Anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant will quickly tell you how quick employees come and go. In an industry of high turnover rates, most restaurants look more like a revolving door than a place of business.
A Reddit thread recently asked restaurant workers to dish out on the worst experience with watching someone getting fired. With the amount of employees that come through the average restaurant each year, it's no surprise that there are so many stories with such sad endings, but it's still terrible to read how some of these play out. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I briefly worked for Red Lobster.
There was this experienced server who was honestly the best. This guy could tackle anything that was thrown at him and always kept his cool. Management started doing scummy things like getting people to sign their breaks away and banning us from eating any food. This particular server was working a double with no breaks and we were swamped, so he told the manager in charge that his blood sugar was crashing and he needed a break.
Instead of giving the guy a break, the manager seated everyone in his entire section and told him to deal with it. This poor guy was doing his best to take care of the customers, but you could see that he was crashing hard. His hands started to shake, and a cool sweat ran down his forehead. He went back to the kitchen to took a drink of water. He was standing by the salad bar and popped three croutons into his mouth. A manager somehow saw this and fired him right on the spot.
Three croutons and they fired the best server."
"I worked for this woman who owned a bakery business with several locations. She was a lunatic, but she paid well, and for the most part, I loved my job. I was constantly told I was one of her best employees, and one day, she wanted me to be a manager at one of the stores. Honestly, I gave my all at that job because she paid me well above minimum wage for someone who had no experience in a bakery position prior to being hired, and I enjoyed making cupcakes for a living.
Three weeks before Christmas, she came into the store and told me that if the police showed up to give her a call in her office so she could come upstairs to meet them. Weird, but she was always dealing with something crazy like a customer she insulted or the like. The cops came and she took them into her office to talk to them and that was that. After we closed the store that night, she called me aside and accused me of stealing money out of the register.
She had cameras all over her store and told me she had hidden ones even the employees didn't know about. She 'caught me doing suspicious things' on camera such as taking an envelope off the counter and coming back into the store after I had already locked up to get something I forgot. Just weird and baseless accusations.
She told me she had called the cops on me to file a police report and they would be wanting to talk to me at some point. She then fired me and took away my keys for the store and I left. I was devastated, and for the following week, I was a nervous wreck. I had never taken anything from her, ever.
I later found out from a friend who still worked there she told every single employee I stole $3,000 dollars from her, and probably stole her checkbook as well because it was 'missing.' She also told everyone who still worked there they weren't allowed to talk to me at all. That also really upset me because I really enjoyed my coworkers, but I knew most of them were so afraid of her, and losing their jobs if they didn't bend to her every whim they just obeyed. For weeks after being fired, she'd randomly called and texted me and if I didn't immediately answer, she would call and text my girlfriend and threaten to have the police come to our house if I kept 'ignoring her.'
She stopped for a while, but two weeks ago, she started harassing me again trying to set up some sort of meeting to talk about why she fired me, but I pretty much told her it can be a phone conversation or she can get lost, and I haven't heard from her since. Honestly, I'm waiting for some crazy letter saying she's trying to sue me for god knows what.
I talked to her over the phone and told her I would have a meeting with her and then after talking to some people with much better judgement than I, decided that it would be a phone call or nothing at all. She wouldn't even tell me what the meeting was going to be about when I asked, she just told me 'The police finished their investigation and I want to talk to you' and the police NEVER contacted me, and I never heard about this investigation from anyone other than her, so for all I know it's a big lie that she's using to torment me."
"A crazy lady from the restaurant I work at was found by another server passed out in her car. Her forehead was on the steering wheel 45 minutes after her shift was over, and we later found out she overdosed. She was already on thin ice for getting caught buying pot during her shift and the neighboring business saying they saw her sucking some guy off for more product or money. She was taken away by the police who said if we hadn't reported this, she most likely would've died.
There was also a cook who just disappeared during one of his shifts, and we only later found out he left because of some problem with his friend buying some kind of substances and getting revenge against his girlfriend."
"My sister is 17 and worked at McDonald's for about a month.
I was on my couch around 10 one night when my sister called me. The conversation went kind of like this:
Sis: 'Um, yeah, can you..come get me?'
Me: 'From work? Didn't you drive?'
Sis: 'Uh, well...yeah, but um...can you just come get me? Please...'
