“Name isn’t Dolphin. And just who are you? The owner’s kid?”
“Yeah, only I’m not a kid anymore. Name’s Trenton. Mister Cantrell to you. And now that I’m out of school, a Manager here. Eventually, this place will be mine.”
“Oh, well, la-dee-dah. I can’t say this is my ‘dream job’. Nope, not at all.”
“Well, okay, then. I’ll check back with you later, perhaps you’ll feel better then. In the meantime, try to get the orders right, please.”
Trenton checked in with the rest of the staff of The Oak Alcove Diner. Many of them were happy, most of them trying very hard to do a good job. He gave them pep talks, which went down well. He was more than aware that ‘Dolphin’ was struggling. In looking up her work record, he found she had already been sent to three different sessions for training. It was disconcerting that they’d spent money on her training, and yet she still failed to perform, and in fact, wasn’t at all happy here. This weighed heavily on him. Her foul mood could spread to the others. This he couldn’t allow. When he checked in on her again, her pot of pudding, or whatever it was supposed to be, was boiling over. He wondered where her head was, as clearly it wasn’t on her job, still. He stepped out for a moment to regain his composure.
After a bit, Trenton went back into the very hot kitchen. “Sergio, my man,” he said, clapping the other chef on the shoulder. “Just checking in with you. How are things going? I see you’ve had some training.”
“Yes, Mister Cantrell. Some, but I know I could do far better if I had more training. Some of these dishes are still a bit complicated for me.”
“Say, no more. Training you’ll have.”
The day was a busy, long one. Trenton did his best to manage everyone, each in their turn. He greeted the customers, and on the advice of both his Uncle Jett and his Dad, he also made a point to just chat with the customers, when checking on their tables. Where he needed to, he prioritized and expedited their orders. Finally, after ten hours of being open, he closed up shop for the night. Thinking in his head that perhaps, they could work their way into being an all-night diner. After all, there were three of them for at least three days of a week to manage the place. He’d bring this up to his father, in due time.
When he approached ‘Dolphin’, as they all worked to clean their stations, he could see she was still doing a sub-standard job. Sighing, he said, “Dolphin, I’m going to do something that I hope will make you very happy.”
“Oh, yeah? What are you going to do for me? Pip-squeak.” She said, swatting at her station with a wet bar towel, splattering the walls with grease. Her lack of caring was more than evident. Trenton clasped his hand together, to help keep himself from smacking her, or worse, strangling her. He’d put up with her all day long and he’d had it up to his eyeballs with her discord.
“Since you’re so unhappy working here,” he said, keeping his tone measured, “I’m going to give you your freedom. Perhaps, then, you can discover your ‘dream job’.”
“Say, what? I’ve got more training than anyone in this place and yet you’re canning me?”
“I tried to tell you earlier to change your attitude, to give this job your all, but you failed to do that. You told me how unhappy you were. If you’re not going to at least try to improve, then I had no recourse than to set you free. This should have been done long ago. You’re fired. Hand in your apron. Thank you.”
“Well, I never,” Delphian muttered, having some difficulty getting the knot out of her apron strings. Finally, it came loose and she all but flung the greasy, blood-red apron at him. Trenton caught it, crunched it up in his hands, and threw it into the bin for the laundry service to process.
Trenton was never more glad to reach home. He realized he needed to talk with his father, who arrived shortly thereafter and had news of his own.
James said, arms wide as he hugged both his wife and his son, “I’ve been promoted to line-chef! Can you believe it? Took them long enough.”
“Line-chef, I thought you wanted to be a mixologist,” Carley said.
“Yeah, well, a promotion is a promotion. Means more money, either way.”
“Promoted,” Trenton said, realizing his notion of keeping the diner open 24/seven was quickly fading away. “Do you still have the middle of the week off?”
“I’ll have to check my schedule, but I doubt it. Let’s eat, I’m hungry.”
Carley grilled up some sausage and peppers and they ate outside on the patio. The night was lovely, warm, breezy and quiet. “How was your first day as manager of the Alcove, Son?” James said.
“Not really. I hope you don’t mind, but I signed Sergio up for some additional training. He’s got that fire in his belly, you know. He really loves to cook. I think he’s going to be a great chef. And he’s eager to learn more, too.”
“Yes, I saw that in him, too.”
“I’ve also signed two of the waitresses up for some additional training, and, as an additional perk, got it at a discount, too. Oh, and before I forget, I promoted our Host. Made him very happy.”
“Well, now, that sounds like you had a rather productive day.”
Trenton cut his sausage and popped another piece into his mouth. “Um, I also fired Dolphin today. So, we’re going to need another chef.”
“Dolphin? You mean Delphian?”
“Yeah, she hated the job, wasn’t willing to improve her work, called me pipsqueak of all things and in general made it known she wasn’t at all happy working for us. I did my best to give her a pep-talk. I even praised her a few times. Still no change. After all that training we put into her, too. Ingrate. I hope — you’re not mad at me.”
“No, Son, you showed more initiative that I thought you had, today. And more bravery than me. I thought her resume looked good, on paper, but in person, she wasn’t the chef I hoped she’d be. I sent her to training, hoping that would help. But, … Between you and Jett my restaurant is going strong. I thank you, both, for your innovations. Maybe, we can make this thing work, after all.”