Considering the Lessons Learned

Posted on Monday 22 February 2010

As one who despises the first day of any job and struggles with a ridiculous lack of self confidence through the first week, I decided to torture myself by counting up my recent employment firsts–four in three months. And I feel like I might be forgetting one.

Job one–event planning in Key West. I knew at the end of day one that something was not quite right. I forced myself to hang in for five weeks, however, thinking it was just my first-week insecurity run amok. Should have bailed much sooner.

Lesson learned: to never again ignore my inner voice, especially when it is screaming at me.

Job two–Maitre d’/glorified host. Actually, I enjoyed this job, despite the close friend of the owner who vented his intense anger at me because I didn’t recognize him my second, very busy night on the job and made him wait a half hour for a table that wasn’t the one at which he “always” sat. I knew I was making progress with my first-week syndrome when I casually mentioned to my manager that the guy at table 211 needed to tell someone other than myself how inept I was. When my manager laughed it off after personally taming Mr. Self-Important Regular’s ruffled feathers, I laughed with him. Definite progress. Unfortunately, the greater HR powers of the restaurant never understood what I was supposed to be paid. I really couldn’t live on the promised pay, much less…less, and it was only after I left Key West that I received my retroactive back wages a month later.

Lesson learned: that at least one decent manager existed in Key West, and that I could eliminate my first-week insecurity crap by simply doing my best and caring less.

Job three–Bartender. When I arrived for my first day at work and was handed a ring full of keys and a bank and was told to “go open the outside bar,” I put aside my first-day angst during a 20-minute endeavor to figure out which key went to which locked door, storm shutter, cooler, etc. A manager finally showed up to show me where a few things were that I “might need”–like ice and back-up booze. My first order was a virgin pina colada, during the making of which I burned up one rusted blender and laid hands on the other to will it to work. No tip. By the end of the shift, I’d concocted multiple “lemonade” drinks for a vacationing couple who said they hadn’t been home for months, three vodka/crans and a Bloody Mary. Total tip take: $19.

Lesson learned: My inner voice only needed to wink at me. Done and done.

Job four–Bartender. I have to commute almost an hour to another town for this one, but no matter. I was nervous for only the first half hour and then got right back into the ebb and flow of tending a locals bar very far off the tourist path. By my second shift I knew the cast of regulars. By my third shift, some of my former customers from my previous locals bar had found me, despite the distance. Very nice. It’s a decent job, for now, but I may have to supplement it with a second one.

Lesson learned: Lessons, lessons everywhere. Gotta recognize them as they happen; gotta learn from them as you can. Until the next one.

7 Comments for 'Considering the Lessons Learned'

    February 22, 2010 | 5:24 pm

    Reminds me of why I love being self employed 🙂

    February 22, 2010 | 5:33 pm

    “lemonade drinks”=sour mix

    Restaurant Gal
    February 22, 2010 | 8:02 pm

    Kim–Ah, those were the days.

    last one home–in this case, sour mix along with vodka, club soda, and grenadine. Yuck–but they loved RG’s Pink Lemonade. I know, not terribly original, but they accounted for most of the $19 I made that day!

    February 23, 2010 | 2:35 pm

    So, destined to be a bartender all along. Without the short order cook part?

    Linda S
    February 24, 2010 | 11:54 am

    SO glad to see you posting again. You sounded so miserable in the previous one. I am really impressed by your strength. I’m glad this new job seems to be working out.

    February 24, 2010 | 12:01 pm

    Well said!

    March 15, 2010 | 1:02 pm

    I just “learned” a similar lesson this week — taking a second job at a well-known corporate labor camp against my own better judgement. I knew not to take the job, but I did it anyway. After a 2 weeks of training as though I were prepping for an LSAT and another week on the floor, it was clear I had made a mistake. I was miserable, and on hour twelve of my second consecutive double-shift with no break my mind could only manufacture the thoughts “what have I done to myself?” and “this is my life now, and I don’t want it.”

    Multiple, consecutive 15 hour shifts with no break being standard operating procedure was only the tip of the iceberg. Rather than waiting the >6 months it would take before I ran away screaming, I nipped back to the old job and revoked my “scheduling constraints”. I only hope I haven’t screwed myself, but old job seemed receptive.

    Lesson: Like you said, don’t ignore that little voice! This was a “next one” I’ve learned and had reinforced in the past — any job that slams an iron gate down on you from the getgo will never get any better. There is no middle ground — either you put a foot down and become the “person who said ‘No'”, or you let them walk all over until you are a burnt, desiccated husk of a former person.Been there, done that, stole the glasses!

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