Tuesday, August 23, 2005

WAITRESSING CRISIS: Should I Quit?


Utter mundane, originally uploaded by Meloses.



Two innocuous sentences, read in New Dharma Bums yesterday, spoke to me so loudly yesterday that I've been hearing echoes ever since.

When someone says I think you may be over-qualified for this job--believe them. Boredom kills the spirit."

Yes boredom kills, and living with constant disrespect ain't all that healthy either. I've been working at my current waitressing job for four years and in a lot of ways it works for me. Except for the boredom and disrespect.

On the positive side:

1. I enjoy the comraderie with my co-workers.
2. It provides me with great stories.
3. I work evenings and weekends which gives me days free for writing. (If I were doing this in order of priority, this would definitely be number one. It is also the reason I took the job.)
4. I work outdoors in a beautiful setting, and make it a point at least once a day to stop what I'm doing and experience that.
5. Humble work is good for the soul. (Or is it?)
Oh yes, I almost forgot #6: The money comes in handy when it's time to pay the mortgage or stop at the grocery store.

And on the negative side, we have boredom and disrespect. We have a mind and spirit that shrinks to fit into my uniform every time I take it from the closet. We have Rexroth's Daughter's words: "When people say you may be overqualified for a job, believe them."

Any thoughts?

18 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

It depends on objectives. Waiting tables is always the job of choice for artists. Why? It provides an income. It gives insight (albeit sometimes horrible) into the nature of the beast. It doesn't rob you of your creativity. When I took the boat school job I was looking for engagement, something to spark my brain. I thought maybe I'd learn something about the ancient art of boatbuilding. You know the way we sometimes fool ourselves. It was a mundane, deadening, low-level, no responsibility, time-sucking administrative assistant position.
I had retired from a university in California where I had autonomy, responsibility, and engagement. The new job asked more of me in sheer multitude of mindless tasks, and gave me less in respect, self-esteem, and wages.
I also have the luxury of being retired, and while the added income would have been nice, it wasn't essential for our survival. I had the luxury of leaving.
For some reason waiting tables doesn't drain the creative juices-- where jobs like mine require art be secondary to the profession.
I could be wrong, but that's just how I see it.

Lois said...

This post evokes a number of thoughts. I think you are wonderfully brave and committed to hold the space for your writing in this way. My son is majoring in playwriting at Carnegie Mellon and my daughter is already committed to the acting life at age 13. I've worried about them waiting tables, and somehow after reflecting on what you've said here, I know that they can and will do it if they are committed enough. I loved waitressing when I did it--it gave me the opportunity to schmooze people, which as a raving extrovert is like dying and going to heaven--but I did not do it for more than a few years in college or graduate school. You clearly describe a dilemma here which makes me want to wish you every kind of blessing and grace as you continue to contemplate your choices.

Patry Francis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patry Francis said...

rexroth's daughter: Your comment reminds me of all the reasons I started waiting tables in the first place. You're right--it doesn't drain the creative juices, and at times even feeds them. It also provides the kind of flash and motion that a life spent staring at a computer screen lacks. But it also lacks the "autonomy, responsibility and engagement." I guess I have to keep in mind why I'm doing it and that it's not my real work.

lois: Thanks so much for your kind wishes--and for your wise and thoughtful comment. .

rdl said...

"Don't quit your day job" keeps popping in my head. all jobs rob you of something, time being a common denominator. however waiting tables doesn't rob you of yr. creativity,that can be working overtime as you pour the coffee while waiting for the book to sell.

Eric said...

There's something to be said for working someplace that provides excellent stories.

I am a police dispatcher because:

1. After 10 years of blood, sweat, and tears, I think I'm finally getting pretty good at it.

2. The best stories

3. The coolest coworkers.

I'm not sure I'd want to work with cops all day long (different whole mindset) but my job gives me an insight in their world without anyone actually taking a shot at me (except perhaps when one of my vastly overstressed coworkers snaps and brings the machinegun to work).

