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In the Weeds: Good Day, Sir!

June 16, 2009

I ended last week’s column with an unintentional cliffhanger. The feedback I received was mostly of the “yeah, uh huh, and then what??” variety. Some even wondered if a technical glitch kept them from reading the end of my story from inside The KC Steinbrenner’s office. I suppose that the scaly server skin I developed during the last several years prevented me from seeing this, because, well, that . . . that feeling of emptiness was exactly the point. I walked out of there feeling the same way that most felt after reading it. Namely: huh?

in-the-weed-photo4I’ll do my best to satisfy the shortcomings of my disclosures, but I admit that while I write here with time to sip wine and reflect on my words, I too suffer from the post-intense-conversation regrets. The common torment of thinking of what you should have said 20 minutes after a crucial exchange does not spare even this sassified blogger.

So I propose one more look at the “firing scene” to rectify my dull actual reaction (mostly stoic faced with red eyes . . . shame!) and to satisfy inquiring minds. Only this time, I will insert fake witticisms that I wish I had employed.

Steinbrenner’s first statement after I was seated was actually a classic trapping line. My parents used it on me, and I plan to use it on my kids. It’s ambiguous, effective, and scary. “I think you know what we need to talk about.” This opens up the possibility that you’ll admit to something they actually know nothing about, giving them even more ammunition. I went with wide-eyed ignorance but wish I would have fibbed a shocker like, “You’re undeniably attracted to me, too?” That at least would have delivered an early bolo punch.

Next was the part we’ve been over already. He said he knew about the blog and was “disturbed.” “Quite disturbed” was the actual phrase I think. Again, me, saying “okay” but now with eyebrows slightly lowered and head ever-so-slightly tilted as if I’m really concentrating on what he’s saying. But I wasn’t. And that’s why I don’t remember much of the middle part of the conversation to relay here. I was busy thinking about if I was going to get a lecture or if he was actually going to pull the trigger. When the executive chef somehow pulled a Cirque du Soleil contortionist move and squeezed his way into the office and sat down, I really thought it could be curtains for me. Two managers must be present to fire someone. They both pull a lever at the same time so that they’ll never know which one actually delivered the lethal injection, thereby protecting their spirits from any adverse effects.

Nobody ever said, “You’re fired.” Instead I got the watered down reality show line of, “Unfortunately, this is the end of the road for you here.” I said some super lame stuff about how it was anonymous, how I don’t hate my job – just the opposite – and how it was written in humor and what not. Steinbrenner, never one to turn his back on a good firing, was having none of it. It was somewhere around this time that he mentioned the word . . . integrity. I won’t even say here all zingers that came to mind later. Suffice to say that it was a very jagged little pill to swallow coming from a restaurant manager with decades of experience. It takes a lot of qualities to climb your way into upper-level restaurant management, but integrity is not one of them.

But truly, the best part for sheer entertainment was the last bit. After he leveled me with the news, Steinbrenner did look a little sad. Then he said he had some questions. And this is when he pulled out the list. My head was still spinning as he unfolded the paper and looked at a numbered list. As I said last week, question number one was if I had actually seen anyone’s balls in the pantry. I explained again that “In the Weeds” is written in humor and while we occasionally lift our aprons in jest, we are fully clothed underneath. There were another three or four questions about stories from my column (ex: prom kids with blue drinks, bartenders serving servers, hot dogs in salads) and I wish I would have said, “These are your questions?” Then I wish I would have jumped up and shouted that had I studied the company Internet/Blogging policy and was certain I was all good. But he probably would have gone all Willy Wonka on me. And that would have been the perfect ending.

KC Steinbrenner: Wrong, sir! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by you, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if – and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy:
“I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained,” et cetera, et cetera…”Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum,” et cetera, et cetera…”Memo bis punitor delicatum!”

KC Steinbrenner: It’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get NOTHING! You lose! Good day, sir!

Me: I’ll get even with him if it’s the last thing I’ll ever do. If Slugworth wants a gobstopper, he’ll get one.



14 Responses to “ In the Weeds: Good Day, Sir! ”

  1. Sara on June 16, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I do hope you find your glass elevator which travels frontways and downways and sideways and slantways…

  2. Jesus McGrimba on June 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    It pains me to hear that someone much like myself loses their job and thus their financial security in a weak economy. I too am a Capital Grille server (location to remain secret unless you wish to contact me directly), a parent, a spouse, and a homeowner. Actually, it’s mortgage payer, but who’s counting. It has been my experience that CG managers are a duplicitous and heartless lot who care nothing about the “restaurant family” they are so preachy about. It always seemed to me that those who really deserved to lose their job never did, but the ones who bust their humps on a nightly basis get creamed on a whim. No, the server who does rails in the wine cellar and gives away anything that isn’t nailed down won’t be sent packing, nor will the bartender who slings vicodins and percocets to his co-workers while getting his bookie drunk on the restaurant’s dime. Instead, it’s the SA who is let go because when asked by a manager if he wanted to be an SA, he had the unmitigated gall to propose that he perhaps be considered for a slightly higher position, or the uber-knowledgeable and well-liked server who is told that he is being terminated immediately and without discussion for violation of the sexual harassment policy (he actually didn’t know what he said, or who he said it to, but wanted the oppurtunity to apologize to his “victim.” Mgmt. said no.) I have seen the “blogging” policy in our corporate handbook, I do not remember it verbatim but seem to recall that an individual can be terminated only if he or she posts “proprietary information” about the restaurant or company on the internet. I hope that you land on your feet, and if you wish to contact me please do so – i’ve got stories.

