Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just the Manager at This Olive Garden

Column by Charlie Mihelich

Olive Garden billboard at night

Hey everybody, gather ‘round. Rough day today, guys. Roughhhh day. You all really stepped up during the dinner rush, and we got through it. Go us! I think I can speak for all of us when I say "No more minestrone soup!" am I right? It’s fun sharing a joke with you guys. We’re all in this together.

Alright, time for the evening announcements. This is being passed down from corporate, so hey, don’t shoot the messenger!

I don’t want you to think there’s some sort of barrier between you and me. I’m the manager, sure, but I’m also a person. It looks like, from now on, let’s see here…we’re going to be pooling tips. I know, I know. Hey, look, Karen, this isn’t coming from me, remember? It’s just my job to read ‘em. Remember "No more minestrone soup!"? Remember how we laughed? I wouldn’t make you pool your tips if it were up to me. Sometimes, though, when you run food out to a table or you refill a table’s drinks and then the person who took the order gets the whole tip, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it? Seems a little unfair. In those situations, maybe it makes sense to split them up?

No, I’m totally not saying I agree with it. Not at all. I mean, I guess I’m not paid to think, that’s just how I’d do it if it were up to me. But it’s not up to me. Remember that.

Olive Garden servers

Next, looks like there is an update to the company issued uniform. The old uniforms may no longer be worn, and you’ll be issued new ones before the start of your next shift. The cost will be deducted from your next paycheck. Yeah, yeah, it sucks, I know! I feel like we just changed the uniforms a couple months ago. Seems like it, anyway.

Hey, Zach, you look mad. Are you mad? You’re not mad at me, are you? Because you know I’m not the guy who changed the uniform policy. God, if only that were within my power. I’d let you guys wear whatever you want. Well, within reason. I mean, I kind of get the whole uniform thing, because it looks kind of sharp to have everyone wearing the same thing, but as long as you guys had, say, a white button down shirt and black pants, it wouldn’t really matter to me where you got them! I feel like I’d be pretty sensible in my decision making.

But again, not my call. All I can say is "No more minestrone soup!" Sigh.

Next, well, oh boy, you’re not going to like this one. Corporate, and I emphasize corporate, has decided to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and all employees will be required to work. No exceptions. Man, that really sucks. Where do they get off?

Courtney, c’mon. I have to be here, too. This isn’t coming from me, I’m just the one saying it. I feel like that’s the part that’s not getting through to everyone. One minute I feel like we’re cool and I can hang with you guys, and the next it’s like you guys don’t like me and you’re pissed at me for all these decisions I have no control over! You guys like me, right? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Just know that I like you. I like you guys a lot.

You think I want you guys to have to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas? Man, if it were my call, I’d let you have any day you want off! I mean, as long as all shifts have coverage, and it wasn’t like, excessive, I’d be totally cool with all that. Just as long as you didn’t take advantage and people weren’t, like, never here. Within reason, though, no prob! And holidays, man, it’s like, duh. They’d be just like any other day. As long as we have the coverage. No, I’m not saying my restaurant would be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m just saying that IF it were open on Thanksgiving and Christmas…you know what? It’s a hypothetical, ok?

Why’s everyone freaking out on me? I have literally no control over this, so I shouldn’t have said anything. Other than the part corporate required me to say. I had to say that part. You guys know I had to say that part.

Look, I’m just going to level with you. I don’t want you to think there’s some sort of barrier between you and me. I’m the manager, sure, but I’m also a person. I know you’ve all gotten pretty close and you meet up after work at Darren’s house to party and all that. Oh yes you do, Sean, don’t lie to me. Don’t lie to my face. I hear you talking about it literally every shift. But every time I ask what everyone is up to after work, it’s like, "Oh, just going home," or, "Oh, just gonna watch some Netflix." Why don’t you want me to come? You think I’m some kind of narc? I can hang. I’m down for whatever, and I can get just as weird as the rest of you. What happens at Darren’s house stays at Darren’s house, am I right? I mean, as long as what you guys are doing doesn’t violate Olive Garden’s drug and alcohol policy, we’re cool.

Oh, c’mon. I’M A MANDATED REPORTER, GUYS. I HAVE TO REPORT IT! I could lose my job for not reporting it! Believe me, if it were up to me, I’d be cool with everything. I mean, I AM cool with everything! It’s just, there’s a manager-subordinate relationship there, and those boundaries have to be respected. No, yeah, I know I just said there weren’t any barriers. No, I don’t think I’m better than you. I don’t know what I’m saying. Believe me, you guys are cooler than I’ll ever hope to be. I’m just the manager.

