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Topic: Grabbed by the manager
Message: Posted by: Jonathanmc (Jun 6, 2005 01:15PM)
Last night I was at a restaurant I will call Phony Aroma's and was doing balloon animals and magic tableside. After I had been there about fifteen minutes the manager came over grabbed me by the arm and told me that I needed to "tone it down", or I would have to leave the restaurant.

Now the only thing I can think was that my voice was too loud. As I am a trained opera singer I often have people tell me that I am too loud.

My question is this. What would your reaction be to being grabbed, and how would you handle to situation? I swallowed all my pride and appologized without saying anything about being woman-handled but it freaked me out. Also because I work for an agency I didn't want to lose the contract for them.

Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Jun 6, 2005 01:22PM)
Kind of a weird situation, I think you probably did the only thing you could have done at the time. Just apologize and move on.

But I would approach the manager at a later time and try to find out (nicely) what the problem was. Otherwise you may wind up doing whatever it was that annoyed her again. Then she's going to be really mad because she feels that she has already "spoken" to you about whatever the "problem" was.
Message: Posted by: John C (Jun 6, 2005 02:15PM)
I would think long and hard about what the reason could have possibly been. There must have been a reason. It never hurts to ask. Maybe from your perspective you're doing everything ok....but.

How long have you been performing?

Message: Posted by: Jonathanmc (Jun 6, 2005 03:16PM)

I appreciate the question. Again my long hard thinking was only that my voice could have been too loud.

If you include stage work, television, opera, voice over and magic I have been performing since I was ten (I'm 36 now). I have been doing the restaurant thing for a little over a month now. (With no other comments I might add.)

I get being asked to be more quiet (that has litterally been happening since I was born--hence the opera part of my career). What I don't get is being grabbed by the manager. If I had been on the street I would have pushed the person away, called the police or sprayed them with pepper spray. (ok maybe not pepper spray). I was so stunned by this I couldn't even move.
Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Jun 6, 2005 04:06PM)
Are you working for the restaurant itself, or were you working for a private party at the restaurant?
Message: Posted by: Jonathanmc (Jun 6, 2005 04:25PM)
I work for a party company that contracts out to restaurants. I work for tips and the larger reason I'm there is to sell my magic show/ balloon artist to prospective customers.
Message: Posted by: wizardofsorts (Jun 6, 2005 04:42PM)
So, you were not hired by the resturant? Maybe the manager and/or staff is resentful of your presence there. They may think that you're digging into their tip money. I would reconmend getting a job at another resturant where you were hired by the resturant, are getting paid, are not soliciting tips (you can accept them but don't push for them), and have sold the manager on the facts that you can help the resturant. I am no way a resturant expert but I've done a few and I think I see what's going on there.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Jun 10, 2005 10:58AM)
When I retired from police work, I knew that I wanted to pursue my entertainment career...which up until then had been something of a "professional" hobby. I decided to work as a restaurant & club manager for a couple of years to get the "inside scoop" on how things work and build a few connections. I have to tell you that those were the unhappiest and most stressful two years of my life. Combative drunks, barfights and homicide scenes were nothing compared to running a restaurant or club.

I learned that waitstaff rely HEAVILY on their tips...and anyone they even suspect of interfering with those tips is the enemy. An unhappy waitstaff leads to an unhappy manager. An unhappy manager having a really bad day is very likely to lash out at any available target. Sounds like you were the catch of the day in this case. Blow it off and consider ways to include the waitstaff in what you do. I would consider dropping the tips angle, too. I accept tips, but only because I consider it rude to refuse a gift. I never solicit. At the end of the night, I hand the tips to the manager to be divided among the wait staff. Needless to say...they love me!

And here's something lot's of "Family Night" magicians never think about. On most "Family Nights", kids either eat free or at a greatly reduced rate...which means that the overall cost of the meal is lower...which means that the percentage tip is smaller...but the workload is greater for the server. More plates, more drinks, more demands and a bigger mess afterwards. Servers generally hate "Family Nights"...which means they hate the "big-buck" performer they see accepting "their" tips.

