Surviving The Game

Before you ever think about quitting something give yourself an extra week or two, because in a matter of 14 days, things could actually turn around for you. Two weeks can seem like a long time when you’re struggling but the rewards you could possibly benefit from are really worth the sacrifice.

The week before the busiest weekend of the year for us at my new job was honestly one of the most annoying work weeks I had had at any job ever. So much so that I had started sending out resumes to places that I knew I could quickly get hired. I had immediately gotten two interviews for doing what I’ve always done, serving. Was I thrilled about a possible new job change? Nope, not one bit. I mean I had wanted to take a dip out of the restaurant world for a while so going back to serving wasn’t something I was particularly thrilled about. It was however comfortable for me. I knew the server world and so it wouldn’t have been such a struggle like the challenges the floral business was presenting me. Not only was the comfortability there but so was the insta-cash. There was no waiting two weeks for a paycheck. After every shift, there it was, a wad of cash for you to bring home and do whatever you wanted (or needed) to do.

I went on one interview. The other I set up for after Mother’s Day weekend. No matter what I decided to do, all I knew was that I would not like to leave the floral job before or during their busiest time of year. The owners had always treated me well. To be honest they all had treated me well. Minus a couple hiccups between the manager and I (two strong, like minded woman can at times bump heads) I could say that I enjoyed the people that I worked with so screwing them over right before Mother’s Day was out of the question. I did however struggle with communicating the fact the after the holiday I was planning on leaving. Should I give them a letter of resignation? Or should I keep it to myself and deal with it afterwards? I decided to stay quiet about my plan until I had something legit materialize. I’m so glad I did.

Mother’s Day craziness started that Thursday. The amount of orders that were coming in was something I hadn’t expected. Yes my coworker’s had tried to warn me about what to expect but I have come to realize that in life most people often exaggerate even the tiniest of things. They were not exaggerating. I had been put in charge of phones so that meant dealing with customer inquiries, taking their orders, completing orders, as well as any random miscellaneous things that needed to be done around the shop to help expedite the work of others. My headset had stayed on me the entire time I was working with only bathroom breaks giving my ear a small moment of freedom from the constrictive device. I noticed that much of what I was doing was using many of my server qualities. I shined when it came to dealing with the customers. I was able to quickly guide them through our ordering process, sometimes even guiding them in certain directions. If there was a particular piece that the owner wanted to push out and get rid of I could easily talk a customer into purchasing it. The organizational skills that were needed in order to keep everything moving smoothly was something I excelled at. Compliments from my coworkers and the owners were given to me since they hadn’t seen anyone handle the chaos as well as I had. To be fair, I have always excelled when work is at its busiest. To keep my mind and body moving from one task to another is what has always worked best for me. Working under pressure is when I shine.

The weekend came and went in blur. We all were pulling 16 hours shifts and by Sunday it was like a new wave of emotions towards my job came over me. During the four days we had all bonded. Working so hard together as a single unit gave it a more family feel. We executed what needed to be done and we had done it harmoniously. Even though we had been slammed with work for hours on end barely able to take breaks in between, there ended up being no fussing and no fighting. Had we walked out of there exhausted? Of course, but we had gotten through it, and we had done it well.

I had quickly started rethinking my moves. I started feeling as though I had also proven myself to not only my coworkers but also the owners of the shop. The vibe between them and me had changed. I felt as though I was a part of this close knit family and I liked it. I no longer felt the pressure of wanting to get out of this place. If anything, I wanted to stay. I had an interview scheduled for that Monday after Mother’s Day weekend and I decided not to go. I thought to myself that I would instead stick this out and see how it went for me. That Tuesday I was called randomly into the office by one of the owners. Fuck… “Am I about to get fired? Should I had just gone on that interview and then I wouldn’t be so worried about being fired right now?… I should have gone on that stupid interview..” were my thoughts as I was walking towards the back office.

I sat down in the chair directly across from him. I never get nervous. I don’t get nervous on job interviews. I don’t get nervous on dates. Yet, here I am sitting eye to eye with one of the shop’s owners knowing that I’m about to get fired from a job that just a week before I was already contemplating leaving, and I was nervous. I couldn’t stop fidgeting with my fingers. I picked at my nails, I played with my rings, none of which made me feel any better for what was about to come.

