Dear Downtown Diner Owners,
I am officially severing our business relationship. It’s been good … okay, well, it was good. But, recently, things have taken a bad turn. I can no longer ignore it. Admittedly, I’ve been trying to ignore the downward spiral. There’s a bit of shame in my admission that I held on longer than I should have because I really covet your meatloaf panini special. I love how you place meatloaf slices with bacon, caramelized onions, and mozzarella cheese between pita bread and press it all in a panini press. I’m guilty of overlooking your wrongs because of this dish and a few others, but the meatloaf panini is my favorite.
My first clue fell in my lap when I came in on a recent Sunday for breakfast, and business was slow enough that you both had time chat with me. Here’s some advice: Don’t trash talk your wait staff to me. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to know. I come to your place to eat because I need a respite from the grind of my day. I come for a bit of an escape, and the comfort of your good food. I don’t want to hear about your HR problems, especially since these same people serve me on a regular basis.
But even worse than trash talking your wait staff is the fact that you trashed one particular person because she has a mental illness. I still shudder at the fact that I didn’t stop patronizing your business the moment this happened. I knew even in the moment when you described her bipolar behavior to me, and subsequently trashed her, that I should have fled the scene. I’ll admit I felt awkward later with all my unsolicited behind-the-scenes knowledge any time I was there. But, I would think back to your dreamy meatloaf, and just shake off my nagging feelings.
You see, you should know better for so many reasons. Let me count the ways … Patrons don’t want to hear bad stuff about your peeps. They want the illusion of a well-oiled machine, whether or not that is the case. Also, you should be careful. You’re an employer, for god’s sake. Trash talking your employee because of her disability puts you in potential hot water. Get a brain about this HR stuff if you want to continue to make your living as an employer.
The other thing to consider is that you never really know who you’re talking to when you’re making chit-chat. You think you may know me well because I told you both I’m in sobriety, and I don’t drink. But that tidbit doesn’t even scratch the surface of who I am. I, myself, have PTSD and dissociative identity disorder. I know that it’s likely you never would have guessed this about me as you know what I do for a living, and you see me with all my colleagues having lunch in your diner. But, I am a person with a mental illness. I work hard to maintain my ability to work, but that’s because I’m fortunate enough that I can afford the treatment that I need. Remember when I asked you if you had suggested to your waitress that she go to the county mental health center? Do you recall how I was trying to tell you how to advise her to access mental health services? If you were smart enough you would have concluded that I’d had a few rodeos myself, and there was a reason I knew how to get “in the system.” Lesson: mentally ill people are sensitive to other mentally ill peers getting trashed simply because they’re mentally ill.
Don’t worry. I won’t trash review you on yelp, or anywhere else. Okay, yes, I’m trashing you here, but no one knows your name here. Your stupidity is safe here. But, really, get a brain, and kiss the meatloaf good-bye for me. We had a good run, me and that meatloaf.
This is an amazing piece. …but I am sorry that you will be missing your meatloaf sandwich. (Which OMG I need to make meatloaf just so I can have a cold meatloaf sandwich now….)