I ran out of cute outfits and realized– hey wait a minute… this actually sucks ass.
For years I bitched and moaned about how I wanted to finally quit waitressing and get a real job. I fantasized about waking up early with purpose, listening to talk radio on my morning commute, having a fancy job title, and wearing cute outfits to work each day. Much better than wearing clothes infused with french fry grease and pasta sauce dripping off my no-slip shoes, being subservient to a bunch of asshole customers. I mean I have a college education, I’m better than this – right?
After many attempts, I finally landed a great job as a Production Coordinator at a new company. How cool does that sound? Production Coordinator, ahh. I could feel my mom getting prouder by the moment.
The first week of my new job was great! I drank my coffee out of a travel mug, attended early morning meetings, contributed my thoughts on pressing issues, and came home at the end of the day feeling as if I’d accomplished something.
Then, I ran out of cute outfits and realized- hey wait a minute… this actually sucks ass.
“Was waitressing really as bad as I’d made it out to be all those years?”
I was working a minimum of nine hours a day, usually more. I never saw my family and when I did I was too tired to have any fun, and I’m not sure but I think I was starting to get Secretary Spread (a.k.a. a fat ass!). Not only did my butt hurt, but my creativity had been sucked out of me. I’m supposed to be a writer, how could I write when I only had three hours of time to myself before bed and the idea of any more sitting made me want to curl up in the fetal position and die?
Not only was my new job draining and a giant time-suck, but I had to go through life like everyone else. No more grocery shopping on Wednesday mornings and yoga in the afternoons. I went to the mall on Saturday and it took three Beyoncé songs just to find a parking spot!
This is what normal people do on the weekends? Grocery shop, laundry, and traffic? I always thought they went out on their boats and partied. Isn’t that why everyone’s always talking about how great it is that Friday’s almost here? Why are they so excited about the weekend if all they’re doing is running errands in the worst traffic possible?
Okay, so there were tons of cons to this job: the mall on Saturdays, Secretary Ass, creativity sucking, and not to mention– I really missed my dog. Was waitressing really as bad as I’d made it out to be all those years?
I had a friend who quit acting, and thus, quit waitressing too– to become a scientist. She came into the bar I worked at several years later and told me she made more money when she worked with me at The Cheesecake Factory.
A mother fucking scientist!
Not only was the money better waiting tables, but I made it in one-third of the time than I did at my new job. Sure as a waitress I always worked weekends and missed parties, but I had time to be creative, see my friends (my waiter friends anyway), go on dates with my boyfriend and play with my dog. I had a life.
I started to realize that I’d been lucky all along. I actually loved my life the way it was- I was just too hung up on what I thought my life should look like at 30-something to enjoy what was right in front of me. Life’s too short… if I drop dead next week wouldn’t I be happier knowing that I’d only spent twenty hours a week at work rather than fifty?
So I did the only thing I could think of, I went crawling back with my tail between my legs and asked my restaurant boss if I could have my job back– the same job I’d quit a mere two weeks ago. It was a truly humbling experience. Luckily I hadn’t flipped everyone off and said, ‘F%$# You!’ when I originally quit. Two weeks notice is your friend, people. And, I’m a pretty good waitress– a touch snarky, but fast on my feet– so they took me back with open-ish arms.
The following day I went in to my ‘real job’ and sat at the morning meeting one last time as I doodled “Last Day!” in my notebook and pretended to care about what my boss was saying. At the end of the day I quit a job for the second time in one calendar year. I was getting pretty good at it– also there’s no greater feeling than quitting a job you don’t like and celebrating afterwards with margaritas.
Even though I knew it was ego that had lead me down a path of unhappiness in the first place, I was still nervous to tell my friends and family that I’d just quit my fancy job before the end of the first pay period and I was going back to the same restaurant job I’d bitched about for the past four years. I was sure they’d think I was just being a whiny irresponsible baby, afraid of the real world, (which is only partially true) and equally afraid that my poor mom would die of emotional embarrassment when she had to tell people that her daughter, a college graduate, is back at it, cleaning up other people’s slop. As I braced myself for their criticism, I was stunned and overwhelmed by all their love and support. Every single one of them encouraged my decision to quit my ‘real job,’ pursue my art, and be happy. ‘Life’s too short.’
So now I’m going back to those dreaded no-slip safety shoes that I loathe and sucking up to dumb people order “Mer-Lot”… only this time I’m okay with it. I realize that even though I’m covered in grease and ugly clothes, I get to go home at the end of the night and be with my family. I can write all day long and do my grocery shopping during non-peak times. I am truly thankful for this. Do I plan on waiting tables forever? Absolutely not. My feet can only take so much, but by doing it a while longer, I can give myself the time needed to let my passions lead me wherever I’m supposed to go. From now on, the grass is no longer greener on the other side, because I’m watering it on my side now.
Lisa Kay Jennings is a voice over artist/actress/comedy writer. She has performed her writing in the Best of LAist rated show Taboo Tales, on The Groundlings’ stage, and in her theatrical writing debut, Save the Last Dance Potato Chip. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org ￼￼
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