You May Think I'm Stupid, But I Am

Trust me baby trust me.
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 21, 2009 1:57PM

ME and HER.

Rate: 49 Flag

ME. Hey, you know, I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t hafta but I gotta.

HER. Do you know for how long?

ME. Til things pick up. Maybe round the holidays. I dunno.

HER. But you’ll still need me Saturdays and Sundays.

ME. Yeah. Oh yeah. You’re still on Saturdays and Sundays. We definitely need you weekends. It’s just Thursdays. We’re not getting the people in.

HER. And you think it’ll stay that way?

ME. I have no idea anymore. Neither does Jim. We’re both … but until things improve, if they ever do …

HER. Do you need anyone on the other nights?

ME. We don’t, no. We have to trim hours wherever we can as it is.

HER. I can do other things. I’ve tended bar, I’ve waited tables.

ME. Hey. Listen. We like you and everything. You’re a thousand times better than the guy who came before you.

HER. Tom?

ME. Now that guy was not a good guy, he was a bad guy. We’re glad to have you. It’s just we can’t afford to keep you on, Thursday nights. We gotta bare bones it. Jason, Julie, Nando and Rudy.

HER. No more Antonio?

ME. No more Antonio.

HER. What about George.

ME. He’s done at five now. And this sounds like I’m … blowing smoke up your ass or whatever, but … we’ll keep you in mind. If we ever need anyone to pick up a shift. You know the menu, you know the people, you know the drill. We won’t hafta break you in. The other night, I had find someone for Reggie. So …

HER. It’s hard not to take this personally.

ME. I know. It isn’t personal.

HER. It’s hard not to think it is.

ME. I know.

HER. Everyone else keeps their hours on Thursday but me. I lose mine.

ME. George loses four, but … yes. We’re trimming wherever we can.

HER. It’s hard not to take that personally. I’m the first to go.

ME. I wish I had better news.

HER. What about busing tables or washing dishes.

ME. I can’t take any more hours away from those guys. As it is, I’m pushing my luck.

HER. I’ve been kinda counting on this place to help make ends meet.

ME. I know.

HER. Groceries and utilities and … (Her husband) just went back to school, you know? And …

ME. I know. He’s … pharmacy, right? Wants to be a pharmacist?

HER. This is lousy timing.

ME. I know. I know it is. The only thing I can tell you is I hope it isn’t permanent. I hope we can give you Thursdays back once things pick up. The holidays? After Thanksgiving? Can you hold on til then?

HER. I’ll need to look for something else to make up the hours. That guy who owns the bookstore? Think he might be looking?

ME. No idea.

HER. He might be. I think I saw a sign.

ME. Next time he comes in? I will sing your praises like your praises have never been sung before. There’s the market down the street? They’ll be open soon. Jim knows the guy, so …

HER. They’ve been about to open since the Spring. The windows have been papered up like that since March.

ME. I know. But there was just a van out back the other day. Unloading stuff. So …

HER. I can check (faux Irish hunka shit around the corner that doesn’t even know how to pour a proper pint of Guinness). They sometimes have a few hours here and there. You know of anyplace else?

ME. I’ll keep an ear to the ground.

HER. I can make do on Saturdays and Sundays for … a month, maybe. But …

ME. If I hear of anything or if we ever need anyone to fill in, you will be the absolute first to know.

(She stares out the window, and I hate myself. Jimmy says it’s not us, it’s what the situation makes us do from time to time. Still. I hate myself and it’s barely lunch.)

HER. This sucks. This really sucks. I wasn't expecting this.

ME. Hey. Are you hungry? You want something to eat? Have something to eat. Tell Nando what you wanna eat.

HER. I think I’m just gonna go.

ME. You sure? Cause …

HER. I’ll see you Saturday.

ME. Yeah, okay. Make it five, though.

HER. Not five-thirty?

ME. No. Five.

HER. That’s a pity half-hour if ever there was one.

