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Mini-cast 199: Cranky Bret and the Bad Customer Revisited

An image of a unhappy couple at an outdoor eatery superimposed with the EsOp Podcast logo.

As we prepare for Season 6 to begin in September, we’re re-sharing some of our favorite episodes from this year.

In this episode, Bret Keisling saw a meme posted on social media which suggests giving restaurant staff grief about their restaurant's vaccination policy. Bret reaffirms that anti-mask is anti-employee, and if you give an employee grief over any policy they don’t control, you’re being a jerk. With Victoria Huerta.

This episode was originally released on August 27, 2021, as "Mini-cast 149: Cranky Bret and the Bad Customer."


Mini-cast 199 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: On September 13th, 2022, we're going to kick off Season Six of The EO/ESOP Podcast with very special guest Corey Rosen, founder of The NCEO and co-author of the soon to be published book "Ownership: Rethinking Capitalism, Companies, and Who Owns What."

[00:00:19] In the meantime, we're going to take a little time off to recharge our batteries and bring you some of our favorite episodes from Season Five. I hope you enjoy.


[00:00:28] Bret Keisling: Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I am joined once again by Victoria Huerta of the EO Podcast Network. Victoria, how are you?

[00:00:53] Victoria Huerta: I'm great. How are you, Bret?

[00:00:54] Bret Keisling: I am doing... all right, I'm cranky to be honest with you, and you know this is coming. Folks, listeners, I am one of the most upbeat and positive people in employee ownership. I really mean that. Victoria, is that kind of how I am in real life?

[00:01:08] Victoria Huerta: Yes. 100%.

[00:01:10] Bret Keisling: I appreciate that, but I am cranky today. I'm just going to launch into it and then Victoria, let's just tee it up. You've worked in the restaurant industry for a couple years?

[00:01:19] Victoria Huerta: Correct.

[00:01:19] Bret Keisling: You're still in the restaurant industry, but you're working with me as well. And it's kind of been your launch to your business career, wherever that takes you, right?

[00:01:26] Victoria Huerta: Yeah. Agreed.

[00:01:27] Bret Keisling: And you have seen an awful lot of customers in the couple of years you've been in the business, haven't you?

[00:01:32] Victoria Huerta: Oh, yeah.

[00:01:33] Bret Keisling: All right with that customer are ruining business. Folks, here's what got me crazy. I saw a post on Facebook and a guy is trying to be wise, or witty, or thoughtful and he's going to make his points and he just made me nuts. Here's the thing. He and his wife, presumably, go into a restaurant. They ask for a table for two. They're asked by the host, do they have their vaccination cards and the guest, the customer starts with, well, who's my server going to be? I want to see his vaccination card. I also want proof that the server doesn't have HIV, Hepatitis A or B. You get the point. He wants all of the medical history. And then on this Facebook post, He asks for the same thing for the host and the kitchen staff.

And then the guest isn't satisfied. He'd -- and I'm quoting from the stupid post. He'd prefer not to be served by someone who's on recreational drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, meth, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Could you provide us with the server's most recent tox screen? As a matter of fact, he wants all of the employee's medical history. Uhhh, let me get the manager for you is what the post says.

That'd be great. Make sure the manager has the vax card and medical records, please. So, then the guy who writes this post says, so then I sat down at the bar and had another shot... of tequila,

Victoria. I'm a little cranky. Should I get into it?

[00:02:58] Victoria Huerta: Yes.

[00:02:58] Bret Keisling: All right. I have said on the podcast several times since COVID began, if you're anti-mask, you are anti-employee, period. End of discussion.

There's a reason I take that view. Yes, I have my personal opinions. I am vaccinated. I have never argued anybody else, in real life or on the podcast, that they get vaccinated. I wish people would. Not my fight. I'm vaccinated. Here's what is my fight. If you're a passionate advocate for employee owners, you're a passionate advocate for employees. So, I've always worn a mask when asked. I've complied with every sign that's on the door of every business since I was a kid. "No shirt, no shoes, no service," I never said my constitutional rights.

