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Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Robin Garr » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:42 am

Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

By Marsha Lynch

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Ah, the old “no-call, no-show”. Basically it means someone who’s scheduled to work doesn’t show up for their shift, doesn’t call to offer an excuse, and doesn’t answer increasingly desperate calls from their place of employment.

At a bank or an attorney’s office, this situation can cause a growing feeling of unease for the missing person’s manager and co-workers, and a fear for their safety - possibly culminating in a welfare check of some sort, or a grim certainty that something awful has happened. Are they lying in a hospital bed somewhere, unaware of the panic their absence is creating, minute by minute?

In traditional business and office industries, it’s practically unheard of for someone to just ghost on a whole day’s work. After all, there are often paid sick or personal days available, so – whatever the reason for the absence – the norm is to call and give some sort of an explanation, even if one has woken up in a motel room in Tijuana two hours late for one’s scheduled arrival at work.

In the hospitality business, it’s a whole different ball game. The notoriously sort of loosey-goosey nature of independent restaurant HR administration, combined with the current dearth of quality employees in an ever-exploding restaurant scene, creates a different set of rules and reactions to the no-call no-show.

Often it’s a dishwasher, the lowest paid guy on the totem pole, who skips work. He may find it more tempting to stay home and nurse his hangover while playing video games than to show up for what will likely be a net gain of $45 for the shift. Phone ringers can be silenced. He can present himself contritely the next day and claim his phone was dead and he didn’t know he was scheduled to work, and he’ll probably be forgiven eventually. And as much as we love and value a great dishwasher, the fact is that all of us in the kitchen can wash dishes, as painful as it may be to see them piling up at an alarming rate during the rush. Even our friends from the front of the house may take pity on us kitchen rats and pitch in, at least washing the plates, glassware and flatware they need to execute their jobs. So it’s an uncomfortable but likely manageable situation.

But when a line cook doesn’t show up it’s god-awful. The first half hour they’re missing, there’s just a whole bunch of people walking around muttering he’ll be here, he’ll be here. Folks text the guy, other folks call from the restaurant phone to signal “this is serious, please answer the phone.” Someone may try to reach the absent cook via Facebook message. Servers start giving us the side-eye, as if to say “this better not affect my ticket times today, I need my tips for rent tomorrow.”

At some point it becomes clear we are not seeing that guy today. Sometimes the angels sing and a manager or a fellow cook calls another cook who’s not on the schedule and that person agrees to pinch-hit, often for the promise of “first-out” – meaning that as soon as things slow down after the rush the rescuing party will be allowed to leave without performing normal cleaning and closing duties. But sometimes that just doesn’t work out. Off-duty cooks might be out of town or just not answer their phone if they’re secure in the knowledge they weren’t scheduled today. (We consider that fair play, no matter how awful things may get for those of us on-duty.)

Most restaurants, even the indie ones, have stated policies about no-call, no-shows. Often it’s “after two such incidents you will be terminated.” Two! You get one for free! Other restaurants’ policies are firm that after a no-call, no-show, you’re off the schedule for a week. Which puts the rest of us in the kitchen in pain for that week, as we all have to divvy up and cover his shifts.

In reality, razor-thin profit margins in restaurants require low-balling staffing to survive and make money. And almost every cook wants a guarantee of at least 40 hours a week, so it’s not like you can just have a cook “on call” for when others fall out, get sick, have family emergencies and so on. Good solid dependable cooks are, if not unicorns, then at least albino hippos. They exist, but they’re as rare as can be.

To that guy that no-call, no-showed on Mother’s Day last spring: I still hate you with the heat of a thousand suns.

Marsha Lynch has worked at many Louisville independent restaurants including Limestone, Jack Fry’s, Jarfi’s, L&N Wine Bar and Bistro, Café Lou Lou, Marketplace @ Theater Square, Fontleroy’s and Harvest.

Read it on LouisvilleHotBytes:
http://www.louisvillehotbytes.com/no-ca ... -shit-show

Read it also in LEO Weekly’s Food & Drink section today:
http://www.leoweekly.com/category/food-drink/
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by James Natsis » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:25 pm

Marsha,
I think its time you take a vacation, or at least a few days off. The title ("shit show"??) and entire content come across as someone who's simply irked. I read over this twice and found nothing of substance.

I feel the same way during finals week when students plead their case for having not turned in any homework, skipped too many classes, and even fail to turn in their final papers! Assigning grades is the worse part of my job and keeps me up sometimes at night.

That said, I grew up in the restaurant business so I understand your pain. That's why I have such a high regard for restaurants that have endured many years and with quality consistency. This is no small feat.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Marsha L. » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:05 pm

Thanks for your comment :D
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by RonnieD » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:18 pm

This is EXACTLY how it is. And it is a nightmare. I run a kitchen staff of 3 and I live 30 min. from my kitchen, so if I get that dreaded text from a bartender "no cook," it's a day killer. The smaller your kitchen staff the more devastating a no-call, no-show is. The first half hour is absolutely spent frantically calling and texting and then you just resign yourself that it's over.

Worse yet, in my case, the person in question is someone I know pretty well and someone I know needs the job and the hours, so for them to vanish is distressing on many levels, because chances are good they won't work with me much longer, making both of our lives more chaotic.

