Re:I'm done with Cracker Barrel
Tue, 08/2/11 11:12 AM
I worked in a Cracker Barrell once back in the 1990's.
The day shift were a bunch of old middle aged Florence Castleberry types. People who have been there for a long time, did the morning shift and then went home to bed. These 50'ish women out there doing that everyday, my mother always told me that she was thankful she married my father and does not have to do that type of work. The women all hated working in Cracker Barrell, but this was it for them. They were 53 years old, with kids and grandkids, rent and everything else, and this is the only job they can get. What the schools should do is to get all the at risk kids who may drop out of school and have them talk to one of these old broads.
The CB attracted a lot of religious people, especially Pentecostals and other religious sects because CB did not serve beer or alcohol. Consequently, CB hired some Pentecostal waitstaff, since this was a place where there was no alcohol. The girls themselves were almost enough temptation to join their flock. This is actually a date place for the Pentecostals. You can tell a Pentecostal girl because they have long hair and wear blue jean skirts, since they cannot wear pants. They did not try to witness to you about the faith, but I have always had an interest in religion and I have asked them questions. They dont believe in the Trinity, which I thought was interesting. They dont play with snakes either. Too bad, because that sideshow I would have woken up on Sunday to see.
I liked the Pentecostals except for this one waiter, who always worked the other side of the room. He was a closeted homosexual and went to a local Pentecostal College. The guy would come back from taking an order and talk snarky about every guest he had. He hated children and hated women bringing in babies, saying stuff like "There's a woman and her fetus outside." Never was repremanded for that. I got wrote up once for saying "Sh*T!" while this guy talked that way about complete strangers. (The complainant was a woman whose last name was BEAVERS, which I found quite humorous. I never wanted to see her beaver anyway.) Eventually, Rev. Closet he was booted from the strict college for something stupid like watching a PG movie and he walked out of the closet. I wasnt there for the openly gay Pentecostal guy.
Before we could go home, we had to do a duty called closing sidework and have to roll a certain number of silverware, which was taking a knife, spoon and fork and rolling them into a paper napkin. Usually we would have to do about 100-200 of these. What we would do when the dining room was slow was to get a bus tub, roll the silverware and then hide them under the ice maker or a prep/drink table so another waiter wont "steal" them and claim that it was their work. Perhaps this was the reason for the lack of silverware. Remember that when you are eating out that hundreds of mouths have used those, and quite possibly a spider under a table urinated on your fork that was hidden away like buried treasure.
I hated all the customers who wanted breakfast for dinner. It always annoyed me that the host never asked the customers if they would like breakfast or dinner and I would always have to do unnecessary running around because Shorlanda or Tennika couldnt be bothered to do their jobs. A bunch old oldies came in one night, parking them at the far side of the room, with half of them wanting the breakfast menu. Old bitty wants "An egg sandwich with hash browns and the hash browns comes with the egg sandwich". The egg sandwich was not on the menu, it is a "secret item", a special request, whatever. It was a party of 8 or 10 and trying to keep up. When I tallied up their bill, the old bitty was charged for her hashbrowns and she went nuts. "I TOLD YOU IT CAME WITH HASHBROWNS!" just berating me and going ape. I was pleasant though. Killing old ladies is a capital offence in the state of Mississippi.
The place (really) to get if you want to vent anger or frustration was in the walk in cooler. In the walkin, you can yell, scream, curse, whatever. Close the door, no one can hear you. The cold also has the effect of cooling down one's anger. Usually people were cool and I had little problems with them. Working in a stressful environment with a depressed, overworked staff, some of whom probably with a “past” just wasn’t fun.
We would have regulars come. One was an old lady known as the "Soup and Salad lady" because, of course, this is what she ordered. She came in between the lunch and dinner rush, never asked for anything, and paid her check and left. One of the older full time women nicknamed her "Tuna Salad Lady" or something.
An older man with Parkinsons or palsey who shakes and had trouble talking defensively announcing that he isn't drunk, and then describe what was wrong with him. Cant say that I cared. If he was drunk, I would have suggested some hashbrowns and black coffee.
A lot of elderly, elderly, nursing home escapees old customers. There was also a family with a strange, slow developmental daughter (maybe autistic?) who ordered "cheese and crackers", one of those hidden items that is available, that she would eat at a meal. Made me wonder if this is all this person ate.
