Monday, January 23, 2006

"Can you give me a raise?"

When I owned my restaurant in the wee moments of the 1980s, one of the boys who worked for me was 16 years old. Randy Foster was an excellent worker and a very dedicated employee. Most of my employees were young girls. This was a fast food restaurant called Weiner King in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. The girls were excellent at cleaning and polishing. The boys were great at dumping garbages and cleaning and sweeping the parking lot. The rest rooms, well, the guys did the men's room and the girls did the women's room. We all waited on customers and cooked. After we washed our hands.

One time, Randy came up to me when I was in the back room doing paperwork. He had been with me for a few months. He said, "Dave, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, Randy."

"I, I, uh..."

"Spit it out, boy."

"Can you give me a raise?"

I thought about it briefly and had this answer for him, "Well, Randy, I can't really afford to give you a raise right now, but, I can give you a promotion."

"You can!!!?"

"Yes. I'm going to make you my Junior Executive Assistant Manager Trainee."

"YOU ARE!!!?"

"Yes. With this title, you will have added responsibilities. You will have to prove yourself worthy of the title."

"I will."

He beamed and went into high gear. He worked extra hard from then on. He was so good, I was compelled to give him a 25 cent per hour raise a week later. Back then, 25 cents was an OK amount. That was $20 more a week. To a 16 year old, that meant dinner out with your girlfriend.

The time came, about 2 years later, when I was leaving that restaurant, Randy asked me if I could get him a new job. He didn't wish to stay there, whoever the new owners would be. I told him, sure, I would do my best. I talked to Jet Black, one of the owners of the Ryland Inn. They no longer own it. We used to play poker together. I asked him if he had an opening for a great worker. The kid's young and very dedicated. I am strongly recommending him. In the restaurant field, there's a sort of commeraderie and mutual respect between owners, regardless of the type of restaurant. The Ryland Inn was, and still is, a very high end business. My place was nearby. I took him over one day and he hired him on the spot. He was gone before I was.

Years later, long after I had moved down here to Florida, a close friend of mine, Frank Foran, ran into Jet, probably at a poker game. He asked Frank if he ever hears from me. Frank said, "Of course I do. We keep in touch on a regular basis."

"Good. Then you tell Dave what an excellent person Randy turned out to be. The best employee you could ever ask for. He's my head baking and pastry chef now. An incredible cook and leader."

That was many years ago. I've often wondered what's become of him. The Ryland Inn has been sold at least a couple of times since then. I always hoped that some of the things I taught him helped him in his field. I know he did it on his own, but, I still wonder. After all, by the time he left me, he was my Executive Manager. At least, that's what I told him. He was going to be too good and too expensive for me one day. In the meantime, all I could do was give him small raises and big promotions.

No comments:

Post a Comment