The Hourly Side Of It

Many close to me know that it has been for quite some time now that I’ve had an urge to leave the food and beverage industry in pursuit of change. Working in restaurants is something that I have been doing for most of my life now, more than half of my life to be exact. Although serving and bartending can be extremely lucrative, for me it had gotten to the point where it was a mindless job. Now matter what bar or restaurant I began working, it was all the same to me.

I got my chance to switch up my occupation but it wasn’t easy obtaining this new job nor has it been an easy transition.

I went on three interviews for this place. The first two were just days apart. By interview two I was stoked. I figured if they called me in for a second interview they would for sure hire me.

They never called me back. A week had passed and I had heard nothing from the place I had interviewed with. The confidence I had walked out of there with had pretty much vanished and what stood in its place was the feeling of worthlessness. I had always been able to land any restaurant job I had ever interviewed for but when it came to doing something different with my life, it seemed as though no other type of establishment would hire me.

I went on vacation for a week to go visit family. Throughout that whole time I kept thinking to myself how much I was really dreading going back to my serving job. Honestly it wasn’t as though I was working for bad bosses or that I couldn’t tolerate my co-workers. I did truly enjoy working with the people I worked with. The clientele was a bit more upper class than I would have liked, but even that I could tolerate. I just wasn’t feeling the service industry anymore. I decided that I wouldn’t let this job I had interviewed for get away from me that easily. I made a decision that when I got back home I would email the business a “follow up” letter. What would be the worst that could happen?? That they would respond and tell me, “I’m sorry but the position has been filled..” or simply not respond at all. I could deal with that. At the very least I would know that I had truly tried.

I arrived home on a Monday afternoon and within minuets of arriving I had sat at my computer and composed a lovely follow-up email. As soon as I sent it, I closed my laptop and tried to forget about it. It was just a few hours later that they responded. They wanted me to meet with the owner of the company the very next day. I was thrilled.

The following day came and as I got ready for this interview I reminded myself that this could go either way. Either she was going to love me and hire me or she was going to be unimpressed and I’d never hear from them again. I tried to keep high hopes while also knowing that I had to be realistic in this situation. What was the situation? The fact that my resume consisted of mainly restaurant work and hardly anything else. The truth of the matter was that if she did hire me it would be a huge risk on her part due to the simple fact that I had no experience in the field I was interviewing for. Either way, I went in with my head up high. Hopefully she would see that although I had no experience in what I was interviewing for, I still had wonderful qualities and attributes that I could contribute, while also having the capability to learn quickly.

Interviewing with her was easy. She was very down to earth and natural to talk to. She asked about my work history, told me in detail about the company and what she was looking to build within her team. To be honest, it hadn’t felt as though we were on an interview but more so just chatting. By then end of it, I walked out not knowing if I had gotten the job but feeling as though I did. Still, I kept it realistic. I had left the two previous interviews walking on clouds and never got called back so why would this be any different?

The phone call came two hours later. One of the managers I had previously interviewed with called to tell me I was hired. I was to start the very next day. I was ecstatic. Being relentless and not taking “no” for an answer had really worked out in my favor and I was happy to have been given an opportunity to prove that I was capable of doing the job even if I didn’t have much experience.

Fast forward to a month later and the thrill and the excitement has almost diminished completely. Starting a new job is hard. Starting a new job that you have no clue about is even harder. Add to the mix, the fact that I went from making nightly cash to now waiting every two weeks for a paycheck that pays a fraction of what one used to make, and now life is one big ball of stress. I will not lie, I have my good days, when everything seems fine and dandy. Those are the days I make no mistakes doing my job while also having a good time with my coworkers. Then I have the days that everything I touch I seem fuck up.  These are the days that I feel like I am not good enough to do what I was hired to do. These are the days in which I feel like “why did I even bother to force myself into a situation I was clearly not qualified for?”

The grass is not always greener on the other side. I now understand, that because I had been serving and bartending for so long, I had taken it all for granted. The money, the scheduling, the connection with my customers, all of that I overlooked and now that I’m on the hourly side of life, I crave it all back. Will I stay at this new job that I struggled so hard to get? In all honesty, I will answer by saying no. I was good at what I did and I made money doing so. It won’t be long before I find my way back to what once was. For now I will suck it up and make the most I can out of this frustrating situation, because let’s face it, why make it more miserable than it has to be? I have learned a lot about myself  by pursuing something that was out of reach, out of my norm. When you go outside of your comfort zone, you may not always strike it big but you will always learn something about yourself that you never really knew or ever paid attention to before.

