Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Owning It

I did indeed have to terminate Mr. Hawaiian Shirt.

I arrived at work a half-hour before the start of his shift, half-thinking I might as well get an early start on the work he was not likely to show up to do.

For a hot minute, I thought I was going to dodge the bullet. I thought I had finally called something right, and that he really was going to blow me off.

But at 7:29 am, his car pulled up across the street. Sigh!

He walked up to the front door, spatula* in one hand, coffee cup in the other. (*All "real" cooks have their own personal utensils… He didn’t come with a set of fancy knives, but he did have his own perfectly-weighted, expensive grill tool…)

I pulled him aside to one of the outside tables. "We have to talk…"

Have I said how much I hate having to do this kind of thing? Hate, hate, HATE it! Did I mention that is why I had got about a half-hour of sleep the previous night?

I had purposely not rehearsed a whole scenario, because I figured it would be a waste to obsess about THAT (and I would have…) if he didn’t show up for his shift. And as it turns out, it was probably best that I hadn’t planned anything to say, because I was much more able to just…go with the flow.

It was all over in a very few minutes, and I was safely back in my kitchen feeling relieved, and yet like shit. He had been so apologetic…so willing to change. So, "Oh my gosh, I can be whatever you need me to be." Though I knew that he couldn’t—he’d demonstrated that clearly enough in the seven days he had worked for me.

In the end, the conversation was a peculiar flashback to one I’d had more than thirty years ago…the one and only time I had ever broken up with a boy (rather than being dumped.) It was the whole, "It’s not you, it’s me !" line of crap. I told him his skills were just too prodigious for our little operation (though I didn’t use that particular word—"prodigious"—since he probably wouldn’t have had the slightest idea what I was talking about.) I told him that rather than trying to change his way of doing things for us, he needed to find someplace that was bigger and busier and could really put his skills to good use.

I think he bought it. And, as a matter of fact, it was mostly the truth. I shook his hand, we parted ways; it is to be hoped, on a slightly positive note. (See, Robin? I didn’t write, "hopefully…")

But I still felt like I’d been run over by a truck…


  1. LOL on the hopefully but so sorry about the trauma.  

    You can at least console yourself with the fact that you really are writing a best seller here.

  2. Oh, I feel bad for you.  But alas, life as a grown up some days sucks.  

  3. Oh Lisa....I just so sorry he didn't turn out to be "the one".  Here's hoping that the next potential employee through your door will be a real winner.


  4. The bad news is that it WILL never, ever get any easier to fire people as long as YOU keep your humaneness about.

    The good news is that YOU will get better at hiring the right fits....it takes time to figure out people and interviewing is a very specific skill.  There are lots of books on how to do it well and they are not hard to read, the information would be invaluable.  As a wise woman once told me:  "It is easier to wait to hire the right fit than to increase your unemployment rate because you were in a bind."

    I eventually got so good at interviewing employees that I am now impossible to interview...I do the interviewing instead of being the interviewee.  Pisses off potential employers but gosh darn it, I just can not help myself.

  5. PS:  I forgot to say xxooxxooxxooxxooxxoo

  6. You go girl. Happy first anniversary in the cafe.


  7. Sounds like you did it well, Lisa.