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Wow, that blows. Especially if she knows how to pour a proper pint of Guinness.
This is why I chose to leave management. I sincerely sympathize with you, squirrel.

The only thing that sucks worse is having to say, "Sorry but we can't keep you on any longer".

Hope things pick up for you.

Oh, and Jim should handle his share of "Sorry" speeches. Just saying.
Aw, I'm sorry, squirrel. That sucks and blows.
that was excellent. very sad, very timely.

these are the times that try (all our) souls....
It's always personal. Even when it's not personal. I've had this conversation before, Squirrel. This is why they pay us the "big bucks." The worst conversation in the world.

You treated her with courtesy, dignity and respect. Rated. and the post is rated, too.
What a sad situation... I do hope things improve. ~R~
Oh, god. I can't imagine how hard that must have been on you. You should recommend Trader Joe's. If they're hiring, it's a great job. Pharmacists make a great living, after they graduate. I have lots of pharmacist friends. They'll be okay.
It's never easy but it sounds like you tried to make it less painful. And that sympathy half-hour was a nice touch.
What a ditz. I would have sworn I rated and commented on this awhile ago. At any rate, funny but bittersweet. I had a client this week who has the unenviable position of laying off up to twenty people. His distress was visible, his shirt was soaked with sweat. No one takes this lightly. Great post and I love seeing it on the Cover where it belongs!
squirrel, this just hurt. way too many boss/employee talks like this happening all over.
When the "experts" talk about the economy, they never mention the awful face-to-face experiences. I hope things pick up for you.
Attention, editors: not to be a wise guy here, but the proper spelling in the headline should be "restaurateur."
If ever there was a post you’ve written that reveals your heart it’s this one. You clearly felt terrible having to give her the news. That speaks volumes about who you are.

You’re an incredibly funny guy. Your posts are consistently so good. I think people like you, with a deep vein of mirth, also possess an equally deep sense of truly caring about people - regardless of how much bluster they raise about being just the opposite.

Rated and appreciated.

p.s. I hope you business picks up so well that you hafta hire 12 additional employees... permanently. Curse me later.
Aw. That must have hurt.
Sorry Squirrel but nobody guaranteed her a job forever at the same hours. I hear a lot of entitlement in that's not your fault her husband is back in school and not working for heavens sake!! [or at least not contributing enough to their household.] Bad timing to go to pharmacy school, dude.

But well written.
It's a damn hard thing to do. Times are tough, small businesses especially have to do what they have to do to stay afloat, but that means spreading more pain around. It sucks sucks sucks. But you did what you have to do.

My honey, Irvin, does lawn maintenance. We get calls regularly from people looking for work. Some of them don't sound like the kind of folks who have ever cut anyone's lawn besides their own. You know it bruises their dignity to make that call. But we aren't hiring anyway, so it is just sad.

And honestly, it sounds like you handled it well, like it really did hurt you almost as much as it hurt her.
hey, everybody. as fate would have it, cruel mistress that she is, we got crazy busy right after this took place. must be the warm weather. ANYHOO, thanks, everyone. if i had time to reply to all, i would. (for once. hah.) but for the record ...

to bill s.: in jimmy's defense, he's usually the one to do this. but he's outta town. i don't wanna smear the guy unless he REALLY deserves it. hah.

and to all: things will improve. this is what i fervently hope and pray.

and to deborah: no, no one guaranteed her anything. i don't know that there's any entitlement here. if it came across that way, then it's my bad, cause it sure as hell didn't play out that way. it was a knee jerk reaction on her part, to suddenly lose a shift. i don't know how anyone can be expected to process something so quick. so ...
Being the boss sucks. Thank goodness I am the lowly yet highly needed employee.
The power in this piece isn't just the commentary on our shared tough times or how bad everybody feels. The power of the writer here is in delivering a snapshot of exactly how to let a good employee go. Letting go of a bad employee is easy. This is hard. And it was done exceptionally well. Here's why:

1. The title. (Not the mispelled one on the cover) The title is Me and Her. That's perfect because that says---we're talking about real people. Individuals.

