Justine’s Heartbreaking Job (excerpt from my book)

There was a series of articles in the Toronto Star newspaper last week about how restaurants treat their employees very badly. You can read them here. My nephew, Matt was not paid for several weeks at a restaurant he worked in and eventually quit. Justine also had a terribly sad experience working in that field as a teenager. Here is an except from my memoir, Not My Story To Tell

Justine got a job at a Sport Bar, as a hostess with the promise of working up to server as soon as she turned 16. She worked for almost a year as hostess before she was promoted to server. She was very excited to work as a server because then she would be making tips. She got a copy of the shifts she was expected to work. We drove her the 15 minute drive into work the first evening she was scheduled to work as a server. Her shift was 4 hours. After the shift her dad picked her up. He asked how it went. They had not needed her so she sat doing nothing the entire time. She had missed a social event that evening to work. Why hadn’t she called and had us pick her up? Her manager said she had to stay and wait to see if business picked up. Then they would have her start. Business was slow that evening. Her dad tried to see the bright side. At least she made some money, he rationalized. 

 “I didn’t make a cent!” she cried. “They don’t pay me unless I work and I didn’t work.”

 “What?? That can’t be right!” Her Dad said. “That can’t be true.”

Being a an employee of a unionized auto manufacturer, he did not believe anyone could treat their employees so shabbily. He called the labour board to find out what to do. The labour board told him that restaurants have the right to do that. We were aghast! 

We encouraged her to quit and try to get her hostess job back. The restaurant where she worked before had a union and did not treat their employees that way. Besides, it was always busy so there was no down time to be sitting around. Business was booming there. 

She gave them 2 weeks notice and had to go in for a few shifts. The one night near the end of the 2 weeks she came out crying. A large table had “dined and dashed” and she had to pick up their tab. She lost money that night after working very hard. The real crime was that she knew the boys who stiffed her. She went to school with them. That experience was heartbreaking for her. She never went back.

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14 thoughts on “Justine’s Heartbreaking Job (excerpt from my book)

  1. That was a terrible abuse of your daughter. I’ve seen it happen in South Wales, uk, as well. Workers rights have been eaten away, with the governments permission, it seems. Even though people complain about french workers and students striking every five minutes, I’m so glad they do. They have to keep fighting for decency from employers otherwise they’ll go the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That “law” definitely needs to be changed. In AZ, if someone walks out of a restaurant, without paying the tab, they are arrested. As for the manager who stole from your daughter, I’m glad she never went back. He should be skewered on Yelp.

    Liked by 1 person

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