How I busted two busboys camped out in a walk-in cooler. Topic: Learn valuable things by being unpredictable.

College days. I’d been working the night shift while training at a popular 24-hour restaurant. I’d noticed that no matter how many dishwashers we scheduled, they never kept up with demand. Nightly we ran out of plates and silverware.

I also observed that the manager who was training me always took a post at the front of the restaurant to greet and seat the guests as they arrived. No one ever had to guess where Mr. Manager was.

Therein lie the solution to the dish problem.

On my first solo shift I informed the hostess that I wouldn’t solely be seating guests during the rush. I told her I’d be wandering around.

I knew I was on to something when I entered the “back of the house” and was greeted by wide-eyed surprise.

I quickened my pace. And then I found them.

They sat together in the walk-in cooler. Two busboys atop a milk crate, sitting back-to-back reading newspapers. The sports section I recall.

The look of genuine shock on their faces – both hilarious and priceless. Mystery solved. And two busboys fired.

Managers – In a playful, innocently inquisitive and non-undermining way…

Ask random (non-accusatory) questions. Show up at unexpected times. Talk to everyone, especially those you don’t regularly converse with. Wander around and go to places you haven’t visited recently.

Especially when the business isn’t performing to expectations. You may be surprised at what you learn.

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