Keep writing, you are very good at it!

angel-A said...

hello! i would say it could be your time to move ;) ... do you have another nice restaurant around???;)

Susan M said...

Patry,
I'm not so great with advice, but the decision (to move on or stay)will probably be influenced by where you stand on the practical to metaphysical spectrum. At the practical end, the cash flow would be the controlling factor. At the metaphysical end would be something more like "by quitting, I open myself up to the possibilities of the bountiful universe." Somewhere in the middle might be something more like "before I quit, let me look around a bit and see what else I might like to do that would be more fulfilling but would still generate a steady flow of income."

I sure am familiar with those moments when it just doesn't feel possible to tolerate the status quo another second. sometimes it passes (my father used to say, maybe you just need a nap); sometimes it's an important wakeup.

Patry Francis said...

I'm overwhelmed by the quality of the advice I've recieved here. Or more like non-advice, which is always the best form of guidance.

I thought I'd pretty thoroughly stacked the deck in favor of quitting in my post, and that everyone would tell me to go ahead and do it. But you all seemed to have seen through my whining.

to rdl: but what if the book DOESN'T sell? I guess that means I die a waitress with aching feet, a bunch of manuscripts in the drawer and some great blog friends.

Eric: I work weddings so I do come home with some great stories, but I doubt I could compete with a police dispatcher. Hmmm...are they hiring?

Angel-a: Lovely to see your tranquil goddess here again--and you may have hit on something. Maybe I don't need a new line of work, just a change of environment.

And to my wonderful Susan: My mind and heart is always leaning toward the metaphysical, but my fondness for eating always yanks me back to the practical. Damn! I hate that.
Maybe your dad is right, and I just need a nap.

rdl said...

I like the nap advice. And you Will sell that book! remember I am mickey mouse?; just keep sayin it. i'm confident it will happen(the book, not mm).

Vickie said...

Okay, I've never waitressed a day in my life, but I'll provide an opinion. You gave six reasons for the job. If you can find another similar position that still fulfills those six and adds one more, then sure, make the change. Otherwise, I might stay right where I am until I could do one better. I'd love to see you workig on a newspaper or somthing. Is that something you've ever thought about?

finnegan said...

Someone told me once: "If life becomes boring, risk it".

Patry Francis said...

Both Vickie's logical, well-reasoned approach, and Finnegan's response, which reminds me of the comet which is his symbol, appeal to me in different ways.

I was just looking at the image, which I chose quite unconsciously for this post--simply because it seemed to speak for my feelings. I'm not sure how I failed to notice that it is death.

waiter/hater said...

I wait tables in a celebrity chef restaurant in Chicago and am considering leaving. It's so dull and irritating and bitchy. Thinking of a career change but I've only ever worked in this field... for a really long decade. Now what? Basically, I want to sit on my ass in a video store (or something) the kind of place few people come into.

As for creativity, I disagree. I feel totally sapped. Spiritless. DRAINED. In a big way. I'm a performing musician and rarely do I have nights free to book any shows.

Truth be told, I hate restaurant work so much that I can't bare to eat out. I'd rather have three jobs that I like in order to make ends meet than one job that makes my heart sink. Know what I mean?

Is it time to quit? Go with your heart.. And give me some of that courage.

Anonymous said...

I wait tables in a celebrity chef restaurant in Chicago and am considering leaving. It's so dull and irritating and bitchy. Thinking of a career change but I've only ever worked in this field... for a really long decade. Now what? Basically, I want to sit on my ass in a video store (or something) the kind of place few people come into.

As for creativity, I disagree. I feel totally sapped. Spiritless. DRAINED. In a big way. I'm a performing musician and rarely do I have nights free to book any shows.

Truth be told, I hate restaurant work so much that I can't bare to eat out. I'd rather have three jobs that I like in order to make ends meet than one job that makes my heart sink. Know what I mean?

Is it time to quit? Go with your heart.. And give me some of that courage.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work »

Manikandan said...

Hi.nice blog.I am fresh jobseeker.please help me that where can i get
links of free job posts sites.
Thank you.....

Anonymous said...

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