  3. A Watcher on June 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed your inclusions of video clips that have helped you tell your story. The Reservoir Dogs clip and the black AMEX come to mind. Frothygirlz might not allow it in full, but a clip of an exasperated William H. Macy from Boogie Nights watching his wife casually get it from that hulky pornstar might give others a clue as to what a stooge KC Steinbrenner really is.

  4. Shannon on June 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Um, yes, Frothygirlz would allow it, with pleasure. Boogie Nights is one of my favorite movies, so I am very familiar with the scene you speak of-the editor.

  5. Shannon on June 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I just wanted to let you know that CJ won’t have computer access until next week, so I told her I’d follow up on comments while she is gone. I’ll be sure to direct her to yours, I know she’ll appreciate it.

  6. LeftBEFOREtheyfiredme on June 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    This is your best one yet, CJ. Have a schnozberry daquiri for me on your cruise.

  7. Cassandra on June 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    When I saw this mentioned in Mary Sanchez’s column, I thought I’d check it out. The first couple are funny, but there’s a lack of real insight and forthrightness that makes this ultimately boring. Why would any employer want an employee sharing details with the public that could affect their business, such as employees exposing themselves, serving other servers, etc., yet the employee withholds this information from the people who need to know the information? Why would anyone want to hire you now? You play “surprised” that George would fire you, in all of his inept imperious imperfection, yet you begin the blog that highlights the restaurant’s foibles by saying that you know you’re committing career suicide. Boring.

  8. Midge on June 18, 2009 at 9:21 am

    In response to Cassandra: It seems to me that your lack of experience in this field has left you without a sence of humor for the subject. Maybe if you spent 10 years or more working in fine dining, you would laugh as hard as I do every time I read anything by CJ. I love the characters and want more of them! Your loyal CJ fan, Midge

  9. Salt and Pepper on June 20, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I used to work at the Capitol Grille Kansas City. The management there sucks so bad that it will leave you with Hickeys after you leave. I have never met such a bunch of inbred Hicks in all my life. KC Steinbrenner as you name him is a cheating little low life who left his wife and children for another manager, I have no shame airing his dirty laundry as he has hurt and disgraced so many. This is a man who will shame you in front of other work colleagues, has one rule for you and another rule for another in the same breath.

    While I was there I started to feel sick as I came to work hating the abuse that I was going to be in-deluged with. He turns his back to work place abuse if it is a good earning server and will castrate you for the slightest miss hap if you are bellow there redicusly high sales expectations. I hated working there. It is about time this douche bag got what has been coming to him for such a long time now. I hope that one day he will see that he needed to give a little charity and hope to his servers and work force.

    I look forward to more in the future.


    Salt and Pepper

  10. Sommelier on June 20, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Just a note about the Capital Grille, i would not even call it a restuarant. NOtihing is cooked there even the soup comes frozen in bags. The days of these type of Republican watering holes is over. The arrogance of Mary Simpson and her doppleganger Bart Hickey is astounding. Not only are your dollars sent out of town but they dont even buy local, the place is a joke. Eat and Dine local.

  11. Bateman's Designer Ax on June 20, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Some clarification is needed on a very important point; do you mean the “don’t stop, Big Stud” scene at the beginning of Boogie Nights, or the “my wife has a c**k in her ass on the driveway” scene later on? Just which version of soul-crushing emasculation are you referring to?

  12. Midge on June 22, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Sommelier: I do agree with the fact that the management at the CG could use drastic improvement, however I don’t agree with you about the food not being some of the best in KC. I have never seen french onion soup come out of a bag and I personally see everything else being made by a staff of very talented, underappricated chefs. That being said I love everything else you are saying so please dont stop, just don’t trash the great food that we put out. Midge

  13. sommelier on July 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

    wow midge i would not even call them chefs, kitchen managers mabey, as for the food being great that is just like a dumb american who doesnt know any better. You probably are reacting to the fact that the food is heavily processed and packaged. why dont you try a rest. that cooks from scratch. Like they are supposed to.

  14. Me, The JerBear on January 2, 2010 at 11:50 pm


    I was fired from my ‘dream’ job at Olive Garden in Rome, GA for making songs about the restaurant biz, so I feel your pain! THOSE people really take their cheese and their birthday song REAL seriously. I know that now. The scene you described so well was almost exactly like the one in which I was handed my walking papers. Did they go over every line that you had written, interrogating you like a murder suspect? The corporate fascists at Darden fired me for trying to express myself creatively right after they promoted me and gave me a raise and wrote a note on the board about what an awesome ‘rockstar’ I was. I guess they thought that I would just shut up about it after they took away my source of income.

    Not so much, no. I’ve been ‘educating’ as many people as would listen about the OG’s Soup, Salad and Censorship policies ever since.

    Employers hold all the cards. They have all the keys. They have all the power.

    What WE have is our voices.

    Keep up the good fight, love!

    Dignity and Respect,
    Me, The JerBear