The Best Way To Quit... EVER! (Part 1 of the Restaurant Chronicles)

"Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." - Groucho Marx

It's no secret that in the culinary industry, employees sometimes come and go faster than the urinal cakes get changed in the men's restroom. Waitrons are expected to work for tips, are forced to work weekends and holidays, must deal with surly kitchen staff and live with the realization that there really are no valid employment advancment opportunities to speak of. Often times, the waitron will be fair and honest with the employer when resigning (sometimes they even give a full two weeks notice), while other times they simply stop showing up to work and screen their calls until the employer finally gets the hint. There does exist, however, the legendary "Flair" quitter. I believe it was John Wayne who coined the term "Over my dead body" regarding the fact that if he was going out, it was going to be in style. The "Flair" quitter lives up to this credo and the more memorable, the better!

Meet Victor. Victor was one of the most dedicated waiters I've ever had the privilage to work with but unfortunately became a pawn in a restaurant group takeover that resulted in him (as well as the rest of us) having to deal with a new owner who was busy killing the restaurant with his strange business ethics and behavior. I plan to talk about him at great length in a later hub but in a nutshell, he tried changing the menu from successful Italian to Lebonese and fired virtually my entire kitchen staff to make room for his cooks (they never showed up). When the restaurant was busy being a successful neighborhood Italian joint, Victor was the lead waiter/FOH manager but once the new owner (let's call him Arturo) started to make his changes, the customers vanished and Victor was quickly demoted to simply "waiter." He was upset with what was happening and he and I talked at great length many times about the fate of the restaurant and the strange behavior Arturo was exhibiting. Beyond just firing 80% of the staff and trying to force a bunch of loyal Italian customers to eat schwerma and lentils, he was too cheap to put his elderly mother in a home or even elderly day-care. That meant that "Momma" was parked on table 39 from ten a.m. when Arturo arrived until two a.m. the next morning. Of course, she did take the occasional potty-break and one of Victor's new job responsibilities included taking her for a mid-afternoon stroll around the parking lot before dinner service. Being the "yes-man" that he was, he approached this uncomfortable and awkward task with aplomb and professional courtesy - however, Momma didn't like him at all... and even though she didn't speak any English was able to make it very aware to everyone that she, in fact, hated Victor. I do have to hand it to Victor, though. If it were myself in that situation, I would have put my foot down long before. One fateful Saturday afternoon, Arturo called Victor into the office and proceeded to demote him to bus-boy. Even though Victor had exhibited extreme adaptability to the situation and had planned to stick it out until the restaurant group realized that Arturo needed to go, enough was enough. Even though I had no idea about the content of the fateful meeting until Victor and I shared a commiserary binge and resulting hangover later, Arturo had the nerve to remind Victor that Momma needed a walk. Before Victor went to Momma's table, though, he came to me in the kitchen and asked if he could have a steak - any type of steak. Assuming he was hungry, I asked him how he wanted it cooked (through all the B.S., I fed Victor... he deserved at least that much). He told me that he just wanted a raw steak, and the bigger the better. I asked what he was up to and he just repeated that he needed a raw steak immediately so out of a sense of morbid curiousity, I gave him one of the 14 ounce rib-eyes I had cut for dinner service that night and watched in horror as he put half of it between his belt and his pants in the front. He then walked out to table 39 with this raw bloody hunk of meat hanging out of his crotch and right in front of Momma, put his hands on his hips, thrust them out and yelled in a loud booming voice, "MY NAME IS BEEF-PANTS!" before grabbing the piece of meat and slapping it down on the table in front of Momma. She was visibly shocked and Victor put his hands on the table, leaned in and looked her straight in the face and said "How do you say 'I quit' in Lebonese?" Arturo, meanwhile, had seen all of this and started after Victor yelling about how he was fired and he'd never work anywhere again and Victor walked calmly to the door all the while with Arturo's forehead turning purple from anger. Once Victor reached the door, he turned around and grabbed Arturo's face with his two hands and planted a kiss right on his lips. Arturo went ballistic at that point and started screaming all sorts of obsceneties about homosexuals (Victor wasn't gay by the way, just pushed WAY too far) and less than a month later, Arturo disappeared in the middle of the night with half of the leased restaurant equipment and leaving all the employees without jobs (or their final paychecks). I guess that if you're planning to quit, you should really plan it out so that nobody ever forgets! Victor and I lost touch a few years back but I'd work with him in a heart-beat again if given the opportunity.

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