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In The Weeds: The KC Steinbrenner

June 9, 2009

Most restaurant manager offices are exactly alike.  They are super tiny (think 6×12 prison cell), crammed with stuff and usually outfitted with one big window facing the kitchen or service area.  The door is always locked so if you need something, you must tap on the glass, but do so carefully or the managers could strike and injure themselves.

Non-manager types do not ever fully enter the shoebox.  Servers stick an arm in to collect a payout at the end of a shift, but you literally have to move chairs around to get a whole person inside and close the door.  So when I was invited inside the shoebox by my general manager on Wednesday and the door was closed behind me, I knew something was amiss.

My experiences working for my general manager were similar to George Constanza’s while working for Steinbrenner.  You felt great while in his good graces, even believing at times that you were a valued player.  But just as you’d get comfortable enough to talk about the latest concert you saw, a worthwhile book or your kids, he’d sporadically criticize some element of your job performance in an intentional effort to keep you on your toes.  It feels like this scene from Seinfeld:

George : Well this is bad. I am really in a bad situation now.

Jerry : So what is Steinbrenner going to do if he doesn’t get his calzones?

George : What’s he going to do? That’s exactly the point. Nobody knows what this guy is capable of! He fires people like it is a bodily function

Being fired from the job that I loved was a true shock.  But after wiping away my tears and being sent on my way less than 10 minutes after it began, a few key moments crystalized in my mind.  These are the highlights from my meeting with The KC Steinbrenner.

KCSB: I think you know what we need to talk about.  I know about the blog.  And I’m quite disturbed.

KC Constanza (me): Okay.   (I’m thinking . . .You’re disturbed? My life is about to go topsy turvey).

After repeating several times that the “Stereotypes” column was by far the most disturbing of all my disturbing rants…

KCSB: I mean, if this is how you feel about people, it could really hurt our business.

KC Constanza: Well, I did write anonymously and never named the restaurant, and I equally poke fun at all groups including women, executive women, skinny women and old women.

After saying those words that changed my life’s path and my family’s security, Mr. Steinbrenner looked down, looked sad, and quietly said he had a few questions.  And like a moth to the flame, I fell for it again.  After a nearly three-year working relationship that included lots of laughs and even visits to my home to pick up his daughter who occasionally babysat for me, I thought he might want to ask if we’d be okay.

KCSB: Have you ever seen someone flash their balls in the pantry?


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