I have no regrets on any of the decisions I’ve made that have landed me where I am at this moment in time.  Everything I do and experience adds to the value of my life. It all serves a purpose and although at times it may be frustrating to go through some of these adventures, they are none the less adventures, and isn’t that what we live for in the end?

The Land I Loved

The day I left was the saddest day of my life as an adult. The funny part is? I didn’t have anything to really hold me there. In other words, it’s not like I was leaving anything behind per say, only the dreams of my future.

It didn’t hit me as we were placing all of our belongings out onto the curb. My things that I had worked so hard for just out there exposed and left behind. It didn’t hit me as we pulled away and watched as the neighborhood I had called my home for the last year fade away from view. Everything that had become familiar to me that year was slowly fading and with each second that ticked by it was all becoming just a part of my past.

The silence during the first half hour of our car ride was needed because the lump in my throat wouldn’t have allowed for otherwise. It was once my turn signal indicated our arrival onto the interstate, and that moment of me looking into the rear view mirror, that a warm sadness washed over me. California had won. A true and real feeling of failure is what ran through my veins. It wouldn’t be for weeks that I would get to feeling like “me”again and then even still, it was a hurt “me”, a healing “me”.

My eyes welled up, the tears hot and intrusive. I could no longer hide my hurt once they overflowed and ran from the hiding spot behind my sunglasses and down my cheeks. I didn’t even bother to wipe the tears. What for? The pain was real and there was no sense in hiding it. Instead I chose to live through the emotion, actually feel what it was I was going through. I had fallen in love and for me this death was worth the mourning.

I’m sure many reading this will think I’m being dramatic. Only those who have taken risks and failed will understand where I’m coming from and really, those are the people I’m talking to. Only you are the ones who can relate. If you’ve never been through something similar, if you’ve never failed before and were left with nothing more than a a hole in your heart, read this and realize, your day is coming. That is for sure. It’s best you read up so you’re not blindsided as I was.

As a kid I had always dreamed of living in the rural parts of California. I had seen so many pictures and documentaries, the lay of the land in northern California was like a dream. The first computer I ever got that could actually surf the internet, I spent time looking up and researching places around the U.S that had always interested me. Cali was definitely my number one. I didn’t want to head there to be rich and famous. Fuck that. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I wanted to live in California because it was something that had called to me as a child. Those beautiful mountains. The sky which seemed to always look so candy colored. The way the leaves turned to those amazing autumn tones in the fall with bright yellows, oranges, and reds. It was no surprise to anyone who knew me that the second I had cash saved up, off I was. I drove out to the West Coast without a moment’s hesitation. The people in my life dishonestly supporting me didn’t deter me. It was my dream, not theirs, that I was hunting for.

I had been purposely positive throughout the three days it took to drive there. I thought about how quick I would find a job. I thought about how awesome it would be to live in the new apartment, in my new neighborhood, with my new neighbors. I imagined all the cool places I’d finally get to see. Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Hollywood Blvd, the Sunset Strip. If there were any doubts at any point in time, I crushed them with thoughts of positivity. There would be no Negative Nancies in my head bringing me down. No sir. I was (still am) a firm believer in the Law of Attraction so for me, negative thoughts weren’t even an option. It wasn’t until a year later that I looked back and realized, maybe the negative thoughts that would slip into my mind here and there was just life trying to prepare me for what would later be a shocking reality. But like Karma I find Hindsight to be a bitch.

My theory on Los Angeles’ smog problem is that it isn’t pollution, per say, that is floating above everyone’s head. It is my belief that the layer of smog that always lingers are the souls of the innocent who venture out to L.A and never return to be the same again. I mean hell, they don’t call it the City of Angels for no reason. I imagine it being like a trap box for the innocent. The interior of this box looks so appealing. It’s dressed up in opportunities and gold. Shiny things hang in its interior, attracting you like a fly to a light bulb. You get there one way, with a pure and maybe even naive way of being. Before long, the doors to this box snap shut and you are trapped inside, doing things out there to survive that you never thought you’d  have to do.

