There are so many good places to work that are run by decent human beings who truly do their best to do right by their employees.
Sadly, there are a fair amount of places and managers who are the exact opposite. They treat people poorly, and even sometimes take advantage of them to the point of breaking the law.
This man worked at a small brewery, pretty much keeping the operation going – though the owner would never have admitted it – and didn’t kick up much fuss about the guy being a jerk a good amount of the time.
Nearly 20 years ago, I was a brewer at a brewpub. The owner was a complete lunatic and an utter A-hole. Before I was hired, he had already purchased the brewery equipment, used, from a closed microbrewery. Problem is, it was literally 4 times larger than it needed to be for the size of the place, and to top it off he was selling Big 3 beers too. And it was a Pugsley system (brewers will know).
But I made it work, even got the stupid Ringwald yeast to behave. But I only need to brew about 3 or 4 times a month (I have worked at places we brewed that much a week), so I wasn’t needed anywhere near 40 hours/week. And I was salaried.
So he decided I needed to work night manager at least two nights a week, to fill out my hours. That was fine, it was an easy gig. After our first year, he advertised a huge Anniversary event, with specials on food and drink. Food specials. Commercial beer specials. And didn’t even mention that we made our own, much less put anything on special. Idiot.
When he insisted on taking his first vacation in a year, the guy grumbled about it quite a bit, but he didn’t have much of a leg to stand on as far as denying him.
Not too long after, I got my first vacation in over a year. And he was mad at me for insisting. But life was stressful, not least of which because my Mom was in hospice, Stage 4 cancer. But her condition was such that she said my wife and I should go, she’ll be fine. So we went camping for a week. The day before our trip was to end, we got word she had died. Two days earlier. My family didn’t know how to reach us, only she did.
Sadly, OP’s mother passed while he was gone necessitating more time off – and he grumbled about that, too.
We rushed home (6 hour drive), and on the way I called my boss and told him what had happened, and that I probably would not be in on Monday as planned (this was Saturday).
I found out later from a bartender that he then bitched at the chef that I was probably going to want more time off. I did in fact take Monday off, but I went in on Tuesday to do my night manager shift.
Now, after the memorial service, OP had had it. He asked to be paid hourly instead and said he would only be taking care of the brewing duties, nothing else.
Now, my Mom’s wishes were to be cremated, with no embalming, so by the time I got home, she was already cremated. So the memorial service was planned for two weeks later, right before Labor Day weekend. There was to be a memorial service Thursday, and the interment for the family Friday. So I planned and made sure that the servers were full and I wouldn’t need to brew for at least a week.
That Wednesday the boss comes and tells me, he wants me to work night shift on Thursday and Friday (normally I did Tuesday and Wednesday nights) to make up for the time off I’d taken to help my Dad out (he wasn’t handling it well). He wanted me to come in after my Mom’s funeral. I flatly refused, at which point he said fine, but I’d have to work a double shift Saturday then. I nearly lost it.
I walked away, and after I cooled off I went back and told him I was no longer going to do the manager shifts, and that I wanted to switch to hourly for brewery work only. He was angry, but stuck. He needed me in the brewery.
Which might have worked fine for everyone involved until the manager decided to short our friendly brewer on hours.
Things started calming down, but after a few weeks I noticed my paychecks were for less than I anticipated. I hadn’t been tracking my clock in/clock out very closely, because prior to this I only clocked in and out so I was logged in to do manager functions, but I happened to have a couple of slips in my wallet, and because I still had manager access, discovered he had been altering my hours, eventually cheating me out of around 20 hours in just 6 weeks.
He set an evil plan into motion and just sat back while all of the wheels began to turn.
And that’s when I hatched my plan. I was done with this A-hole. Remember that Ringwood yeast? Well, in a brewery, you harvest yeast from a fermenting batch to use to brew a later one. And since we were slow, it often had to be stored for a while before it got used. But you had to use it within 30 days (21 is better) or it goes sour and starts dying. Normally I would take other steps to ensure it stayed clean and healthy, but not on the last batch I harvested. It just went into the cold room. And stayed there.
I stopped going in very often, just logging tank levels to make sure nothing ran out and made him suspicious. I would even go in to make sure he wasn’t in that day, and later message him that I’d brewed (I hadn’t). And waited. On day 45, after I got the check for the last hours I worked, I overnighted my keys in with a resignation letter. He called me the next day, screaming.
I told him I knew what he’d done, and I wouldn’t be back. I don’t know what he looked like when he went into the brewery cellar and discovered he had empty fermenters, nearly-empty serving tanks, dead yeast, and almost no grain. Pity really.
Things got even worse after that for everyone but OP. Even for the community, I bet, because I’m sure they missed his beer.
After that, he tried to hire my former assistant, who was working at another brewpub by then because the A-hole had forced me to fire him to save money. He laughed at him. He then apparently got the under-age son of one of the brewers at a nearby brewpub which he had originally been part of to brew for him, but had to fire him because the kid kept getting caught drunk down in the cellar. So he tried doing it, and I had heard they stopped brewing entirely eventually. About a year after I left, he folded. Staff showed up one morning to padlocked doors.
Drove through there a few years back, not only gone but building was torn down. I felt like stopping to sow the ground with salt, but I was in a hurry.
I personally think this story is one of victory – you can’t just steal from people and get away with it.
Recognize when you’ve got a gem, people, and treat them that way!
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Tell us about it in the comments!