Friday, 1 May 2009

working/but I'm not working for you!

Weeks worth = 2 entries, roughly. Apparently.
Right now= rain outside. Sunny this morning and me coat/hatless. Waiting it out.

Speaking of Waiting It Out (see what I did there?) lets look at some food-service statistics. The way I see it, all menial jobs have their upsides (free food, good stories, staying in shape if its manual labour) and downsides (obvious.) So this is the breakdown of my four year-plus food-service jobs, starting at the age of 19 at Dennys, right up through my current Pub-tending tradition at teh Rhydz. Lets see which jobs come out on top and how far I've come.

1. Money. The reason you get any job, basically, is money. Even rewarding ones must pay in order to be jobs, not hobbies.
Denny's: Minimum wage, which in Washington State was pretty good, plus tips, which weren't as good as some high-end place, but still left every night with between $20-70, depending.
Port of Subs 20 hours a week behind a sub-sandwich bar for minimum and jar tips split between four people. Left every day with maybe two to five (on a good day) dollars. Enough to buy myself a sandwich on discount, or get a coffee. I have no idea how I survived on this for two years.
Avenue Bread All factors considered, possibly the best. By the end I was making like $9 an hour (amazing considering I was just a sandwich maker/barista) and jar tips were split between up to five people. But usually still left with between $15-30 a day.
The Rhyddings Just above minimum, because luckily, I'm over 22. Every now and then a regular will "put a drink behind" (and I'll usually just pocket the £2.50) because in Britain we don't believe in things like tipping. That's fine. I don't believe in things like giving a shit if my customers have flies in their pints.
Winner/Loser Dennys and Avenue win. The Rhyddings, depressingly, all things considered, is possibly worse for money than Port of Subs. But I get more hours. And there are other factors like. . .

2. Proximity to One's House
Dennny's No. I lived in Lake City. It was in Ballard. I drove the parents' gold mini-van and it took a half hour each way. That's a lot of 107.7 The End to deal with if you forget a mix tape and KEXP is coming in fuzzy.
Port of Subs Down the hill and nearly on the other side of the (tiny) downtown bellingham. So close, but not like next door.
Avenue Bread Depends. A 10 minute bus-ride to the Fairhaven Store (during which I think I lisened to that Raconteurs album a lot) or literal roll down the hill to downtown main. About three streets closer than POS, which makes a psychological difference.
The Rhyddings *Just* closer than the Downtown Avenue. Plus I get to cut through a park if I want.
Winner The Rhyds.

3. Flexibility of Hours
Denny's Theoretical but not in practice. For a while I was scheduled ONLY the shifts I asked for off (including when I was supposed to be paid to do improv) at which point I and a couple other workers got the GM transferred to another store about an hour from his house.
Port of Subs Weekdays 10:30 am- 2:30pm. Everyday.
Avenue Bread Decent enough; you're either getting too many hours or far too few, but they were usually reasonable.
The Rhyds "Hey Kim, I can't work this night." "Why not __________?" "Well, my friend is visiting from Bristol the day before and we're gonna be absolutely wasted. . . " "Cool I'll get Graham/Lauren/Myself to cover it."
Winner Rhyds and Avenue beat out the other two, though Port of Subs had the advantage that I could do it for 4 hours with my brain shut off and therefore it failed to effect my lifestyle whatsoever.

4. Value In Cultivating Starving Artist Stereotype Or conversely, working at a place with enough local-goodwill that it has its own sort of respect granted.
Denny's Would have been much higher if I were a fry-cook.
Port of Subs No. Other than that I was shit-poor.
Avenue Bread "Oh, hey, I've eaten there. They have really good sandwiches."
The Rhyddings You kidding? I'm not only bartending. . . I'm bartending in Wales. The anecdotal value of starting sentences with "Well, when I was working at this local pub in Swansea. . ." is through the roof.
Winner Avenue on Local Goodwill front, but Rhyddings for life-story elements.

