Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clearing the room

Have you ever farted and cleared a room?  Or had it so bad YOU had to leave the room?  Yeah...I know nothing of that.  AT ALL.

It has been no secret my outright hostility towards the upper leadership (ha - you call that leadership?) of Red Lobster the past 5-7 years, but especially the past 3 years.  There was a time Red Lobster was a great place to work for/at.  The company cared for their employees and actively took steps for retention and employee satisfaction.  Those days are long gone.  I have enough years under my belt with Darden/Red Lobster to know the management in Orlando look like a duck in a storm right now.  Calm on the surface but swimming like hell under the water trying to get somewhere safe.

But their ideas for safe have been to subvert the very hands that feed them.  Just when I think Darden couldn't do something more stupid to fuck with their key staff - the ones who interact directly with their guests - the face of the company - just when I think that they go and screw shit up worse than ever before.

Darden is a big company, but don't be fooled, their ship is on the outer edges of a large whirl pool that is trying to suck them under.  They still can turn the ship and get out of it, but from what I've seen, there isn't anyone with the sense or balls to make that happen.  So rats are starting to jump off the ship.  The rats are always the first ones to go.  They haven't bought the bull-shit the captain is selling that he can get the boat back on course.  They see and sense what is happening, and their self preservation instincts let them know when the time is right.

The time is right.  Even if they turn the ship, I'm not waiting that long to see it happen.  I've worked hard for a lot of years to get to a place where my interests (read income streams) outside of Red Lobster pay considerably more for my time and talents.  So much more that it is no longer worth my time to put up with the corporate bull-shit Darden keeps shoveling our way expecting us to eat it and grin.

I announced a while ago that this day was coming (it came a while back actually), and it couldn't come soon enough.  You know how when you know your relationship is dead, but you still keep on showing up to fuck her because it is what you've become accustomed to?  Yeah, that's been me for about 4 months.  It was time.

What the future holds for me?  Well, a lot of things.  The past 7 days has been largely nothing but skimpy bikini's, sun, endless margaritas and all inclusive resort life.  The beaches just south of Cancun are particularly nice this time of year.  And the bikini's are smaller than I remember them.  And that is in no way a complaint.

We're going to Burning Man at the end of the summer.  I thought it would be totally ironic to show up in a lobster outfit, but then I thought about that for a few minutes and came to the conclusion that less is more in the desert.  So maybe the sun will make me look like a cooked lobster, but no suit.  I've been wanting to do this for years, and this year my old lady is making it happen for me.  Kinda a celebratory gift for a great last year and my leaving fried seafood hell.

The other thing with Burning Man is that I'll be creating and hopefully selling (or making contacts to sell) some art.  While I won't go into details on it (nor will I be selling it here) my art is my true passion in life.  Though it has increasingly become profitable, it isn't something I could live off of I suspect.  But because of what it does for me creatively, it's something I'll continue pouring myself into regardless of the returns.

And I'll continue to grow my investment portfolio.  Through some well timed moves, shrewd business partners, and a bit of luck, we've grown my other business through this recession by about 375%.  That's going to take a lot of my time as I figure out both whether that growth is sustainable, and for how long.  I think there is a lot more potential there for us and I'm ready to press fully into that with the hopes of retiring no later than 55.  A man has to have a goal right?

I haven't decided yet what I'll be doing with the blog.  I have tens of thousands of stories which have gone untold over the years.  Some because they'd reveal who I am to people I'd prefer not knowing.  Others because I just never found time to put the ink on the screen.  So part of me wants to keep this creative outlet.  Part of me wants to just make a break and walk away.  It remains to be seen which part of me will win out.  Either way, I'll keep the blog up for archival purposes if nothing else, to have a record of my journey the last few years of my life with the Lobster.

Red Lobster hates its employees.  That was the original title of this blog, and it has never been truer than today.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please tell us your stories! I started at Red Lobster a few months ago. It's my first waitressing job and I enjoy reading this blog!

Moose said...

Congratulations on moving to the next part of your life.

If you find you want to tell more of your stories, I'd still love to read 'em.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!

As a former server I can empathize with you and know what weight was lifted when I finally did quit. Onward and Upward! I love your blog and would love to hear stories as an outlet to know I'm not alone in server hell!

Goodluck with your future, I will check in as I always do and hope to read anything you decide to post.

Best of everything to you and yours!

mhaithaca said...

Congratulations and good luck! I'll definitely look forward to updates. Feel free to share the vacation photos, too!

mhaithaca said...

Congratulations and good luck! I'll definitely look forward to updates. Feel free to share the vacation photos, too!

Fiona said...

Good luck with everything. Sounds like things will be awesome!

Jen Blacker said...

I'm just trying to imagine you in a bikini.....

Keep the blog up. We'd love to hear other stories including RL stuff. Your rants about life in general are always amusing.

I'm glad you finally escaped that life and what you really want to do is making you happy.

Lobster Boy said...

Jen - imagine a thicker version of Borat (Sasha Baron Coen is quite skinny) with love handles, more chest hair, and a much larger man package.

Now go wash your mental eyes.

Jen Blacker said...