Honestly, I wish to God I wasn’t the manager. Just for one day to be with you guys. Today, when we were just crushed with customers, and I had to jump out there and get my elbows dirty in the trenches with you all, I’m telling you I felt alive, truly alive for the first time. You’re all very, very lucky to be servers here.

No, Nick, I will not go fuck myself. That’s a pretty hurtful thing to say.

Alright, one last announcement to get through, guys, and then those that don’t have any side work left can get out of here after they do one last sweep.

Due to surging popularity, we will be doubling up the amount of minestrone soup we cook up during the day. Looks like there’s going to be more minestrone soup, guys. Much more minestrone soup. Well, I guess that joke is officially dead, and in a perfect world, I would be too. Really push the wheat pasta, guys, c’mon.

I Put the Fear of God into My Dog

Article by Mike Bellinger

Betty is a small, fat, hairy dog that lives in the same house as me. There’s your backstory.

Betty might walk into the kitchen, tail wagging, ears pricked, and I will greet her with enthusiasm, a smile, and that patronizing, high-pitched voice that people speak to dogs with. After I have greeted the hound, I then look away and pretend to concentrate on other things. Maybe I’m polishing a plate for some reason… it doesn’t matter. It’s all a ruse, with Betty now believing she is safe.

I like to imagine that this hairy little midget of a dog has built up an empire of lies and deceit, and remains constantly on edge. Without warning I then snap my gaze back to her at a hundred miles an hour. The dog immediately realizes the gravity of the situation and her ears flatten down on her head like two armies simultaneously retreating. The tail has long since stopped wagging. This is because my gaze does not feature the previous smile. This is a look which stuns her, freezing her to the spot.

I don’t just look at Betty with fury, because that would be cliché; rather, I tend to give her a sad, betrayed look, with a hint of intense bloody vengeance. The kind of look a movie hero gives to the villain, if said villain killed his father twenty years ago, when he finally tracks him down at the end of the film. The wind would billow through my gorgeous long hair (I’m the hero), and the rain would bucket down onto my body, and flashes of lightning in the night sky would illuminate the moisture, accentuating my rippling physique. I would be shot in slow motion, and I would also be backlit, because it makes you look good. We would be situated on the edge of a mountain, just us, everyone else dead, as epic music plays in the background, and I would roar as I raise the sword over my…

Hero raises sword in epic battle scene of 300 movie

Sorry. I got a little carried away.

After giving Betty "the look," I begin issuing the verbal threats. This is one bullied mutt. The verbal threats generally consist of the same few stock phrases:

  • "This is it, Bet!"
  • "It’s all over for you now, Bet!"
  • "It’s all come crashing down, Bet!"
  • "You’ve been found out, Bet!"

All delivered in a comically exaggerated style.

I like to imagine that this hairy little midget of a dog has built up an empire of lies and deceit and, like a deceptive movie villain (who almost got away with it), remains constantly on edge. This explains her stopping dead in her tracks, with a guilty look, as soon as I give her "the look," leaving me as the hero—the man who reveals her lies to the world. Maybe she wasn’t really a dog all along, maybe she secretly planned to kill and eat the cat, that kind of thing.

I’m not sure if this makes me a bad person. After giving her "the look," I always give her a treat and send her on her happy way. I’m sure she’s a little suspicious of me. But that comes with the territory, I guess.

The fact is that there are people out there who do exactly the same with their dogs, so don’t judge me. You do it too. You may not have the same routine with your dog, but you almost certainly have a routine. Maybe you don’t give your dog "the look"; maybe you like to make your dog wear a burger bap on its head all day. It’s just your routine, and I don’t judge you for it. Maybe you don’t have a dog; maybe you play "the look" game with your overweight mother with a heart condition instead. In which case, I’d advise you to stop doing that.

What is the point of this article?

Well, people like to think they’re unique.

  • "I’m not like other girls."
  • "OMG I’m so random and weird."
  • "I’m different."

Those are phrases you might hear quite commonly.

But you’re not different. And I’m not either. For every weird thing you think only you do, there are anywhere from 12 to 1,000,000,000 people doing the same thing. And yes, there are other people who play stupid games with their pets. In fact, I guarantee you there are at least 86,000,000 people around the world who do this too. They may not say the exact lines I say to my dog, but they’re going to be pretty darn close. They may sing soothing lullabies or reveal dark secrets to their pet every time (they think) they’re alone in the house with their four-legged friend.

Who knows. People are weird, and most people are remarkably similar.