“Natalia, I want to start off by saying that you did  great job working for us over the holiday weekend…” Here it goes. The compliment before the let go. Why do business owners do this? To soften the blow? Jesus…let’s just get this shit over with shall we? “..I wanted to let you know that I was really impressed by your work…” Impressed? Do you fire people that impress you? I never fired anyone so I wouldn’t really know. “The way you handled the workload for someone who has only been here a little less than two month’s is something that genuinely shocked me and I don’t get shocked often.” Great.. I shocked him into firing me. Good going Natalia. “Before I continue on with where I’m going with this, I do want to ask you something?” I just stare at him. I may have blinked, I don’t think I did. “How long do you plan on staying with this company?” His cold blue eyes bore into my soul. Now was the moment of truth. I either fight for my job or easily walk away from it.

“Well..” my voice sounded weird. We sat in a small office but it felt like my voice was echoing down a long hall to reach where he was sitting. “…I would like to stay with the company for as long as you all want me here. I have always been one to like a challenge and that’s why I applied to work here initially. It hasn’t been easy but because of that I feel as though a good day here super exceeds a good day anywhere else I’ve worked, because I’ve excelled at something I had no prior knowledge or experience doing before. I know that at the moment your company may be small but I also know that it’s growing and I would like to see myself grow along with it.” He stared at me for a little bit. Maybe for one more second too long. I was about to fidget in my seat when he started talking again.

“Natalia, I foresee a lot of things happening with this company, and you are right, it is growing and it’s happening rapidly. I would like for you to to stay with us and because of all the hard work and effort you have shown I am going to do something that I do not typically do for people that have been here for as short of a time such as you have been. I’m giving you a raise.” What the fu….. Did I just here this correctly? “I’m increasing your pay by a dollar. The manager has also brought to my attention what an asset it has been having you here and so I do want you to know that although there are times in which you two may bump heads, she is in your corner. There is something that she will be giving you at the end of the day before you leave so make sure you see her on your way out.” The smile in the corners of his eyes were like a soft warm blanket on a cold winter day. I don’t know how many times I thanked him. I can’t even tell you exactly what I said before leaving his office. I was overwhelmed with shock because it had not been something I was expecting. Not in the least bit.

For the rest of my day I felt like I was walking on clouds. It had been rainy and ugly out but sunshine was brightly beaming from inside of me. Before I left at the end of my shift I met up with my manager in which she thanked me for all my hard work and handed me an envelope. “This is for you. Just a little extra something so you know that you are appreciated.” Was this a bonus? I wasn’t sure but even the simple compliment and “thank yous” was enough to inspire a hug out of me. It wasn’t until I got to my car that I opened the envelope. Inside was a check addressed to me for $300, I shit you not. I was ecstatic. Not only would this allow me to catch up on certain important bills I had left unattended due to lack of funds, but there were people I wanted to pay back for helping me here and there with the little everyday things of life. I was so happy.

Since that day, my moment’s at work are always positive. The entire vibe between the other girls and I has changed for the better. I no longer feel like an outsider. I am now creating arrangements and even surprising myself at how well I’ve been doing at it. There have been moments of guilt though that I still live with. Throughout the time that I was getting a raise and praise, I lost two of my fellow coworkers. They had gotten let go due to one reason or another. Sadness and guilt engulfed me because it was of course the two girls I had gotten along with the most. Both had been there slightly longer than I had. Both had placed a lot of time, dedication, and frustration into this job. I felt as though maybe the decision to keep me had maybe played in the decision to fire them. In an odd way if feels like a sort of survivor’s guilt. Do they feel the same? I know one in particular does. She did mention in a moment of anger that I “beat her” in the race. They were cold words that hit my heart, especially coming from someone I had thought I had befriended in a time in which I felt so out of place. I do understand the roller coaster of emotions  when unexpected displacement happens and I know she probably didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, so I try not to really think about it. Maybe she was right though, in the end I had survived a game I hadn’t known I was playing.

For now, I continue each work day doing the best I can. I still struggle a bit here and there but they are challenges I welcome for challenges are what keeps my mind and soul strong. My advice for people out there that are maybe struggling with something new, keep at it. Keep trying and give yourself time. Remember that no one is born knowing and that to even have set out in trying something out of your comfort zone keeps you one step ahead. Don’t be so hard on yourself for we are our own worst critic and most times our inner voices are what keeps us from feeling good about what we are doing for ourselves. Remember that by trying something new you are opening up doors for yourself that you would have never come across if you would have stayed in the comforting monotony of what once was. Keep at it with a positive mind and heart and life will reward you with much more than you ever thought possible.

Paint6.2

 

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?

Tatted and Employed

For the first time in a really long time I feel truly comfortable in my own skin. Sure, the uncomfortablitly was self imposed, but I will not compromise my love for art for better treatment.

