There’s a very good reason I haven’t written in a while, and it’s because I got a job.
Now, before everyone goes and gets all excited, the reason I haven’t written isn’t because I’ve been working too much to write. No, it’s because the job sucks so bad that when I get home I don’t want to do anything except sit on my ass and do absolutely nothing.
You see, I gave up working fast food in my teenage years for a very good reason… it bites. While this job isn’t exactly fast food, it’s as close as they could get without calling themselves Subway. It’s a deli. A deli with a bar. And when I took the job it was under the impression that I’d be spending most of my time tending that bar.
Not so. As it turns out, a good ninety percent of my time is spent either making sandwiches for people, or taking them their sandwiches. Bartender and a little bit of waiting tables I’m down with. Playing sandwich boy with a little bit of bartending I’m not.
Let me back up. A couple of months ago, I applied to a place that advertised for a bartender in a “fun” environment. Well, a lot of places advertise themselves as a fun environment, so that wasn’t the main draw. The main draw was the word “bartender”. That’s what I wanted to do. Serve people drinks. In a perfect world, I’d get to hear some good stories that would translate well into short stories, and so would in of itself inspire me to write more.
Ah, were that only true. One day, out of the blue, I got a phone call from the manager of said place. He explained that it was a small bar/café at the airport, and needed someone to tend bar and help out in the café when the bar was slow. Didn’t sound too bad. I believe his words were something like… “Well, not as many people are flying these days, but those that do like to have a little drink beforehand to calm their nerves a little.” Hey, thinks me, that sounds pretty good. Not only do I get to write stories about people in the bar, I get the variety of the traveler. “I came here to find the girl of my dreams, but she wasn’t here.” “My business partner sold his share of the company without telling me, and I’m here to salvage what I can.” That sort of thing.
Warning bells should have gone off in my head the minute he said, “come on in, and we’ll get you set up with a security pass so you can start.” There was no personal interview. Five minutes on the phone, and I was hired. The thing was, my desperation to find employment was so great that I didn’t think about anything except the fact that I was going to be working again.
I went in to see the place for the first time, and was a little surprised. There was no gloomy counter for the closet alcoholics to sit at, no neon signs, and in fact, very little bar at all. Practically stuck smack dab in the center of an airport atrium, the café with less square footage than my apartment sat looking very much like a Starbucks that served sandwiches. That impression was somewhat apt, since the espresso machine was actually in the “bar”.
At first I was still green enough to think that would be okay. I figured I’d get to add barista to my resume as well, and get some good coffee drink experience. Looking back, I was probably trying to find things about the place that I liked in an effort to hide my initial disappointment. I checked out the bar – which incidentally had a liquor selection only slightly larger than my own – took the paperwork the manager gave me to fill out, and went home to await my schedule.
And that’s when Hell began. The first week was on a day-to-day basis as far as my schedule was concerned. I wasn’t added to the official schedule, and had to ask each day if I would be working the next. I turned in the required paperwork, but was never even asked for proof of citizenship. Currently, this place has only my handwritten promise not only that I can legally work, but that I can serve liquor and food as well.
My first day, scheduled as I was to be the bartender, went something like this: Show up to work. Trainer has no idea that I’m the new bartender. “Get ice.” He hands me bottles to put on the shelf (did I forget to mention that every night they take all the liquor off the shelves, and then put it up again each morning? Yeah, that’s how out-in-the-open this place is), telling me to ignore the chart that says what order they go in, he’ll do it later. “Now go see Matt, he’ll get you started on café stuff.” And that’s what seven and a half hours of my first day consisted of – learning the other café stuff. I served one whole drink.
On a typical day, I might serve fifty drinks. But that may be optimistic. Do you know how long it takes to serve fifty drinks? About thirty minutes if you really draw it out. That leaves me that same seven and a half hours to make sandwiches, build food plates, take orders, and run those orders to the tables.
So really, that first day was really indicative of what the job would be like as a whole. And you know, I’d probably be able to take it if I were to get my tips. But I don’t. Breaking tradition with every bar on the face of the Earth, the bartenders don’t get their own tips. At the end of the day, all tips from the café/bar are pooled, and come payday, the grand sum is divvied out to all the employees depending on how many hours they worked that week. Since I only worked forty hours the first pay period, I only got forty hours worth of the tip pool. So my repartee with the customers, the bar customers, the customers who probably make up eighty to ninety percent of all the tips that place takes in, does me the good of approximately a buck seventy-five per hour.
For some reason, I haven’t quit yet.
But I am looking for other work. In fact, just today I interviewed with UPS. Now, for contrast, here’s how good a company they are. They have so many people working for them who love it, that it’s currently a ten-year waiting period to get on full-time with them. They only hire part-time employees.
And here’s why it’s so cool to work at UPS. They give you fifteen thousand dollars for school. Convenient, since I’m back in school. They give you a loan of up to eight thousand dollars to use however you want, and while you’re working there, they pay it back. Full benefits, even though you only work part-time. And to top it off, they give you a Thanksgiving turkey.
Now how cool is that? If I don’t get this job, I’m going to kill somebody. It’ll probably be the tight-ass manager from work.
I leave you with this question: What was the worst job you hated the most?