Wow, that is an image that will give me nightmares for a few weeks. Thanks!


Anyway, awesome that you are actually making money on something you love.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading your blog the past year or so.What was it that corporate did that ended up setting you off? I work for Red Lobster and have for almost 7 years and was just curious.

steve_in_pa said...

Not going to hang around and see how the modified 'server assistants' are going to work out, huh? I'll have to keep you well-informed!

Anonymous said...

I am a bartender who has stuck around through the paycut-tip share fiasco. Any insight on the upcoming rollout of server assistants? I know you are busy and might not have time for a full post/rant. I enjoy your blog and I appreciate your time. Thank you for making my often bleak days in fried seafood hell a little brighter and better...

Anonymous said...

Leaving before they turn us all into server assistants?

Anonymous said...

I jumped ship yesterday after being a server for 2 years. I FEEL SO FREE!!

Anonymous said...

So, I waited tables at Red Lobster for a year and just started as a bartender about three months ago now. I can't believe I'd never seen this blog before. It seems that Darden has changed things up quite a bit over the past several years, but damn. I've noticed huge changes just in the time I've been there. When I started the concept largely intended to be a sort of upper casual almost fine dining experience. Just about a month ago my manager literally told us all we are now trying to compete with McDonalds and Burger King.

Servers are leaving due to the new server assistant policy, nobody wants to be a bartender anymore because the pay difference isn't there, and word around the campfire is that the 4-course feast is on its way to becoming a permanent part of the menu. Should go without saying that I think it might be about time for me to hop on the bandwagon and start looking for a new job myself.

At any rate, hats off to you for the blog you got here. Lucky you getting to escape as well. Enjoy the well deserved vacation.

Joyce Patton said...

I've never been a server, but I have tipped more generously since I started reading your blog back when you started... hope you keep telling stories now that you've moved on. I'll still read them!

Anonymous said...

I have been with Red Lobster for thirteen years. I'm a service pro., a trainer, a bartender and server. I have trained managers and help all crew members that need it even dish. I was just told i am not good enough to be a server anymore more and will be an assistent. I said ty for the slap in the face and you have my two week notice. After 13 years of hard work this is the thanks I get. Your blog is spot on for everything i have seen over the years. Thanks

Anonymous said...

We've had the SA program going on here in FLA since December. They demoted the old man, the black lady, the mentally challenged(due to alcohol consumption)man, and a newer hire server to become guinea pigs as SA. They all quit in disgust, as they were walking out with anywhere from $15 to $35 a night. And only getting paid the SA/server hourly wage, which is $4.65.
So, they keep hiring SA's,and after a long time they're eventually promoting them to servers, but still forcing them to work 1 or 2 SA shifts a week. Aside from bussing and running food, they do 95% of our sidework, all for diddlysquat. I would rather we go back to a 3 table section, where we could spend quality time with our guests, and have a busser on weekends and holidays, where they would still earn tips and a decent hourly wage.
It's not fair to the SA.

Anonymous said...

We've had the SA program going on here in FLA since December. They demoted the old man, the black lady, the mentally challenged(due to alcohol consumption)man, and a newer hire server to become guinea pigs as SA. They all quit in disgust, as they were walking out with anywhere from $15 to $35 a night. And only getting paid the SA/server hourly wage, which is $4.65.
So, they keep hiring SA's,and after a long time they're eventually promoting them to servers, but still forcing them to work 1 or 2 SA shifts a week. Aside from bussing and running food, they do 95% of our sidework, all for diddlysquat. I would rather we go back to a 3 table section, where we could spend quality time with our guests, and have a busser on weekends and holidays, where they would still earn tips and a decent hourly wage.
It's not fair to the SA.

Anonymous said...

iT ONLY TOOK 2 DAYS FOR MANAGEMENT to tell other crew members how bad is that, I wanted to leave quietly. So much for respect, yes the compass that no longer is there.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the servants assistants get 4.68 an hour, but the servers tipshare percentage is going up here to pay for it..the whole thing has caused bad feelings and competition and even backstabbing between servers here, how can someone who resents you, be asked to assist you??

Anonymous said...

After 11 years i just got assistant. they are trying to take away all of the older people sounds like maybe because of vaca pay. Im going to be leaving. Red Lobster is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I don't want this blog to die, as this was my lifeline to fellow servers, as I feel we all experienced similar situations.

This 4-course promo has been a PIA, as we have old folks who come in, order their water w/lemon cocktail, and then happily proclaim that they are going to share that meal, as its just too much food for one. Plus, we must be losing money on all the boxes and bags that we constantly are wrapping the leftovers in.

Back to the SA program.... I think it is corporate's evil way of weeding out the dead weight, and also the older, but extremely dedicated servers, who might not be physically able to keep up with the 4 table section. It is so easy to get in the weeds now that we are accepting internet/email coupons... got to find a manager for approval -- and why is it that when you look for them, their lazy asses are never in the office?

Anonymous said...

