Workplace deaths within restaurants are rare, but do occasionally occur. Most often food service fatalities are the result of robbery or a non-job related medical emergency. A death that occurred last week at Buddy’s Seafood Market in Panama City, Florida, however, was the rarest kind of all. One worker killed a co-worker as the result of an argument in the restaurant. And what were they arguing over, you ask?

Why, it was the age old dilemma of how much spice to put in the restaurant’s gumbo. 

According to Panama City police, 33-year-old Caleb Joshua Halley was working at the restaurant last Tuesday when he and a co-worker, 26-year-old Orlando Thompson, began arguing about how much spice to add to the restaurant’s aforementioned gumbo. They allege that the argument became heated, culminating with Thompson slashing Halley across the torso. He died from his injuries last Thursday, and Thompson has now been charged with manslaughter.

Clearly some people are very passionate about their gumbo. 

Police reports tell us Halley initially engaged in the physical confrontation, grabbing a wooden knife when Thompson grabbed a wooden board. The altercation appeared to be over, however, when Thompson walked away; but he was to quickly return with a 15 inch knife. 

It is an unfortunate loss for a man’s family, and a difficult situation for the employer where the incident occurred. Beyond the trauma of the fight and resulting crime, there are obvious workers’ compensation issues to contend with. Plus, I imagine gumbo sales at Buddy’s have probably cratered for the foreseeable future. I would suggest that if Buddy’s does not have a recipe book defining the standards for their gumbo, they create one. Pronto. 

There are so many risks and potential hazards that employers must be prepared for, yet this incident shows that danger can come from many unexpected quarters. One would honestly never expect something as simple as spice quantity to result in a workplace death. Still, it shows that clearly defined standards are important for employers in the grand scheme of things. Anything they can provide to issue clear guidance for employees and reduce workplace disagreements can only be a positive thing. It is possible that the lack of those standards is why we now rue the roux.  

Police also reported that Halley portrayed Florida State Seminole mascot “Chief Osceola” from 2004 to 2007. I don’t really know what that has to do with anything, unless Thompson was a Gator from University of Florida. This would all make sense then. What it does tell us is a college educated employee lost his life over a disagreement about onions and garlic. Seems a pretty shallow thing to die for, and much less important a thing to kill over.

Dying over a workplace disagreement is simply not worth it, especially when you lose your life to a dumbo over gumbo mumbo jumbo. 

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