Everybody finally got home, caught up on sleep, and came over last night for ice cream and a session of filling me in on what happened. It wasn't sudden or unexpected. In fact, I'm amazed they stuck it out as long as they did.
It can mostly be summed up as bad management. Rich and Brenda were given all kinds of responsibility for getting the concessions up an running, and keeping them running, without any authority for supervising underlings who were causing problems from indifference to job standards, abusive language towards supervisors, mistreatment of each other, theft from the boss, all the way to hygiene issues. When issues were actually witnessed by the owner, back-up of their attempts at correcting problems was seldom offered. They detailed incident after incident, but I'm leaving it with a summary. There was worse.
Nepotism was a big part of it. It had been for years, but the person they considered the worst and most protected by the owner Jeremy had finally left at the end of last year. Things had maybe started to look up. Then this year's crop of temporary hire employees were mostly kids and needed supervision way beyond what their ages said they should have required. Not bad enough, more family members were hired on.
Jeremy's mom is apparently the kind of person you'd love on your side. She just wasn't actually helping her son's bottom line. She'd tell customers who ordered two separate units of cheese curds that if they ordered one larger one instead, they'd get as much and save money. See? You'd love her. But each time she cost her son $8.
I met Jeremy's dad up at Cambridge when Steve and I dropped in to visit Rich and try out the new bacon cheese curds. (Yum!) He was pleasant enough, but what I now know happened behind the scenes was that Rich made sure he was the only person handling our food. Last night it was explained why.
Rich and Brenda were absolutely not allowed to correct Jeremy's dad in any way whatsoever. He'd been in the business for years. He just didn't believe in hand washing. That wasn't the worst of it. What Rich witnessed, and Brenda heard her lemonade customers discussing loudly while they waited in line after witnessing it themselves, was his practice of using a towel to swat flies down on the floor, then using the same towel without any cleaning to wipe off the counters the cheese curds were served from!
Oh, I'm sorry. Were you eating? Did you make it to the toilet in time before throwing up? I'm sure you can understand why this was their line in the sand, refusing to be associated in any way with potential illnesses arising from this practice they were not even allowed to criticize, much less change.
So now they're home, scouting out their next move. Jeremy will have blackballed them from many of the potential jobs in the business they could have gone to, with owners happy to have a pair of responsible employees like them. Apparently he has that kind of power.
Meanwhile, bills are due.