I put in my notice at my job this past Monday, my last day is December 30th. I’ve been there, with one small hiatus, for 18 years, and it is the holidays, so I gave one month notice instead of the usual two weeks.
I love Christmas, don’t want to be a Scrooge.
I have, I believe, a little over three months left until I finish school. I’ve been largely limping along because I can only get about an hour in of study on my work days so one of my days off is merely catch up. And my job leaves me utterly exhausted. The job is bartending at a pretty busy bar, and I always give 100%. That is in pouring drinks, being responsible for everything on shift (including, but not limited to, staff, fights, parking lot incidents, drunkenness, heinous bathroom mishaps (oh, those can be quite nasty), running pulltabs (if you don’t live in Washington state, you probably don’t know what those are – but it’s gambling) and on and on and on. All the while keeping a happy face and assuming a different context for each and every customer.
That’s probably the most exhausting part. It is also the part I always liked best. I always viewed the length of my bar (and it is a long, long bar) more as a stage than anything else. And you have to be a different person to as many different personalities as you get. You can’t be the same person to a couple of giggly twenty-something girls as you would be to a tired construction worker who doesn’t want to talk but sit and vegetate on a beer after a hard day. And you have to do that before you get to them. And you have to be able to flip from one to the other effortlessly, sometimes while engaging in the same conversation. You have to flip personality and conversational contexts without thought, all the while keeping tabs on everything that is going on and fulfilling up to a dozen demands.
If you are good at it, you are regularly doing up to a dozen tasks simultaneously all night long. All the while keeping that attitude up, up, up!
I jam through it with copious amounts of cigarettes and caffeine. I’ve been doing that in this business (first 21 years in kitchens – which is easier because you don’t have the customer thing going on) since 1984. I did spent 2 months out of the business working at a Menard’s in Green Bay Wisconsin. Hauling around lumber in -20 degrees wasn’t a lot of fun, let me tell ya.
But even then, cigarettes and caffeine. I’m 45 now. Water makes me peptic. My feet are a shambles and my back… don’t get me started on that. I do a lot less cigarettes and caffeine now. I do none at all outside of work shifts, and I usually wait 3 to 4 hours before my first cigarette now.
It’s a mad, mad industry.
Especially in the bar business. I’ve been every position there is to be in the restaurant and bar industry except host. I’ve been a dishwasher, a busboy, line cook, prep cook, kitchen manager, waiter, bartender, manager – all of it.
Bartending has certainly been the hardest one. The most profitable one also by far. I don’t think I would have done that particular one nearly as long if it were not for the money. It’s stupid money, too. I’ll have to learn – relearn – what a budget is.
But, man, some of those nights. I’ll start a little series on some of the f’d up stuff I experienced doing that work when I am out of the industry.
I had found, last year, that I was afraid to leave my job. So long have I been going to the same building, so comfortably, that entertaining the prospect of not having that cushion filled me with a nod of dread. I don’t like that feeling. I moved across country with my wife twice when we were in our twenties. Made the decision and were gone within months. When we got to where we are now, I took the first job I applied at and I’ve stayed there ever since. Eighteen years ago.
I really don’t feel as if I’ve accomplished a damned thing. Not the job’s fault, that’s mine. But the fact remains.
I grew sedentary and complacent without realizing it. It had been bugging for the last few years because my gig is not for old dudes. I’m 45, I would only have had 5, maybe 10 years left if I stretched myself as much as possible. But damn I wouldn’t want to be in my 50’s serving bubbly young girls on their 21st birthday. Christ, these girls are already young enough to be my daughter in my marriage. I already now work with a girl who could be our daughter age-wise.
In a few short years I’d be checking ID’s for people born in the year 2000.
I’ve been feeling too damned old to be there for a few years now. I just can’t sustain it. I just want to sit at a cubicle quietly doing my work, go home, read a book and write for a few hours, and repeat.
And I’ve heard in OfficeLand you get two 15 minutes breaks and a lunch break. Some places have up to an hour lunch time. My wife actually takes a book she’s working on to her lunch break. I’ll be in the medical field so I’ll have health insurance. And I’ve heard there are other such benefits.
Off my feet. That sounds awesome. And I can get back to writing as soon as I finish the school, get certified, and find that job. All depends on finding that job. I should be pretty good at medical coding once I get the swing of it. All my college aptitudes and career placement tests had, at least in the top three, the job recommendation of editor. Accuracy seems to be the goal in medical coding. I am pretty good at paying attention to such detail.
So December 30th I will be, for the first time in almost twenty years, unemployed. I will then be a school machine.
Matter of fact, I should be doing that right now!