Yea, as a child I dreamed of going to Northern Cali but the opportunity arose for me in L.A. I figured that I could get myself started in the city. It would be my first foot through the door and then once I saved up a bit I would migrate up north.

I never even made it to saving up.

The California life is expensive. The cost of living was ridiculously high and real jobs were scarce. Just by looking around, the amount of homeless people or those collecting cans and plastic could be proof of what I’m telling you. My story during this time could have gone many different ways. It could have gone better. It could have gone way worse. It’s kinda funny because now thinking about it, they way I lived in L.A was so carefree, it was almost as though I was tempting danger to come dance with me. The streets of Los Angeles, the devil’s playground, and I was out and about living as if I were still out on the Island of Sanibel. I spoke to strangers. I would go out and try to explore my surroundings and many times, during this exploration, I would get lost and wind up on a block a didn’t belong. The drinking was out of control and there were more than a handful of times that in a moment of sheer blackout, would take my car and attempt to drive home. I always made it of course, but that is only because I have the best guardian angel out there protecting me.

There were so many mistakes I made when arriving to Cali. There were also many obstacles that also got in the way, obstacles that prolonged the feeling of settling down. I don’t think that in the year that I lived there did I feel at all settled.  Jobs weren’t working out. Food was scarce. Bills were piling up. The roller coaster of emotions and the stress were taking a toll on me. Secretly I would cry myself to sleep on almost every night. It would have been one thing if it would have just been myself that I needed to worry about. The fact that my sister decided to come along on my little adventure was what hurt me the most. Not because she came along with me but because she was suffering. This was my dream that I was trying to live out and now that it was going horribly bad she was suffering. To look at her face filled with so much anxiety and sadness really broke my heart to pieces and so the day I was confronted with the opportunity to return home, her face was the one I saw. In my mind, I saw her looking at me with the eyes full of hope of going back home, and that’s what made me break.

The decision was literally made from one day to the next and to be honest it wasn’t too hard of a decision to make. We were already 3 months behind on our rent. We had no food except for a bag of rice and a couple cans of tuna. By this time anytime we grocery shopped it was mainly baby food and soup cups that we ended up getting and that was to be split between my sister and I, along with my dog and her cat. Crazy right?

It had just been a few days before our planned departure that I had received an e-mail from our landlord stating that if we didn’t have the three months of rent we owed him within 48 hours, he would be there with police escort to evict us. Instead of leaving as planned, our trip back home was to be expedited. We gave our neighbor’s some of our things. Actually, we were trying to sell our stuff to them but after realizing that they were in no greater shape than we were, we freely gave things away. We then packed the car with whatever we could bring, but my small two door sports car couldn’t hold much, so we just left mostly everything behind. Like I mentioned earlier, the amount of people that are homeless or who rummage the garbage for food or things to help them get by is astronomical in L.A. So instead of leaving much of our stuff inside the apartment when we left, we decided to set what we could carry out on the curb for people to take. I mean for us it was like, “Well we can’t take it with us, so let’s leave it for those who will truly need it.” It was 6 am in the morning when we finished, the sun was just beginning to wake up. Our plan was to get out of there before our landlord showed up with his police escort. To be behind on a month’s rent is bad enough, but to owe three months is ridiculous. The fact that he hadn’t thrown us out sooner was a shock to me and a testament to how kind he was, for he was a really nice landlord, and there was no way my sister and I could face him.

As we got into my car, I noticed that there was already a family going through what was just a few seconds ago our belongings. It was truly a bittersweet moment that to even think about it now tugs at my heart.

I lost a lot on this adventure of mine to California. Not just my physical belongings but I also left behind a sliver of my dignity, piece of my heart, as well as a chuck of my soul. Yet, with my losing or leaving behind a few things I had also gained much more than that. I took with me my experiences of meeting new people, good and bad. I have taken and stored away beautiful memories and also some scary ones. Everything that I have obtained through my journey to and from California has served a wonderful purpose and have also gifted me with amazing stories for me to share. Who knows if I’ll ever go back and attempt at living there again but at least now I know somewhat of what I should be expecting.

There was a post I previously made about how I’ve only truly been in love twice. I’ll go ahead and correct myself by saying that it was three times. California. She is beautiful. She is enticing. She was a ruthless love.

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Art Work Credit: Jet Victory Follow on IG and FB