Not the easiest double shift. One of my line cooks cut their finger (more than a nick, less than an amputation) and I had to arrange to get them medical treatment at a clinic. Then one of my cashiers did a no-show/no call. So I was two bodies down, and we've already cut labor to a new low; let's just say I was dancing as fast as I could.
As the hours rolled along it was like being that circus tight rope walker who shimmies and sways but doesn't actually fall. Each new situation threatened to swamp us but I was just able to get it handled before we capsized.
An AA acquaintance who has been a great spiritual teacher for me over the years came in with two people for dinner. They've been in a few times and I've made a point of telling my head to shut up and reaching (deep) down to find a way to offer a truthful, friendly hello. That is the right kind of contrary action for me. Frankly I've always thought that they were very willing to carry AA's message to slim, 18 to 24 year old hotties but not a lot of others a bit distant and a little cool towards me at times, but I honestly looked at it as a way to practice keeping my equilibrium in the face of that. I didn't need to change them or me. I didn't need to apologize or to charm, I could just be me and let them be them. And when I look at it like that then they really are a great spiritual teacher for me.
A coworker and I wound up bringing them their food together. I offered my warm hello and said something like "nice to have you back" -- friendly but neutral -- not exactly a "Hey! You go to 12 Step Meetings with Me! How are you!"
My Great Spiritual Teacher looked right through me and said, "Can we get some more Thousand Island Dressing please?"
Well hello to you too.
Hey, I've been to the rodeo. I am not going to fall down because someone is basically having a bad life day and spewing it around them and I just happen to get caught in the spray occasionally.
But because I had been dancing as fast as I could it was a little harder to get there from the "Oh no you didn't..." which popped up in the moment.
Suddenly I didn't want them to see me carrying food or bussing tables or any of the othert things I had to do, short staffed and busy. I noted that inside and pushed it away, since it was so obviously my alcoholism swooping down on its dark wings and latching on to my feelings of embarrassment and anger and working to make them into something more.
There was a lull, they left, and I found my thoughts drifting to morbid reflection, chastising myself for squandered opportunities, casting myself as a lazy and foolish man who wound up...
and I just stopped.
And quite clearly thought, "Jesus. It really is all in our heads. I am just torturing myself with my own thoughts. Everything is fine. I am fine. This job is fine. My life is pretty good. It's all in my head, all the judgment and suffering and fear and anger... it's just bullshit in my head and I am choosing to keep myself unhappy when I indulge it."
Just at that moment one of my co-workers came over and told me I had a phone call. It was my old boss, the gal who'd trained me for the job and moved on to another restaurant.
I grabbed the phone. "Hey, what's up? I have to keep this quick, we're semi-slammed and I'm two bodies down."
"Get someplace private, I have to tell you something. It's important."
"Oh... ok. Hang on."
I popped into the back. She was not prone to drama, but she did like to talk.
"I have to get back out there pretty quick," I said. "What's going on?"
"Seriously, you can't tell anyone -- but I wanted to give you a head's up."
"Ok, I swear. What?"
"Here's the deal: [Person who would know] told me that [The New Big Boss] bought some new software for the company. It allows them to hack into the security cameras in each of the restaurants remotely. Basically they're sitting in their offices on their laptop and watching us on the cameras."
"Yes, they're watching to see who is sitting in the office during the lunch rush, who spends too much time in the office, etc. And they're checking to see if people are changing their time cards a lot."
I had a moment of panic.
Then I started laughing.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked.
"I don't know, it's just... so over the top. You know when I've changed my time card?"
"When I didn't take a break because I worked straight through my lunch, but added one in later so it looked like I took a lunch break."
She laughed. "Oh yeah, I've done that a ton."
"And as for watching me in the office... well there may be some excellent footage of me picking my nose once or twice -- but let the record show I had a tissue in use, and I wash my hands religiously. I'm not sure what it looks like on camera when I sit at the desk and put my head in my hands for a few minutes after a customer has chewed me out because their food wasn't right or we weren't as friendly as they thought we should be. Out of context that might look ... I don't know. Oh, and probably a couple of PG13 moments when I reached under my apron to make sure the boys were riding comfortably before I went back on the floor."
She laughed some more and talked about probably giving them a good boob shot once or twice when she was pulling her sweater off.
I thanked her big time for the head's up -- it's the kind of thing you'd want to know.
And after we hung up and I went back to dancing as fast as I could I thought about the new Big Boss some more, and how this seemed a fit for what I had experienced of him. I'm not interested in a long debate here about what rights a company has to monitor its employees. (I do think that to do so secretly is a bit much. We're not in high finance. We're not working on classified defense contracts. It's a freakin' fast casual restuarant chain with less than ten locations. There's a kind of "Gotcha!" to how this is rolling out that is, in my humble opinion... unseemly.)
I do know that if I were still drinking I would take this information and FREAK out. I would be outraged, and guilty, and no doubt would have been pulling something pretty shady in the office, taking extra breaks or whatever.
If they don't like how I use my time they're my employers and they have the right to tell me to use it differently. That reaction is pure AA working in my life. (Though I am compelled to add that if you don't want your managers in the office stop coming up with additional administrative tasks for them to do on the computer.)
But long ago AA taught me that I live more comfortably if I live rigorously honestly. So despite the flash of "Oh my God!" when I first heard this, I am remarkably calm about the whole thing.
For right now at my work, apparently Big Brother is watching.
And that's ok, since the man that AA grew me into has pretty much nothing to hide.
I just hope the camera's getting my good side.