Friday, February 17, 2012

One step forward, two steps back

For the first time in a long time, I was excited about where my life was going. I had a new job, I was starting a couple exciting side projects; in short, I was feeling good. That was in November. It is now the middle of February. I am just now recovering from the months in between.

I don't really understand where the last couple months of my life went, how the rug was seemingly pulled out from under me. Let's just take it from the beginning and examine things.

I had worked at Pizza Hut since 2005. By late 2011, while there was no official position, I was clearly the second in command. I didn't like that job by the end. But like a lot of things, you stay with it because it's easy and convenient. I didn't want to learn any new menial skills and I got accustomed to angry customers yelling at me.

A lot of people couldn't handle it, but I learned to accept the angry rednecks that yelled at me. They weren't really angry at me. They were angry at their own lives, and they just used the issues with their pizza to lash out. You're not really angry that the driver forgot to deliver ranch dressing with your pizza. You're angry that you live in a skanky trailer park with 4 kids and no future. The lack of fattening, smelly salad dressing to dip your pizza in just sets you over the edge. You yell at me. I pretend to care. We both go about our day.

A common tweet from me after a day of work used to go something like: "Only got yelled at once. Pretty good day." I accepted it and didn't try to change it. That all changed one night in September.

I don't think anybody will argue that the last two general managers of Pizza Hut were qualified for the job. That's coming from a guy who was friends with both of them. I think the fact that I worked there longer than both of them combined speaks volumes about their experience. Both only got the positions because the previous GM left and upper management thought it would be easier to promote somebody in-house than look elsewhere. Neither lasted over a year. The first quit before he could be fired. The second was demoted instead of fired. He then put in his two week's notice and left.

So, that's the kind of organization I worked in for the final two years. To say that it was hectic and unorganized would be an understatement. I'll admit that I was part of the problem. I tried to work hard and help out at first. But, I saw my boss who made over $10,000 more per year than me not pulling his weight, so I decided not to pull my weight.

Back to that one night in September. To successfully run a Pizza Hut, you need at least two cooks, one server, one delivery driver, and one manager. We didn't even have any cooks. Upper management is never any help, so I was in charge and screwed. It was busy and we were having trouble keeping up with the demand. Then, the delivery driver suddenly quit in the middle of the shift. He just said "fuck it" and left. So, me and one other girl are left. Orders are backing up, phones are ringing, and now I'm telling her to call all these delivery recipients back to tell them what's going on.

Long story short, I was getting yelled at by several customers that night. Nothing too bad, just the standard stuff I was used to - "Why is it taking so long?" "This is ridiculous!" "I can’t believe this!" They're not mad at me, they're just mad at the situation and are taking it out on me.

Then four different customers make it personal. The first berates me and leaves. The second wants to know why nobody's there. I tell her I can't find anybody. She berates me and leaves. The third and fourth both gang up on me and proceed to brow-beat me for over half an hour. They're just relentless - "You don't know what the fuck you're doing here." "You're supposed to be a manager and this place is falling apart." I'm calm and rational. I say, "If you will stop yelling at me, I can go make your pizza."

It's going on for so long that the waitress is crying. She's 18-years-old, just out of high school, this was her first job. She had never been in anything like this before. These two assholes are causing a scene yelling at me, and she's watching it and starts crying.

The phone rings for an order. She's in no condition to do anything, and I've unofficially closed the restaurant down. I just walk away from the guy yelling at me and answer the phone. He finally realizes he's made this girl cry. I don't often get mad at customers, but he finally set me over the edge. I heard him say, "Don't cry, sweetie. I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at him. He doesn't know what he's doing here."

I walk back over to him. He yells for his refund. I get out $13 and some change. With my teeth gritted so I don't yell at the top of my lungs, I hand him the money and say "Take your refund and get the fuck out of here."

He flips out and calls the police. For almost an hour, that guy is in the Pizza Hut parking lot with a police officer. The officer comes in and talks to me. I recount the story. He walks out and talks to the guy again. He finally comes back in. He rolls his eyes and says, "I told that guy that I'm coming in here to tell you to be nicer to the customers." I apologize for taking up the officers time. He leaves. I call the GM and let him know. Since it's late, I text the GM's boss and let him know what's going on.

A couple days pass. I'm the talk of the Pizza Hut. "Did you really say that?" I hear over and over. The one person I don't hear anything from is the GM's boss, the "Area Coach." We're all waiting for a reprimanding, but it never comes.

Two weeks pass. The Area Coach had previously told me what a smart guy he thought I was and all these other compliments. I chalked this up to him not saying anything because it's common sense. In six years, I've never had anything like this happen. This was a one-time thing and it's not going to happen again. There's no need to talk about it.

