Thursday, February 3, 2011

And then I quit. Again. Even the guy in jail thinks I'm nuts.

"You QUIT?!?!" his voice was echoing slightly on the other end as he repeated this news into the payphone over the noise in the background. "Why? Can you afford to just do that? What are you going to do for work?"

Even sitting in jail with much bigger issues on his plate, he was concerned. I don't know what the hell he's so worried about - I already brought him his new sneakers. But he's far from the only one that is wondering what I am doing leaving a perfectly good job without a new job to go to.

The truth is, I don't know what I'm going to do.
Let's call it a mid-life crisis, that came a few years early. Hell, if I'm going to go through menopause at 30, let me at least enjoy a good mid-life crisis while I'm at it. I am celebrating a birthday next week, and I want to start the next year with the whole wide world before me. Mine for the taking. Birthdays are really more of a "New Year" than the new calendar year.

This is my new year's resolution: A Fresh Start

I stopped smoking cigarettes. I cleaned out my box of junk. I made a to do list and I am crossing it off one item at a time. And we got to the biggie: "Put your energy into a business of your own"


So, I took a deep breath, and I quit.

Nothing happened at work to make me feel as though I had to leave, and it feels strange to have people ask me why I quit, or where I am going to work next, and not have an answer for them.

I don't know. That's my answer. That's the truth.

I had such cause the last time I quit. And I had good reason when I stopped working late at night, too. But this time, there was nothing exciting or terrible or dramatic - I mean, besides the myriad complaints that everyone has about their job, especially when that job involves people who are intoxicated - by food or drink or their drug of choice. It gets old, being the sober one at every party, responsible for the paperwork and clean up, trying to communicate when you have been deafened by the techno music or your voice has gone hoarse from shouting over the crowd. But it was more than that. I was starting to feel less like a server, and more like a servant. I was feeling more defined by my job title than by the quality of the job I was doing. I touched on it a little the other day - but basically I started to feel as though where I worked, and for whom, was just as important as how good I was at what I did. People were constantly asking me if I was the owner, people were expecting to see me every time they came in, people were surprised I was still there, still just a server, still hustling for the dollar bill they threw down on the bar in exchange for their beer. And I was a little surprised too. I can do more, you know. I can do better. When people asked me if I owned the cafe, instead of saying "NO, thank god" I started wishing I could say "Yep, it's mine".

It wasn't enough anymore.

All of that aside, in reality - which is where I live - restaurant work, and bartending in particular, is a pretty good job, with lots of flexibility and minimal risk or responsibility. It was good for a mom with little kids. I was with them during the day, and went off to work when daddy came home. But in time, the act of leaving my house most nights, to spend the evening with other people while my family was home or off enjoying the weekend, was a bummer.

I wanted to tuck them in and read their bedtime stories and braid her hair and turn off his light when it got late. And if I'm not there, I want to have a really good reason. I want to be able to have something to show them for it when they grow up. The family business. Something they can benefit from years from now. I don't want to be gone all the time if I am working for someone else. If I am going to be working, I want to be working for me. For them. For us.

I didn't leave in a huff, I didn't leave because I had to.

I left because I was ready.

Which is saying a lot.

Of course, now I have no idea what I will write about. I guess I'll have to start leaving my house during the day and, you know, interacting with people. Who aren't drinking. Or asking me to bring them things. Or take things away. Or clean up after them. And I think I am ready for that, too.

I think I am finally ready to not work for someone else. I think I am finally ready to be my own boss. I think I am finally ready to take some personal risk, because the rewards will be worth it.

There will be rewards. I have no doubt.

I learned a lot in the years I have spent at the cafe. Not just about restaurant ownership - but about running your own business, and about life in general.

Which is, surprisingly, a lot like restaurant ownership.

I have seen the stress of paying the bills and covering payroll. I have seen an electric bill that is more than the rent. I have seen glass break and toilets overflow and beautiful food that cost real money get thrown out because someone changed their mind or put an order in wrong. I have gone looking for things that mysteriously go missing, I have watched furniture fall apart and seen computer systems fail. I have learned about insurance and incorporations and licenses and health codes.

I have learned that a clean kitchen and an excellent exterminator are requirements, and fancy decor is not.

I have learned that family will see you through your darkest hours.
I have learned that when someone is very good at something, they can make it look easy. But it's not as easy as it looks.

I have learned to stand up for myself.
I have learned to forgive.
And I will never forget.

And I am moving on.

1 comment:

Elly said...

Hurrah for you, lady! If its time, then its time. Can't wait to hear about where you go from here, I'm sure it'll be brilliant :)