I have been a dedicated employee with the company for 10 years. I found out this week I am being demoted to SA. 2 months ago I expressed concern to my G.M. that another manager would put me here. They say they have little input, I feel this is a lie! They clearly don't give a shit about their employee's 1 bit! This is a stab in the back, not to mention, hurtful and embarrassing. I would LOVE all the servers who Red Lobster are F'in over to get together and raise some hell!! I think some public attention from some major outlets is in dire need! Lets put the light on Darden and show the public what hard-work and years of commitment really gets you with the company! Probably some foreclosures, and definitely a lot of financial losses and heartache!!

Anonymous said...

I have also been a loyal hardworking employee for the past two years and yet have been demoted to a servers assistant. I expressed concern and my GM also told me she had little to do with it and even swore on her grandaughters life. Darden's contribution to their employee's needs are slowly but surely diminishing as it has become more important to the company take more and more from their employees (like their hourly pay rate) to pay for other hourly paid employees. Darden's committment to their employees is no longer what it used to be! SHAREHOLDERS BEWARE THIS COMPANY IS NOT COMMITTED AND IN TIME THE EMPLOYEES WHO STAY TO PUT UP WITH THIS CORPORATION WILL BE THE SAME EMPLOYEES WHO REPRESENT AND SERVE FOR A RESTAURANT THAT DOES NOT MANAGE IN ACCORDANCE TO EMPLOYEE INTERESTS.
Having said all of this, I will never invest anything in this company-ever. I am writing this in hopes that the general public reads this blog and understands the company "backing" it's employees who are waiting on you next time you walk into Red Lobster and order your $30 lobster the company purchased for $6. Thank you for reading and think twice before you patronize Red Lobster or any other Darden company when you think about going out to eat.

Anonymous said...

^^^In regards to above comment^^^ A one day chain-wide "call in sick" day might get their attention when there is nobody to serve at the restaurant.

Or, when that yearly survey comes out, we can all comment on how Red Lobster hates its employees.

Or someone must have a spouse, relative, friend, that is associated with a newspaper that could expose this.

Anonymous said...

Well don't forget the other restaurants that Darden ownes, Add all the problems they have to this blog and you might even see a trend.

Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's.

Quote:/ Darden Restaurants Inc. is struggling to revive sales at its flagship Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants. A key sales figure fell at the chains during the latest quarter, and the company issued a profit forecast that fell short of Wall Street expectations. Unquote:/ Link,

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2018496609_apusearnsdardenrestaurants.html

Darden is in fail mode and needs to keep their LARGE salaries the same at the expense of the employees.

Husband of a Now X SA.

Anonymous said...

somethings got to be done about this

Anonymous said...

Just so you all know Olive Garden has been in the red. To be told we are competing with McDonalds and burger King is outrageous. I have done to much for this company to be treated like this. I am writing above the heads that put me on a job search.

Anonymous said...

sounds like we need a corporate attorney

Anonymous said...

I have talked to two different attorney's. Seems they found a loop hole, using the fact that all the Red Lobster's all doing this! Now there's a new rule, no talk or discrepancies around the restaurant on the issue, and the G.M's are allowed to fire right on the spot for it!!! So now our freedom of speech is taken away?? I am NOT taking this lightly, and my fight is FAR from over!! We need to fight together! And this need's to be put out there. Not only comments under a blog that it took a while to find! How can we get this published in Fortune 500 magazine??? Let's do whatever we can guys!! Best 100 companies to work for MY ASS!!

Anonymous said...

Nothing can stop anyone from stating their feeling on things like Facebook and other social sites, Make it public and let all friends and family know.

They can be hurt in their pocketbook just as they are doing to the servers that are now hurting because of this.

NO ONE can stop you from doing that!

Anonymous said...

My fight is not done either, I have anywhere from 10 to 20 call parties a week and I am telling them all. Let them fire me before my times up! I worked to hard to be someones BITCH now.

Anonymous said...

as an older server who appears much younger, and who escaped the demotion..who is a freelance writer-
working on a piece for AARP magazine for 50 plus workers in the work force...and one company so "big on diversity"..well..some people at
Darden in the Big D area of Tx might get whiplash...

Lobster Boy said...

1. I'm not going anywhere immediately, so no worries on that from anyone.

2. Server assistants - check my next post on it.

Lobster Boy

Anonymous said...

i have been a RL employee for 8 yrs now...it's a crazy situation..but i wanted to comment on the fortune 100 best places to work post above..you know those surveys are all forged right? We got together nearly all of us FOH and compared and filled them out together one night at the local pub..some of our grp tore them up and threw them away..later that year our district manager came in and spoke with us about the glowing reports we had sent in..he wasnt being sarcastic..the reports he got stated 98% of us LOVED our RL/management WTF!!

seems they dont send in our surveys they fill out their own and send them in.

Ranting Bartender said...

Ok the surveys you are talking about have nothing to do with Fortune 500's top 100 list. But if you look up Fortune 500's website and see how they came up with these places youd see that RL is not all that good. One reason they got on list is for the on site daycare and fitness center. Which of course is great if you work for corporate and happen to live in the Orlando FL area where it is. What about the other 60 thousand employees. Also their benefits were quoted as being good. Yeah again if you are corporate, the benefits for us stiffs is lousy.