5. Good Stories/Interesting Regulars
Dennys Oh yeah. Like the guy who wrote on napkins about Satan and asked me if I thought God hated him for drinking. Or the kids who played D & D all night for the price of one coke and one coffee. Or the girls who left me their e-mails on a napkin, offering to take me to a public hot-tub rental place for an hour.
Port of Subs Jimmy Henry used to order sandwiches regularly and he was pretty interesting wherever he was. Everyone else worked in banks nearby.
Avenue Bread The difference between the Downtown and Fairhaven stores was amazing. Like, seriously. In Fairhaven there was this guy who invited me to his church, but it felt like he was doing it to try to get into the girl I worked with's pants. Somehow. Downtown Tony burned me a bunch of National CDs and we talked about such things when there weren't lines. One of the old guys who always came in actually died right there in the store.
The Rhyddings I wasn't there for The Fight that got Dave drinking again, but I'm pretty sure I've got nearly a book's worth of interesting characters waiting until I don't, you know, work there any more, to pop out of my head. Of course that would mean I wrote a book about bartending.
Winner Denny's has a 0.1 edge in the tie right now.

6. Interesting/Hot Co-Workers or Hey, is the Whole Staff Sleeping Together? Can I get in on that? Maybe just a little?
Dennys More interesting than Hot, but I could name about six or seven off the top of my head that ruled. Nikki, whose house I'd watch movies at after work while her and her bf smoked copious amounts of anything, (sometimes-token) Black Guy Corry, who, when he got a shift he didn't like would say things like "I guess I'm the nigger today." Many other stories.
Port of Subs I worked at all times with one other underling and a Punjab couple (Parmjit and Kudlippe) who ran the store with an iron fist. For about two weeks James "horsewhip" Burns was one of those. Around the same time Grant Cross applied for a job and it looked like we were going to be the most hipster-fried sub shop in all of bellingham. Didn't pan out, though.
Avenue Bread "It is not my 'opinion' that everyone you work with is Fucking Hot. I am simply observing a fact."-- Jake, on my co-workers.
The Rhyddings Its hard to judge when you're still there, actually. Some great folks, some run-of-the-mill, some interesting enough and then there's Huwie.
Winner Avenue for Hot, definitely, with enough interesting mixed in I don't feel entirely shallow saying so. Includes Ellie, who got the poem written about her. Rhyds and Dennys may tie for interesting, if you take into account people like Keiran or Dave Beer. Port of Subs for Movie of the Week elements.

7. Morally Redeeming Elements I.E. Am I working for The Man? Do I hate myself for serving people this terrible food? How crushed is my soul by this? What's cool about this job?
Denny's Totally working for The Man. Chewed through employees like a dog through food. Employee discounts on meals, free soda.
Port of Subs The days I felt really angry or depressed I reminded myself that I was working for a immigrant family-owned franchise. And it was paying for little Jasmine's school.
Avenue Bread Free coffee, sandwiches, pastries at the end of the day. All local ingredients, everything donated to charity at the end of the day. Possibly the Greenest place I've ever seen, and run by completely business-savvy types who didn't do it so much because they were Hippies (they were pretty right-wing) but because hey-- this is smart.
The Rhyds Its not a chain-pub (i.e. reflex) and it services a local neighborhood. So that's good. But employee discounts? Pah. Green? Er, I guess we recycle.
Winner Avenue, by a long shot.

8. General Morale How depressing IS it?
Dennys Fluctuated wildly, depending on the GM. No one wants to work at Dennys for too long, but ironically it was those who'd worked there a while, chain-smoked and read Vonnegut and said that yeah "someday" they'd do something else, but fuck it, who really survived.
Port of Subs "I have to be work here every day. No friends, no life. I can to be very depressed. Is like Jail."-- Kudlippe.
Avenue Bread Depended how hungover we all were. Our boss could tell the difference between really sick and "A Night at Rumours."
The Rhyds We love how much we "hate" it there, but somehow end up there even when we weren't supposed to be.
Winner Er, probably the Rhyds. Due more to personal growth than anything else, or the fact that it all just feels so much like a story.

alright. that's enough. the rain hasn't stopped. I'm going to take some ibruprofen and call a dentist.

1 comment:

liralen said...

I really enjoyed this. trying to make 'laughing out loud to myself like an idiot' more of a regular occurrence.