Surviving the Survival Job

Recently, I quit my job waiting tables. This was my reaction.

El Stories 2

I was well aware I wasn’t going to be a fulltime actor just yet, but it was a change that needed to happen. I’ll go more into it in a bit, but first, a story: I had just finished working an early morning extra gig. I left set and biked straight to a nearby restaurant. Waiting tables isn’t exactly a career I want to stick with, but I already need another job and so I thought this place might work. An actor friend of mine works there and said they might be hiring. So I picked up an application. God I hate applications. They’re usually for jobs that I don’t even want, and I get more and more upset as I fill them out. I swallowed my pride and continued filling in everything I needed to. But then I reached the last page. It read: “Please list three people, who are not related to you and who are not previous superiors, that you have known for at least one year, and whom we may contact as additional references.”

…is this a joke? This means I’ll probably have to find someone theatre related. So now I’m having artists tell them how good I am for a place where ALL I HAVE TO DO IS BRING PEOPLE FOOD AND SMILE AND PRETEND THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO FOREVER.

As you can tell, I’m a bit frustrated with survival jobs right now. I’ll even admit that I’m enjoying a Reese’s Blizzard, so I can forget how much I hate survival jobs. Let’s backtrack.

First of all, I didn’t just leave my restaurant job because it’s a restaurant job. Restaurant jobs have their flaws, but I had come to terms with most of them. What I did not and will not tolerate was the amount of verbal abuse that came from management. The way my coworkers and I were treated at this place was unacceptable. Some smaller examples of  said verbal  abuse from our lovely GM: “What the f*** happened with table twenty five?” and “Bus your f*****g tables!” As if my boss wasn’t unpleasant enough, the restaurant then hired a new executive chef. They were very excited to bring her aboard not only because of her experience, but also because she was on the show Top Chef Masters. One time during our pre-shift meeting, she asked me to describe one of the specials (which she made the recipe for). I started listing the ingredients for it. She stopped me and told me “don’t just list the ingredients, sell it to me.” This would have been fine, except the very next day she asked me to describe the same dish. I started describing the dish as best I could, as if I were a good salesman. Here’s the best part: she stopped me again to say, “Why aren’t you listing the ingredients?!”

I was getting more and more angry every day. My fuse at work became extremely short, which got me in trouble a few times. The worst part was I started to feel less confident as a person. And that’s not okay. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you are less of a person. If you ever find yourself in that situation, remind yourself that those putting you down can’t possibly be happy with themselves. One of the employers I mentioned above was also constantly drinking on the job. I think that speaks for itself.  

Now where was I?

Ah yes, filling out the job application. I ended up taking the application home with me. As I biked home, I passed several bars and restaurants that actually were places I’d consider working. Which got me thinking: Why? What makes these places different? Then I realized, these places weren’t fancy restaurants. They were more of a bar that also served food. And that idea doesn’t disgust me. That’s a place I actually wouldn’t mind being in. Do I want to be there forever? No. But can I do that? There’s only one way to find out. I got home and did some research (and by research, I mean Google) to find some low key restaurants in my neighborhood. I’ve already started applying to some of them.

In the meantime, I also plan on trying to find out how I can create my own work. This is a phrase I’m hearing more and more of. And I want to figure out how I can do this. For example, I love writing sketches. Just for laughs type of sketches that don’t necessarily make you think a lot (though I have absolutely nothing against plays – in fact, I love them!) So that’s a new goal of mine. A goal that is going to take some research – and more than just google.

And just so we can end this on a happy note, here’s a picture I took earlier in the week. It’s tough going back to a “real” job when you (and everyone else around you) get paid to do this.

 2013-07-29 12.42.20

Keep chasing those dreams, friends. And make sure you stay HAPPY as you chase!


Why do I keep falling off track?!

[A booming, friendly, voice is heard. Most likely, it is one of the talented PA announcers from Fenway Park.]

We now would like to welcome back to the blog…THE founder of the blog itself! Please give a warm, Chicago welcome (with Boston accents, encouraged), to TooooooooooNNYYYY ROOOOOOSIIIIIII!!!

Joe Castiglione: Good evening everyone, and welcome to Red Sox baseball! Before we start out, we’ll take a break from the normal pregame interview we do with John Farrell to talk to the biggest Red Sox fan in the Midwest. Welcome to the show, Tony.

Tony: Thanks Joe. It’s good to be back.

Joe: Well the first thing we gotta ask you Tony is…where have you been? I know you’ve been busy with the opening of “El Stories,” and you also had that weekend trip to Michigan. Was it both those things that kept you away from the blog and your other artistic endeavors, or was it something else?

