Years ago I worked for a guy who owned a bakery, but didn't know anything about production or the hospitality industry. He was a former politician who actually was called in to sell the concept when the original owner died of a heroin overdose. When he saw how much money we were making, he just bought it for himself. The guy had a good heart, but like many people....he couldn't leave well enough alone. He was going to get involved!
I was the night shift foreman at the time. In many respects this is a lot like being the king of Turd Island. In wholesale baking only the feeble, unwanted, and heathen work the night shift. More of my time seemed to be focused on conflict resolution than baking.
When the sun came up and the admin rolled in, they didn't want to hear that Billy was getting high in the proof box and a rack of steak buns fell over and snapped his collar bone, or 1/2 the Hmong packing crew fled home because the bakers hid behind evergreen trees and howled like ghosts......that's why know matter what occurred, when I walked up to the boss mans desk, I'd light up a cigarette and say "I made you money last night", and then I'd punch out and go home.
It must have been around the 4th of July, cuz I remember it was scorching hot, I got called into the office and the boss was sitting with a man who literally looked like a bear. He was 6'2"ish, maybe 280#'s. Dude was bald and had a thin "John Waters" type mustache and cross eyes. Usually when you see somebody who is retarded (or mentally challenged - I am not sure what the P.C. reference is) their appearance lets you know that they are different than others, but this cat was so fricking hairy that these other features went unnoticed. The office receptionist and company accountant had smart a** grins on their face and I didn't know why, that is until boss man explained to me that the government had programs where company's were showered with incentives if they hired "gently worn individuals" It's nothing to brag about, and I don't condone it, but if you've ever worked in the hospitality industry you here references to "Tards" way too often. The first thing that came into my mind was I would have to spend my entire shift each night shielding this guy from the wolf pack.
I received a formal introduction from the chap, his name was Johnny Reebok.
When we shook hands,OMG it was like inserting my fingers into a hydrolic vice. Johnny starting laughing when he realized that he was crushing me. As little foam spittles rested in the corners of his mouth. The boss started laughing too "Johnny Reebok is one strong son of a bitch huh?"
He could tell I wasn't pleased, so he decided to get away from me by taking Johnny on a tour of the plant. When they slid out the back door the account told me that the boss was such an idiot, he originally hired Johnny to be a route driver. He was actually going to send some retarded guy across the city each day in a bread truck.
I went back into the plant and explained to the crew what we were up against. One guy who we called Helmutt started laughing and pointed out that this Reebok guy would probably have the highest IQ of anybody working the bench.
For the next couple weeks Johnny Reebok showed up to work each day and did his best to do his best, and to be honest....I think the boys behaved themselves pretty well, but when you're working production in a tin building with no windows in July....patience grow thin fast.
Tony, Helmutt, and Reebok were at the end of the bench hand molding hoagies while I was pulling burger buns out of the ovens. Everybody had been in a crabby mood for a few days so I didn't think anything of it when I heard voices raising, but when I became more aware, I noticed that Tony and Helmutt were now screaming and throwing faulty pieces that Reebock had attempted to roll into a pile. There were another 6 or 7 bakers working too, and everybody converged to the conflict. Just as I was pulling the last few pans out of the oven I saw Johnny running out of the back of the building. He was sensitive and the verbal thrashing he received crushed his confidence.
After about 10 minutes he returned to production, so I pulled him back into the pack hoping cooler heads would prevail, but now Johnny Reebock started pulling random hoagies off sheet pans that Tony and Helmutt had done.
At this point control was lost. It was apparent to me that something had to be unplugged, so I told Johnny that he was going to have to go home. He became furious and turned his bottled up anger on me. When he started exclaiming that he would kick my a**, my co workers were now having their monthly highlight and encouraged war.
I was disgusted by the turn of events, sad that Mr. Reebock had been placed into a position where who could succeed, I mean lets face it, only 50% of able bodied / able minded applicants can cut it in a bakery. at this point we were 20-30 minutes behind schedule so I walked across the shop, removed Reebocks time card from the holder and clocked him out. When the ink hits the card...it makes a loud popping noise. When this happened everybody looked at me as I yelled across the bakery for Johnny to go home....then just like in the movies, everything slowed down. Johnny's face turned darker shades of red at a rapid pace, and then "BOOM"....like a bat out of hell he came flying across the bakery. He moved faster than I could of imagined, but I would be lying if I didn't tell you I was kind of freaked out. His body moving like that made him look like one of the zombies from Night of the Living Dead and he was coming directly at me!
At this point I quickly ran 2 options through my head. My first thought was if I hit him, I'd get grief about this forever.....Klecko slugs retarded employees. My second thought was if I didn't, by the look in Johnny Reeboks eyes, he'd rip me apart.
Now Johnny's 10 or 15 feey away and closing the gap quickly and Helmutt screams out "Watch out Klecko - when tards get pissed, they can flip F-ing buses!!!!!"
Then the unthinkable happened, I did it. I popped him twice. Once in the cheek and once in the jaw.Conflict over.
The following day the boss man called me into the office and informed me that he talked with the social worker and it was determined that our bakery was a poor fit for Johnny. Then to his credit, he did apologize for placing me in such an awkward position.After reminding me about the companies 2 day mandatory suspension for fist fights, I stood up, lit a cigarette and reminded him how I made him money last night, punched out and went home.