I remember being almost 16, work permit in hand, being driven around town by my mom going into places like the new Baskin Robbins that was opening up, asking for applications. I probably only filled out half of them, and never turned in any. Looking back now, I wish I would have went out and got a job while I was in High School. Maybe I would have been more distracted by my fat stacks of cash than why that boy I liked wasn’t texting me back. All joking aside, when I did get my first job, I was fresh out of school, no plans for fall, and not one cent in my pocket aside from change I made babysitting that mostly just covered the cost of gas in my Volvo. I had no idea what to expect, where the job would take me, or even what I was really getting myself into.
The great thing about growing up in a small town, there’s usually one or two businesses hiring, and at least one of them has someone you’re either related to or friends with that already works there. In my case, it was the restaurant on Main St. next to the hotel my mom used to work at. I’d basically grown up at the place. They used to serve Sarsparilla on tap when I was younger. I’d go to work with my mom and hang out next door with whoever was working that day. Never would have thought I was going to end up working there…and when I started I never would have expected to learn as much as I did. No job is perfect, but every job is an opportunity to learn.
For two years I bussed tables. I know, I know, it wasn’t rocket science or anything but my job was hard. Not so much because the tasks themselves were difficult, but working with the public, is physically and emotionally taxing. People are genuinely mean for no reason other than the fact that they can be. There were nights I left work, got in my car and cried my eyes out for fifteen minutes before driving home. I kept asking myself if the minimum wage and crappy tip percentage was really worth it. In the end, the only regret I have is letting so much crap, for lack of a better word, get to me! The drama between coworkers (sometimes caused by yours truly, I mean let’s be real), the stress of a Sunday Brunch rush when the hot head line cook is cussing out the server in the window and there’s a 4 top with two kids sitting nearby listening, the unknown substance I cleaned up off the bathroom floor (more than once), or that one server that under tips and over works you…it’s all part of the job, it’s not personal. Regardless of all that, if you work in the restaurant industry, whether you’re back of house or front, you build a connection with each other and you become a family, even if you’re a bit dysfunctional. For me, I gained a second dad (Love you, C.J.!), a big brother (who doubles as a pretty awesome manager), amazing friends that I know are always a phone call away, and most importantly, the best friend I could ever ask for and would give my life for.
Not everything about your first job is terrible. I learned a lot about myself and gained the work ethic I lacked for so many years growing up. I learned to appreciate food in a new perspective and gained a huge respect for those who are capable of cooking great food in such a fast-paced setting. I learned that whatever reason that customer or that coworker is being so rude is not my business, but maybe putting in the effort to make their day better doesn’t hurt anyone. I learned that sometimes the reason our bosses aren’t hearing us, is because we’re going the wrong way about reaching out to them. Last but not least, the one thing from my first job that was the most incredibly important lesson; I learned that you aren’t entitled to anything you don’t earn.
-The Girl in the Glitter