The same is true with bartenders at "happy hour" gigs. I always try to put the needs of the managers, bartenders and the waitstaff first...customers second...myself last. Always try to look at things from all angles...and Good Luck!

:o) Skip
Message: Posted by: twistedace (Jun 10, 2005 03:19PM)
If you were not hired to be there doing magic, I don't feel that you should have been doing it...especially loudly interrupting everyone's meal. I love magic as much as you and work multiple restaurants. I wouldn't dream of doing a set, especially with balloons, for a few tables without consent from the manager. I happen to think that you were in the wrong in this case.
Message: Posted by: n3cromanc3r (Jun 10, 2005 03:30PM)
He said the agency he works for contracts with the restaurants. Therefore he was supposed to be there. I don't see it as doing it without the consent of the manager. However I do think it's not the best situation for the reasons already stated.
Message: Posted by: twistedace (Jun 10, 2005 04:13PM)
Still, even if hired by an entertainment company to be at the restaurant...I would still speak with the manager first just to let them know I was there and what I was doing so it did not appear that I was soliciting.
Message: Posted by: jcigam (Jun 10, 2005 04:14PM)
I was working for a restaurant we'll call it TGIF and the table I was performing for was really into the performance. Of course they were laughing and clapping and just being generally pleasant. The manager came over and said "I know you are just doing your job but another table complained that you are being distracting, can you try to keep it down." Of course I told him we would. I performed one more routine to a rousing round of applause (enough to **** off anyone else who was teetering on the fence of distraction) and moved on to another table.

My point for that little story is that the manager may have been reacting to another table complaining about the good time you were having.

As far as being "GRABBED" I guess it depends on the attitude of the grab. If it is a chastising or threatening grab I will say something to them right then. If it is a gentle, attention getting grab I may not say anything.

If what happened bothered you, I would personally confront the manager after the gig and let her know that you don't appreciate her GRABBING you and that in the future she needs to use a non physical method of getting your attention. For your part, you will try and keep the tone of your performance at a more comfortable level.

Good Luck!!

Jered S.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jun 10, 2005 05:43PM)
Slightly off subject? But BALLOON TWISTING is my least favorite thing in the whole world. The sound is worst (to me) than running fingernails over a chalkboard). If I were somewhere and someone started doing balloons I would leave as fast as I could. :kermit:
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Jun 10, 2005 06:57PM)
Hi Jonathon:

I think you handled it perfectly; I can't think of a better way to react than the way you did.

Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Jun 11, 2005 08:07PM)
Talk to his manager/boss/owner/district manager and explain your situation. What he did to you was against Nevada law. It doesn't matter AT ALL the "attitude" of the grab. ANY unwanted physical contact, ESPECIALLY the contact you've described, constitutes battery. You could have arrested him. Even if this guy is the owner, you don't have to be a victim regardless of whatever the alleged guest complaints may have been. Check your PM.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jun 11, 2005 09:03PM)
It might also be construed as sexual harrassment, if I'm not mistaken.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Jun 12, 2005 11:34AM)
I believe that Sexual Harrassment involves Quip Pro Quo (do this for me, and I'll do this for you...or its other half...do this for me or I'll do that to you), and/or ANY unwelcome sexual advances. If this manager's boss doesn't do anything about this situation, there is serious potential for liability. Serious.

Now that I have thought about it, what you refer to is Hostile Work Environment. A lot of the same laws apply. All cases are handled by the EEOC.
Message: Posted by: Spydur (Jun 12, 2005 06:14PM)
Man...that is the last thing you need is a needless lawsuit. If you really want to know why the manager said what he said then ASK! "Was I being too loud?" or "What do you want me to tone down?" or "Is there something that you would like me to do differently?"

Talk to your agent and see if the manager complained to them or ask the agent to call the manager and find out what the matter was.

Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Jun 12, 2005 08:52PM)
My point exactly, Spyder. Needless lawsuits are a bane in the US society. The system is designed to protect the innocent, and our woes stem from those who abuse the system just for personal gain. And that means sueing when no law was broken. This is not the case.
Message: Posted by: bsears (Jun 12, 2005 09:14PM)
"Tone it down" could also be in reference to "blue" or adult humor. The only way to know is to ask.

Not to change the subject, but if you are really good at what you do, you should find a restaurant to pay you on an hourly basis so that you don't have to work for tips. Lots of people feel like they've been "hustled" when they have to tip unexpectedly and, as someone else mentioned, it can set off an adversarial relationship with the waitstaff. Of course, if you only have a month's experience this may be difficult until you are more seasoned.

good luck!
Message: Posted by: Hart Keene (Jun 13, 2005 03:26AM)
Stop working for tips. If you can't find a restaurant that will pay you then either move or go back to the drawing board. Oh, and whats up with an agency that gets you work for tips alone? You don't need an agency to book restaurants. Are you sure you are ready for this?
Message: Posted by: KirkG (Jun 13, 2005 02:21PM)
By the way, assault doesn't have to cause bruses to be charged. What you are thinking of is battery. Always helpful to actually know the law.

Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Jun 13, 2005 04:54PM)
Are we talking about [b]criminal[/b] battery or [b]tortious[/b] battery? That was a rhetorical question as I suggest that nobody practice law without a license. My answer to your question is simply to communicate. Ask the manager what the issue was.
Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Jun 14, 2005 02:37PM)
Instead of considering the situation as one of requiring confrontation, why not try looking at it as an opportunity. You need to gat some FEEDBACK from the manager as to the issue or problem they were refering to. When they provide it, be sure to listen, and try to work towards a place of compormise. It is also 100% correct for you to give the manager feedback about being grabbed, and how that does or does not work for you.
The aspect of working for tips, etc. I leave to the others.
Understanding requires communications, and that is usually a two way street.
There may have been any number of "things" going on, and without asking the question, you cannot know the correct answer.
It is always easy to get angry and confrontational, or in someone's face. You alone get to control how you behave. While you cannot control how the other person reacts, you can influence it with your approach.
The example being that when you got grabbed, it upset you! Had the manager walked over, waited till you finished a set, and taken you aside to speak with you, your reaction would likely have been a bit different.
Good luck!
Message: Posted by: Jonathanmc (Jun 15, 2005 12:56PM)
Wow, I'm out of internet range for several days and this is what happens.

Thanks for all the feedback. First let me say that as a former grade school teacher I do not do blue or offcolor humor when children are around. (Just wanted to set the record straight on that)

Patrick I believe it's "quid pro quo", "quip pro quo" would be one joke for another (Sorry I couldn't resist that one.) Thanks for the PM, I don't really want to make this a legal matter. I do appreciate the support though.

If I had been a paying customer doing magic for friends I was with at a table and the manager had grabbed me I would have called out the national guard. I did talk to my agent and she thought that I handled it well and that it was funny. (I don't agree that it was funny but am glad that was her take.)

I wish I could stop working for tips but as I am between mortgage jobs right now I need all the (cash) tips I can get.

Malini -- I don't see a post from MagiChris, did I miss something that got deleted?

Again thanks all for the feedback.
Message: Posted by: KirkG (Jun 15, 2005 06:19PM)
We aren't saying don't accept tips, but that it would be better, if you are good enough, to work for enough money you don't need the tips and then the extra tips are gravy. To that end, start looking for another restaurant that can appreciate and afford you.

Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Jun 17, 2005 10:34AM)
Too late for an arrest. For a misdemeanor charge, the law requires that the person doing the arrest (police officer or citizen) actually witness it. The police can't arrest now because they cannot witness the event. The arrest could have been made on the spot by a citizen, but YOU BETTER BE CAREFULL MAKING CITIZEN'S ARRESTS. Escalation of Force becomes a HUGE issue here and to do it legally and in a manner that will CYA (cover your assets), a lot of training is required. My honest advice is to let it go, and chalk it up to experience.

