I really think I need to start looking for another job. I don’t want to work away from the restaurant business, though. Because as long as I can still be working minimum wage, I’d make way more money waitressing. I currently make $5.69 on a tip rate so when I’m waitressing on a busy night, it averages to about $10 an hour at least. That rocks. And at Petersen’s, when I’m cashiering, I make $8.25 an hour, and I still get tips (albeit not as many). But honestly, there are a lot of better restaurants I can apply to within walking distance, and since I’m 18, I can legally work at all of them.
I have a year’s worth of experience at Petersen’s so far, and I’d like to say that I’m pretty awesome at my job. I work really well under pressure, I have a pretty good memory, and I never get yelled at by my customers. I can stay pretty calm in the most irritating situations. It took me a while, but I’ve got the food and ice cream combinations memorized pretty well; if you asked me what’s in a specific burger on the menu or a specific sundae, I could most likely tell you off the top of my head. My only major problem is that I often show up to work 5 minutes late but I think it’s because no one has ever enforced it so I don’t see it as a big deal at where I currently work. I think at a place that actually enforced all of their rules, I’d have no problem following them. Little things really don’t bother me, and in my experience I found very quickly that it’s very rare to find someone at a restaurant that can deal with that like I can. Everyone is always complaining about customers asking for too much too often, but I understand that people are nitpicky and that’s fine. I can deal with it, and I think that’s exactly why I’ve rarely had bad experiences. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done. I know a lot of people don’t think working in a restaurant is that difficult, but honestly? You don’t know until you’ve been there yourself. It’s tough. It makes you sweat from running around and from being nervous. If you have a short temper, it’s even harder. You have to learn how to cooperate with your customers and your co-workers (who will more than likely turn into insufferable douchebags when they’re stressed out). It might be another minimum wage job, but it’s not like you’re on your ass the whole time. For some, the way you work literally determines if you’ll be able to pay your bills.
I’d like to think that upgrading from a family-style diner to a classier, more adult place with a bar wouldn’t be too different. Yes, I imagine it being a bit more demanding. I imagine a much more pretentious crowd and a shit ton more training. But all those things I mentioned before about working well under pressure and remembering the things I need to know, well, why would that be any different? I’m sure that the quality of the employment would increase with the quality of the restaurant itself, so it’s not like I’d be working with the same people I do now. I think I could do it. I don’t think it will be easy, but I think it’s possible. And it’s not like I’d get nothing out of it—applying to places that serve alcohol means my tips would be doubled.
The pros of Petersen’s:
- You don’t understand how sweet Catherine, the owner of the restaurant is. She’d do anything for us. I don’t think I could ever work for someone nicer.
- My other manager, Ted. I’ve said so much about him already but he’s the most inspiring person I’ve ever met; he makes sure I get paid extra when I do extra. He’s the greatest guy ever.
- It isn’t corporate, so there aren’t any strict rules we are absolutely required to follow.
- I work on a regular rate when I cashier, and I make tips from that, and sometimes Ted puts me on the floor while I’m still on regular rate so I do make quite a bit of money.
- There are rules and regulations we have to follow, but no one is really mean about it. Lateness and cell phone use for the most part. I guess this could be seen as a con, too, because I’m not learning much and when I go to a place that actually does enforce their rules strictly and actually writes you up instead of threatening to, I won’t be used to it. But, it is kind of nice to be honest.
- They’re really flexible, for the most part.
- Sometimes I think they are too flexible.
- For instance, there is a girl who has worked there for a few years now. She is a single mother with three kids (pregnant with a fourth) and she doesn’t have her high school diploma or a GED. That’s all fine, but since she has so much trouble finding babysitters, she’s constantly calling out. Or not showing up. And she steals because she can’t afford to go grocery shopping at home. And she still has her job! That’s awesome for her because she can get away with so much shit, but any other place would never do that. And it isn’t fair to people like me who want more hours and will actually work them when it’s needed. I’m not saying that I wish she would just get fired because I am concerned for her life just like my managers are, but I just know that that kind of shit is unacceptable in the real world.
- There was also a cook that had been arrested four times and they hired him back every single time.
- I’m only getting scheduled twice a week and instead of giving me more hours like I’ve continuously requested, they hired four new people on top of the college kids coming back for the summer.
- Joan. Joan is an assistant manager who has been working there for almost two decades, and I don’t think there is an easy way for me to say this without being horribly offensive, but she is literally not mentally fit for the position. She can’t count and she’s the one that deals with the money. There have been nights on her shifts where they were literally hundreds of dollars short. Personally, that kind of stuff doesn’t affect me. But then it’s like, the fact that she’s been there for years and she knows what she can get away with. She makes herself look busy so no one will ask her for anything. Last Sunday while I was cashiering, I had a line of maybe five groups of people waiting to order, and one of my co-workers was already helping me. Instead of offering to help like she should have, Joan decided it’d be a good idea to get in my way and clean off the ice cream cases that were going to get dirty again in a second. It’s kind of fucked up when I have to be the one to tell MY OWN ASSISTANT MANAGER what to do instead of the other way around.
- Ted is going to be leaving in the next couple of months.
- The job makes me dirty as fuck. Seriously, you have no idea how much hot fudge I come home with on my shoes, apron, shirt, pants, arms, hair, everywhere. Minor con, but still.
I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t enjoy being there, because I do. I fucking love it. I’m so happy when I’m there, even on the days when I really don’t want to be working. Waitressing is such a social job and I hang out with all my friends when I’m at work and it’s awesome! I’m rarely unhappy, even when I have picky customers. The only times that suck is when I have a migraine, or I’ve been on my feet consistently for five hours. Another thing is that I need to determine where the line is drawn between things that ONLY happen at Petersen’s, and things that will happen everywhere else. For instance, if I went to go work at Applebee’s, or another chain, I think certain rules would be applied a lot more and I could actually learn from that. But I don’t know. Is every restaurant as unorganized as Petersen’s is?
I think this week I should start applying to other places. I’m nervous. I still want to be at Petersen’s once a week, but I don’t even know if I could handle that. Such is life, though. I do have to move on at some point.