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!


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