12. They Underestimated Me
This one is my favorite of all the multi-lingual escapades I’ve had. Years ago, I was running a kitchen for one of those typical Lebanese American-style diners. Seriously, more often than not, it was just me back there. It sucked. But I needed the job.
The owners thought I was going to be easy to screw over. And they’d talk all kinds of crap to each other, apparently not remembering that I had explicitly said I’m proficient in Arabic when they hired me. So I recorded these conversations (my state is single-party consent) that often bled into them trying to make me cover for them on major health-code violations.
Seriously. They expected me to cover for them while they talked crap about me, with me right in front of them. So. I quickly began searching for a new job and continued to document everything. Every single thing.
I had pictures, timestamps, temp logs. All of it. And then they messed with my pay. Everything that I had been gathering as my “just in case” plan became the weapon I needed it to be.
I confronted them about the very obvious wage theft. They denied it. Even in the face of the major discrepancies in hours worked, set wage, and amount withheld in taxes.
That night, I got a call from another place I’d applied to asking if I was still interested in the position. Obviously, I was. Told them I could start in about 3 days. I walked in for my next shift with prints of everything in a file.
Put everything on the table and told him, “You’ve been stealing from me. I have proof of that, and all of this is ready to go to the Health Department, Labor Department, and IRS. Pay me what you owe, and this doesn’t see the light of day. ”
He was very quick to pay me, in cash, the amount that I had recorded missing from my checks, and took the files and started shredding them.
As I turned to leave his office, I turned back around and told him (in Arabic), “I could understand you the whole time, you [bleep].” And I walked out.
Of course, he didn’t have the only copies of those files. When I got home, I sent everything off to the relevant departments. He was shut down about a month later.