And Who Said You Can Work Anywhere You Want? (short piece #11)


I read background checks for employment are becoming more and more commonplace. I think that is a positive thing especially in the restaurant business for two reasons. The industry attracts those who are physically able (and look like the part) but not necessarily professionals and some have interesting problems outside of the workplace. A basic reference check will not do the job mostly because the reference check itself is extremely flawed. Restaurants are very stressful places and people can turn quite harsh toward each other. The wellknown manifestation of this hostility is workplace violence which everyone in restaurant business is very familiar with. This violence also extends outside of workplace but has never interested restaurants because they are not legally obligated and frankly most don’t care for the health of their employees beyond showing up for work.

Those in the position of giving references themselves have almost no credibility. A good reference or bad reference for a restaurant job can change by the mood of the person when answering the telephone. References are also the best way of getting back at former employees. The outcome is seasoned restaurant workers have their own ways of lying to live through the system. Background checks can cost as little as $75 and frankly can prove to be the exact opposite of what many references will tell. It is safe to assume that most references for restaurant employees are worthless. The majority of restaurant managers are not qualified to be managers and do not care for the law for the sake of the restaurant or the employee rights. They also function as vengeful individuals because most seasoned staff learn to fight with the manager and not be easy. The job is stressful and hard to do. The employees suffer this hardship also and learn to create more stress to fight back. A final reference check is many times how the revenge is taken and can have no basis in reality.

San Francisco itself has something not every city has. The older generation of restaurant owners act and think as they did forty years ago when everyone was nobody and these guys counted as big guys because they owned a kitchen and a dining room with a bar. They still think they are the ‘boss’ and the city government allows them to get away with any crime in the book. These guys think if an employee does not treat them as the ‘boss’ and thinks can have a career on one’s own (without their approval?) that person is not to work in the city.

San Francisco politics is not that of a big city but of a small village. This city was built in one day literally. A small village grew into a huge city overnight when the 49ers arrived digging for gold and partying. The mindset of the city never changed from that of a village mostly because the city has too many hills, and is surrounded by water. The layout is not on the grid system and has weird streets. The final outcome is a strange sort of gerrymandering for local politics. The old ‘bosses’ own too much of the city block by block. Though many people live here and can care less who these mean ancients are. The old ‘bosses’ still live in the world of old movies and think it is mighty white of them to let others use their businesses. They also think the world is how they see it (as was decades ago) and that especially goes far in human relations. Only choice white people may rise to prominence in San Francisco or the ‘bosses’ will be upset. They still think this city is owned by a few (literally handful of white families) and cannot stand anyone they don’t like to do well.

The liquor salespeople call San Francisco a ‘white city’ and say it is because of all the vodka that is sold here. I doubt that. I was told many times when I first entered restaurant business to be careful because Gavin Newsom has mandate from the rich of the city to prevent any minority from success in restaurant business. They like restaurant business and think it belongs to white people (and that does not mean any young but the few from the good old days of ‘white people’ in America). The white people are to staff it, run it and benefit from it as they believe. I finished a good deal of wine training once and jumped from behind the bar into the dining room and I remember life after that as going very well on many levels but having many strange problems which never made sense to me. The only explanation that had made sense to me is that I was told I progress fast, and I will be prominent in the restaurant business which should be good and nobody really cares but is against the mandate of the rich of San Francisco. What will be next? Yes. The number of successful people who do not fit the part, as of forty years ago, will increase and very soon the old money of San Francisco will not be pleased with the city and who works here. What of all this? Background checks is a system that not only helps protect the employer but also helps the qualified employees survive in fields that are filled with hostility, dishonesty and hatred. America still has a little of those left and San Francisco has plenty. A good and cheap system of background check is a must for 21st century workplace.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.


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