Since I began getting tattooed, I have always been well aware of the stigma that was once associated with having tattoos. Some of that stigma is still around. It survives in the shells of the old and conservative. I am finding though, that most people are now more inquisitive and want to know “what” they all mean rather than “why” I decided to do this to myself.

About ten years ago when I began getting tattooed, I started in places where no one could see unless I myself allowed for it to happen. My first one was a small Asian symbol on my right hip. Then that turned into an entire dragon piece. I later got one on my upper arm. When wearing a shirt with sleeves, no one would really see it unless I exposed it. During this time I was working at a restaurant where tattoos weren’t an issue… until an ex employee made it one that is. Because of his crazy antics, a rule was strictly enforced that anyone with visible tattoos would have to cover them up for work. Boom. Just like that. A policy was made. You can imagine my surprise when I walked into work one morning and my new tattoo that I had just gotten added to my arm had to be immediately covered up. That same day I headed out after work to purchase the athletic sleeves that I would later wear for the next 8 years of my employment there. I believe that this job is what inadvertently aided me to at times feel very self conscious later on about my tattoos.

Let me just make one thing known. I love all of my tattoos. Due to my patience and extensive research, I had found myself wonderful and talented artists to do all of my pieces. Nothing that I have tattooed on my body represents anything vulgar or even semi offensive. For me to feel self conscious about my body art was something I hadn’t envisioned for myself. I felt that the policy had been made out of anger towards an individual and now an entire group had to pay. Was it fair in my book? No.

That first year of having to wear my arm sleeve was rough. Imagine working as a waitress, having indoor and outdoor tables, running all over a restaurant in Florida heat with a damn long sleeve on. All because one little fucker with rebel knuckle tattoos couldn’t pull his shit together. I was not the happiest camper in the world. As a matter of fact, during these times was when I had hit a rough patch a work. I simply was not happy working there. I had felt as if I not only wasn’t allowed to be me, but I was also being shunned by those around me. What kept me there? The money of course and even to this day I have yet to make the same kind of money that I made while working at this establishment. Well, time went on, and as I matured I tried to understand where they were coming from. I hadn’t let this new policy ruin my plans to turn this walking canvas into walking art. I slowly kept adding to my art here and there, even as I was continuing to have to cover it up. I even went to the extent as to think that if one day they were to change the policy and allow tattoos to be visible in the work place that I would continue to wear my arm sleeve(s) because I felt as though maybe I would have to work much harder at having to try to win my customers over if my tattoos were exposed. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone on this little island that I worked on were judgmental. I cannot even count how many people have questioned why it is that not only me but other severs had to cover up our tattoos. To many it was incomprehensible. There were even people who would comment on reviews, stating that they felt bad for us “kids” having to endure such conditions, especially during Florida summers.

Fast forward to today and I think about how sad of a thought that was for me to have. To think that if I didn’t cover up my body art that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my customers. It was a thought I wouldn’t have ever had if it had not been for those bosses and that policy. Today I work at a cute German bar smack in the middle of Boca Raton, FL. A high-class town with high dollar retirees and high dollar families. Unlike my previous place of employment, this place doesn’t require me to cover my tattoos, which really surprised me for this area. It took me about 2 shifts to really feel ok with allowing my tattoos to show. It took me another 2 shifts for me to realize that most people didn’t give a flying fuck about my body art just as long as I’m pleasant, attentive, and got their orders right.

I’ve realized so much by working at this place that has no tattoo policy. I’ve noticed that for one I now give more people the benefit of the doubt. Whether it is people I meet out in the streets or those I’m serving, I don’t go into it with the preconceived notion that they’re going to negatively judge me for having tattoos. In an odd way I feel free. Like I can actually breath and totally be myself. For those who do still continue to have a stigma against those with tattoos, I have noticed that by the end of their meal, it is as if I turned their perception from bad to good. As if they now realize that not all of us with tattoos have drug problems, or anger issues, or whatever else people seem to think when they see us.

For me, all I want to express in this piece that I’m writing to all of you is that in a world where people are trying so hard to be able to express themselves freely, in an age where people are fighting for individuality, why place such policies to hinder that? Listen, I get it. If Johnny Walker comes into my place of business with the words “Fuck Off” tatted on his knuckles and is looking for a job that deals with the public, fine. Have the guy fill out the application, and just don’t call him back, But to not only punish but make people feel as if they’re lesser of a person and must hide who they are and what they represent, simply because you fear the critics, shame on you. People who criticize will do so no matter what. You can try to hide the fact that your employees have tattoos but an obviously huge cover up is a dead give away and calls more attention to what you’re hiding.Give your employees the benefit of knowing that their wonderful personality and impeccable work ethic will shine through to your customers. Make them feel that it is ok to be themselves. Be that little change that this world needs to see.

