What's with the change?

Come where we treat you with respect

May 23, 2013

It’s a bit like when somebody explains, “I’m a nice person.” 

Having to tell you something that ought to be a given should set off alarm bells. Unless you’re me and stupidly optimistic about the wrong things (and doubtful of the right things).

The job title was “Servers, come where we treat you with respect”. To make my optimism even less credible, it was advertised on Craigslist (creepier version of Gumtree). But hey, the admin work wasn’t as fruitful as I’d hoped (more here) and what great flexibility to fit around my studies. All you had to do was email your availability for the week and get offered waitressing jobs at catering events. And I was going to make a whopping $15/hr to boot (for the lack of tips at weddings?).

I smashed the job interview; singing my praises in a banquet room with the other suckers watching on. I didn’t get invited to the owner’s house as I later read about on a red flag website but I did get invited back for training an hour later. What’s a girl to do for an hour on Dufferin Street? What else is there to do? My only option was Dairy Queen where I tried not to laugh as the cashier unenthusiastically turned my ice-cream upside-down. Supposedly you get it for free if it fails. I’d pay double.

A new party trick

I was a little suspicious on the ‘training’ that I rightly figured to be unpaid. But it was only for an hour and I’d gone all that way on the bus. Two hours later I was on my way home with a throbbing wrist and very late for dinner. In reality, waitressing is probably not the best career move for someone with a dodgy wrist (a self-diagnosed ganglion was recently upgraded to carpal tunnel– thanks Dr Internet). 

I mulled over my uniform requirements: a buttoned long sleeve white shirt, buttoned long sleeve black shirt, black pants with black belt, black tie and a black button up vest, and wondered how many hours I’d have to work to make back the money, especially now the ‘contract’ we signed before we were let out specified $10.25/hr. My old friend, minimum wage! Obviously
they’ve been in the swindling business longer than I. The $15/hr Craigslist postings conveniently disappeared.

It wasn’t just the overstated pay or the fact they didn’t ask if I was Smart Serve certified that didn’t sit right. 
Somewhere between Grooming 101 and Don’t Drop the Drinks Tray, I was plagued by the What-the-Heck-Am-I-Doing-With-My-Life? 
Like kids with a beanbag on their head, we practised carrying three plates. On the umpteenth circuit in our thirty minute drill, I wondered what an experienced teacher halfway through a master’s degree was doing in a banquet hall north of anywhere good.
My answers are wearing thin. Suggestions welcome.



Ellen made a half-hearted attempt and bought one of the required uniform pieces before discovering the dodgy stories about the company. She eventually asked to be taken off the mailing list but misses her sexist Monday morning joke and the nostalgia it stirred for forwarded email jokes circa 2000. Ellen returned the black buttoned blouse to Sears and spent the $16 on some thrilling subway rides.

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