The first day of high school I set a bunch of goals and the most ridiculous one was to go through high school and never have to get a “real” job. I had babysat before and I loved it but it was only every now and then. If I did not want to go, I could always just say I had other plans. The summer before my senior year I began babysitting more often and I loved making my own money, even though I was saving most of it, I wanted more. My craving for money had only one solution, to get a job. Shocking, I know, to find a high school student who was not forced at all into getting a job, but chose too. Like most self-conscious teenage girls I did not want to get rejected, in this case not hired, so I went to the one place I knew I would get hired immediately, my uncle’s restaurant, the Chanticlear. That weekend I started my first job, as a “busser”. It was not the most glamorous job but I fell in love.
Ketchup, mayonnaise, tarter sauce, salad dressing, and half eaten food are all things that I manage to stick my fingers into on a regular basis, when picking up a gross plate. Annoying customers who feel they deserve their onion rings the second they sit down and little babies who manage to spill their drink twice in a meal have become an essential to life that does not even faze me anymore. For the average I-never-want-to-get-gross teenage girl this would be a nightmare but for me it has become the one place I am needed. Most people, including myself before I began working there, would assume that bussing is a fairly simple job. Within a week I learned how wrong I was. Although it takes no actual skill like athleticism this job is not for everyone you have to be a hard worker, determined, and able to hand pressure. People who complain a lot will never make it in the restaurant workplace. Working here has changed my life; it gives me self-satisfaction, it has let me meet so many new people, it has made taught me so many thing, all in such a short time. Working at the Chanticleer has become something I can’t walk away from, at least not yet.
Day one of work I realized something new about myself, I was needed. Without me the night would be a mess. Without me salads would be taken out late. Without me drinks would go unfilled and tables unwashed. Never before in my life had I felt like a crucial part to any group but it was different at work. I had never felt like anyone depended on me until I began to hear “Jaquie, can I need you to take this out for me. ” or “Jaquie can you please take the drink orders for me I’m swamped.” I love the end of the night when all the waitresses are thanking me for everything I do and telling me they could not do their jobs without me. No matter how busy the night was at the end I always have a great feeling of self-satisfaction that I could not find anywhere else.
With school starting and nights to go out being more limited, I asked to not work many weekend nights so I could enjoy my senior year. A couple of weekends ago my boss, Aaron, asked if I could please come in and work the next Friday. He explained how he would be gone and he needed someone who he could trust to keep the place running smoothly. Aaron needed someone who could step up if something was to come up. I was that person. That weekend I changed out of my regular bussing clothes and into something a little nicer so I could be a hostess. It was an insanely busy Friday night with plenty of big reservations and people walking through the door constantly. I began to get overwhelmed trying to find room to sit all the hungry customers but before I let it take over my work ethic I realized I had to calm down. I realized that if I got frustrated it would only lead to everyone else falling apart and the night would be disastrous. Aaron had told me that it was up to me to make the night run smoothly and I was going to make sure it did, no matter what obstacles came up. And we did have our fair share of obstacles but as the night came to a close and the last table got up and left everyone told me I handled myself very well and without me being their to host it would have been a terrible night.
Not only do the people there need me but I have come to need them too, and not just at work. I have formed a bond with the people I work with that will never go away. Liz, a waitress, and Dusty, a cook, have become more than just coworkers to me; they have become some of the greatest and most important people in my life. There have been several nights after work where we just sit in the dining room talking, laughing, and just enjoying each others’ company. We have made memories that will last a lifetime and hopefully the friendships do, too. Currently I’ve been facing an extremely hard decision and I really have no clue what I should do. Dusty has been there for me through it all. He’s been on the phone with me for hours at a time while I just cry and try and figure it all out. Even though he can’t understand half of what I am saying he is there for me, no matter how late it is. Liz keeps taking me to movies, shopping, or basically anything that will get my mind off the situation. They do not try and force their opinions on me they have done what true friends do; they have listened and been there for me when I needed it most.
Not only have I made new relationships with my coworkers, but also a lot of the customers. The Chanticleer is open to all but it is really a place of regulars and a place of tradition. When I first started working there I never imagined how many people I would know and get to understand their life story. I am on a first name basis with many of the customers and as soon as they come in I can bring them their drink without even having to ask. Every Sunday I see many of the same couples who always come for the chicken and spaghetti dinner, and they have been for years. On Tuesday and Thursday I can expect a family of three to come in and order the barbeque ribs. I have become to know each and every regular on a personal basis and if they were to ever not show up, the next week I would be inquiring about where they were. Working at the Chanticleer and getting to know the customers is like being part of a large family; we tell stories, we joke, and we update each other on our lives.
Liz, Dusty, the customers, and this whole experience have taught me so much and changed who I am. I can honestly say that I have become so much more tolerant of people and my patience level has increased drastically. Working at the restaurant and learning that there are constantly a million things that need to be done at once has made me realize that’s how it always is. Not just in work but in life; My wants and wishes can not always come first and I have learned that the only way to get what you want is to be patient or to do it yourself. I also have a new found respect for all those who work in the food business because it takes a lot of hard work to please everyone. Whenever I go to a restaurant I understand and can relate what they go through so I am much nicer to the staff. I make sure to keep my area as neat as possible and have my plates stacked and ready for the busser to take so that I do not make his or her job any harder than it already is. On the bigger scale of life I have learned that having a job is not as horrible as people make it. Before I started working at the Chanticleer I listened to all of my friends complain about going to work and how horrible it was. I love my job; I actually look forward to it; I have learned it is all about where you work and what you make out of the situation.
Although working at the Chanticleer is not my dream job or one most people would find even close to desirable, I love it. The feeling of being needed, the memories made by friendships, and the lessons that I will take with me forever are just a small glimpse on why I actually enjoy going to work every week. Freshman year the thought of getting a job never crossed my mind, except for when I talked about how I never would, and now in my senior year I can not even imagine what my life would be like if I never had or what my life will be like next year when I go off to college. Looking at it all I realize how lucky I am to have a positive first job experience, as I realize not many others can relate. I am a daughter, a friend, a sister, a girlfriend, a basketball player, a Spanish club officer, but what has really defined me over the last year is a Chanticleer employee.
The first day of high school I set a bunch of goals for myself, and the most ridiculous one was to go through high school and never have to get a “real” job.Make paragraphs.
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