“Pride is a personal commitent. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity.”
There comes times in all of our lives that we are forced to ignore our initial instincts and allow survival mode to guide through a trying time. My survival mode kicked in immediately after my ex locked us out of our home. I knew, as a newly single mother, I had to make everything right for my daughter, regardless of what it took.
After I was terminated from my place with the company R. and I were employed with, I was terrified. I cannot explain to you just how terrified. In less than two weeks, I had left my home, my marriage, and was now awaking to a new life, in a 6 week rented condo, with no hopes of an income in the future.
We all are aware of the present economy and unemployment statistics and many of us know that a new job is not landed overnight. With that said, I had no choice but to hit the streets, putting in applications at the local restaurants for waitressing positions. The timing of my separation and unemployment could not have been better, tourism season kicks in just before memorial day, so the popular restaurants begin to up their staffing numbers around May. I cannot complain, I was employed within the first week: but my morale was low and I could not find happiness in being a 39-year-old waitress. At the age of 31, I had put myself through college and worked hard to earn the degree that was now taking up space on my living room wall. I had been in my current career field for 8 years: it was a field of nobility, notoriety and stature: here I was, now tying on my black apron and carrying around my order book every day, with embarrassment and shame. (don’t misunderstand that analogy, I do not carry disdain for anyone that works as a bartender or server: for me, it was a huge step down from the suits and heels and five figure income I was used to)
In my current state of mind, I think the shock and numbness of the trauma I had suffered was enough to distract me from the harshness of reality and that was probably a good thing. It wasn’t until the end of July, when the distraction began to wear off, that I realized how extreme my situation had become. I was surrounded by everything that I had never agreed with. My co workers were young, average 20’s, enjoying a lifestyle full of drugs, alcohol and, the majority of them, welfare fraud. They all came from varying backgrounds but shared the same mentality for life: if you can’t drink it, smoke it or have sex with it. it’s not worth your time. I isolated myself from them, by not allowing myself much interaction kept me safe and far away from the drama that surrounded their daily work environment. Eventually, my quietness became an appellant for them and the drama was carrying over into my life.
Just before I quit my job at the first restaurant, there was a situation involving a 22-year-old waitress that I never did like. In mid July a close friend of mine was coming for a week’s visit. In casual conversation with this chick, I mentioned my friend would be in town soon and I planned on getting some much needed “Girl” time. I saw no harm in releasing that information, if I participated in a conversation randomly, I was able to camouflage myself more easily. A few days later, I’m not sure if it was nerves or a stomach bug, I called in sick. I had been up all night hugging the toilet and there was no way I was making it in that day. The next day, I returned to work and was confronted by the head waitress. She explained that the 22 year old had heard my call when I let them know I was sick and had spent the day telling everyone she could find that I was not sick, but hung over. She said I had bragged a few days before about hitting the town with my company and getting “crunk”. I still have no freaking idea what she meant by “Crunk” so that is definitely NOT a term in my vocabulary and I explained that to the head waitress. I had a doctor’s note in my pocket book, I left my supervisor standing on the second story, I marched myself downstairs, found my doctor’s note, walked straight up to the 22 year old, put it in her face, and let her know, the next time she had something to say, to get her facts straight. You should have seen the looks on her 20 year old friends faces….it was a priceless moment, regardless, in that moment, I knew I could not carry on that daily process anymore. My friend did arrive the next week for her stay and over the course of the week she could sense my distress in my employment situation. It was only a week later when I submitted my resignation and quit. It was a tough decision to make, there was still 6 good weeks left in the tourist season, which meant a great income for another month, but ultimately, my morals and pride took over and I simply could not put myself in that situation anymore.
It was the middle of July when I began seriously submitting resumes to anyone and everyone. I applied for every professional position you can think of: administrative, accounting, law enforcement, health care. It was my goal to not have to wait tables in more and return to being proud of myself and my career. ultimately, it wasn’t in the cards at that period in my life and I reluctantly began to send applications to restaurants again. It was in August that I was hired with the second restaurant.
