There is a busy Subway restaurant a few hundred feet from Highway 441/27 in The Villages, Florida. Nothing remarkable about the interior or exterior – most consumers looking for a quick sandwich are typically not concerned about the lack of ambiance as it’s all about the food.
While down here for my parent’s wedding anniversary, a few of my siblings had a taste for sub sandwiches so this Subway restaurant quickly came to mind. Being just outside of this Friendliest Retirement Hometown and beautiful retirement community and a good seventy minute drive north of Orlando, the location was ideal. The weather was cooperative for early February and and our family wanted to enjoy these sandwiches at a nearby park on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
As we arrived, there were about 12 people in queue to be served. No need to worry, these employees appeared to be working hard. In lieu of the restaurant’s location and the fact it was Sunday afternoon, I was surprised only two women were serving customers – one was fairly young and quite talkative and the older women, while working the register, did not appear to be emotionally engaged. Perhaps with limited management support, both employees and customers potentially might experience the brunt of questionable scheduling during such a busy time.
With all the options and combinations of building a sandwich, it took about 10 minutes before we received our order (even though the first woman had initially skipped over me). For a moment, I thought I was a potted plant! As I paid and because the woman working the cash register appeared to be somewhat agitated, I engaged in small talk to let her know her work mattered to me. I complimented her on how hard she was working on a Sunday afternoon. That touched a nerve or two as she begin to tell me management wanted to cut expenses so they only had 2 employees during the Sunday afternoon shift. She also voiced her frustration at not knowing how long she was going to work. Was it Noon or 3 pm? She could never rely on a schedule as her manager had a penchant for changing her hours without advanced notice. Piecing things together, it would not take a labor relation’s attorney to ascertain there was some history and friction between her and her manager about scheduling and working conditions.
If what she said was true I could certainly understand her frustration at the working conditions and lack of empowerment at this restaurant. Some critics of the harsh variety might say she should just quit if she’s unhappy but that’s not really a nuanced approach. My only comment was she needs to focus on what she says at a given time and who she says it to. Even though customers might feel her frustration, it’s certainly not professional to complain to those ordering a sandwich about her inadequate pay or lack of control with her work schedule. Most Subway sandwich lovers or patrons want to quickly stop in to get a sandwich, a soda and bag of chips and want to enjoy their day without feeling guilty that they helped contribute to this one employee who’s being overworked and perhaps under paid.
I chuckle at how many celebrities promote the Subway sandwiches and restaurant. This includes Michael Strahan, Michael Phelps, RGIII and Apollo Ono among others. I wonder what their reaction might be if they had a similar situation with this overworked and frustrated Subway employee? Would it be support? Kindness? Understanding? Or would they merely smile, ignore her work situation and go about their business.
Subway, eat fresh but ignore the disgruntled employee!