I've said it before. Thank God for Waffle House. The venerable all night (largely) southern eatery has provided much blog fodder over the years. It is an operation that, largely due to location, culture and operational style, has generated more than its fair share of both humorous and alarming stories. This weekend's national story was no exception.
Social media and news sites were alive the past few days with the story of a South Carolina man who entered a Waffle House at 2:30AM, and initially finding no employees, decided to cook himself breakfast. What made this particular sojourn newsworthy was that he documented the affair and posted it to social media.
He later told reporters that he had been “pretty inebriated”, and credited this escapade to “his old friend, vodka.” He said he entered the restaurant and waited about 10 minutes. When no one apparently appeared to help him, he took matters into his own hands and stepped behind the counter. While he was cooking he did notice a worker sleeping in the restaurant. The employee slept through the entire ordeal.
He apparently made what he calls a “Texas bacon cheesesteak melt.” Once he was done cooking (as well as documenting the adventure), he cleaned up his workstation, boxed his sandwich, and left with his “ill-gotten goods.”
He did return to the restaurant the next day to pay them $5 for the food he had eaten.
It will be no surprise to you that I have a few questions and observations about this story.
He initially claimed to have searched the whole restaurant looking for an employee, yet only noticed the sleeping employee while he was preparing his meal. Have you ever been to a Waffle House? They are not exactly huge. You could break a front window opening the men's restroom door. The entire place is usually viewable from the front entrance. Actually, the entire place is viewable from the parking lot, since the building is pretty much all windows. There is a counter, a handful of booths, and enough open floor space to accommodate a Saturday night beat down during bar rush. He couldn't possibly have “looked around” before deciding to embark on this adventure.
I also note there was no mention of a taxi or Uber involved. Therefore, I suspect there is a good chance this responsible citizen, who admits to being inebriated, drove himself both to and from this particular location.
Honestly, if I walked into a restaurant or convenience store in the middle of the night and found it completely abandoned, I wouldn't just jump up and serve myself to whatever I needed. I would call the police, so that they may come and retrieve the bodies out of the walk-in freezer. I wouldn't trust an empty building; figuring that it was not that way for any good reason.
But our guy didn't do that. He made himself something to eat. I suppose the bodies could be discovered by the morning shift instead. Unless, of course, he saw the sleeping employee and figured it would be more fun to just make a meal and then tell everyone about it.
Then again, this could just be a trial run for a new concept that will save a ton on labor costs, including workers' comp. "Fight for $15," my ass. We'll just let the customers cook.
Different news stories about this event tell a different ending to the tale. All pretty much agree that the Waffle House is investigating, and that the sleeping employee has been suspended for a week. I guess that means he has been sent home to rest up a bit. One story says that a Waffle House manager has offered the guy a job, since he has “obvious cooking skills.” Another story says a Waffle House District Manager has offered to hire him as a secret shopper.
I would suggest, if these versions are true, that the hiring practices at Waffle House might need a little review. They sound a bit loosey goosey to me. That could be why they are always in the news, like here, here and here.
Ironically, Waffle House has a fairly well-respected workers' compensation management program. I have heard their Vice President of Workers' Compensation and Safety, Elizabeth Bailey, speak on a couple of occasions. Most recently she was part of the SAWCA All Committee Conference Industry Panel I wrote about. I am sure that having an inebriated customer standing over a 400-degree grill and handling sharp cooking instruments will be a situation that lands on her desk. There is no doubt her employer keeps her busy.
So, we don't know whether Waffle House will hire our makeshift chef or not. But just to be on the safe side, for regular Waffle House employees, you should know that your secret shopper may look like this.
Be the first person to comment!
You must Login or Register in order to read and make comments!
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
We're not responsible for this guy.....
Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.