Me: long heaving sigh 'Fine.'
It was only a five-minute drive, so I didn't even change out of my sports bra and basketball shorts because I assumed I wouldn't be exiting the vehicle. I pulled into the McDonald's, and there were cops in the parking lot with their lights on. My sister was a big pothead, so I immediately assumed she got caught with some pot. I was instantly ticked off. I threw my truck in park, jumped out, and marched to my sister, who was talking to a cop, while another cop was shoving another McDonald's employee (Eric) in the backseat.
Basically, my sister let Eric sit in her car until his parents came and got him because his car was broken down, and it was still winter at this point. Another McDonald's employee who didn't like Eric saw that he was rolling a blunt in the car while she was on break, so she called the cops. He also had a warrant out for his arrest. This kid was barely 16. So, I looked at the cop and asked if my sister was in trouble too. The cop replied that she didn't believe that my sister was high so she was fine, but the cop said she couldn't let my sister drive home regardless so that's why I had to come and get her.
I thanked the cop and they left. I was hauling my sister to my truck when the manager of the McDonald's stomped out of the building and started screaming his head off that my sister and Eric were both fired and banned from McDonald's, and that if they ever step foot on the property again, he'd call the cops. Then he looked at me and said, 'You too!'
I didn't even do anything! He also called us white trash, so that was pretty cool.
My sister cried her eyes out the entire way home, and said she'd never break the law again because she was so scared."
"I was hired as a chef in a brand new bowling restaurant in a casino complex where there were two bars, bowling, laser tag, private VIP function rooms, a dining area, and the restaurant under one roof. We had many functions lined up for months and we worked flat out. I was doing 50-hour weeks, and one guy clocked in 72 hours in a single week. We would work 12 to 14 hours each day and were denied an actual break. Our chefs actively told us there were no breaks because we were busy.
That changed when Christmas came around. We were dead. There were no functions or customers. We had our shifts cut that week and my last shift was seven hours on the day we got paid.
The next week, I got a text from my boss saying there were no shifts for me (and many employees) that week and there might not be any for the near future. The next week, I texted him to see if there would be any shifts that week and reminded him that I still didn't get paid for the last shift I worked. He told me there were none, and that he would look into it and pay out that shift if it weren't paid and that it would be paid out next week.
I got a pay slip in my email the next week to find my annual leave being paid out on grounds of termination. Just like that, I was fired with NO warning, and my last shift not paid out after working my tail off the three months I was there with no breaks.
I texted him saying I got the good news but wanted to know when I was going to get paid. He had no response. It actually baffles me how heartless people can be and not even have the balls to tell you you're being fired."
"I was working as a waitress and during my first shift at a new place, I noticed that the kitchen was a little tense. The head chef was off work, so it was the sous chef and apprentice, who apparently didn't get along.
Walking in and out, I caught about half of what was going on between them.
The first time I walked in to get food, the sous chef told the apprentice to get bent. The second time, the apprentice was telling the sous chef that he was going to break into his house and murder his entire family. The third time, the sous chef was on the phone arranging for a friend to come and 'get' the apprentice after work.
They were being pretty loud, and you couldn't hear it in the five-star restaurant, but you could from the office, so the owner came through to see what was up. The sous chef told her that he was going to fire the apprentice as soon as service was over, so of course, the apprentice used a knife to slice his finger right down to the bone, and then tried to claim that it was an accident and that the restaurant owed him workers comp. When he was called out on doing it on purpose and told that he was fired, he legged it out of the back door and wasn't seen by ANYONE for like six months.
The sous chef was later convicted of attempted murder towards his girlfriend."
"I've only witnessed someone getting fired once.
I was working at a restaurant and one of my colleagues had a drinking problem. He would often come to work hungover or still wasted, but he was overall a nice guy. He made big tips, had a lot of knowledge about everything, and he was really loved by our customers. But one day, he had too much to drink and messed up big time.
He got rehabilitated and after a month of his rehab, he got fired because that one time he messed up, the customer put a review (after a month) on our website.
When the boss found out about the review, he instantly, without any hesitation, threw him out of the restaurant."
