So last night I had an incident that, at the time I didn’t think much of and I posted about it to more applause than I deserve. I was in the grocery store, there was only one cashier, a kid who looked old enough to still be in High School and as I was checking out, some jackass came up and started screaming at him “Where’s the manager?!?!? Why are the lines this long??? What the fuck is wrong with you??”.
The kid couldn’t say anything for various reasons other than that his manager was on break and I myself was shocked the guy was actually pulling this shit. That’s when the little Devil on my shoulder whispered “You don’t work here, they can’t fire you, let me handle this.” and I looked at the Angel who was shaking his head in approval. Game on…..
“Hey homie! Step back and take a deep breath, the kid is doing his best and you sure as hell don’t have a hot date waiting for you so chill the fuck out.” I said this calmly while I locked eyes with the guy. It’s the unflinching eye contact that did it, I didn’t have to raise my voice or cause a scene but I let him know two things, he was out of line and I was crazy.
The reason people like this guy try to pull this shit is that no one wants to deal with conflict or confrontation and they only fuck with those unable to stand up. This is where you come in. Since last night was not my first encounter with this kind of thing, I feel the need to offer a few pointers.
I’m telling you this so that you understand that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. Most of you reading this are Chefs, use your Chef’s voice and talk to them like you would if you had food sitting in the window. Be polite, be respectful, but make it clear that you’re not the person to fuck with.
First and foremost, center yourself.
Situations like this happen out of the blue at a moment’s notice and the last thing you want to do is jump in unprepared. Step back, assess the situation, and take a deep breath prior to taking action. The last thing you want to do is escalate things.
A few years ago I was in a similar situation in a coffee shop. I had just gotten my order and some crackhead flipped out on the Barista. Her and I locked eyes and I stood back and let her handle it which she was able to do with the grace. The next day she paid for my coffee and said thanks for letting her know she was safe but not overstepping things. She had it under control but she also knew I was there, just in case.
Try your best to focus on the solution, not the problem.
Don’t try to attack the person either (I know I kinda fucked up on this, I’ll get to that in a second) but instead, keep things centered on the situation. Distract the person and get them to focus on something else. Trust me, it’s really not that hard to confuse these people.
Humor is a lifesaver.
The ability to talk shit about anyone and anything is a gift that we in the Kitchen possess and in situations like this it can be a very useful tool. While I know I just said to not attack the person but I called him out on not having a hot date, in the moment it worked because I wanted to use humor to remind him how stupid he sounded yelling at some kid in a grocery store on a Friday night. Had he tried to reply I had a few more comments about his class A selection of frozen dinners in his basket but again, this was to use humor to distract him and keep his attention on me and not the cashier.
It’s easy to mumble something under your breath but if you really want to make a point and get someone’s attention, look em dead in the eye and speak slowly. This lets them know that you’re not afraid of em and have zero problems making a point. It’s also got something to do with establishing dominance or some shit, I don’t know but it works.
And film it. Sadly I was alone and things happened too fast but, if you can, get someone else to film while you confront the person. Not only does it make it clear that they’re outnumbered, but it also removes the your word against their word factor. If these people want to act like jackasses, by all means, let’s make em famous.
Be smarter than they are.
People who act like this are not smart, thus they’re easy to mentally outmaneuver as long as you keep a clear head. I might not be the biggest dude in the room but chances are I’m smarter than the person causing the problem and as long as I stay cool, I’m in control.
Don’t be a hero.
Actually, fuck that, if things escalate, handle it how you see fit and if need be, use force to restrain (not harm) the person until they’re no longer a threat. Avoid doing this at all costs but if at the same time, I’m not going to tell you to stand by while others get hurt. Again, be smart about it, I’d hate to lose a fan.