Like Chocolate Covered Orange Peels

My first job ever was on the boardwalk of Atlantic City. Located directly across from the Tropicana casino was a huge pier designed to look like a ship and it was called the Ocean One Mall. Within this boat mall were dozens of shops, a huge food court, and the entire first level of this three story tier was a dedicated arcade center for the kids. I worked for a Greek family who owned two businesses located within this mall. One was a smoothie shop and the other was a candy store called Kandyland. The candy shop was what would be my home every weekend throughout the school year and for the entire summer. The store was huge. It was three levels of sugary goodness. Any kind of candy you could possibly crave you would be able to find there. Candy cigarettes, candy buttons, gummies, ring pops, over-sized lollipops too big for kids to ever finish, fudge. You named it, we had it. There were even candies I had never before heard of. Things like chocolate covered orange peels, raspberry jelly rings, marzipan. I was mind blown. Not only did they sell sweets, but they also had a walk up window conveniently accessible to those walking by on the boardwalk which sold your typical boardwalk treats. There were soft pretzels, popcorn, soft serve ice cream, hot dogs, and beverages. Could there have been a better job for a 13 year old? No fucking way.

During the months of May through September the boardwalk was consistently packed from sun up till sun down. Peak season is what it was for the Jersey shore. From an areal view it looked as though an army of ants were crawling all over the place. A dark black mass of people who had chosen to come to the Jersey for a nice vacation. I had started working for Niko and Marinela in May, right at the beginning of season, and this first job definitely provided me with many other firsts. This was the first time I had ever had bosses. This was where I earned my first paycheck, and my first reprimand (I almost got fired within my first week!). This is where I had also met my first ever boyfriend.

His name was Luis Velasquez , a 14 year old Colombian native who had just recently moved to the city with his family for a better life. I’m not sure how moving to Atlantic City would constitute for a better life. I guess that at the time, any place would have been better than dealing with the craziness of living in Colombia.

Luis was dark, tall, and SO handsome. He had a head of hair that the ladies would die for. His eyes were as dark and as deep as the bottom of the ocean. He was an entire head taller than me and ridiculously lean. His lips were the prettiest, yet manliest color of pink  you could imagine and looked as soft as flower petals. He was the first boy I ever wanted to swap sloppy kisses with. Luis was hired to work next door at the smoothie shop. The only times I would ever get to see him was if I decided to have a smoothie on my break (which was just about everyday) or when he was bringing the cash over from the shop after closing up. As any teenage girl with a crush would do, whenever Luis came around I was there readily available. For what? I don’t know but at least I was there 🙂 It wasn’t too long before we became friendly and then moved up to dating. Though as quickly as things developed, that’s how quick they was over. My first break up. The relationship hadn’t lasted long so the “heartbreak” wasn’t as bad as most first breakups would be. I had quickly discovered that he was a liar, gang banger wanna be, douche bag. The kind of guy moms and dads warn their daughters about. He had even gotten fired from the smoothie shop for pocketing a few dollars.  He was caught on camera red handed, and immediately fired without a chance to explain. The was the last I saw or heard of Mr. Velasquez.

I had come to really love my job at Kandyland. My bosses and I had gotten close. I considered them like my parents away from home. I had come to learn so much in my time spent working there with them, not just business related but about life in general. So you can imagine my surprise when I left for a week to visit family in Boston for the holidays and came back to find the store completely shut down and gutted. This had been my first experience with betrayal committed in the first degree by adults. They had allowed me to leave on a family vacation without telling me that I would return unemployed.

I will never forget the day. It was a cold Saturday morning in December. It was in between Christmas and New Year’s and I had just returned from visiting my aunt and uncle up north. I had woken up that morning and did my usual routine to get ready for work. I left my grandparents apartment and walked the 15 blocks to work. I always walked instead of taking the jitney because minus the bums, the walk was always beautiful and peaceful, especially that early in the morning. I arrived at the shop cold but excited to be getting back to work. The excitement hadn’t lasted long. Once I set foot through the front doors I was frozen in place. Displays and candies were all gone. Drywall dust covered everything and there were cans of paint placed throughout the lobby.  There were people walking around, none of whom I hadn’t recognized.

“Can I help you hun?” An old, bald headed man with thick, black rimmed glasses had asked. I hated that he had called me “hun”.

