Once upon a time I held a job bartending at an establishment that I found “less than fulfilling.” I could write chapters on the woes of my disgruntled 5 months there, slinging drinks in my mandatory tropical print shirt, competing for money shifts with tenured drug addicts and struggling to pass the day against an auditory assaulting backdrop of sing along country tunes and “island favorites.” To make a long story short it was sort of like being sentenced to mixing tropical drinks in a time capsule hell with Jimmy Buffet and Billy Ray Cyrus.
But I digress.
The only reason I bring up this interesting experience in my employment history is to mention that one policy (among the many ridiculous policies) practiced by this bar was the assessing of a “breakage fee” to each bartender at the end of each shift. What I am saying is that each bartender at the end of his or her shift hands off their cash drawer and sales print-out to the shift manager who then counts the drawer and charges a “breakage fee” to be paid by the bartender. Each shift I was forced to pay several dollars off the top of my tips to cover the cost of glassware. Notably, this fee was never based on whether or not I or any other bartender had actually broken any glassware.
Listening to “Pencil Thin Mustache” and “Kokomo” multiple times a day was bad enough. But being fleeced for the cost of doing business was too much to handle. When I realized I was being charged for this I was incensed! I was livid. I was outraged! And unfortunately I was without legal representation. But like hundreds of nameless, faceless employees before me, I paid the fee, and after work, went on my merry way and reveled in too much beer and the angry banter of movies like “Office Space.”
Today I stopped by one of my favorite haunts, Louie’s Backyard, to revel in their sunshine filled Afterdeck Bar, which just so happens to be another place I spent a couple of years slinging drinks. It’s a lovely place, and for those of you who have not been there, it is a must for both it’s majestic Atlantic Ocean view and its delectable island cuisine.
However, for all its merit, Louie’s also wallows in a ridiculous snare of assessing the cost of doing business to its employees. While I was there (5 PM, just before dinner begins promptly at 6PM,) I witnessed the waiters meticulously counting the silverware. Management insists on the counting of pieces of silverware nightly and as silverware goes missing, assessing the cost to the servers.
I assure you, I am not making this up. Louie’s charges their servers for missing silverware.
Several servers have tried making a stink, citing how unfair the $8 periodic fee is, only to be greeted with their walking papers. While I agree it is a ridiculously unfair practice by management, I understand that complaining about their policy does little to remedy the situation. In the two years that I bartended on the Afterdeck, I used to bring my own flatware from home as back-up silverware for when we literally ran out of silverware during meal service.
Basically, what I am saying is, “You want to work for crazy people? Then abide by their crazy rules.”
Me? I don’t want to work for crazy people anymore. The beverage industry is too vast and varied to resign one’s self to remain working at an establishment that insists on silly policies. Louie’s gets away with it simply because it is a beautiful place that literally hoovers over a particularly scenic piece of the Atlantic.
Suffice to say, I didn’t last long at the other bar that charged the breakage fee. Their myriad of arbitrary rules and regulations and candy ass music left me less than eager to sling their inventory. But, while the honeymoon lasted and because I was being forced to pay for the glassware, I made certain to break no fewer than 7 glasses per day.
Mozoltov you stupid Fuckers!