We hated tour busses. Be aware of that if you are on a bus that stops for lunch somewhere. One day, the band KORN stopped. The bus driver came inside first, wanted his food fast and get back to the bus. He gave me $5. Then the band came in, and I and another waitress took care of them (they were a-holes by the way), and left us $10.
Well, I and the waitress split the 10 bucks and she wanted half of my bus driver tip. I told her that I did that by myself, and she said that he was part of the group. It became somewhat heated with me backing down and giving her the $2.50 to shut her up, the managers were of no help. She was a crackhead (I knew that because I have done drugs) who eventually quit Cracker Barrell and went to rehab, with her parents paying for it. A lot of the staff were drug addicts, in recovery or religious people.
The cooks on the line were all black, including one dude who was from Chicago and in a gang. The cooks stayed, but the wait staff was basically a rotating gang of people, especially in the evenings. That place worked you like a dog for a measley $2.13 plus tips. Then the closing staff gets to clean the place, roll silverware and do sidework for an hour, then sit in the joint until the manager gets done to let you out.
I did a triple shift in there on a Sunday, was in that store 14 hours and made $95 in tips. I was so damned tired, and I still had to roll silverware twice from lunch to dinner. That place was always out of silverware. Our dish guy was a young black kid who got into a physical fight with a waitress, but he still got to keep his job. Her name is Brandy, which made me wonder why any woman would name her child after a type of liquor.
A lot of times the store manager will call your house on your day off and try to make you come in, which to me was a pain. The last place I wanted to be was Cracker Barrell with the loonies, religious nuts, depressed, overworked people, et all. The assistant manager, who is chained to that company, wearing the tie and short sleeved shirt, with the pregnant wife with kid number two. Ugh. All the dreams of High School reduced for working for a Hillbilly Company off a highway in a rinky dink town.
Managers were OK for the most part. There was one manager a lot of us loathed. He would let people into the dining room five minutes before close (waiters hate that!). He got slugged in the face by a dine and dasher he was chasing with us cheering the bandit. A lot of workers disliked the morning/lead manager, on the line he was very strict, yelled a lot, and got really aggrevated if he heard a dish break. Off the floor, he was a nice guy. I think these guys make good money, but the stress, and having to be at or near the store almost everyday, dealing with all the things they have to do, working for some jackoff hillbilly company. The gift shop manager lady was a mad Frau who was loathed by her workers. She, (liked almost everyone else in the CB) hated working there, hated her job, hated the place. I wonder how many retail managers in America justs snaps and ends up in a mental ward or violently worse.
My last manager was an ex-Marine guy who had to shake things up under his command. He wasnt a hard arss perse, but he had the need to make the place “his own” and making changes and being even more authoritarian than the last guy, someone most of us personally liked. I had enough of the place and made an escape mid shift, and told the manager on the way out to get someone else to serve this slop. Some poor couple probably sat in there for an hour because I took their order, the cook read it wrong, we got into a disagreement, the cook was a crazy Chicago Crip and I wasnt going to get capped fir that.
One of the cooks moonlighted at the Waffle House, or one could say that he sunlighted at the Cranky Barrell, or whatever. Guy is working two hot jobs all the time. Supposedly Waffle House actually pays an OK salary for experienced line cooks. At least, unlike Waffle House that Cranky Barrell was a drunk magnet. Occasionally a man will get a bit distressed that CB serves no alcohol and looks at his wife in dismay or disgust. I would. I dont know if there are smoking and non smoking sections anymore, but I usually did the smoker side, since I was a nicotine addict at the time and did not mind.
The best thing on the menu is the Peanut Butter pie. I also liked their bread, especially the cornbread. The lady that made our bread was this huge, jolly black women. Every restaurant in the south has a huge, jolly black woman the kitchen. Just walk into one and ask, “May I please speak to the huge, jolly, black woman please?” they will know who she is.
CB also had this signature brand of soda, one was a root beer and the other was an orange cream that was delightful. The rest of the food is Ok to mediocre, and for breakfast, Waffle House and places like that are cheaper and better than CB.
I will say that when I escaped from Cranky Barrell, I kept the apron, which they sewed my name on the front (which was cool.) My mother still has it and uses it in the kitchen.