Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Emergency Staff Meeting

Okay, okay settle down. Quiet please.
Thanks for coming to this emergency staff meeting, everyone. Now that you are all here, I will say that the use of the word ‘emergency’ was almost definitely overstated and used primarily to get your attention. In the future, I will reserve that word for actual emergencies like we’ve had in the past like that flood, the most recent grease fire and the leech infestation which I am told is close to being resolved. For the hundredth time, I am sorry about those damn leeches.
But I really needed for us to meet, so I am glad you are all here. Yes, even you Gretchen. That was a joke I made last month about wishing I could use an over-sized eraser to remove you, before buying an actual over-sized eraser and chasing you around the kitchen screaming “out, damn spot, out!” I know it wasn’t a funny one, mind you, but it was a joke. Let’s get started.
It has been obvious for some time now that staff motivation is at an all-time low, so low that it often appears that many of you don’t want to be working here at all. Some of you have actually gone as far as literally not working here any longer, or just hiding in the washroom constantly complaining of debilitating stomach cramps. On an aside, we’ve finally received word from corporate that they’ve adjusted the recipes to address the issue of widespread debilitating stomach cramps. A bit late for my piano recital, but better late than never I think we’d all agree on.
But yes, you have made it abundantly clear, either in email or on pretty cool graphic t-shirts that you all chipped in to make, that you aren’t excited or thrilled or inspired when you are here. This has to change. Now, I have tried, you know I’ve tried, to “kick you all in the butts” and “prod you with hot irons” and “rattle your cages” to no avail especially after the word got leaked to the press about the cages. I even tried offering you more money or extra breaks or even access to unlimited free mustard between the hours of 4 and 6 and nothing has changed aside from a thin, and completely unwanted, layer of mustard on my car each evening.
Customers have been noticing your low desire to work here too, for some time now, commenting on homemade customer satisfaction cards that the staff “clearly hate each other” and “seem to be going out of their way to get fired” and “look like they’re in pain especially that one guy who almost definitely is in pain unless he’s some sort of actor and then give that guy a part already and if he isn’t then someone please call a medic”. One customer said that the low morale of the staff inspired them to write a poem that they submitted to a local poetry contest where it received honorable mention, but that is just one small positive from this situation among a sea of negatives.
“Why is the motivation so low?”, I’ve often asked myself while walking my dog before remembering that I don’t have a dog and wondering who's dog this is that I’m walking. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this problem before eating some nachos and taking a shower, before remembering that it is my job as your manager to do something about this before we get a visit from the higher ups.
So, you may be wondering, what is Larry the manager going to do? I keep telling you that my name is Harry! You may also be wondering if I’m going to shave my mustache which is long past the point of being “in any way attractive”. Finally, you may be wondering why there is a bucket on the stool next to me, or why I am am partially obscuring your view of this fantastic bucket? It is to be some sort of prize or incentive or even punishment? Is the bucket slowly going to take over as manager? If you are wondering about any and all of these topics, I, for one, am pleased as filling the heads of my staff with wonder was one of my goals for this meeting. And no, a bucket isn’t going to be your new manager as good and potentially outside-the-box an idea as that is.
I can almost hear the questions now:
“A bucket? Does he seriously have a bucket up there?”
“Is he going to use this bucket in some sort of convoluted analogy that initially appears to be deep, but in the end falls way short as a means to inspire us?”
“Did he forget his actual, and probably lame, idea at home and is now embarrassingly trying to sell us on this bucket as a means to motivate us?”
“He does realize that if he stands next to the bucket that while he is talking we are all subconsciously comparing and contrasts the two which is a lose lose situation for him?”
“When he is done, I hope one of us gets to take the bucket home, or at least get to borrow it for the weekend.”
To which I answer “yes, yes, yes, no and perhaps”
This bucket that you see before you may appear, on first glance, to be empty. On second glance, still empty. For those of you who continue to glance after a second time, all I can say is “it’s empty, Steve!” The bucket is meant to be empty and we are going to fill it, together, not with anything tangible or real, but with something to save this restaurant we call home and I fully realize that I am the only one who actually calls it home ever since my landlord changed my locks.
Now I’d be lying to you if I told you I had an easy solution to our problem here and I promised at our last staff meeting that I wouldn’t lie to you any longer unless I could prove that it somehow saved your lives. I also promised to provide nothing but easy solutions to all problems or else I’d shave my mustache finally. You know, I wish I could wave my magic wand and turn you into the happiest and most inspired restaurant staff in the country. I also wish I could walk up and down Main Street waving my magic wand without fear of reprisals.
I know many of you are sitting there looking up here at me and my bucket regretting dropping out of school. Well think of how I feel? I’m a fully grown man, by some standards, standing up here with a bucket in front of a group of people he’d love to call friends and maybe even invite over on the weekend for a movie night if they weren’t busy or anything and if his landlord wasn’t a big jerk. You don’t think I feel like a loser? You don’t think I still feel like the same little boy who used to cry on his mother’s lap after yet another harrowing day at school being teased for carrying around an imaginary bucket to share my imaginary toys with my hopefully soon-to-be real friends?
I also need to address the pink elephant in the room and no, I’m not talking about Heather, this time. In my defense, and I know many of you, obviously including Heather, haven’t totally forgiven me for mistaking her for a pink elephant back in December, but I swear that my glasses were heavily smudged and I honestly thought it was some sort of random dress-up day that I’d missed the memo on. The sensitivity training that occupied the past 9 Thursdays from 6:30 till 9pm were completely justified. No, the pink elephant I’m now referring to, is Frank.
I know how much you all miss Frank. I miss him to, aside from the fact that when he left for greener pastures — alfalfa farming to be exact — I did benefit by getting his position. But, he was amazing. I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps, but that dude walked a lot. There was just something about his smile, which seemed so genuine, and full of naturally white teeth. And the way he spoke to you like you were an actual human being with real feelings that he came across as if he really cared about. He also would never have treated you like you were elementary school kids by employing the use of a bucket in any way and I already partially regret the whole bucket thing, but we can’t go back in time or else I would have applied to theater school as my therapist/father figure recommended.
All I can say is, you can’t keep trudging around here like you are in prison. Prison is a whole lot worse I’m sure you’d say after our visit to one last month for comparison’s sake only. For those of you who had your parents call me to “stop threatening you”, I get that I may have crossed the line. But I need you to pretend to like each other. I need you to pretend that you want to work here despite the permanent tattoos and quite well-produced viral videos you posted online. I need you to pretend that you don’t feel like you have irrecoverably screwed up your lives by working here, though, I can’t fully guarantee that you haven’t. Finally, I need you to also take turns shining this bucket as I promised to return it to the store fully shined once we were done with it.
To be totally frank and I don’t mean totally Frank, as my impressions are this side of unwatchable, if you can’t summon up some actual motivation to work hard then heads may roll. And yes, that is a figure of speech, but the point is that changes may be in the works if we can’t turn those frowns upside down while leaving the rest of your faces the way they are already pointing.
Remember, these words, this meeting and, more than anything, this bucket. Never forget the bucket! I don’t know why, but this bucket holds the key to a brand new day for all of us here at this restaurant. Your job, on top of doing the work you are paid to do, is figuring out how the bucket can do this.
Thank you, and enjoy the rest of your evening.