I am contemplating how believable this story will sound, but since it happened before my own eyes and with witnesses, I feel compelled to relate it, particularly to my clients in the restaurant industry.
My friends and I met in the bar area of a very popular and typically wonderful restaurant (part of an Italian motif chain) in Palm Beach Gardens to catch up and have a light dinner. As we said our goodbyes, my good friend, Deb, slipped and fell and received a pretty good shock to her arm and head.
She was so embarrassed and so shocked and like most people in that situation, just wanted to leave and get the attention focused somewhere else. I knew she was more shaken up than she wanted to acknowledge and suggested she just sit a few minutes to make sure she was settled enough to drive etc. We suspected that she slipped on a mint in a cellophane package that was on the floor and were ready to move on.
Just a couple of minutes later, our waitress came to console her and mentioned that she shouldn’t feel embarrassed as she sees 4 to 5 people slip in that area every week. Now, we are thinking there must be a lot of people who drink too much etc. although my friend had only had a slight amount of wine and that was not the case for her.
Within 5 minutes, our waitress slipped and fell within 3 feet of the first accident and clearly injured her back. As a result of her fall, there was water from her tray over the floor and after what seemed like a long time, a man came out with a BROOM and swished the water around a little and then left.
Kaboom! A second waitress slipped on the water and fell. I was expecting to see a manager or someone come out and take charge and clean up the area, but another waiter placed a dinner napkin on the water and rubbed it around a little and left, and didn’t bother to move the wrinkle out of a mat a few feet away that the latest victim’s foot had pushed up in her fall. So, as crazy as it seemed to us sitting there, a third waitress fell and we couldn’t tell if she tripped over the rug, or slipped on the water still on the floor.
At that point, I asked to see the manager and he came over, very disinterested and not at all concerned about his guests or employees. I asked him wasn’t he alarmed at all and he said he didn’t know anything about it. I asked him wasn’t he alarmed about the fact he knew nothing about 4 falls in 20-30 minutes, and he said, “I guess I am just the cool, calm and collected type.”
I asked what kind of injury or liability might make him abandon the cool and calm part. He said . . . and you have to prepare yourself for this is pretty stunning “People fall in here all of the time. The floors are really slippery! We had to put carpeting in the dining area because of it because they were always falling in there.”
I asked him why he didn’t do something about the bar and he said, “Like, what?” I said, (short of snapping perhaps the staff could wheelchair the guests o and from their tables to avoid the danger of falling), maybe some carpeting in here, or no skid surfaces etc. He said “Well, all I can do is write it up because the ‘powers that be’ have to decide that.” I found out the powers that be are in a holding company in Columbus, Ohio and that he rarely “writes anything up.” I include this only because I hope my clients do not have managers like this jeopardizing the health and wellness of their companies.
As we finally felt it was safe to move from our place without someone falling on us, the issue was pretty much behind us, again, when the aggressive and hostile assistant manager (obviously the one in charge of the personnel involved in the falls) came over and asked if he could get her a taxi since she had 8 glasses of wine and he was “worried” about her although he wasn’t worried enough when it happened to offer ice etc. for her injuries. Since 8 glasses was the total for our entire group of people, this was an obvious attempt to intimidate her. I mentioned to him that things were actually progressing ok until he came up and he should remove himself as quickly as possible. He clearly demonstrated that he has some issues that make him a liability dealing with the public. Several men overhearing him said they would have hit him if he had said that to them.
While it still seems crazy, this is truly an example of a lack of screening for such traits as character, common sense and good judgment and my very favorite ACCOUNTABILITY. Regardless of how well they passed their tests or performed as employees, they clearly jeopardized their employees, guests and company due to a glaring lack of leadership and awareness. If I was the holding company that owns this restaurant, I think it would keep me up at night waiting for the inevitable BIG lawsuit. Of course, if I was their in house counsel, I would sleep like a baby knowing I would never be out of cases!
“Who’s Watching the Store?” takes on a whole new meaning.