Fool Me Once...

Let me begin by telling you that we have some very wonderful people who work very hard at W.D.Deli. We spend a lot of time together, and when a business is as small as ours, you really do work as a team. We help each other out a lot. We care about each other. We laugh with each other, and sometimes we cry with each other. We work hard. If you've every worked in a restaurant you know that there is always hard work going on. Sometimes shenanigans. But more often, hard work.

The wonderful, loyal, hard-working folks that have been at W.D.Deli a while have seen a lot of not-so hardworking people come and go. It's remarkable how many times we've been fooled. I mean:

Fool me once, fool me twice - just keep fooling me. For the past ten years or so, we've seen a steady rise in the job applicant's ability to fool us. The application may look good. The conversation/interview is pleasant enough. There is eye contact. There seems to be a good amount of knowledge and experience regarding the food service industry. The energy level is good. We talk for a good little while, and then ask each other (Brandy, Wayne, Mr. Bobo) to talk with the applicant so that we can see if we're all on that good ol' "same page."

Once we've agreed that this applicant might be a good fit for the deli, we call them. Assuming that the phone number on the application is a working number, we make contact and talk about a starting date, a starting time, what to expect, etc. The applicant/new hire seems enthused. Excited, even. "Okay, I'll see you Monday morning" are words we've heard more times than I can count.

But things go downhill fast after that. I'm exaggerating. Things don't always go downhill. Sometimes things go great with the new hire. But they have gone south enough for me to always have stories to tell my friends that might be some variation of one of these:

The applicant/new hire decides sometime between the time of the phone conversation and the appointed time to be at work that, well, this is not their jam. They are a no-show. This happens so often. Sometimes this happens with an applicant who has called multiple times to "check on the status of my application." It is a strange and mysterious thing to us. Why go to the trouble to come to the deli and fill out an application and be interviewed and feign interest in a job that you have no intention of showing up for?

The new hire comes to work. They seem okay. Ready to hit the ground running. We're all working as a team. That well-oiled machine you've heard about. And then the new hire disappears. We look everywhere for them. Finally we look outside. We find the deli uniform on the ground out on the parking lot. Hasta la vista, Baby.

The new hire comes to work. It's obvious that they are trying, but just not getting it. On about day three of working at the deli, one of us will approach New Hire and say something like, "We're going to need you to start answering the phone when it rings." "Okay," is the response. Then, as if on cue, the phone rings. New Hire picks up the receiver, holds their hand over the mouthpiece, and asks, "Is it D.W. Deli or W.D. Deli?" [What happened to all that good common sense that you portrayed in the interview? - Fooled again.]

New Hire comes to work with a great attitude on Day One. "Hey, I want to learn as much as I can. If there are any opportunities for advancement, I'd like to be considered." This is great, we think. This person really wants to be here. They really want to contribute to the success of the business. The Day One enthusiastic announcement is quickly replaced with requests to change positions. "I'm really not a front of house person. I'd be better in the back of the house. That's where my strengths are." Okay. We change things up. We move people around to accommodate this request. The back of the house is actually a worse situation. New Hire spends an inordinate amount of time filling their cup at the soda fountain. Even more time is spent in the restroom. Finally, New Hire asks to be moved back to the front of the house because he doesn't like the way he's being treated by the other BOH employees. But before that transition happens, New Hire stops showing up for work. Just stops.

There are many more stories from the deli archives. One of my favorites is the one about the two long-time employees who walked off the job one Saturday morning. It was a weekend when Mr. Beers and I were out of town celebrating my birthday. Two key employees just decided, I guess, (after one of them sent Mr. Beers a horribly disrespectful and inappropriate text message) that if we weren't at the deli they certainly didn't have to be. We got a phone call making us aware of the situation and we cut the trip short and caught the next flight back to San Antonio. We got back to town and got back to work. On Monday morning those two people showed up for work as if nothing had happened. As if they hadn't just walked off the job on Saturday. "Oh, no," was pretty much our response. Bye, Felicia. Boy, bye.

And now I've spent all this time telling you about the crazies, and no time at all telling you about the really great people we work with. Maybe the next blogpost. Right now (I mean right now) we're in the middle of catering a company party and two of our great people are down there handling the guests while I am upstairs with my laptop. I guess I'd better go check on the goings on, though I am sure Jay and Linda are handling things beautifully. We are lucky to have and grateful for our talented, caring, funny, cute staff.


  1. Amazing business to keep running and not lose your hair. Oh, wait. 😜


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