We had lunch this week with a friend from out of town who loves to go to one of our favorite spots in the neighborhood. She's been in the swirl of a merger at her place of employment. After more than twenty years with her company, she's hoping to hold on to the job she once loved dearly, having gone above and beyond to bring success to both herself and her company.
I've been watching from the sidelines as this drama has played out, knowing too much from the human resources world. All I could do was rework a resume for her and try to make her see the writing on the wall. A number of times she would ask me, "Doesn't loyalty count?" I never had a good answer; it was a question I wrestled with too often myself as the value of an employee's loyalty has seemed to diminish in the work world. Many who grew up believing you'd always have a job if you showed up every day and gave 110% still ended up being downsized.
Our friend likes going to this neighborhood spot because the waitress is so wonderful....bubbly, willing to make substitutions with a smile, never forgets that we're in a hurry and need a receipt for the meal, always has something funny to tell us and makes us feel at home. She's a huge draw for the place, runs a Trivia night and we were anxious to know when the next night would be. Our friend was wondering if she'd be in town when they had the next Trivia night; our waitress said she hadn't figured out when she'd be having it yet but she'd be sure to let us know. This was said with the usual huge smile and our conversation switched from trouble in the workplace to how nice it would be to work in a small place like this restaurant.
And then the check was delivered to us, by our waitress, who had come back into the room a totally different person. I noticed she was holding back tears. She said, quite calmly, "I just wanted you to know that I will not be hosting Trivia night. My hours have just been cut so a family member of the owner can have more hours here." And she walked away.
"See? It's everywhere!" our friend having employment issues exclaimed.
I was proud of the waitress for handling herself so professionally. And very annoyed at the owner of this restaurant for several reasons. To begin with, this kind of news should NEVER be delivered in the middle of noon-time rush. The quality of this waitress shone through because she stayed and continued her job with grace when she could have thrown a temper tantrum and turned your quaint little dining room into who-knows-what. More importantly, she's done a TON to grow your business, and now your partner, who folks like but who certainly is not a waitress, will be hard pressed to keep up the pace.
I understand financial concerns lead to necessary decisions that are no doubt difficult to make. But it leads me back to that question that keeps floating around in my head that never has a good answer. "Doesn't loyalty count?" I think this waitress deserved better.