2. The sparse, quick nature of the conversation. The dialogue was honed like a kitchen knife. Just as it should be in this situation. He didn't drag it out.

3. The absence of false positivity. In 25 years of coaching managers thru this process; I've found that 75% of the time, the manager will say "This is probobly best for you." Which is of course total crap. Even if it's true. It should never be part of the discussion.

4. The way the manager didn't read anything into the dialogue or her responses. He answered them truthfully, he said what he knew and didn't know, and he didn't cast her as a victim.

Finally, he showed, and didn't tell, how hard this is. For all of us.
If you haven't had one of these conversations, chances are you will.
And he ended it in the absolute best way; by going back to why he's in business and what he does best---feeding people.

This is how you do something really hard, really well.
Was she a Mexican woman ? Just kidding squirrel, this was a great post. Well done.
sharing your pain...
nice job. sorry you have to go through this
nice job. sorry you have to go through this
I am sorry 'cuz the timing does so very much suck.
ForeverMom's daughter had this same conversation this morning, from the other side, and daughter's husband is out of work as of the first of next month. Daughter's boss was in tears at laying her off. Well, women, they can get away with that. Mom had already told them they can move into her house, worse comes to worse, but it would have to be really, REALLY BAD before they would do that. The only thing is the health insurance, daughter has asthma and other "pre-existing" conditions, TG for COBRA and taxpayer subsidies for COBRA cost. . .
Hope your business picks up, Pokey needs shoes!
~FatRocco and FeralRusty
Poignant piece for the times; glad fate swayed in your direction so quickly. ;-)

The empathy you show definitely came through, which is what made the piece touching for me. Her human response was palatable. I've been let go once and felt the same way. I've had to let people go and hope I handled it half this elegantly. (Rated).
As you know, if I knew where you were I'd be there next time I'm in Chicago. I could even try to make it on a Thursday.
Just proves how hard it is to be ME as well as HER these truly is...
aarrgghhh! I hate this economy!
"A pity half hour if ever there was one!!" Another Squirrel classic!
Wow, layoffs, cutbacks really bite! Baby daughter's boy friend just got let go of his bar tender/waiter position he has had for some time. He had to know this was coming when he took off on tour with his band for 2 months. Couldn't hold his shifts for him this long. Imagine that?!
At least you didn't promise to turn her part time job into a full time gig, prompting her to stop her unemployment benefits, then a mere 4 weeks later tell her that your daughter has magically decided to work in the family business, thanks, you were wonderful, but it's over. At least you didn't do that.
I hope I can continue to be successful in my lifelong goal of never finding myself in your position. I don't ever want to do that,
EVER. If that means I sweep floors into old age, that's fine.
PS that headline the editors gave you is so embarrassing. You'd think they had spell check...
"A pity half-hour".... Now, that's sad.
Squirell, MY restaurant is now closed. Had the talks to everyone and hated hated hated it. Four great years ended. When Gary brought the cool "Casa de Canibal" sign to the house, I cried.

I feel for you honey. (But am keeping the sign. I am endlessly hopeful.)

And thanks for making me a Favorite. That was a thrill, cookie.
love the way it was written. i hurt for her loss and your having to do it. hated the personnel stuff of owning a business, pure pure hell. glad i don't anymore.
yeah, sorry that my generation screwed up and eliminated all full time jobs....oh wait. that wasn't my generation...great.
It's been a lousy year for too many people. I'm still looking for a job. So many people I know are looking. Not much of an economic recovery so far.
I'm so sorry you were driven to that decision. It's a hard business at a terrible economic time. Hope it turns around soon for all of our sakes.
BTW, thanks for adding me as a favorite.
I hate that feeling.
Entitlement, totally.

Should have fired her, DUDE.

Nobody guarantees anyone they'll have two arms forever, but most people are still pretty bummed-out when they lose one.