"I had a culinary teacher who was working at a resort kitchen when he and a fellow head chef noticed they were going through a shocking amount of vanilla extract in a short amount of time. I'm talking full liter bottles in less than a week. They do some digging only to find out that one of the line cooks would take the vanilla extract into the bathroom and drink it in an attempt to get buzzed.
Second one was when the head pastry chef at my restaurant found one of my fellow line cooks drinking the red we are supposed to use for cooking.
Yeah, those in the culinary industry have some of the highest amount of people with substance issues."
"My first real job as a teenager the summer I turned 18, I was saving money so that I didn’t have to work during the fall semester at college. I had gone around town and put in applications everywhere. I ended up getting hired two places on the same day, an Albertsons grocery store and the Applebee’s the next block over. I didn’t really have any plans that summer, so I decided to work both jobs. I told the manager at Albertsons I could only work mornings, and the Applebee’s manager I could only work nights. Problem solved, right? I’ll have plenty of money for school.
What I failed to account for was the degree of crazy the Albertsons manager had going on. She liked to write the schedule out by hand, without taking into account anyone’s availability. So it was a constant circus of reminding her what your availability was. She also didn’t like to redo the schedule once she had written it out, so she was constantly amending it with little scribbles here and there. The weekly schedule would morph on a daily basis, so I got in the habit of taking a picture of it on my phone when I was on my way out, just to be sure I knew when I worked. It didn’t work well, but it sort of worked.
A few weeks into the summer, I was at Applebee’s working my dinner shift as a waiter when my Albertsons manager walked in holding a piece of paper. She waived me over, and when I wrapped up what I was doing, I went over to see why she had come to see me.
Crazy Manager: 'This is a write up for being late for your shift tonight.'
Me: 'What shift, I was there this morning. I’m not scheduled again until tomorrow morning, are you expecting me to be late?'
Crazy Manager: 'You should have noticed that I changed the schedule, you are working tonight. It’s your job to keep track of when you are supposed to be working.'
Me: 'You are joking, right? I took a picture of the schedule on my way out when I left at 3 pm. Did you change the schedule again?'
Crazy Manager: 'Yes. Maria is sick and will be out for a few days, so I made some changes this afternoon. You are working now, so I’ll see you there in 15 minutes or you are fired.'
So the crazy lady, problem taken care of in her mind, left to cross the parking lot back to Albertsons with every expectation that I would quit my other job to work a shift that I hadn’t been scheduled for as recently as two hours before. All of my Applebee’s coworkers, who hadn’t believed my stories about just how out of touch with reality this lady was, died laughing when I went into the kitchen and retold the events of the last couple of minutes. I finished my shift, and went home.
The next day I went into work at Albertsons, not knowing what to expect, clocked in, got called into the office and fired for a no call no show. I briefly attempted to argue that it isn’t a no call no show if you can’t be reasonably expected to know the schedule has changed in the two hours since you last saw it, but you can’t argue with crazy."
"My last straw was when I was working drive-thru at a Tim Hortons, and the person who was making drinks had just walked away into the back without telling us where he was going and why. After seeing the drinks building up, I stepped over to start making them, and my supervisor IMMEDIATELY came over and started questioning me, 'Why isn’t that coffee time stamped? Why haven’t you thrown that old coffee out yet? Why do you have a line up of drinks?' I just stepped up to pick up the slack of someone else. I was called into the office of my managers after that and one of them accused me of rolling my eyes at her because I broke eye contact to look up for a moment.
I left that job shortly after, and about a month after I left, they fired six perfectly good workers before their benefits could kick in. One of them was 57 years old and in a very stressful time with moving and having some issues with her significant other, which they knew because she told them everything, and she attempted suicide and was hospitalized for quite a while after that. I’m pretty sure they also fired a woman who was eight months pregnant who was trying to get enough hours to get maternity leave.
I refuse to go to Tim Hortons now, and I tell this story to everyone I know who considers working there or enjoys going there. The managers are more often terrible than not, and they, nor the company, care about their employees. I guess it depends on the managers at each location, but everyone I’ve ever known who has worked there hates it.
I work at Starbucks now, and it’s amazing how much difference it makes working with and for people who actually care about your wellbeing."
"I worked at a southern chain restaurant with the word 'Barrel' in the name.
