I'm afraid it is time for a career change, but what else can I do?
I work at an individually owned restaurant that specializes in smoked meat. The staff consists of the owner, me, and three-line cooks. Two weeks ago, we had a staff member show up so outrageously drunk she was slurring her words when I arrived for my shift 5 hours later. I was so overwhelmed with the condition of the place I had to take five minutes to collect myself before clocking in and trying to sort out the mess. The owner was present and helping my coworker work through orders, within the first half-hour I was on the clock I had to completely remake multiple orders while cleaning and prepping items that were left empty. My co-worker left without completing any of her daily duties. She admitted to me that not only was she extremely hungover from the night before but that she had even taken a couple of drinks while on the clock to try and cope with her hangover. She also informed me that she was an hour late and called the owner to let him know and he gave her permission to be even later to get food and coffee for herself. The time at the beginning of the day is the most essential, it is when we set up our line and do our prep so that we are set up to succeed when orders begin coming in. I was completely mind blown to hear that she had permission to blow all of that off, and then even while things were getting busier and busier and she was far behind, he chose not to call me in but instead to try and help (he isn’t much help in this position since he has no line cooking experience and is going blind so can't read orders.) I had to work 3 hours late to complete essential prep and cleaning that had been neglected so that these issues would not roll into the next day of business. (I was opening the next morning and even with all that extra effort I lost sleep thinking about all that still needed to be done.)
At the end of the night, I confronted my boss and asked him why I was not called in, why she was permitted to come in even later and what his disciplinary action is going to be. He told me he didn’t believe the situation warranted more people In the kitchen and he gave her permission to be late not knowing just how drunk/hungover she was, he believed it would be fine, he asked me what I would do because we don’t have the staff to just let her go. I told him we need to hire someone immediately so we can get them trained before she does this again (no this isn’t even close to the first time this has happened with this one staff member) so we are prepared to let her go when this inevitably happens again. My boss let me know there is no way he is going to hire multiple people; he is not going to fire her, and he believes all she needs is a good talking to. I feel like I am losing my mind now because we hired someone to begin training for a previously open position and after one week he didn’t have the menu memorized my boss approached me yesterday and let me know that he wants to fire that guy cause it is just not working out. He has a history of being strict with things like memorization, multitasking, time management, etc. but always allows behaviors slide when they are related to alcoholism or addiction. For example, at the beginning of the month, I had to take a Saturday morning off to attend a funeral, I came to work for the closing shift on time, still crying from the service. I was punished for taking time off and not being mentally present during my shift, he removed my preferred shifts from my schedule and let me know if I want them back, I need to do better.
I know that if I were to put in a two weeks’ notice after attaining a job I could be putting my crew, and his business in a dire position but I honestly feel like I can not continue to work here anymore. I feel like this job is causing me to lose my sanity. My blood pressure is crazy high all the time now and my anxiety has never been this chronic in my life. However, I also fear if I give him a heads up that I am looking for new employment opportunities he will lay on so much guilt I do not know how I could handle it. This job has pushed me to a point where I do not believe I should stay in the restaurant industry at all anymore. My dream of being a chef has caused me nothing but continuous suffering, I have found that owners like this are painfully common. Its an industry of addicts and enablers and I just cannot handle it anymore. These situations described here are not singular events and are not isolated to only this job. But I have no idea what else to do with my life. All my education and work experience has revolved around restaurant management and cooking.