The walk to work was only a few minutes, right across the street and I remember making note of that on the first day of orientation as a huge plus. I thought of all the money i’d save on car shit but also how convenient it would be getting home after drinking. The first time I walked through the doors of SJ’s everything was perfect and new, all cherry wood and black leather, with cascades of televisions above my head all set to sports. The head office guy from my interview mentioned this would be a smaller scale store for them, using it as a tester for their whole “upscale sports grill” facade they were pushing. The bar was separated from the dining room by a large stone wall, and as I approached a group of staring faces I gave the best smile I could muster. I stuck to true form and headed for the back row, making small talk, until I settled in a spot away from peering eyes, and out of the head office guys line of sight.
Tucked in the corner I found an older women, adorned in heavy jewelry… she was telling me her name was “Agnes” and I noticed how poised she was, sitting upright with a kind voice and comfortable smile. It wasn’t until a few more words were exchanged that I noticed the creases at the sides of her eyes, and out the corners of her mouth…she was older, I bet early 50’s. Fuck I was jealous. She was totally beautiful. “Can we be buddies?” I asked her and she smiled, telling me “Yes! I could use a friend…”
I can’t recall the rest, I probably lost interest and became distracted sizing everyone up. Can we just back up for one sec? My blatant disregard for what Agnes was saying wasn’t intentional, it’s just who I am. I have the worst tendencies: not listening, losing focus, walking away in the middle of a conversation, interrupting and I leave cabinet doors and drawers open all most constantly. It’s like my brain short circuits. It bothers people more than it does me and honestly I couldn’t give a shit.
The front row was filled with younger bitches and i’m not being mean they we clearly catty bitches, gossiping amongst themselves. I noticed a few of them say hello to another girl and then immediately roll there eyes back at eachother when she wasn’t looking. I hate that kind of garbage behaviour and knew it would become a problem. There was a tall and handsome guy, already making jokes, he stole the audience from anyone talking and I was pretty sure he was totally baked too, definatly a doper. I liked him before I even spoke to him and knowing we would get along, my interest peaked, eaves dropping until I learnt his name was Jacob.
Orientation felt like school, hours of power point presentations and note taking. At the end of each day they would send us home with a part of the menu to memorize, then test us the following morning. They would threaten us with “If you don’t get seventy five percent then you’re not making the cut” bullshit. In those weeks of orientation they would break us off into groups for team building and “mock serving”. There were these stupid steps of service we were supposed to live by: Greet someone with in sixty seconds, have their drinks to them in three minutes, two bite or two minute rule for food checks.” What the fuck. This is the kind of shit I hate, so I made a promise I wouldn’t fall down that rabbit hole… I memorized it, but I sure as shit wasn’t actually going to do it.
The owner finally showed up a few days before the soft open, he had a warmth to him and came off as a family man. He told us he was excited for what the future held and left without even telling us his name, the head office guy had to tell us it was Jeff. There was also a kitchen manager, bar manager and a general manger… at least I heard there was, I hadn’t seen them around much and when I did see them they were huddled together taking privately.
I still remember the day we were given our uniforms. Holy fuck, skin tight black yoga pants and a low cut wrapped chested top. The bartenders had to wear these ridiculous low cut tops and we were told we weren’t allowed to wear any tank tops underneath. I had never been objectified quite like that before and I must have looked mortified because this bitch Amie I already hated gave me an elbow and said “Guess it’s time to hit the gym” before shuffling away. Amie was a total pain in the ass… I liked that she was smart and opinionated but jesus shut the fuck up once in awhile. She just came off as rude, so I honed in on the potential for trouble and kept my distance.
The day before opening was our soft open and it was all friends and family so we could have a trial run. I remember all the staff racing around and freaking out. The yelling, the tempers, fuck this was amazing, so chaotic and personal. I remember thinking “I’m good at this” as I was finding my attention to detail and cunning ability to bullshit was scoring big tips. I had only worked five hours that night and after I did my stupid fucking cash out (more on the later) I was out the door with $180. Easy money and I knew at that moment I could defiantly hold the job down for awhile.
The next morning was opening day, it felt a little different as head office was gone but with the success of the mock opening under my belt I felt super confident. Lunch was slow even for a new restaurant and I remember feeling abandoned. Boss man was in his office most of the day, with his door closed, only coming out to yell at the dish guy for making too much noise. The warmth of the man was completely gone and I noticed everybody was avoiding eye contact. I didn’t give a fuck, I remember boasting subconsciously about how I would throw it right back if he tried any bull shit with me.
The phone rang at one point and I missed it. I was doing something, forget what, but doesn’t Jeff casually walk by me and say “Don’t just run for it. Fucking answer it.” with his chest popped out. I was dumbfounded, standing there with my jaw wide open as he casually walked past and I should have walked out then but there was a part of me that was so compelled. “Was this place the right kind of crazy for a twisted fuck like me?” I thought. I even had a chuckle about it afterwards on my walk home. When I was met by my boyfriend at the front door he asked how my first day was and I just shook my head and said “I’m not sure what I just got myself into.”
*To be continued*