Friday, August 26

The Gatekeeper

I'd like to start this off by saying that this is a criticism of one person and their external actions that I observed.  There may have been more to it.  Feel free to give him the benefit of the doubt that he eyeballed the application and the dude was completely wrong for the job or that the applicant flipped him off or had horrible BO or picked his nose and wiped it on the corner of the application.
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Yesterday, my next to last shift, something happened that pissed me off.  The restaurant is hiring for several positions as there are several people who have left/are leaving.  I observed a guy (hereafter referred to as Dread Guy) stop at the register to hand our front of the house "manager"* (hereafter refered to as Front Guy) a completed application for the kitchen.  Front Guy, seconds after Dread Guy walked out the door, turned around and commented**, "well that's two throwaway applications today."  When asked to clarify he indicated that the guy didn't bring his own pen to fill out the application and that he didn't like white guys with dreads.  He questioned whether I want someone with dreads making my food with all the bacteria clearly growing in their hair.  He said we don't want hippies working here.

Let's stop and give an acurate picture of Dread Guy and Front Guy for a moment.  Dread Guy had reddish brown, waist length dreads secured with a bandana.  From what I could tell his dreads were well maintained.  I'm not an expert on the hairstyle but from what I understand dreads can be shampooed when necessary and there is nothing particularly bacteria-laden about even unwashed hair (dreaded or not).  He was wearing fairly typical Austin clothing with a T-Shirt and cargo shorts.  He didn't look homeless or degenerate.  I can see how stereotyping labels such as hippie and stoner could be applied.  Front Guy wears cut off jorts (of varying bright shades), ironic T-Shirts, and ugly sweaters (no word on if this is ironically or not).  He rides his bike to work.  His labels would likely include hipster (though I'm going to throw jerk in there as well).***

With that picture in your head, I hope you can see why it pissed me off when I got the stink face from Front Guy for commenting that everyone at the restaurant is a hipster/hippie and that rejecting someone on that basis is stupid.  I also commented that rejecting someone for not bringing a pen is stupid.  I'm not saying it isn't a smart idea to bring a pen, what I am saying is this:

Rejecting someone out of hand without considering their actual qualifications for a job is stupid and hurts the restaurant.  Allowing someone with those type of prejudices to act as the gatekeeper for jobs is a bad business decision.

What if Dread Guy was perfect for the job?  What if he has experience working pizza kitchens?  What if he already knows how to work a wood fired oven?  What if being a "hippie" is perfect for this restaurant given that the owners are committed to supporting the local food community, conserving resources, and reducing waste which are all values that I would easily attribute to "hippie"s?  What if he didn't have experience working a kitchen (which I didn't when I came) but was a fast learner and passionate about it?  What if he was so excited about working at this restaurant and just forgot to bring a pen (I believe that I forgot a pen when I applied too)?

Even giving the benefit of the doubt that there was more going on than what was said out loud, shouldn't the gatekeeper have more prudence than to give the impression that he is making prejudicial hiring decisions (even if he isn't making the final decision on who to hire, acting as a filter is making a hiring decision)?  If he must say anything at all (and he shouldn't be), shouldn't he be giving the impression that hiring decisions are being made based on merit?

*Manager is used loosely here as I'm not sure what authority he actually has over anyone or anything going on.  I do know that he does the books at the end of the night.

**All conversations are not verbatum but are remembered by me.  As I am aware that human memory is extremely fallible and quite likely tainted by my distaste for this entire scenario, feel free to take things said with a grain of salt and an awareness that other parties involved may remember this differently.

***I'm not going to take the time here to fully describe the nuances of the Austin brand of "hipster" but I will say that I can't point at a single person in the pizzeria (except perhaps our dishwashers) who don't fall into this category at least a little.  We are all a little grungy looking (some choosing the "vintage" brand of that), like good food and tattoos, and cultivate an air of nonconformity.

2 comments:

Patrick said...

What?! No blog about your last shift?

Pizza Girl said...

It was just so uneventful that it's hard to blog about. I'm working on putting together a sort of tour of my experiences (both delivering and working in the kitchen), but it's slow-going as I immediately filled the gap in my life left by not having a second job with lots and lots of gaming (seriously, I'm playing three nights a week now).