I carried high hopes walking into that job. It was a higher scale restaurant than the previous bar I worked in, the client’s was one of a professional nature and my co workers were older and more mature. At first, I felt content and accepting of where life had led me. There was not much drama associated with my employers and I felt comfortable in my environment. I still carried the hope of returning to professional setting and carried on with submitting resumes to potential employers, but I did not feel the desperation that I had before. At least I never felt that desperation, until mid October, when the owner of the second restaurant returned to run the establishment.
She was in her 50’s: she and her “Boyfriend” had purchased the restaurant together 16 years ago and through the rumor mill, I knew she had a history of alcohol abuse. Currently, her 32-year-old daughter had been helping the boyfriend run the establishment. John was a laid back man, quiet and easy to get along with. He oversaw the kitchen part of everything. He was essentially in the kitchen with his crew all the time and he allowed Michelle to run the restaurant and patron part of everything. Michelle’s mom, Carla, had been in the hospital since July with pancreatic failure and kidney issues. For the first few weeks of my employment, they had not expected her to survive, but here she was, in the middle of October returning to work and man, was she hell on wheels. An alcoholic for over 30 years, you can only imagine how unhappy she was at being told by her doctors to never drink again. She was vile, pessimistic and she created much more drama than you would ever expect from a 50 year old woman. Within two weeks of her return, 4 of our staff quit, which left only myself, Michelle, the bartender and the kitchen crew. Her focus became making my life hell. She would cut my hours, send my home without warning and more than a few times, I caught her pocketing my tip money. I was frustrated, angry and everything felt hopeless. For months I had sent out resumes and my friends had asked everyone they knew, with no responses. After my daughter moved in with her Dad, I even began sending resumes to job openings in cities hours away. At that point, if it was in my destiny to move to a new town, then so be it.
All seemed hopeless. December came, my mentality was at its lowest. My daughter had been out of my home for a few weeks, my heartbreak was still fresh and though time was moving forward, I was still feeling “lost”. I made the decision to take a months break on the job hunt, I could not take the stress anymore. I had spent hours upon days upon months browsing the internet – Craigslist, indeed.com, LinkedIn, meetup, etc. to no avail. I was done, simply put. I reached a point where I decided to hang my head low, keep my mouth shut and do my job. Every fiber of my brain wanted more than anything to drive to work and tell Ms. alcoholic bi-polar bosslady to shove it where the sun didn’t shine, but I was at no point financially to do that. I simply had to accept what was my present fate. Then, everything changed.
It was a cold rainy day in December. I had driven to my girlfriends house to sit in front of the fire-place, sip some white zifandel and forget the world for a bit. We were having a heated discussing over the Home Networks “flip it” when my cell phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize and I almost did not answer it. Something in my belly twitched and my heart fluttered so I answered the call. It was a local law enforcement agency phoning about a position open with our county as a tele communicator. In mid August, I had forwarded my résumé to them, at the same time, their HR Department was transferred from their old office across town into a new office, and here it was December, and they were just now finding my résumé. They offered me an interview for two days later that I EAGERLY accepted. I could not believe my luck! I was ecstatic. Two days passed, I entered the interview with confidence and nailed it. They phoned the beginning of the next week and offered me the job. I did not hesitate to accept, I did not care if they saw how excited and happy I was, for once EVERYTHING FELT RIGHT!
It was week before Christmas, my new job set to start mid January, when I reported to work and informed my boss of my new job. I offered to stay with the restaurant until New Years, but when I informed my boss I would not be working New Years Eve, she not so nicely told me that was a deal breaker. Then began the rant of innuendos and insults that I had endured for the two months since she had returned. I quietly put on my jacket, grabbed my purse, and walked out the door. I have no regrets about that.My Grandmother raised me to treat others as you wish to be treated, but sometimes, after you have taken more punishment than you deserve, you reach a point where you just don’t care. The necessity for the job was not there anymore, my pride took over. I was no longer in a position to be treaded on, mistreated and used. I walked out the door of that restaurant with an unfriendly, go (bleep) yourself, gave myself my Christmas in GA with my son, welcomed in 2013 in a calm, settled environment and allowed myself to know, this year was going to bring changes. I walked into the new year, hopeful for a renewed peace and content in my life, I have earned it!