Stick It To The Little Guys

Last modified on March 20th, 2008

I love stories like this. Starbucks has just been ordered to pay $100 million worth of cash that was taken out of their employees’ tip jars and given to managers and shift supervisors. It always boggles my mind how establishments like that routinely try and screw their employees, many of which are making minimum wage.

My teen years were pretty much filled with an endless string of shitty jobs. First, there was Bonanza, an interesting establishment that tried to cross fast-food with grilled steak, the result of which probably kept the local hospital busy with food poisoning cases. Like Starbucks, we were all instructed to take whatever tips we had and put them in a big glass jar, conveniently located in the manager’s office. Once a year, in December, management would count the money in that jar and give it to us employees. That is, whatever was left after paying for the company Christmas party. Truth is, I don’t think any of us ever saw a dime from that jar, but I remember several employees lost their jobs for not putting their tips in it.

Runner up on the shitty job list was K-Mart, home of the garbage. There are two malls back in my home town, one of which is “cool”, and the other which invokes massive suicidal tendencies the moment you enter. K-Mart, of course, was located in the latter. Looking back, it’s really hard to decide which part of that job I hated the most actually. Was it the eight hour shifts where I got to walk around in a big loop pulling all the stuff on the shelves to the front? Could be. Or was it that week I spent folding those beige granny panties in the bulk bins? No, without a doubt it was that time I was ordered to spend 12 consecutive hours locked inside the Marty The Mascot costume, all the while trying to fend off little kids who wanted nothing more than to beat the living snot out of me. Ahh yes, those were the days.

I almost forgot about my time at McDonald’s — there were definitely some winners there. First there was “Rosie Palms” Steve, that quicky character who lost his job after being caught masturbating in the back freezer. Then there was this Dave guy who, upon being asked to clean up after the guy in the bathroom who let loose on the floor, threw a pizza at the shift manager and said “why don’t you clean that up?” But, despite the craziness of working there, one thing they had going for them was that they always looked after their employees, either by making sure they had enough time off for school work, or giving them a big discount off food during their breaks. So they weren’t all bad.

I’m sure it isn’t just Starbucks employees though — the little guys are undoubtedly getting screwed everywhere. Just this morning a cabbie was telling me how the city of Vancouver is routinely going on TV saying how Vancouver cabbies aren’t doing their jobs, even though whenever they try to pick people up in the downtown core, there’s a city guy waiting nearby to give them a $40 ticket for being illegally parked.

On an $7 fare, he said, a guy just can’t win these days.