Does Not Belong

Why is a bare chested Michael Phelps standing on the corner in front of the

The door was pulled open. The air was sucked out and displaced with the Boss Man. He strode in with a purposeful swagger. 

The staff looked up. It was neither a surprise nor a source of stress to see him. That was weird because he had been generally absent, at least until he fired the general manager last week. 

That was weird, too. Not so much that he was fired. There was a palpable relief upon his exit. The weird was that he was fired at all. Nobody believed  that would ever happen. The bastard had maintained his reign of terror without consequence for the past two years. That’s a lifetime in this business. 

So Boss Man let his boy go. And, he was newly, and fully, committed to turning this joint around. Honestly, he was primarily committed to establishing his own restaurant group–so this second place needed to succeed. 

His flagship was handily making its numbers. A lineup of basketball players, an occasional actor receiving a White House honor and famous politicians’ spouses provided the attention and space to coast a bit. This outpost concept was not as blessed. He was on a mission to understand why. 

He tapped a bearded staffer near the bar. It was quiet–the time between brunch and dinner. “Come back with me.” 

They walked into the office. Boss Man was talking all the way. He wanted the staff to help him. This guy was thoughtful and verbose. Boss Man pulled up some emails. 

“Like we left a hundred-k in events on the table.”

“Seriously? You want to hear from me?”

“Of course man, I want to know it all.”

“Your boy likely left 500k on the table. Tito saw this and prolly booked 400k.”

“Tito?”

“Yeah. Before your dick-boy let him go. Tito cared more about this place than anyone.”

Boss Man head bobbed up and down in violent agreement. He was writing checks. “Give this to the delivery?” The guy took the check and left the office. 

The bartender came in. She was getting ready to call it a day. The guy came back and she gave him a playful push as she walked back out.

“Look, can I just give you a piece of advice?” Boss Man looked at him earnestly. 

“Yeah. I just want all my staff to just talk to me. Let me know what’s going on. I appreciate you and your honesty.”

“Well that’s what I have to tell you about. What you really need to do, man, is to pay attention to your employees. You need to know them better. Like me. I’ve never worked here for a single day in my life. I work down the street. I don’t work here, Man.”

Boss Man was panicked behind his calm mask. His eyes gave it away though. They became wide as saucers. That’s why he didn’t play cards. 

“Yeah. You’re right. Thanks.” The guy was peeing himself. Boss Man couldn’t be more clueless. Playing off his indiscretions–sharing internal emails, revenue info, his inside line to the city and a panalopy of personnel gossip like who should be a manager–was part of his problem. The guy outed himself before Boss Man asked him to be the GM. He had to stop his side of the game before it went too far. He wanted a good relationship with Boss Man. Boss Man was well-connected. 

“Really, the sad thing is that I want your joint to succeed more than your old general manager did.”

“Yeah.” Boss Man shook his head slowly from side to side. He was looking at a spot on the ground between him and the guy. “Sad.”

The guy turned and walked away. To stay would just embarrass them both. “I gotta go. I gotta get to work myself. I just came here for late lunch. Here’s my number. I’m happy to provide additional help–but depending we might end up with a consult fee.” He laughed. 

“Right. Thanks, man. Close the door?” Then he put his head in his hands. He drew them across the smooth surface of his shaved head, pushing back until he saw the back of the door again. He sighed long and low, breathing out the word “fuck.”

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