“Yeah. I work here. What’s going on?” I asked back, pulling the gloves off my now sweaty hands. We stare at each other for a few beats. I wonder who looked more confused, him or me? Just then, Niko walks out of what used to be the employee area and stops dead in his tracks.

“Nata!” It was their nickname for me. “What are you doing here?” He asked in his heavy accent. He was equally as confused as the old man and I were.

“What do you mean? I always open on Saturdays! What’s going on?” I questioned a second. At this point worry was starting to really set in. Niko looks at me and I can’t tell if it’s frustration, embarrassment, or pity that flickers across his face. Maybe it was all three.

“Mari didn’t tell you? Kandyland is closed for a bit. We’re relocating a couple blocks down from here.” He was starting to fidget. Funny, one always knew when Niko was stressed out when you’d see him pull at the tiny, frosted curls that topped his head, which was exactly what he was doing now. Between Marinela and him, his wife had all the balls in the relationship. Both hers and his.

“No, no one said anything to me about this. So….” I looked around. There seemed to be so much to do. “Should I help you guys? Or did you want me to come back in a couple of days?” I mean just because they were relocating didn’t mean that I was out of a job, right?

“Sorry honey, no. We won’t be reopening until the spring and there isn’t much that you could help us with around here. You’d be a liability.” He seriously couldn’t have looked anymore uncomfortable. I was in shock and once that shock passed just a few short seconds later, I got pissed. I mean, who does this?

“So you’re telling me that a week ago, when I was clocking out, you couldn’t tell me that I’d be coming back unemployed? That totally just slipped everybody’s mind to tell me that there would be no Kandyland when I returned?” I began freaking out. I could no longer stay calm, cool, and collected. Not when I had felt so betrayed. “I dedicated my weekends to you guys. My entire summer was spent working here and not one person could tell me that this place was closing down? I’m sure everyone else got the memo! Is it because I’m just a “kid” that I couldn’t get the same respect?” My eyes began to water but not because I was sad. Oh no. It was because I was angry. Niko looked defeated and understood that there was no winning this argument. I had been right even if I was just a “kid”. We stared at each other for what seemed like a second too long.

“We’ll help you find another job.” I had completely forgotten about the strange an that had initially greeted me when I walked in. He was still standing in the same spot when he broke the awkward silence. “I have a brother who runs a pizza place in one of the casinos. Niko can give me your number and I can call you once I speak with him.” He spoke with sincerity so without saying a word, I dove into my purse, fishing out a piece of paper and a pen. I quickly jotted down my number as well as my name, then handed it over to him.

“Niko seems to be forgetful so here’s my information. I appreciate you helping me out and I’ll be looking forward to your phone call.” I then turned to Niko and thanked him. “It was nice working with you. Have a Happy New Year.” I said dryly and with that I walked out.

It was a long walk home. I was irritated and angry that they had done this to me. I had worked just as hard, if not harder, than most of the people that came and went from that place. This entire scene would have never happened if I had been older. It had been the first time that I realized that it didn’t really matter how great of an employee you were, or how loyal, if you’re a “kid”, adults didn’t have to respect you.

I ended up getting the phone call that very night. The strange man had kept his promise and within just a few short days, I had a new job. I had been surprised by the kindness and generosity of this stranger. I later learned when having a conversation with this man that he had been very moved by my situation and said that no person, child or not, should be treated that way.

“We all deserve to be treated fairly. We all deserve a proper explanation, even children.”

Even though my employment at Kandyland ended so abruptly, leaving a slightly sour taste in my mouth, I can’t deny some of the sweet memories I made while there. I guess one could say that this was a bitter sweet chapter of my life. Slightly similar to the taste of chocolate covered orange peels.

10727571_1518315738407738_613590124_n (2)

Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

Announcement to the Public on Service

People have often mentioned to me that I should be a comedian. Most of the people who’ve said this don’t really know me and therefore have no idea of the phobia I have of public speaking. “Oh you’re so funny!!! You should really try to do some stand up!” they say. I find the idea of this absurd. It takes balls to stand in front of a group of people and crack a few jokes that you hope are funny enough to get at least a giggle from your audience. Yes, I am witty, but most of that wit comes when no one is around to witness it, or after the moment has passed, so at a time too late. Still, I won’t lie. I have daydreamed of what it would be like to make people laugh using the examples of my either exaggeratedly boring or seemingly hectic life, because for me life is either at one extreme or the other.  I’ve imagined me standing there on my platform, my soapbox, and have thought about some of the topics I would love to cover. My number one topic would be about working with the public, primarily restaurant work.