I'm glad nobody wants to make a legal issue of this. The reason I walked in so strong on this topic is because I want you all to know what your rights and responsibilities are in these types of work situations. Check the laws of your state to see how this abuse is defined. In Nevada, it is Battery. It is also Hostile Work Environment. These are both criminal acts. You don't have to tolerate either one.

Besides, Quip Pro Quo is more fun! Good eye!
Message: Posted by: mentalvic (Jun 17, 2005 07:13PM)
Nobody ever has the right to grab you-- at least not for doing what you were doing.

You can file a police report after the fact and use that to swear out a warrant. I would also suggest that you speak to an attorney.

I've been in similar situations and I get so irked when petty little tin gods like the manager you described try to throw around their weight because you make them feel inferior or because they want to show everyone how important they think they are.

I've got three cardinal rules that I live by and expect others to monitor as well:

1. Do not touch me unless we're playing.
2. Do not attempt to convey displeasure with me using voice tone in lieu of words.
3. Do not get involved in my business unless it affects you directly.

As I can tell, this woman violated the three cardinal rules I use to determine what is and what is not civil behavior. Once someone cross that line, I'm free to release my inner ape and start pitching the proverbial dung about the place.
Message: Posted by: Review King (Jun 18, 2005 02:03AM)
Exactly. The manager was a clown. Thinks he can grab poeple to get them to do what he want. Go to an attorney and sue the COMPANY for him assulating you. They'll can him pretty quick and settle out of court!!!!
Message: Posted by: James Munton (Jun 18, 2005 08:49AM)

A couple of things interest me about your post.

First, who is this party company that hires you out to restaurants and doesn't pay you! Who pays them? The restaurant? How much are they getting? How many magicians do they have working for them? The reason I ask, is it sounds like this company is doing you and your local magicians a major disservice. You should be able to get $100-200 working a couple of hours at a restaurant. It sounds like this company is making it difficult for magicians to do that.

There have been threads on the Café about how to get a paid restaurant gig in the past. It is not difficult. Get a list of family restaurants in your area. Call and find out who is the general manager at each one. Send him/her a letter. Follow up with a phone call a few days later to arrange a meeting and a free one-hour of magic so they can check you out. Ask for a weekly gig and negotiate a fee. Easy!

Never work for tips. It 's not good for you and it's not good for the other magicians in the area who are trying to make a living.

Finally, you need to think about your loud voice. I hope you don't take this personally, but you reaised the issue and this is going to have a major impact on your ability to get paid strolling gigs in the future (and getting repeat bookings).

You need to really think about this. Being a trained opera singer shouldn't have anything to do with it. If you are a trained singer or actor then you have the ability to CONTROL your voice.

This is about being aware of your surroundings. If people continually tell you that you are too loud then you need to really think about why.

A strolling performer (whether in a restaurant or corporate setting) needs to blend in with the surroundings, not stand out. When you perform, only the three or four people at the table should be able to hear you. Otherwise you are doing a stand up show and that is not what you were hired to do! Always be aware of the people around you. It doesn't matter how great your tricks are. Not everyone wants to see or HEAR the magician.

I agree with Pete...balloons have to be the most annoying thing in the world in a restaurant. I know guys do it, but that's just a personal peeve.

Sorry for your experience of being grabbed. I have no idea what I would have done. But hopefully, you have been able to learn from the experience.

I was once hired by a food company to do a promotion in a chain of supermarkets. At one store, the manager asked me to leave. She was a fundamentalist and didn't like playing cards!

Anyway, John. I admire you for being out there in the trenches and working!
I recommend you try my above advice and go get your very own restaurant gig. It sounds like you are now ready! Go get it!

Good luck!