By Abbey Kelly
Around the holiday season, people tend to reflect on what really matters: family, friends, hobbies, rest, joy.
But festive rest and recreation is threatening to capitalists. And sometimes workplaces cling to you like a toxic ex.
To get the real news, I began an investigation of Dilton’s Diner & Bar on Yonge Street, a restaurant that has a reputation for high employee turnover.
Walter Street, Dilton’s owner, says he thinks young people today are spoiled to think that rest is a right.
“Some companies don’t even let you take time off!” he says, feet up on a freshly-bussed table. “I’m being generous by even accepting time off applications,” he says with a sleazy smile.
“We’re a family”
Street is looking over financial reports and his employee’s schedules. He explains that it’s to calculate how much he can under-staff during rush hour to increase profits.
A waitress behind him rolls her eyes. She points her thumb toward the back room and walks quickly under the guise of heading to roll silverware. I excuse myself and follow.
The waitress, 22-year-old Phoebe Kobo, has worked at this restaurant for three years during her undergraduate studies at Ryerson.
“You should have seen the message sent to the group chat,” she says with an exaggerated grimace.
The message from Street reads:
“Wow. WOW. W O W.
I would have expected this treatment from my old lacrosse coach, but not from you. This staff isn’t just my team. We’re a family. A family comes together to help out when times are tough. The holidays are some of our busiest times of the year. Blood is thicker than water but it’s just as thick as hollandaise. I’m disappointed you think you can abandon your family when we need you most.”
I let out a low whistle. A legion of mice with sriracha mayo smeared on their noses peek out of the kitchen at the noise, but Kobo tsks at them and they scatter.
“I’ve been less manipulated by my ex and he was a musician, English major AND a Pisces moon,” she says.
Some employees still defend their boss, however.
“What about the managers huh? They need this! Their life is their job,” I overhear a line cook say.
Kobo mumbles: “Sounds like their problem.”
“I don’t think not having a life means you need to subject everyone around you to not have a life too. I quit,” another cook says.
Right before my Eyeopener™ eyes, three staff quit and I follow them out.
“You’re replaceable!” Street calls out after them.
“Wow, this really does feel like family,” the line cook says. Street sheds a tear in response and says quietly, “Yes.”
Kobo must have seen the expression on my face because she said: “Moving motive, still exploitation.”