It’s a war zone out there. A scene from a warrior movie like that of 300 where each warrior has got a million tiny missions to complete, and all of them are going on at the exact same time. Obstacles get in the way, slowing the process of completion down, and yet in this scene instead of suffering physical battle wounds, it’s the spirit of the warrior that gets shot down. So here is a public service announcement:

The server life, it is no joke, especially for those of us who live it on a day to day basis. Some days are minor battles, or maybe even a day of rest. Most days are a fight to the finish, your enemies ranging from being either your customers, to fellow coworkers, to even that of management.

When it comes to the customers, life in the server world can be totally exhausting. From the moment a server clocks in until the very second they clock out, an identity isn’t what they have.  They are service-bots, actors with script changes for each table that is under their care. Each table is different and therefore calls for a case-by-case approach on how to deal with each one. Servers are like pilots navigating a flight, each table being a flight, every destination being that of satisfaction. Servers analyze which best route to take in order to get each and every table to their destination with the least amount of turbulence as possible. For instance for one table I’ve got to play the role of the “at your beck and call” waitress who uses “yes ma’m, no sir” after every question and sentence. I chuckle at your awful white collar jokes as I top off your cucumber lemon water, and continuously kiss your ass while you shower me with compliments like, “Oh you really are great at following directions. Keep it up kiddo..” with a pat on the back, and then tipping me 15%.  Where as the table right next to them, laid back and carefree, I can around joke with and serve them effortlessly without feeling as though I am a slave to their dollar and their dinning experience. I can literally be myself while I work, which at this point it doesn’t even feel like work, and then obtain a 22% tip and minus the back-handed compliments. So can you imagine the emotional and psychological toll serving can at times have on a person? Constantly changing who you are from table to table, for hours at a time, while also being looked down upon by most of your customers. Because, people aren’t kind you know, especially in this industry where most look down upon us thinking that we’re “stupid”, and “lower class” compared to them, even if we DO, for the most part, make more money than they do. I’d like to also take this moment to mention that you, the customer, don’t need to say any of these things. It’s not like you have to say it to our faces that you think we’re incompetent.  After many years of working in the “biz” servers become exceptional people readers. It is in your actions, or lack there of, it is in the inflection of your voice, it is in the way most of you don’t even look at us while speaking. You don’t have to tell us that you think you’re better than us. You show us with every second that ticks by.

Like I described before, waiting tables isn’t for the faint of heart. In a time where we’ve never been so connected to those not only around us but also those millions of miles away, our social skills are, unbelievably almost non-existent, making dealing with the public, simply said, a pain in the ass. The consideration people have for others is limited and manners? Manners are now a rarity. Where before manners were almost a prerequisite in life, now I find myself going out of my way to actually thank those for using them, especially children.

Servers (bartenders, bussers, food runners, ect…) deal with your messes. We clean up after all of you and that means wiping away all the crumbs that have fallen out of your mouth. We pick up the dirty napkins  you’ve wiped your runny nose with. We clean up the puke that spews from your child’s lips. We take care of the pee puddle that your grandfather left behind because he didn’t realize that he had to go. Think about this the next time you decide to tip $5 on a $50 simply because you may have chosen a restaurant that was little bit above your price range, or because the kitchen messed up your unrealistically high expectation to make you something that wasn’t even on the menu to begin with. Let me add, servers aren’t heartless animals. We understand that at times, what you would like to tip us isn’t what you can manage at the time. Maybe it’s an anniversary and you wanted to take your love out to a nice dinner that normally you cannot afford. Fine, but at least don’t work us tooth and bone all the while knowing that you aren’t going to compensate us for our wonderful service. Clean up after yourself a little instead of leaving the table as if 13 unmannerly vikings were feasting before heading out on the water. Or if you’re not going to tidy after yourself because “that’s what servers are for” at least put the damn lid to the ketchup back on the bottle for fucks sake.