I'd rather they just call me at 9am and say "I'm not coming to work today." At least then I can plan my day better.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Marsha L. » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Ronnie, yes! I'd much rather them call and say "I'm not coming," with NO excuse. That would save all of us a lot of time. We can deal with the aftermath later. And I DO need a vacation, and I'm sure you do, too. We just can't afford the time off or the loss of pay.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Jeff Cavanaugh » Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:01 pm

James Natsis wrote:Marsha,
I think its time you take a vacation, or at least a few days off. The title ("shit show"??) and entire content come across as someone who's simply irked. I read over this twice and found nothing of substance.

I feel the same way during finals week when students plead their case for having not turned in any homework, skipped too many classes, and even fail to turn in their final papers! Assigning grades is the worse part of my job and keeps me up sometimes at night.

That said, I grew up in the restaurant business so I understand your pain. That's why I have such a high regard for restaurants that have endured many years and with quality consistency. This is no small feat.


The substance of Marsha's column is giving those of us not in the business a window into a "day in the life" for those in the industry, and it's always appreciated. This column is no less illuminating than the rest of them, and seeing the frustration that goes with these situations described frankly is helpful.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Carla G » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:50 pm

It's been a while Marsha since I bartended for a living but I certainly feel your pain. I've worked since then in advertising, publishing, sales and pr and never had a situation where the absence of one person (one!) could have the near catastrophic effect that it can in the restaurant business. And I'm still dinked at the jerk that blew off his bartending shift on St. Patrick's Day.
"She did not so much cook as assassinate food." - Storm Jameson
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by James Natsis » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:36 am

The woes of the industry regarding low wages, no shows, alcohol and drugs are no secret and have been thoroughly discussed from Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, to the very present--at least in this forum. It has been disturbing and I am increasingly conscious of it as I frequent food and beverage establishments.

I think an article that delves into the issues of no shows is still welocomed--"No Shows is Still a Persitent Problem." But a title with "shit shows" further plunges us into such negativity, and even to a degradation of such workers.

Juxtapose this negative portrait with the success stories a la Ed Lee, Tony Palumbino, Fernando Martinez, and other restauranteurs who have shed such a positive light on the profession and it makes the former look even uglier.

I don't have solutions--I'm just an observer and consumer who REALLY appreciates the hard work and efforts people make in the profession so that I and others can enjoy the scene and be proud of it's contrubution to our city. Yeah, "shit" happens. And venting one's frustration in a published article is plausible. However, it should also serve as a moment for pause and reflection.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Lora S » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:27 am

Marsha,

Please don't stop publishing these articles! They are an authentic glimpse into "behind the scenes". I liked the title. I took it with a grain of salt- just like my food!
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by RonnieD » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:41 am

James Natsis wrote:I think an article that delves into the issues of no shows is still welocomed--"No Shows is Still a Persitent Problem." But a title with "shit shows" further plunges us into such negativity, and even to a degradation of such workers.




I've got news for you, if you only want sunny rosy stories of kitchen success, you're going to be sorely disappointed. For every Ed Lee out there, there are THOUSANDS of donkeys that don't make their shift and leave everyone else to pick up their mess. Few are going to celebrate those folks or sugar coat the problems they create. Marsha is providing a peek behind the curtain and it's not always pleasant to see how the sausage gets made. Marsha writes plenty of articles about the up sides of things, but she also tells it like it is regarding the less savory aspects of our trade.

If your sole objection is to her salty language, well then I guess that's it's own thing, but I don't think it detracts from the overall content or value of the article.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Marsha L. » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:04 pm

Thanks Jeff, Lora, Carla and Ronnie. And I'll bet Ed, Tony and Fernando have at least a hundred stories each about employees blowing off shifts. With their success I'm sure they have a whole backlog of these anecdotes.

When a cook doesn't show up or call, it's a SHIT SHOW. Period. And we all call it that. "Still a persistent problem" doesn't remotely begin to describe it. And it's not just about bad behavior. It's about how there are so few benefits to being a restaurant cook, which makes it so easy for a restaurant cook to walk 500 feet and get another job when they get let go for not showing up.

SHIT SHOW. Sorry if that language is too salty.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Lora S » Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:43 pm

Marsha, you're welcome! Serve up all the shit you want with plenty of salt and many of us will eat it! - and anyone else can refine their palate with lily white syrupy judgement. The best conversations are those that are over a great meal, with plenty of spice, regardless of who has taken up the slack in the kitchen!
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by RonnieD » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:01 pm

Just for the record, I'll pass on eating the shit. :lol:
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by Stephen D » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:46 pm

You can wake up three states away, with a post-it on your chest saying 'go to the doctor.' Because you're down a kidney.

Pray to God, call 911, your Mom and then Us.

'Shit-Show' is kind language for how we feel about this. I prefer 'F@ck You,' because that's what you're doing right now, sir or mam.
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Re: Marsha’s Industry Standard: No-Call No-Show, Shit Show

by BevP » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:54 pm

I understand this is a foodie site and not a therapy site but trust me as a retired nurse it can't be any worse after pulling your own 12 hour shift and being ready to head home then getting a call from the staffing office saying a RN covering the facility for the next 12 hours has called in and you being on call well guess what...you are doing 24 hours ....just one of the things that led me to being on disability at 42

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