Saturday, March 3, 2012
A Lesser Man
I have been doing my thing lately, and as usual, burning the candle at both ends. Last night, I did decided to take a break and do something out of the ordinary – I turned on the TV. Big mistake.
As the television went through its startup routine, it locked in on a channel that was about to air a show called Undercover Boss. I had actually seen an episode or two last year, and although it wasn’t exactly Citizen Kane, it proved to be entertaining, and I did not lose any brain cells watching bimbos fighting in taverns.
Last night, that changed. The theme of the episode centered around a corporate officer for the Popeyes (without the requisite apostrophe) fast food restaurant chain who, incognito, decided to check out several franchise branches in the South under the guise of discovering how improvements could be made and exceptional employees could be identified.
In the previous episodes I viewed, exceptional employees were given everything from tens of thousands of dollars to college scholarships, cars, promotions, and down payments on homes. To me, this was a terrific concept, reminiscent of an old black and white fictional television drama known as The Millionaire, where a multi-billionaire surprised deserving folks with a tax free cool million. Popeyes showed me the modern version in which a man who humbled me in his loyalty to his company and service to his community was demeaned, in my opinion.
The undercover boss came upon a janitor who referred to the franchise as his establishment. He exuded pride while describing his daily tasks such as washing the parking lot, cleaning out garbage pails by hand, and scrubbing dirty floors and walls so customers would enter clean facilities. He even purchased all the soap products with his own funds because the company provided cleaning materials that could be harmful to children. I am not certain where they found this man, but he sang the company’s praises while performing his duties with dignity rarely seen today in a paid employee.
To add to the humility of this janitor, the back story told how he lost everything he owned in a hurricane and was taken in by a local church group. Now that he was back on his feet, he believed he owed a duty to the church to serve, so he donated his free time each week, cooking meals for the public at the church facilities.
His reward? Popeyes donated $10,000 to his church (which I’m sure is a tax write off). Whoopee doo, Popeyes. I could not help but think he was denied the usual benefits, bonuses, promotions, or raises other employees received because he was only a janitor in their corporate eyes.
A raise and a promotion was in order, and although it is seemingly not my business, the show did lure me in with the underlying promise of a happy ending. I usually do not opine about trivial television shows, and I am insulting myself as a writer by engaging in this discussion. Yet, they could have made him a supervisor or trainer. He earned it. Instead, they have assured me I will never choke on a Popeyes chicken bone.