Not all servers are great servers. I will say though that the majority are. There is also a small portion of shitty servers who are usually pretty great but just have had a shitty day. It happens every day in the human world, and don’t forget, servers are human too. Remind yourself that the next time you go out to eat. Think of how we servers tend to follow customer cues so if you find yourself in a situation where the service may be a little questionable, ask yourself if maybe, you the customer, set that tone, for some customers have a personality to repel anyone from wanting to deal with them and their crazy antics. Take your blinders off for a second and take a look around you, is your server insanely busy taking care of five other tables and not just yours? If they’re working hard and not just standing around joking with their co-workers, I would excuse them on certain things like timeliness or forgetting to top off your Coke for the third time. There is a difference between good service and bad service. A bad server hasn’t the personality or character to handle all that comes with this job. They simply don’t care and eventually they either leave or get fired. Most times it’s the later. A good server gets the job done. A great server is submissive to their customer, fulfilling their every request, all done with a huge smile painted on their face and with an aura about them that gives off that they care, even if deep down inside they truly don’t.  Which ever the type of server, we are all just trying to make a living. We are all trying to survive, just like you, the customer. So I say, if we aren’t allowed to treat you the way you may deserve to be treated, how about you make our job easier and more pleasant by treating us like… well… like human beings because compassion and love, even in places of work, is a wonderful motivator, and what goes around, comes around.

10541926_290656201122848_106468059_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

 

 

Caution To the Wind

I put to rest another small and unhappy part of my life today, for I’ve learned from my previous experiences to not let unhappiness hang around for too long.

Today I decided to quit my part-time job.

I won’t lie, walking away from any sort of commitment, whether big or small, personal or professional, it’s always difficult to do. There are always pros and cons, of course. Most times if you’re at the point in which you are weighing out the negatives and the positives of your given situation, the cons will outweigh the pros. But, if you’re anything like me, once you commit, it’s too hard to quit no matter how difficult the situation may be.

Growing up my momma made sure to raise no fool. She instilled in us kids the values and principals of working hard and sticking to what you start, no matter the sacrifice and dedication it took. As kids, there was no such thing as “sick days” unless one was contaminated with something extremely contagious such as the chicken pox. We didn’t take days off of school without an important reason, and once I got older there was no such thing as “calling out” of work either. Think of it like this, in the 30 plus years that my mother has been employed at the casino, she has only called out of work four times, and it was due to snow. You can just imagine the work ethic my mother has and in turn has passed onto us. This is why in today’s time, if I find myself committing to something, be it a job, or project, anything really, I am committed. I am your loyal little work bee until something or someone prevents me from happily doing so.

The key word there was “happily”. I am a HUGE follower of happiness. I believe that happiness is a choice. You either choose to be happy or you choose to not be happy. I believe that while we’re here experiencing this life we chose, we either decide to make this a heaven on Earth, or Hell. Much of what helps us make our decision as to which way we live has to do with listening to ourselves and allowing intuition to direct us. I mean we have feelings for a reason. Feelings help guide us throughout life, and although people listen to some feelings, they don’t seem to consider all feelings. For instance fear is one feeling people tend to not only consider but over indulge in. Yes, fear allows us to avoid many dangerous situations, but at times it also limits people’s ability to experience things outside of their comfort zone.

A follower of happiness cannot simultaneously over indulge in the feelings of fear.  Yes, a follower of happiness can experience fear, but there is no overindulgence because to follow happiness, many times (most times) you must throw caution to the wind and not allow for fear to govern decision making. Happiness is a feeling that not many people take into consideration. Are you happy at work? Do you feel happy in your romantic relationship? Does your friendship bring you happiness? If not, are you willing to go on that pursuit of happiness no matter what it takes, or will you let fear take reign of your life? Many will read this and counter that one cannot be happy in all aspects of life. Those people are Debbie Downers. You CAN be happy in all areas of your life. People do it everyday. It’s a small percentage but there are those individuals that are truly happy in all aspects of their life. You just have to choose to be happy. Sure, it takes time, but if you’ve got the drive and determination, just like with anything else in life, you too can achieve all around happiness.

There is no need for me to say that my part time job wasn’t making me happy. It was no secret. I honestly couldn’t have been more vocal about it, and although I wasn’t there for long, I still feel annoyed with myself that I ended up staying there for as long as I did. There were many days full of anguish and unease that could have been avoided if only I would have left sooner. Yet, I can’t dwell on the past. Or I could, but for what reason? To extend that negative feeling?? Instead I’ll applaud myself for leaving the unhappy situation sooner than I have previously done in the past, merely because I let fear rule over my feeling of intuition.

“You need us as much as we may need you.” My ex-boss said to me as we spoke about our issues. Anyone who is an employee knows these are words that draw a line in the sand. So I either choose to believe that what he spoke is true and stay in a situation that brings me no joy. A situation that I’m in only because I don’t want to let others down. OR  I choose to cross that line and step out and over into the unknown. Where the door to comfort and familiarity closes and the window to new and endless opportunities await.