And I hope it didn't really happen, but here's the problem. The restaurant's vaccination policy is not the host's problem. It's not the server's problem. And unless it's run by the family and managed, it's not the manager's problem. They're enforcing a policy that they don't like. Newsflash, at least in central Pennsylvania, a lot of my server friends aren't vaccinated for whatever reasons they have. It's not their policy.

But customers are going to walk in because they've got whatever attitude they have about vaccination, about politics, about whoever they voted for, and they're going to treat employees like crap. And here's where I've got the problem.

First of all, okay, you made this point on your Facebook post on what a tough person you are and you asserted your rights. Well, a lot of people liked the post and laughed about the post, and they thought that that made it, everything is okay, that this is going to be the normalized behavior that is now fine. Make a stand when you go to a restaurant. Well, you know what, you have ruined the day of the host. You've ruined the day of the server. You're not going to tip these people because you're so big about the darn policy. You've ruined their days and they're not going to make a penny and you know what else you've done? I'm at the next table over following the policy, having a nice dinner because I like to go out and I don't care if I got to get a mask on or whatever and now you've ruined my dinner. Why? How does the server go to other tables? How do they take care of other customers after you've been a major jerk?

Victoria? Any thoughts?

[00:05:34] Victoria Huerta: Completely agree with a lot of the things that you said, as someone who used to be a hostess, it really is not my choice to ask if you have a mask on. It's not something that I honestly want to be doing. And a lot of my other server friends and people who did host would quit asking because they would get yelled at.

We're trying our best. It's just our job to ask. We really do not care about your political opinion or what you think about the situations that are going on right now. We're simply just trying to do our job and get paid.

[00:06:06] Bret Keisling: Victoria, thank you. So, servers, hostesses, whatever, are worn down. And in a lot of times, a lot of places won't bother asking for masks, right?

[00:06:15] Victoria Huerta: Yes, correct.

[00:06:16] Bret Keisling: Meanwhile, there are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, follow the guidelines, believe in the guidelines, or let me say, follow the rules. And now I'm saying, why am I following the rules if there are other people in the restaurant. So now I've got an attitude with the servers and the hosts or people like me. Right?

[00:06:36] Victoria Huerta: Correct.

[00:06:37] Bret Keisling: So, folks, look, I'm going to wind down in what probably is the crankiest episode I have ever done by simply saying this. If you are anti-mask, you are anti-employee. If you're going to go into a place of business knowing that there are rules, and I'm talking about masks and vaccinations right now, but I do not care what the rule and the policy is. If you're going to go into a business and give a load of crap to somebody who isn't responsible for the policy, you're just being a jerk. And it doesn't matter who you support politically or what your views are. Walk into a business, respect the employees.

I'm going to close with just one final thing. I was taught, when I started my career in the eighties, that the customer was always right. Victoria, have you heard this?

[00:07:32] Victoria Huerta: Multiple times.

[00:07:33] Bret Keisling: Not anymore. Back in the day when I was taught that, throughout history, the customer was always right and we all made money for the shareholders. Well, you know what? The customer is now a stakeholder, the employees are a stakeholder, the shareholders are stakeholders.

And if you want to go into the whole EO vibe, we're all stakeholders in the communities the business operates. Don't come into a business as a customer and act like you're entitled because you're a stakeholder like everybody else. And I got to tell you between a customer and an employee in a situation like this, I'm, with the employee every single time.

Victoria, I think we've pretty much covered the subject. Don't you think?

[00:08:23] Victoria Huerta: I agree.

[00:08:24] Bret Keisling: Hey, thank you very much for listening. We appreciate it. Folks in September, the EO Podcast Network is coming. Very exciting. We'll be talking more about it. With that, thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:08:38] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, production assistance by Victoria Huerta, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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