Never before have I worked for a company that has done such a complete 180 in my estimation of them than the company I am currently employed by (for the next three days, anyway), COOK. I used to like working there. No longer.
COOK gives the impression of being a small family-run company and we're all just important cogs in the COOK wheel. True, they are relatively small, having only 35 company stores and about 10 franchise stores, as well as about 300 or so farm shops that carry a small selection of our stuff. They produce cutesy little newsletters with fun and jokey articles for the staff. Edward, the founder, is still only 40, having come up with the idea for a frozen food company about 20 years ago with his chef friend Dale, opened with just one store, and built the thing from there. True, the food is damn good. It looks to the outsider like one big ol' happy family.
But on February 5th, Edward, en route to the airport and anxious not to miss his flight to Mombasa, bless him, stopped by our shop to tell us that we were going to close this summer. I was not present for this meeting as I was at the bank. I was gone from the store maybe twenty minutes. When I arrived back he'd been and gone. Tom, my manager at the time, told me the sad news. He explained that Edward had said (indeed, this was confirmed later in the day by an official email) that the company had gone to the landlord to re-negotiate the lease, and the rent had been jacked up so high by the greedy landlord that the company had thus decided not to renew the lease and call it a day in our location. Since then, we have not seen Edward. The only people we've actually had a visit from since February have been a girl from HR called Becky, who told us nothing we did not already know, and a couple of people in charge of the farm shops and franchisees who just happened to be passing through and thought they'd stop in and say hi. They did not even know we were slated for imminent closure. That's it. I only met my area manager for the first time a couple of weeks ago. My regional guy, I've only spoken to on the phone once. The only thing I can say about the way my store and its people have been treated is that it's been shabby. We have been made to feel like poor relations. Pariahs if you will. Non-entities. Persona non grata.
And ever since that time, we have been letting people know on a daily basis that we are going to close. Every damn day. And every day, it seems, everyone that comes into the shop is (a) shocked and stunned and alarmed that we are going to close, and (b) convinced that Tom, who is from the Chicago area, is Canadian.
We are now just three days away from closure. Today (Wednesday) I had a day off. Karen, my OCD manic-cleaning area manager, was there at the shop with Rachel. Rachel has been working there for nearly three years, and informed me today that despite her long service, she and the rest of us would not be receiving any redundancy. Karen called me in the middle of the day to let me know that Edward, in his infinite wisdom, has decreed that we are to have a delivery tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. Thursday. We close on Saturday. I had been happily watching the remaining stock deplete, emptying freezers and consolidating stock into smaller and smaller areas. Just yesterday I had talked to Karen on the phone and she assured me that she would not be ordering any more stock. But today, apparently, Edward called her directly and ordered that it be done. See, apparently he's been looking at the figures and noticing that recently we have been taking money hand over fist. This is because people know we are closing and are stocking up, obviously. This is not due to any economic turnaround. But Edward, displaying a great sense of business (ha!) acumen, sees an opportunity to make a fast buck and says "Order more stock! It shall be so!"
Order a huge 100-case order, three days before you close your doors forever.
Is it just me?
Not only that, but the order is due to arrive early in the morning so that we don't get trampled underfoot by the teeming throng milling around our shop in the middle of the afternoon. Meaning that I, yes, yours truly, I have to get there at 8 fucking A.M. to open the doors and receive said order. Bearing in mind that I wasn't actually scheduled in till 11:30.
So, lemme get this straight, Eddie babes...
You want ME...
to go to work THREE AND A HALF HOURS EARLY...
to receive a 100-CASE ORDER...
that I DON'T ACTUALLY WANT???
THREE DAYS BEFORE THE SHOP CLOSES FOREVER???
Just because YOU can't get the FUCKING POUND SIGNS OUT OF YOUR EYES???
What an absolute shithead.
The way I see it, I have three options.
1) I could just roll with it. Hey, there's only three days to go, and I am getting paid at acting manager rate.
2) I could get there at the appointed hour, and when my area manager turns up, just hand her my keys and say "Thanks, but no thanks... you take it from here."
Or (3) I could get there at the appointed hour, and when the truck turns up, just refuse delivery.
I mean, what are they gonna do? FIRE ME??
P.S. A little footnote: The company has told us for a long time that the reason we are closing is that the landlords put the rent up, but just today I heard a different version of the story. The manager of the cafe next door talked to me in the street today and asked me what the reaon we were closing was, according to the company. I told him what we'd been told, and he said "Ah, that's bullshit." He said that he'd been told (albeit from an unsubstantiated and somewhat questionable source - his boss, aka our landlord) that COOK had made the decision to close and informed us at the store THREE WEEKS PRIOR to the lease actually being negotiated. This throws a whole new light on things if true, and just adds to the somewhat shady reputation of the brothers Edmonds if false (which I strongly suspect it is).