After flying back to Johannesburg this evening, decided to meet with M at Eastgate for a snack/light supper. With Christmas round the corner, the mall was full, with all the shops open until 9pm. We decided to go to the Bread Basket - it is the only place in the mall with somewhat healthy food, and seating away from the crowds.
As we came in, it was quite clear that the manager (or owner of the franchise) was quite agitated. She kept on muttering and shouting at the employees, with no regard to the customers in the store. When I was in the queue to pay for our order (you pay and then sit down), she interrupted the cashier to get her to do something without apologising to the customer she was interrupting. From her mutterings, it seems that two of her more senior employees were out for their lunch break (it was about 7pm).
A short while later, the two employees returned; and each got dragged to her "office". There a one sided shouting match erupts, with a few expletives, a few "is this normal" etc. etc. In fact it was so loud, that even the baby that was crying (outside the store) was drowned out. A few customers who were browsing quietly left; while another old lady commented "has she gone mad". The other employees looked quite sheepish and tried to pretend that nothing was wrong. We learnt from our waitress that she was actually working 8am - 9pm, and I was quite impressed that she still had a smile on her face; and that also easily explains why someone can have a lunch break at 7pm!
It sort of brings an ethical conundrum - does one support a business where the owner/senior manager has no respect for their customers, and are happy to openly berate their employees; or should one support it because the employees are actually very warm and helpful? The manager/owner's conduct was disgraceful and it felt really uncomfortable to be there. I don't think I will go back there soon - despite how good their food is.