“Work faster!” Bobby yelled to the line cooks at the pub where Liam O’Malley was working. He’d been here for three years. He knew the order wasn’t sent his way. He was the best the owner, Bobby Ferrell, had. That didn’t stop the guy from being a dick to everyone else though.
“The fryer keeps dropping temps,” Monte said. He was just twenty-two and hadn’t been here long. It seemed Bobby wasn’t letting up on him though.
“Then make sure it doesn’t,” Bobby screamed again. He was wiping the sweat from his head with his forearm as he plated the orders to go out.
Liam was manning the grill as he normally did. He had a knack for getting everything the perfect temperature. Most times it was by touch or sight. He wasn’t one for being a big name or doing fancy cuisine like his cousin Aiden. There was no competition there and he’d never be able to keep up anyway.
“Is he always like this on a Friday night?” Monte asked him quickly when Bobby moved away to take his anger out on someone else.
“Pretty much,” Liam said. “Not sure where you came from before, but this is how it is in most restaurants from my experience.”
He hadn’t moved around much as he didn’t like to but knew that was part of the industry.
Aiden had offered him a job years ago, but he’d turned it down.
Sure, family took care of their own, but he wanted to make it his way.
“Yeah. I’d heard Bobby was like this, but I’ve been here over a month and this is the first I’ve seen it so bad.”
“That’s because he has a few new people and he tries to go light on them in the beginning.”
Monte snorted. “Great. Shit. The temperature dropped again. What is going on with this thing?”
Liam moved over quickly and adjusted the dial. “Every time you overfill it or crowd it, you are lowering the temp. Try not to put so much in.”
“Thanks. I’m just trying to keep up,” Monte said.
“I know. Trust me, but it’s better to fall a little behind than send out undercooked food or overcooked food. Then all hell will break loose.”
He’d seen it happen before and normally minded his own business. Tonight Bobby was on a warpath currently screaming at one of the line cooks assembling the salads. The dude really needed to get a grip or he was going to burst a blood vessel in his face.
Monte went back to his station and kept doing his job. Liam the same. He was getting everything on his end out on time but noticed Monte and now Stephanie on the sides were falling behind. He’d slow down to match them so the meals went out the same temp.
He could adjust and did.
“Why is everyone so slow tonight?” Bobby snapped when he walked back into the kitchen.
“We are all keeping pace to get the orders out hot and cooked well,” Liam told his boss. “It’s better being a minute or two slower than having them sent back.”
Bobby narrowed his eyes at Liam’s calm words, then moved off, this time not screaming quite as loudly.
“Wow,” Monte said. “How did you do that?”
“Talk back to him and not have him throw something at you. I’d heard he does that too.”
Liam snorted. No one threw anything at him. He’d walk if that happened. And when he saw it, he normally intervened to calm everyone down.
There was no reason things had to get this heated in a kitchen. He’d learned that you got more with honey than vinegar most of his life.
His cousin ran a tight ship like that and that was why he kept his staff as long as he did.
“I just do my job and don’t get ruffled. That is the key.”
“Thanks. I’ll try to remember that.”
Hours later though, they were closing the kitchen down. Bobby had only cut his shit for an hour and then was back at it. It seemed no one was left off the list of being talked down to.
“Everyone in the back now!” Bobby yelled to the front end staff. This didn’t happen often either and Liam’s ever-present patience was at its end.
“This ought to be fun,” he said to a few in the back. He’d been cleaning up after the last order was sent out from the grill. He was tired and had sweated through his clothes. It was hotter than hell in the kitchen and Bobby was cheap enough to not get the air conditioning fixed to at least take the edge off for his staff.
“Does he do this much?” Monte asked him, looking nervous.
“No. So it means something happened up front too. Guess we’ll find out.”
It wasn’t long before Bobby was ripping everyone a new asshole, degrading them, insulting them, and making them feel like shit.
Bobby turned to one of the servers and pointed his finger. “And you. What’s your name again?”
“Connie,” the young girl said. She looked a little worse for wear. He hadn’t seen her before, but that didn’t mean anything. He didn’t mingle too much with the servers and they didn’t always come in the back.
“How long have you been here now?”
“Six weeks,” she said. There were tears in her eyes.
“That’s right. Six weeks. You should know better. I had to comp an entire meal because you knocked over a glass of water on the table.”
“I didn’t mean it. I was reaching to hand them their food. No one got wet. I caught it fast.”
“I don’t care that no one got wet. I don’t even care that the patrons were good with it. I don’t like mistakes like that,” Bobby was screaming. “That meal is coming out of your pay.”
Connie dropped her head down, the tears flowing, and his stomach twisted thinking he wouldn’t let anyone talk to his sister, Faith, this way.
“That’s harsh,” Liam said. He normally didn’t say anything. “You don’t dock our pay when meals come back under or overcooked. Or is someone’s dick just out of joint tonight?”
He had his arms crossed and Bobby stopped and stared at him as if he couldn’t believe Liam had the nerve to speak up and defend someone.
The problem was, he’d seen this one too many times out of Bobby. His boss wondered why he couldn’t keep staff and this was the reason.
“I can do what I want in my restaurant,” Bobby said.
Liam lifted an eyebrow. “You can. But people don’t need to stay if they don’t like it.”
“Everyone is free to go if they want,” Bobby said.
“Which is why you can’t keep your staff,” Liam repeated.
Bobby turned away from him and lit into Stephanie, getting right in her face, and had her backed against the wall. “How hard is it to make a fucking salad on time? Everyone seemed to have bugs up their asses. How stupid are you? Maybe your parents never had you tested?”
That was enough. He couldn’t take it anymore. The girl was shaking and crying.
Liam walked up and grabbed Bobby’s shoulder and yanked him back. “Cut the shit. You got your point across. You’re not their parent, which is a good thing or you’d be a shitty one on top of it.”
Bobby shoved Liam, which was a colossal mistake. “Just because you’ve been here the longest doesn’t mean you can speak your mind.”
“Really?” Liam said, picking him up and pushing him against the wall in three steps. “How does this feel when someone gets in your face? This is America and not only can I speak my mind, but I can tell you to go fuck yourself and your job along with it.”
Liam tossed his boss of three years away and stormed out the door.
It was a mistake, he knew, but he’d had enough.
Now he’d have to figure out how to get another job after doing that. Rumors would be swirling faster than flies falling from an electric trap…which was exactly how he felt. Trapped, knowing he might get blacklisted in this town.
Shit…what the hell did he just do?