At the two-week mark, the Area Coach makes a visit to Pizza Hut and finally talks to me. It's one thing to talk about an issue. It's another thing to make somebody feel like a piece of shit. He made me feel like a piece of shit. He went on about how I was a horrible leader and a bad member of the team and that if anything like this ever happened again, he would make sure I was fired. I registered all of that and put in my two week's notice at the end of the night.

I then went out and got another job. It was at one of those gambling places. It was called Patty's. People go in and gamble. I oversee everything. If they win money, I give it to them. If they want something to drink, I give it to them.

I don't think anybody at Pizza Hut expected me to actually leave. I think that because I was never replaced. I told them for two weeks that I was leaving and my position was never filled. I had a new job and they still needed me to work at Pizza Hut. So, my two-week notice became a six-week notice. I stayed at Pizza Hut for nearly an extra month.

Patty's was so good for me. The only drawback was that I constantly smelled like cigarette smoke. But, I was able to sit down and relax, something that was impossible at Pizza Hut. I worked on my long-dormant magazine project. I was looking ahead to possibly going back to school for the spring semester. In essence, getting this new job was the first step to getting things back on track. It wasn't a glamorous job, but it was the stepping stone to getting my mind cleared to where I could achieve a glamorous job.

I was happy and feeling good for the first time in a while. That all changed around Thanksgiving.

A friend texted me, asked where I was at. I said at work. He showed up. He was drunk. I didn't want him there, but what could I do? You're allowed to drink at Patty’s, so that wasn't really an issue. Then he left and came back reeking of marijuana. And while I don't know if it was affecting him yet, I know a crushed-up pill had just entered his nasal cavity.

I turn my back for a minute and he's wondering back behind the counter, opening cabinets and being loud. Just being a nuisance. I try to calm him down, but it's not working. So, I make him leave.

A couple days pass and I don't hear anything about it. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I have to work that evening. I get a phone call from my boss. She asks me to come in early. Candace is in town visiting, so I cut short my lunch plans and head to work. I go into the back area and see my boss solemnly sitting down beside her boss. Her boss proceeds to fire me. I go back home and tell Candace what's going on. The next day, I go on the job hunt. I figure it won't be too hard. I got the job at Patty's and then had to turn down three additional jobs.

I got fired on Saturday. On Tuesday, I have a job interview for another gambling place. I explain the Patty's situation and she tells me to show up to work that night. I go in and I have no idea how to explain what happens next, really. The job is a tip-based job. You bring people their winnings and snacks and such, and they throw a couple bucks your way. An older woman was working there and showing me how things were done. I didn't want to interfere with her tips, so I didn't interact with the customers that much.

I show up the next night for my second day at work. I walk in and the woman there seems perplexed to see me. I start to walk to the back. She says, "Did nobody call you?" Nobody did. Apparently I was fired and nobody let me know. A woman I didn't get a drink for was friends with the owner and called her and didn't like me, so I was fired.

I worked at the same job for six years. Then I'm fired from two jobs in the span of four days. I put my tail between my legs and go back to Pizza Hut. I'm put back on the schedule. My first day back is one of the first days of December. The night before, I'm laying in bed thinking about how much I hate that place. I'm thinking about how I had to turn down three jobs less than a month ago. I'm thinking about how easy it was to find those other jobs. I fall asleep. I wake up five hours late for work. I don't know what happened. I guess subconsciously I turned my alarm off without fully waking up or something, because I don't remember it going off. I’m laying there wondering what to do. I then make the decision to not go to work and to never go back to Pizza Hut.

How hard could it be to find another job? Pretty hard. It took me two months to find another job.

Two fucking months!

I lounged around for a few days, then commenced the job hunt. I started with some nicer places, some office-type jobs. As the days and weeks progressed, I kept going lower down the totem pole of jobs. Those office and secretarial jobs didn't call back. The gas stations didn't call back. Walmart didn't call back. I have never felt lower than when fucking McDonalds didn't call back.

The one positive that I can kind of look at is that I had saved up enough money to pretty much survive for almost two months without a job. I had been doing decently until this little stretch. But I just don't understand how it can take that long to find a job. I applied for jobs in three different counties in the state. I admittedly started off a little slow, thinking it wouldn't take very long. Then I got depressed around the middle of my unemployed stretch and took a few days off from the job hunt and just stayed in bed. But, for the most part, I feel like I tried as hard as I could have to find employment.

But, I guess we're starting back where I was in November. I finally have a job. It's nothing exciting or anything that I'm really proud of. I'm honestly glad that McDonalds didn't call back. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel there. My two-month exile is hopefully over. The magazine project is on hold for now. I need to get some money back together and motivation and I'll try to launch that over the summer. But, we'll see how the next few months play out.

I'm finally over my two-month rut. I was doing good for a month there and then everything just sort of went to hell. I'm finally getting my life back on track. I'll let you know how it goes.

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