SANDPOINT, ID—Despite repeated warnings from management, 17-year-old kitchen steward Matt Mullen continues to rebel against the Sandpointer Resort Hotel's mandatory-nametag policy, kitchen sources reported Tuesday.
"I do not understand why I have to wear some absurd, oppressive nametag when I work way back in the kitchen the whole day," said Mullen, whose duties consist of salad prep work, dishwashing and general cleanup. "That may be fine for most people, but I am not most people."
"If I would have known they were going to expect me to fall in line like that, I never would have taken the job," Mullen continued. "I'm not going to be a good little sheep for management."
Besides stating his need to be "[his] own person," the insurgent teen denounced management for informing him of the policy a full two weeks after he was hired. Mullen said the subject first came up when the owner of the hotel toured the kitchen Aug. 1.
"He started freaking," Mullen said. "I thought it was my hair or something, but the next thing I knew, I had to fill out this form, and a nametag came to my house."
Since receiving the nametag, Mullen has employed many tactics to avoid wearing it. Refusing to give in to a job requirement he called "totally exploitative," Mullen first protested by pinning the nametag in such non-regulation locations as beneath his kitchen apron, on his Rage Against The Machine baseball cap and on his pants zipper. When management intervened, Mullen moved the nametag to the proper location, over his left breast, but covered his name with masking tape and wrote in "Kitchen Slave."
"At first, I thought he was just trying to be funny with all the protest stuff," said banquet waitress Donna Reese, a witness to several of Mullen's acts of rebellion. "But someone told me later that he wasn't joking at all. I was like, 'That's weird.'"
Last Friday, in a final act of defiance, Mullen "accidentally dropped" the plastic nametag down the dishroom In-Sink-erator. He was forced to fish the nametag out and put it back on.
"It was awesome," Mullen said. "I felt like the Sandinistas or Rambo or something. Authority exists to be questioned."
Despite the teen's ongoing protests, Sandpointer management has stood firm in its insistence that Mullen wear the nametag.
"First of all, it's restaurant policy, plain and simple," kitchen manager Earl Carby said. "And second, Matt's job sometimes requires him to go into banquet and back-bar areas, where he may be spotted by a guest. In the event a guest needs a glass of water or something, that guest should be able to address Matt by name, maintaining that friendly Sandpointer atmosphere."
When told of Carby's comments, Mullen remained defiant. "I don't care what Mr. Carby says. This policy is like something from that movie 1984, reducing all employees to a number. I mean, a name."
"Maybe I'll go get totally faced behind the bar and then quit," Mullen added. "But I guess I shouldn't, 'cause I need the reference, and it's my first job."