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Jobs & Careers > The Job That Wasn't Worth it - Part One

The Job That Wasn't Worth it - Part One

While I'm still on a job hunt for something in marketing/writing, the first week I came to town, I hit the ground running with a folder full of resumes targeted to the service industry.

Up n' down the restaurant-packed Entertainment District I went, confident that I would find a waitressing job that first day. And I did. But my job only lasted a week at said restaurant. I'll tell you the story and perhaps you can draw your own conclusions why. *ahem*

I entered the kitchy, yet high end Italian restaurant, and asked to speak with the manager. As I walked past the other staff for an impromptu interview, they eyed me up suspiciously in a way that you might expect, only with a sharper edge. (Believe me when I say that it wasn't all in my lil' insecure mind. It was definitely noticable.) I smiled pleasantly at them, but my smiles went unreturned. Whatever.

The manager explained to me that they normally don't do a lot of hiring because their staff usually stays around forever. He repeatedly expressed that this was "a very unique situation". (I couldn't understand what made it so unique. To my understanding, restaurants generally have a high turn-over, even if you do have a long-time core staff.) Next, I explained my "unique situation", including why I had such a gap away from waitressing work in my resume, and my need to quickly move back to Ontario to be closer to my family. Despite the qualifications gap, I could tell it was my commitment to family that got me the job. He asked me to start the next day.

As I was introduced to the new staff, there was a palpable vibe. I worried that the individual I was replacing was well-loved. So I finally asked. I was told that she left because she went crazy. She had worked there for too long, and eventually cracked. She came to work one day with no shoes on, and was completely freaking out at everyone. At the very least, I rest assured that I didn't have big shoes to fill. (No pun intended.)

I was then warned, and warned again, and again, and again, and again, and (I'm not even joking) again that it was a tough place to work. I needed to have very, VERY thick skin. The owner is an asshole. The wealthy customers will treat you like shit. And so will the staff. (It was weird that the staff was outright warning me about themselves.) The compensation for the outright abuse was great money. I was told that most average close to $700/week in tips.

I was also informed that celebrities often come by when they're filmimg in town, and so there was an element of caché. Apparently, "everyone wants to work there", but because they don't hire often, it's a hard place to get into. Maybe that was the reason for their extra scrutiny of me? I was just the new girl who just waltzed in off the street and got the job. Regardless, I knew for myself that back when I was a waitress, I was a damn good one. I felt that like riding a bike, once I got accustomed to the menu n' routine, I could pick up those skills quickly enough again. Of course, in this case, I recognized that it might take a little more finesse with a laundry list of 7 elaborate daily specials, and a huge wine list of private labels shipped from Southern Italy, where Beetlejuice’s family hailed from.

Yes, Beetlejuice was the nickname the staff had for the owner of the restaurant, a fat slow-witted fellow, with a nasty personality. (An insult to Beetlejuice, I might add.) The first time I met him, he didn't introduce himself as the owner or even say hello. Instead, he told me I was carrying the dirty plates wrong. I had some in both hands. He said I should keep one hand free, in case I slip. Fair enough. I kindly accepted his advice. The second time we spoke, he asked if I minded him correcting my techniques. I told him, "No, I don't mind. I'm new and you're the boss. It's your job to tell me how you like things done."

When I repeated our conversation to my fellow employees, they were shocked that I didn't get scolded for my "you're the boss" remark. Normally that would send him into a tizzy. "Of course I'm the boss!! You think I don't know that?!" Interesting response... They were also surprised that he bothered to ask if I minded him correcting me. One employee who had been there for over 15 years said that he still corrects her technique on a daily basis. You just take it with a grain of salt.

While everyone gripped openly about Beetlejuice, I didn't find him nearly as bad as the head chef. Now, that guy was a total f-ing asshole. I don't know what his deal was, but wow... At one point he told me that he'd only be nice to me for my first week. All I could think was, "This is you being NICE!?" Holy crap!

On my second or third day, I overheard him ask the manager why he hired me. It's not like I was even doing a bad job... He just expected me to know tiny details that I hadn't been taught yet. I mean, how was I to know on my very first day that when you say "Above" it means that I have to move away from underneath the open staircase, in case you accidentally pour hot soup on me. It's not like that's exactly common knowledge, but I was scolded anyway. Anyway, the manager defended me by saying that I offer something different to the restaurant and that I have special qualities, or something like that. While he didn't say what those qualities were, I decided that they were sweetness and politeness, as those were the characteristics that I was both openly condemned and quietly applauded for by my co-workers.

If you wonder how one can be condemed for being sweet and polite, it was done very passive agressively. For instance, a couple servers asked with distain if I was from a small town or the Maritimes, like there was something wrong with me. They basically insinuated that I was too nice for the big city and that I would never fit in. (I almost feel sorry for them.)

As for those who appreciated my special qualities, there were two or three (including the manager who hired me.) Miss Bartender (who had only been there for a couple months herself) told me that she liked me because I was sweet, as was she, and that sweet people always become targets in that environment. They are belittled and insulted, as the others will work hard to break them. She suggested that while you need to develop thick skin to work there, most staff had been there too long and have become hardened and jaded.

Not long after, Miss Server also took me aside and said that she liked me because I was polite, a rare commodity, and that she wanted me to stay. (Maybe she could tell that I was already planning my escape after my first few shifts.)

These two girls seemed to stick together more than the rest. Perhaps in another world, I might've tried persuing a friendship with Miss B, who constantly expressed how much she liked me, and invited me to stop by her hotel for wine some night. But in this world, I chose not to pursue a friendship. I knew I was on my way out of that place and didn’t want to make lasting connections. Secondly, I could already tell that we were worlds apart.

Miss B informed me more than a few times that the reason she and Miss S got along so well because they had a lot in common... A LOT. Neither of them had to work, but rather had these jobs offered to them so they’d have something to do. They both had boyfriends who lived out of town that they saw every second weekend – one lived in Chicago, and the other in New York. Meanwhile, the girls lived in fancy hotels downtown and were both “spoiled princesses”. (Her words, not mine.) Expensive trips around the world, pampering, shopping, they had whatever they wanted.

Now, forgive me for jumping to conclusions, but I think it’s rather obvious what they actually had in common…

But their interesting connection to each other wasn’t the only interesting connection suggested to me on more than one occasion. While nothing was outright said, the implications about who really owned the restaurant were made crystal clear….

And I’ll get to that in my next post! ;)

posted on May 1, 2013 9:22 AM ()


Ooo I love ur life! Can't wait to read the next post...
comment by kristilyn3 on May 21, 2013 9:39 AM ()
Happy you are back!!
comment by elderjane on May 3, 2013 2:28 PM ()
Can't wait!
comment by jondude on May 2, 2013 4:20 AM ()
Part two is up - and it puts all the pieces together of what was really going on with that place...
reply by mellowdee on May 2, 2013 7:41 AM ()
well a stranger here.So nice to see you and enjoying reading your post.
Sorry,that this job was not worth it.Did you tell them take the job and shoved it.
comment by fredo on May 1, 2013 12:56 PM ()
Yes, I am back! I told them to shove it in a round about way... I just left.
reply by mellowdee on May 2, 2013 7:40 AM ()

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