The Outback Chronicles: Part 4

This time in my little OS-Lounge mini-saga, I’m going to tell you about the time that guy that got fired for drinking at work in the dish pit.

Let me set the “dish pit” up a little bit first.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I haven’t done it justice.  It’s hard to communicate with the other people in the kitchen, it’s hard to see who’s walking by, and more or less, it was like a dungeon.  I guess it really wasn’t that bad, but that’s how you feel about your little corner of hell after a million 13 hour shifts.

It was so weird working in that stuffy little corner that… check this out:

One kid about 19 years old or so, we’ll call him Dusty.  He worked there for about 3 weeks, and then one day while he was on break, he went outside to call someone back who had called his cell earlier in the day.  After his break, he came back in and said “I think I have to go to jail.”  He told Ted about it, and cleared it with everyone he needed to and left.  His story didn’t add up, and no one ever saw him again.  That’s right, the dude faked a jail sentence in order to get out of working there.   It makes more sense now that I said it like that.

Back to the story at hand though; the person who trained the guy with the jail situation, we’ll call him Bruce, was not very professional at all.  He showed up to work every day hungover or buzzed.  Either way, he had the stench of alcohol all over him most of the time.  Granted, most of the kitchen staff was like that too, but they got their job done.  They also didn’t empty their paycheck out at the gas station and liquor store every week, either.  He was borderline, if not a full blown alcoholic.  And he was in charge of training most of the new dishwashers.

Before too long, he had trained one of the busboys’ brothers, and they were in the dish pit together most nights for the next few months.  At least until one fateful night, when everything Bruce was doing outside of work came to a boil at work and exploded all over his face.

The busboys brother, we’re going to call Scruffy.  He had a perpetual 5 o’clock shadow, and that’s the first word that came to my mind. And it’s my story, so I can name him whatever I want.

Anyways, one night, Bruce came in with 2 water bottles.  Not just the standard 12 oz. size water bottle that most people carry.  It was the big, I don’t know, 28 or 32 ounce bottles.  However you want to slice it, those 2 bottles were big enough to hold a fifth of vodka.  And back when I knew him, Bruce drank cheap, cheap vodka.  The kind of cheap vodka that should have eaten straight through anything plastic.  It was gross.

He brought in 2 bottles because he didn’t want to drink alone, so one bottle was for Scruffy, and the other was for Bruce.  I could kind of see the thought process behind Bruce’s thinking, because the dish guys were so disconnected from everyone else, he figured no one would really notice that he was tying one on, while he was on the clock.  Also I think his biggest problem was that he planned on his share of the vodka lasting his entire 10 hour shift.  When in all actuality it lasted about 2 hours before it was gone.. and I don’t think Bruce ever ate anything before he clocked in.

So one sip of the vodka led to another.  Then one broken plate led to another.  Then one fall led to another.  Larry ended up stepping in when Bruce was taking forever and a day to load dishes onto a tray, and push them through the dishwasher.  Scruffy told me later that he could have smoked an entire cigarette in between each one of the trays that came out of the dishwasher.  For anyone who hasn’t worked a commercial dishwasher, you can usually push about 40 trays through the machine in one minute.  Needless to say it’s super slow when you’re only pushing 1 through every 7 minutes.  Poor Bruce.

To this day I don’t know if Larry stepped in because he didn’t want Bruce to get in trouble, of because Ted & the management told him to.  Larry made Bruce sit on a milk crate in the corner for a bit, to see if he would be able to sober up quickly.  I think that if Bruce would have done as he was told – which was sit and stay like a good boy – he may have been alright, and been able to finish his shift without any help from Larry.  BUT.. as drunk people are prone to not listening to what other people tell them to do, Bruce kept trying to stand up.  He’d fall, then he’d break more dishes.

So Scruffy took it upon himself to take Bruce to the employee bathrooms in the back of the restaurant.  Scruffy basically had to carry Bruce all the way to the bathroom, and sit him down on one of the 5 gallon buckets that littered the floor of the employee bathrooms.  He wanted to keep Bruce there so he could smoke, and also to keep him away from any and all management that happened to be there that night.  Bruce passed out on that 5 gallon bucket, only to wake up 20 minutes later.  Determined as all get out, he tried to work again.  He fell again.  Now the management really knew about what was going on with him and was fed up enough with it (and rightfully so), so Bruce got sent out of the building, so he wouldn’t hurt himself or anyone else.

He was instructed not to drive home.  And before long, he was gone.. so was his car.  We all thought that he drove himself home, and everyone immediately got pissed because he drove home drunk.  Not.  Ever.  Cool.  We all found out later though that he had some people pick him up and take his car back to his house.  Bruce was a good guy, so I believe it.

Some hours later (that same night), Bruce’s mom called the restaurant.  She proceeded to yell at Ted, and then again at Larry.  I don’t know, nor can I imagine what was said over the phone, but I know the guys in the BOH passed the phone around and let Bruce’s mom yell at one another for a while.  The phone finally ended up in the hands of the head waiter/host (I’m not really sure what his official title was), but his name was Kyle.  It’s against any restaurants policy to give out information on their workers, so Kyle wouldn’t answer any of Bruce’s mom’s questions.  I can’t imagine how mad she got after that.

After that happened, Larry smoothed everything over with Bruce’s mom.  He at least got her to hang up the phone.  He went back to work along-side Ted, and Ted was so fed up with the whole situation that he fired Bruce.  It was kind of hasty, but it had to be done.

The next morning, the owner’s husband, Houston, calls Bruce and tells him to “get his ass back to work, no matter how bad his hangover was.”

Everyone goes through hard times, sure.  And I think everyone deserves to be forgiven at work once for something really bad like what happened that night.  They forgave Bruce for that night, and he didn’t let it happen again [that anyone knew of, anyway].

A few months later, the owner came back to work after a period of leave.  Bruce showed up one day on his day off to check the schedule while he was wearing an Outback work shirt.  The owner smelled booze on Bruce (which was typical for him).  After he left, she had a meeting with the other managers and anyone who was connected to the situation.  I don’t know what was said but I know that they either called him that same day, or the next morning to fire him for real.  To my understanding, he has never been back to the OS-Lounge since.

It’s weird how peoples’ moods change and the past is brought back around full circle.  In my opinion Bruce should have been terminated the night he got plastered at work.  That’s what he deserved.  And in any other job he would have been.  But since he worked in a restaurant.. C’est la vie.

See you by table 7.

The Jester.

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