Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Valerie Gets Canned- Part I


This is a longer story, so I'm breaking it into two parts. The first will deal with the events leading up to Valerie's firing. The second will deal with the day prior to and the day of her termination.

-A Description of Valerie-

Look in past posts, including The Captain and Valerie, Ranch Dressing, and a Birthday.

-Valerie Gets Canned, Part I-

As you've seen in posts past, Valerie is a tough cookie. By "tough cookie", I really mean "a cold, selfish, unsympathetic, heartless, Napoleonic (Bonaparte, not Dynamite) little wench." The servers hate working with her. She cares little for anything but herself and her bottom line.

Here are some brief examples that reveal the true character of Valerie:

-A server home from school works a six-hour shift. She heads to the back, where she sits outside the office, separating her checks into cash, credit, and other (coupons, comps, etc.).

Tomorrow morning she leaves for Purdue to buy books. She has managed to scrape together $60 on a slow shift, just enough to afford her Econ book. She's hustled on her feet all day. I can tell she's dead tired. She goes into the office to check out with Valerie.

There's a problem. She can't find one of the $2 off coupons. Valerie can let this slide. She doesn't. The server slams her book down on the desk and storms out of the office, heading to the back door. Soon she is knee-deep in the dumpster, looking for the coupon. By some amazing stroke of luck, she finds the coupon. She returns to the office, stinky and bitter. It gets worse.

She counts down her money. She now only has $40. She has to borrow money to get her books.

I can't prove that Valerie took it, but here are several facts that make a good case.

First, the server's book, which included her money, her checks, and her coupons, remained in the office the entire time she was digging through the dumpster. Valerie was the only person in the office.

Second, another server spotted a Jackson stuffed in between two envelopes. She said something to Valerie, who immediately responded, "It fell out of petty cash." Petty cash is kept in the safe, which is on the floor. The lockbox weighs fifty pounds. When the managers take it out of the safe, they just put it on the floor. I find it hard to believe that a twenty fell out of the lockbox, caught an updraft, floated around the office like a feather in the wind, and then slid between two envelopes.

-Valerie counts down my bar drawer. She says it is $20 short. I have to pay it or I get written up. I pay it. I hate getting disciplined for anything. I never got a detention all through school.

Looking at my sales vs. my total tips, I see that I averaged less than 15% for the first time in my serving career. I normally average over 20%. Hmm....

-Less than a week later, she tries the same trick with another bartender. This bartender fights back.

"I counted the drawer before I gave it to you. The money was there, Valerie! Where the hell is it now? You better it soon, and don't try to pull this shit on me again, you hear me?!!" Saucy little bartender, isn't she?

Miraculously, Valerie finds the missing money. Hmm...

Events like these have the staff on the edge of mutiny. People are constantly grumbling, and the staff is getting snippy. We're sick of being verbally and emotionally abused by Valerietnam.

We try to talk to the regional manager. Unfortunately, Valerie is his protege. He hired her as a pantry girl and then brought her up through the ranks, all the way to GM. In his eyes, she can do no wrong. No help is coming from that corner.

Eventually, one of the older bartenders decides to take action. She writes a letter to the corporate office.

Copies of this letter circulate among the staff. As the resident academic, I am one of the first to get a copy. Hiding it in my server book, I read it during a slow lunch shift. I'm pretending to be studying a description of the new chicken and pasta dish. Cloak and dagger all the way, baby.

The letter starts off, "I am a server, a bartender, a cook, a busboy..." and ends with, "It is my firm belief that Valerie's employment with your establishment should be terminated forthwith." In between lay a poorly-written mess of lofty ideals and baseless accusations. The bartender is very proud of her work. I don't have the heart to tell her that the corporate office is more likely to correct it in red ink and send it back rather than take action.

However, the bartender does have some solid evidence. There are photocopies of checks that Valerie adjusted after close. No check should ever be adjusted after The Restaurant's business hours.

The Administrative Assistant deals with all adjusted checks. Apparrently, she started making photocopies of these suspicious checks months ago.

This was Valerie's scam...

She waits until after close. She re-opens checks paid in cash. She comps all the food, pockets the cash, and thinks no one is the wiser. Nobody knows how long she's been doing this.

Just as I predicted, the letter doesn't get a response. In all honesty, I don't see how anyone at the corporate office could respond. The bartender didn't leave a return address or a name. They couldn't call us up and say, "Hello, I'd like to speak to a server, a bartender, a busboy..."

Luckily, I head back to school. I don't want to deal with the political b.s. and all the bitching that goes with it. It makes me cranky.

Every day while I'm away at school, I talk (long-distance) to my girlfriend, who works as a bartender at The Restaurant. Remember the bartender who wouldn't let Valerie scam her? That's my girl. She bitches constantly about Valerie and her surrounding managerial staff. I can tell she's miserable.

