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December 31, 2012 - Carrie Olson
After many trips of carrying 25-pound containers of ice up flights of stairs for a fellow co-worker, I decided I had had enough. This would be my last day.
I hate quitting — the very act implies failure and defeat, which my stubborn self doesn’t usually allow. There are only a couple jobs that I haven’t followed through with, and each time I have to tell my boss that it isn’t working out, the sting just seems to grow.
As a senior in high school, I started a job while also heavily involved in cross country. When I found out that my varsity season was going to continue longer than I had thought, there was a distinct choice I had to make. Working with books or spending my last season running with my team. The sport easily won out, but telling my boss that it wasn’t going to work out was pretty hard.
A few years ago, I became an organizer for a presidential campaign. It included a very strenuous vetting process, and I believe I got on staff only because one of my recommenders was the president of a state university. Now, this is embarrassing — I didn’t even last a week. The 80-100 hour work week didn’t freak me out — I had done that in the past with two separate part-time jobs. It was the amount of cold calling, begging for favors, and pushy behavior that I knew I did not want to be a part of. That was probably the most nerve-wracking of my quitting experiences – I had pulled a lot of strings to get the position, and after all that, I did not want it. There were a few regrets with not going further, yet, I really did not want a career in politics – in any capacity.
New York City hasn’t been as easy to break into as I had previously thought (everyone, please roll your eyes). I have sent hundreds of resumes and cover letters with no responses received. There have been a couple interviews at temping agencies that promise jobs, yet they never call. So I thought I had a big break when a concession company called me in for an interview as a bartender. I would be able to work on Broadway, catering to the show attendees.
It didn’t promise tons of money, but there was the hope of massive tips. Yet, working at a musical geared towards kids definitely didn’t ensure that. Sure, a couple parents or young adults would buy a glass of wine, but I was mostly selling candy and expensive sodas for exact change. (Which is totally understandable, as a kid I wouldn't have shelled out 7 bucks for a soda and also expect to give the cashier a tip. Inconceivable.)
Commuting across the Hudson River hasn’t been super easy since the hurricane, either. More than a couple of times, I found myself waiting in line at 2 a.m. at the Port Authority for a bus to take me home. And, due to the fact that I was going home for Thanksgiving, the company decided it was best for me to be at coat check – where I might make two bucks in tips if I were lucky. Finally, after helping a co-worker set up her bar a couple times while making her some substantial tippage, I had had enough. When I told the company, one of the heads asked me to think about it and give him an answer after my holiday break. I didn’t understand why – my decision would become more finite after a few days away.
Even though I was earning very little money working many hours, the idea of quitting still sucked. It was a big relief, yet I had only been there for a few weeks and I didn’t have another job lined up.
I am not adverse to working as a barista or a bartender – both are worthwhile jobs that I have performed in the past for years at a time. No, I just had to admit that this job wasn’t worth the effort – at all.
The act of quitting isn’t easy for anyone. It may give a sense of relief or accomplishment at the beginning, yet the question of “What now?” still exists. Or perhaps it were a perfect position, but for someone else. Quitting provides a mixed bag of emotions. And while this time it was definitely the right decision for me, I wonder greatly about the future. Where money will come from, what kind of job I will apply for next, etc., etc.
If my track record proves correct, hopefully I will be at the next job for much, much longer. Hopefully.
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