a night, except for old ladies and people with kids, until 15 minutes before closing when he would be triple sat as all the other servers were doing side-work and mentally chilling their after-work Heinekens. Hell hath no fury indeed.


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