Finally, after talking to her until 3 a.m. on a Sunday, I decide to take action. I go on the company website, click on the "comments" link, and go to town. My email letter is short, pointed, and biting. I lay out all I know. The stealing, the attitude, the Regional Manager's lack of action, everything.

At the end, I don't leave my name. If this thing doesn't go well, I don't want to be singled out and screwed over. I leave my school phone number and an offer to talk anytime.

I finish up at 5 am and go to sleep. I drift off wondering if they'll even bother getting back to me, let alone take action...

Ring.... Ring...

What the hell?! I roll over and look at the clock. 8:15. What soulless bastard would call me at 8:15 on a Monday, especially since I don't have class until noon?

"Myelllo...?" I'm groggy as hell. I've only gotten three hours of sleep.

"Hi! My name is (Name Erased to Protect the Innocent), and I'm a Vice President at the corporate office. Are you the one who wrote that email comment this morning?" The voice is chipper. Way too damn chipper for a Monday morning. The man has a slight southern-sounding twang to his voice. Having lived in Texas, I know Southern...and this isn't a Southern accent. I'm guessing Indiana or Ohio farm boy.

"Yes, yes I am. Wow, that was fast!" Now I'm wide awake and excited as heck.

"Well, we've been looking at this situation for a while. We even got a letter a while back, but we couldn't really make heads or tails of it. That wasn't you, was it?"

"Nah, but I read it."

"OK, good. Hey, um, can I ask you... are you still employed with us?" He wants to know if I'm a bitter ex-server out to get the GM who screwed me. Fair enough.

"Yes I am. I'm at school, but I work during the summer and holidays."

"Well then, tell me everything you can about what's going on out there."

I talk to him for an hour. He never rushes me while I speak. He asks good follow-up questions. He even asks for my girlfriend's phone number so he could follow up with her.

His final remark is, "Thank you for your help. Rest assured, we'll take care of the situation." I will always hold respect for this gentleman. His word is as good as gold.

Later that afternoon, I get a call from my fired-up girlfriend. She's at work and she's practically screaming. They fired the regional manager that wouldn't listen to us about Valerie. She said two men in suits breezed through the doors, found the regional (who happened to be at our store at the time), sat him down, and then escorted him to the door.

The new regional manager came in one hour later. Apparrently, she blew in like a hurricane. She immediately sought out Valerie and reamed her over the state of the restaurant.

"Oh. Is she making you guys clean everything in sight?" Now I feel like an asshole.

"No! Not us... Valerie! She's down on her knees scrubbing the walls in the back. I don't know what you did, but it worked! Love you!" She gives a little squeel and hangs up.

I'm stunned. Great, they got rid of one of the problems (the regional was a prick), but what about Valerie? I mean, I'm all about having her wash some walls, but will she still be boss when I go back? Will she know that I caused her all this grief? Will she take it out on me?

to be continued...


junemibug said...

O.O (my shocked face)... some people have got major BALLS to pull that kind of crap.

rachie said...

ooooh, i just hate injustice.
you've got me all fired up!
i can't wait for part two...keep up the good work!

Laynie said...

Way to go Server! I think most people in authority listen to coherant and well thought out complaints. Especially if you work in the occasional "our clients have begun to notice and there seems to be an aura of unease around the dwindling group of regulars who frequent the establishment....

What a good guy you are to help out your GF, even though you were safe away at school. Can't wait for more!

J Epstein said...

Lovin' the REVENGE! Part 2! Part 2! Part 2!

(and the crowd goes wild)

The Server said...

Hi all! I LOVE getting comments, so keep 'em coming!

I have a softball game tomorrow (my team sucks, but I'm batting .918... it's a trade off), so if you don't see a post by 5 pm central, then expect one on Saturday.

By the by... Valerie will appear in future posts, but so will her replacement. His name is Randy, and he's a good guy... but he has provided plenty of fodder for stories.

Also, I'd love to see some new comments on old posts. If you're new to ServerStories, feel free to go back and throw in some remarks. The stories don't get stale, so reading old posts is not like watching old commercials on a taped episode of 'The X-Files'.

Humble regards,

The Server

Laynie said...

It'd be easier to leave comments if you didn't have to be a blogger user.

Just a couple cents there. ;)

The Server said...

good point, laynie. problem solved... i hope. now everyone can chime in with two cents, four cents, a dime, whatever. Part II, coming up in a few hours... stay tuned!

Ranter said...

Oh, go Server! We had a real BITCH of an Area Manager last year. Bitch isn't harsh, you should hear what everyone else calls her. Anyway, she wasn't dodgy like Valerie- stealing money and all that, but she was just a misanthropic, parsimonious, money grubbing, selfish witch. I wish we could've had her fired, but she was up there with one of the staff up in Head Office. He loved her apparently, and that's how she moved up in The Company so quickly. But man, if she had left, so many of our best staff would still be here and we probably wouldn't be in such a mess.

Keep up the good stories. This comment is coming a year after the original post, so I'm taking your advice.