Bob Dylan famously sang, “The times, they are a-changin'”. I think this may be the case for me, but I’m not ready for the change. For the last three years, I have worked part-time as a waiter at 2 Chez, and part-time with Crescent Project. Recently, I decided that I want to work towards being full-time with Crescent Project, but that decision comes with a lot of work – I have to find a lot more people to partner with me in what I am doing with Crescent Project in order to go full-time. I can’t just decide it, I have to work/meet with/raise support in order to work more with CP.
While I was in California for school, however, the restaurant hired two new servers to add to our rotation. We really only needed one full-time(ish) person and a fill-in/floater, who can fill in the gaps as needed (when someone is sick, on vacation, etc.). In the last six months, I myself have given up a shift so that I would have more time to focus on school/family, leaving me with five shifts per week and only two dinner shifts (the ones where you make all the money). I generally make between $1200 and $1400 per month at the restaurant with only a few days per week of commitment, which is spectacular. It’s also half of my personal income per month.
On Wednesday, my manager called me and asked me if I would be willing to give up a couple of shifts for one of the new girls (they fired another staff member on Monday, making room for the other girl). He also asked if I would be willing to just be a floater, not having any scheduled shifts, but filling in as needed. I told him that I would think on it and get back to him tonight.
Now, to give up a couple of shifts would be to give up almost half of my shifts, since I only work five to start with. Tonight, I informed Kostas, my manager, that I would be up for giving her two of my three lunch shifts, on Wednesdays and Fridays. That’s about $400 per month, but, like I said, I’m planning to work on getting that back in partnership with Crescent Project. I told him that I can’t just give up all of my shifts since I depend on this income as it is half of my monthly income. I told him that I am working on getting to full-time with my other job, but in the meantime, I can’t just give up all of this income for someone else (who just started).
From time to time, for school and for CP, I have to travel, and when I do, I have to ask other people to fill my shifts at the restaurant. All in all, it’s been about three times per year, so about nine times over three years (with a smattering of other days for various reasons). It’s never been a problem, but this last time I just got the feeling that something was about to happen. I actually wasn’t sure if I would be fired when I returned home from California because I have to go out of town all of the time.
Back to the conversation. Kostas responded by saying, “I think the owner wants people to work two lunch shifts in order to work a night shift, so I’ll have to run it by him.” When he said this, I wondered why he had asked me to give up shifts in the first place. Was it to trap me into looking like I needed more time off? I don’t, but I was willing to make space for the new staff member. Was it to force me to be the floater? I can’t do that either, because my life doesn’t allow me to be flexible at all times in order to supplement half of my income.
All this to say, I feel expendable, and more than a little bit worried about money, as I might have just found out that I am the weakest link to which the restaurant is saying, “Goodbye”. I think the hardest thing about this is that I am really good at the job, and because of that, I get paid a lot for my work. People notice when their waiter is on top of things, and for the most part every day, I am. I also may be asking you to partner with me in what I am doing with CP if I haven’t already. If you’re interested in finding out more about that, click here.
You never know what the future holds, and for me, the future looks a lot different than it did a week ago. It’s a mystery. I’m trying to embrace the fact that I might not be able to control my exit from the restaurant, and am trying to handle myself with grace and understanding in the meantime.