The manager was so strict when it came to labor and time management. She severely understaffed the restaurant and would get mad when things started getting behind. We constantly asked for help but she would state that she was the manager and it wasn't her job to help. I worked as a prep cook who was also in charge of any salads or desserts as well as keeping prep work caught up. There were supposed to be a minimum of two people on that station during peak hours but they would only schedule me. I would spend the time making salads and desserts so the prep work would fall behind and we would run out of things like coleslaw or sliced roast beef. The manager would sit in the office her whole shift and play Bejeweled.
Our long-time line cook got fed up one night and went to her office, demanding help. She fired him on the spot because he cursed at her. His exact words were, 'We're effing drowning in orders out here. WE NEED HELP!' She still refused to help and our store, that closed at 10, was still full of people past 11, waiting on their food. I stayed until nearly 3 am that morning trying to help the line cooks clean up after the shift.
And then I got in trouble because my shift was to end at 10:30 and I had stayed later to help. She clocked me out at 10:30 and said I wasn't getting paid for the extra hours.
After that issue, I started talking to other employees, asking if their paychecks were short. Thats when we started noticing clock-in times were being altered in other situations. People were clocking in the time they arrived, and then, about 30 minutes later, they were clocked out and then clocked back in at training pay instead of normal pay.
Eventually, we were able to get an investigation from the HR department and that manager was fired. Then we ended up with an even worse manager. During the shift, he would walk over to the dessert cabinet and steal desserts, then he would eat them in the office while the shift fell into shambles. One night, we had an unexpected bus group come in, so instead of helping out, he was in the storage area, cutting off box tops. We asked him for help and his response was, 'I'm the manager and I don't get paid to do that.' He was also a very angry man and would just harass and berate the staff to tears.
Then there was the night the manager stole a completed dessert out of the window. I had made it for a customer and it was the last slice of Coca-Cola cake for the evening. The waitress had specifically saved that slice for her customer and had confirmed multiple times that I had it saved for her. She panicked when she saw it was gone. I confirmed that I did make it for her and thats when we see the manager in the office, chowing down on that last piece of cake. He refused to go talk to the customers and told us we had to handle it. It wasn't in his job description.
There were also times where he would come to work, clock in, then immediately leave for hours at a time while clocked in.
It wasn't just the management, though. A majority of the staff were on substances or were mentally unstable. I had never worked in a place where the break-room was filled with self-help and how to get clean pamphlets. I saw some guy chop his own thumb off and then acted like nothing happened. I saw one lady pull her own tooth then continued to make biscuits. One girl was mixing coleslaw with her bare hands and lost her ring in the mix but didn't bother to look for it. Nobody did special cleaning jobs in any of the other stations. I pulled out the grill station one night to sweep and there was a layer of grease that was about seven inches deep. Another associate left roast beef in the unplugged warmer one night then served them the next day instead of throwing them out.
The final straw was the night the manager and I got into an argument and I threw a hot fudge packet in his face. I am normally a shy person who lets people walk all over me. Something snapped, though, and seeing him steal yet another dessert and then complain about work not being done in my station, I lost it. I started screaming at him for being worthless, stealing all the desserts and not helping when his crew was struggling. I threw my apron off, grabbed my keys and left mid-shift. Yes, I was worried about how I was going to make ends meet, but leaving felt like a weight had been lifted off me.
I was scheduled for the next day, and I actually showed up to give my formal two weeks notice and work the shift out just because it was the right thing to do, but when I showed up he said, 'Instead of giving a two weeks notice, why don't you just leave and never come back.'
So that is what I did. It still kinda stung at the time, but older me knows I shouldn't have even stayed that long. The last I heard was that that manager had been fired from the restaurant, went to another restaurant and was fired within three months, went to a hospital to work in the cafeteria and was fired yet again."
"I was fired from a restaurant at the beginning of my career for not scoring morphine for another cook, who happened to be best friends with the kitchen manager.
I copied the schedule down and had two days off in a row. The manager then rewrote the schedule on the first day I was gone and scheduled me for the next. He didn't call me or let me know he had rewritten the schedule and then fired me for not showing up the next day. I was 17 at the time and didn't know any better. I have a better life then they ever will now.
They were both terrible at their job and sub-intelligent morons anyway, and years later, I ended up working in five-star spots across the world. So joke's on them. "