I chose to cross the line. The minuet I did I felt the greatest weight being lifted off my shoulders and in that instant I knew I did the right thing. Maybe not the right thing in the eyes of others, but for me it was the right decision. Now I’ve got an array of avenues to pursue. I can go this way or that way, while nothing negative is holding me back. In this NOW moment I can say that I am truly happy in all areas of my life and I plan to keep it this way. Yes, there will come a time (many more times) where a feeling of sadness or unrest will try to creep back in, but as a follower of happiness I am committed to myself to always do what makes my soul smile. I choose to pursue that which makes me radiate joy, positivity, and love so I not only continuously live in harmony with the Universe, but so that I can also serve as an example that one can truly achieve and live in overall happiness if one chooses to.

1478541108003 (2)

flAweD.

I forget birthdays and I’m horribly bad with names.

It’s very difficult for me to fake sincerity. For me to have to pretend to like someone is almost damn near impossible. Don’t get me wrong civility is there but that’s the extent of it.

I never anger without reason. It’s difficult to get me angry, but once you get me to that place, I wish you luck in getting me through it. If anger makes its way into my being it will take root and it will stay for a while.

Although I’m working on my stubbornness, I am still very stubborn. If I truly believe in something, it will be very hard for anyone to change my mind. This goes for all areas in life, love, anything with fact or opinion.

I am at times a procrastinator and when I am alone, I can be unbelievably lazy.

Overthinking can be a hobby of mine although lately I have been working hard to calm those negative inner voices.

I laugh when people fall.

I can be unbelievably sarcastic and passive aggressive.

I have almost no will power when it comes to saying “no” to something I really want to do, even if it can be hazardous.

On the inside, I get high anxiety when it comes to having to socialize with people I don’t know, while on the outside I can look as cool as a cucumber and even come off as confident.

I laugh uncontrollably when I’m nervous. Either that or I fidget with my hands.

Sometimes I can get a little jealous if someone can do something really cool that I can’t.

I internalize my problems and always seem to portray a sunny disposition even if I’m sad as all hell on the inside.

I sometimes care too much about what other people may think about me. This goes hand in hand with my co-dependency.

Sometimes I can curse a little too much.

At this point in my life, I trust no one.

I’ve got split ends and blackheads.

By looking at my hands you can tell I’ve been working all of my life. Contrary to the soft dainty hands I’m “supposed” to have for a girl.

I’ve got a light mustache that I have to Nair once every other month. Thank You, dark Latina genes, thank you. But what fucking ever. At least I don’t have sideburns and crazy hairy ass cheeks.

I’m starting to suffer from grey hair and skin tags.

I could have slightly bigger boobs and a slightly thicker ass… WTF happened Latina genes??!! (But I’m not really sure I would call these flaws) And the size of my double chin depends on my mood or temperament.

I’m so far from perfect but I’m grateful for this. I look at these “flaws” and realize they are what makes me different from every body else. My unique set of flaws, along with my unique set of positive traits, creates the inner contents of a special package. It’s tightly wrapped in a strong, flesh-like shell, that holds and protects a special and completely unique being. No one else has been made with these very same ingredients that it took to make me. I stare at these “flaws” listed here right in front of my face, and I smile at them for they are not flaws. They’re not some bad ingredient that you find on the back of food packaging, for instance, like high fructose corn syrup. They are misunderstood.

As cliche as this sounds, without these flaws I wouldn’t be me. Without them I wouldn’t have the good qualities that I do, or at least they wouldn’t be obvious. Without flaws there wouldn’t be beautiful life lessons to be learned or experiences to be had. We would be walking around in a perception of perfection which would allow no room for living and learning. A complete waste this life would be, for that is the exact reason we come here to this realm of living, to live and learn.

I not only accept my flaws but expose them to the world. I believe that if we embraced our “bad” traits  we would end up truly loving ourselves more so than if we just accepted our good traits. I mean, that is what true love is, isn’t it? Having the ability to look past a person’s flaws and accept them exactly as who they are? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have that love for yourself, not just hoping to one day experience it for someone else? You have the ability to experience that Love everyone desires to find. Experience it with yourself first because there is no better person to give you that unconditional love than YOU.

In experiencing that Love for yourself, in accepting those flaws, you’ll discover a completely different world. A world where you have no fear to say the things you feel or think. A world in which you can freely act the way you feel and simply be who you are, without doubting yourself or questioning how others may perceive you. A world in which you accept and love yourself without limitations or conditions.  To have this Love for yourself means that you will have the ability to truly love others openly and that is Love in its purest form.

I bare my flaws and praise them because I accept them for what they are and in turn love myself for who I am because of them. I urge you to allow yourself to do the same because everyone deserves a little true love ❤