I have been a restaurant manager for around fifteen years now.
I tell people I am a restaurant manager, but maybe I am not……
It was a couple of years back. I was in the work office at the restaurant when suddenly I smelled poop. It was gross, like a gigantic fart.
It scared me a little because I thought that the sewage system backed up. When that happens, it is not fun. So I went outside, and it smelled fine. The sewage was not backed up.
So I started walking to main dining area of the restaurant, and the smell got worse. The weird part was people were working normally around me. I could not understand. I did not say anything because I thought it might have been me.
When I went to the main area of the dining area, the smell was horrible. Really bad! I saw a couple guests holding their noses. Yet, the employees were acting normal.
Then, I found the smell! It was in the men’s bathroom. To put it nicely, someone missed the toilet when they pooped. They missed it by a lot.
When I came out of the bathroom, every employee came around me. Now, all of the sudden since I found the treasure, they knew about it. It was not their problem anymore. They all said the same things…
“What are you going to do about that?”
“I am not cleaning that!”
“That is not in my job description.”
“You could not pay me enough to clean it. I will walk out if you ask me.”
There was another manager working with me that day. He was ignoring the smell as well.
I did have options. The dishwasher would have cleaned it for me. He would do anything I asked. He was a good man. For me though, dishwashers get abused a lot. I do not like asking them to do gross things.
I also could have ignored it. I would not have gotten fired if I did not clean it. It is not in my job description to clean other people’s poop. Well, unless it is my son, and that is in my job description as a Dad.
So I went in the storage room and grabbed two trashbags. I put those over me. Then, I grabbed four aprons and tied them on all sides of my body. After that, I put on three sets of gloves and huge yellow rubber gloves. And to top it off, I put on a face mask. Yes, we had one.
I grabbed three huge buckets of soapy water and two buckets of sanitizer. I went in the bathroom, and in fifteen minutes, I cleaned up the mess. It was not pretty or fun. I did not get harmed doing it. In fact, the way I had it set up, it was very easy.
I was a hero to everyone that day. No one could believe I would do it. Even the dishwasher was confused why I did not ask him to clean the mess.
I thought about it all night. Wondering why so many people ignored the smell. I could not believe the other manager did not do something about it. I wondered what if I was not there. Would the poop still be there?
The next day, everyone knew about my cleaning expedition. It is amazing how 20 year old kids communicate through Facebook status updates….Betsy Rouble-
What a day. Lost my keys, sh*t everywhere at work, and manager who we refer to as “The Shitinator” destroyed it. Hasta La Vista, Poopy!
My boss was even a little shocked that I cleaned it. Just like the boss before him who was shocked that I cleaned the vomit in the bathroom years before. Just like the boss who was shocked when I dealt with the difficult guest way back. Just like the boss who was shocked when I stayed late because the other manager needed help numerous times.
I told my boss the same thing I have said before…..
“Who was going to clean it? Everyone ignored it. It was so bad. I did not want to clean it, but I needed to. You know what though, I guarantee that no one will ever tell me no when I ask them for something. No one will ever question my work ethic. I promise you, my days and nights here will go smoother. All for fifteen minutes of work.”
Funny, sounds like dieting.
I was right. My days and nights were easier. People had no problem doing what I asked.
Being a restaurant manager is not glamorous. I do not travel or go to a ton of fun conferences. I do not get to meet famous people. I do not get to try fun new places a lot.
But I have come to realize I am not a manager. I am a leader.
And leaders do one thing. They lead by example.