Tony: Honestly Joe, it was a little bit of everything. I was just looking at my calendar last night and realized it had been an entire month since I last auditioned! Not something I’m proud of.

Joe: I can imagine it gets pretty tough to attend all those auditions when you have things like survival jobs and other commitments.

Tony: It does get busy, Joe. But the thing is, I was still looking for auditions. I just wasn’t getting them. As you mentioned, I was also opening a show. That limits your options.

Joe: Sounds like you’ve had quite the month! Both myself and I’m sure the rest of Red Sox Nation would love to hear your story, Tony…

Gotta love Joe Castiglione. If it weren’t for baseball, I don’t know how I would have gotten through these past two weeks. Let’s backtrack.

I was sitting at my favorite Starbucks earlier this week, feeling frustrated as I looked over sides for an audition that I should have started looking at weeks ago. I was especially frustrated because while the character description seemed like it was my type, the character couldn’t have been more different than me. I decided I would go to the audition regardless, because…wow…it had been a MONTH since I attended an audition. I hated that. And this got me thinking (because everything gets me thinking), why does this happen?? I feel like I’m always falling off track. Why?!

I put down my sides and started to make a list. A list that I would like to share with all of you! Here goes:

Survival jobs: I’m going to go deeper into this in a future post. I’m not only referring to how having to pay the bills gets in the way of auditions, classes, rehearsals, etc. I recently went through a change in survival jobs which ended up taking a lot of time due to training, searching for other part time jobs, etc. In a nutshell, survival jobs have been an obstacle for me.

Vacations: My friends and I spent a weekend up in northern Michigan last month. Here’s a picture of all of us. I needed this weekend, and it was everything I hoped for. When I came back, I found it hard to get back into the groove of things. This wasn’t the first time. So while vacations are very necessary, they’re an obstacle that I haven’t quite worked out yet.

michigan trip

Other gigs and projects: These are going to happen. For example, I fell off track with my goal of getting back into musical theatre when I had to stop taking dance classes due to rehearsal with a new show. A good problem to have, I suppose. But still something that gets in the way.

Drinking: “But Tony, how are you supposed to enjoy time with your friends without drinking?!” I’m going to use an analogy for this one. There’s a successful man named Adam Gilbert. He runs the company “My Body Tutor” and is all about healthy eating. One of the things he tells us is that it’s ridiculous to never eat pizza or ice cream ever again. A system he likes is the “rewards system.” If you do X, then you get to do Y.  I’m currently using this system for the heat wave.  Because if I can’t go across the street to Dairy Queen (literally, right across the street…their sign lights up my room at night) and get a Reese’s Blizzard this week, I don’t know what’s going to happen. For all of this week, and until Thursday after I’ve finished work, I’m going to eat healthy and go to the gym. Then Thursday night, you can find me at Dairy Queen.

With the whole drinking thing, it’s really easy to get sucked into “This week sucks because X, Y, and Z so let’s go drink tonight!” Not only can I not afford this financially, but I also can’t afford to spend the next day being unproductive due to a hangover. So I’ve came up with a new system that involves less partying while sticking to my weekly goals. But by all means, please cheers to me the next time you’re all doing shots (assuming I’m not there and being productive, of course).

Those are just a few of my obstacles that I came up with. Here are some things that I find help with being motivated:

Going to Starbucks. Of course. My favorite one is in Old Town. It’s right next to Second City, you’re surrounded by other artists and students, and the baristas are wicked friendly (and cute too, but don’t tell them I said that). The best part is, it’s open 24 hours. I moved further away and still come here. Just not this week. It’s too hot. Tell the baristas I say hi if you’re down there.

Seeing plays and taking classes. Something I was doing great with until recently. Usually the money thing plays an obstacle. That being said, there are usually good deals on Gold Star for some high quality Chicago theatre.

Blogging! The minute I started making my list (for what I knew was going to eventually be a blog) I started getting excited. I hadn’t felt this way in a long time. I was glad to have found this kind of energy once again.

Being around inspiring people. For me, this is other artists. Especially artists who are young and trying to make it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who call themselves artists, but don’t seem to be willing to put in the work needed to be one. I find I make much more time to be around those who are hardworking and motivated. It makes me want to do the same. (That being said, I am awful at making time for my friends in general. Sorry friends!)

Okay. That was longer than I intended it to be. If you read through the whole thing, you deserve a Reese’s Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Another thing you can do is share your thoughts! What type of things do you do to stay inspired and on track when everything is crazy?

robert pattinson promo 

Okay that’s actually a picture from “El Stories.

And if you read this, Joe Castiglione, I’d love your thoughts as well.