Well, nobody ever said working was easy; nor is it something most people want to do. Nevertheless, that's not the issue for me. I am not thrilled to go to work everyday, yet I do enjoy meeting new people and of course I must have my nice things. While other people may have a lot of difficulty finding jobs, I am starting at my third job since May! Finding jobs is easy; keeping them, on the other hand, that's the tricky part.
When I fifth-teen, in 2007, I got a job working at the PNE, a fairly fun and exciting job for someone that age; the commute there was unbearable though. I was a sweeper, essentially I walked around the whole Fair grounds and kept the place clean. Working with garbage all day wasn't the greatest thing in the world, yet I took advantage of my mobility to watch the shows, to talk to my co workers, to look in disgust at all the horribly unhealthy food people were eating. In a way it was the perfect job for me; I got to be outdoors, walk around all day, and talk with my co workers there. At the time the one thing I didn't want in a job was to be stationary; to be at a desk all day, everyday. The kids I worked with were all super nice, and I quickly found out that the day went a lot faster when I was constantly chatting to someone. Evidently, most of the time we were sent out in groups; assigned to a certain area for the day. That worked out well for me, for when there were only three or four of us, it made getting to know people a lot easier. I was very energetic back then; the pleasure of being young and worry free! I had a great time working with people, even though when it was over my friend count wasn't any higher. The managers were all very nice and the ones that dealt directly with us were very young, making it easier to relate to them. I was also thrilled to learn we got three breaks within a six hour time frame, two of which were paid; unheard of in most jobs. Yes, it was a good way to end the summer; full of laughs, smiles, and promises, the like of which unfortunately were not kept. Alas, it is those days I miss; when I was truly young and innocent.
Well, in September I handed in my uniform and went back to school, vowing to return the following summer. That year, employment wise anyways, was uneventful. I didn't really want a job while being in high school full time, so just fooled around in school and bid my time. That summer, I got an invite to go back to the PNE again, and remembering how much fun I had the previous year, accepted with enthusiasm. I was sixteen; still young and full of wonder. That year at the fair I was greeted with smiles. I worked with a lot of the same kids I had been with before; we had great fun. I was leaner than ever that summer, and working for six or seven hours a day walking around, lifting garbage, and eating little all contributed to getting that flat stomach I so badly wanted. The managers were all the same, and I got a better schedule than before due to experience, along with a slightly higher wage. Still, it was a long way to go; the bus took anywhere between half an hour and an hour to reach there. It was hard to get up so early back then, even though I didn't even start until one in the afternoon! Nevertheless, I had another successful year, bringing in a little more money than the year before.
Yayyy! As I walked out of there with a orientation time in my hand, I called my family and told them I had my first "real" job. Congratulations were given all around and I was pretty darn happy with myself. The only concession I was to learn of was that I had to also occasionally work at the UBC location as well. I wasn't too thrilled at that idea for I had to take the bus there. Nevertheless, I was only to work there once a week at the most, and I had always liked UBC anyways. It was at that location I would be going for my orientation and training.
It turned out not to be such a bad job as I had thought. Again my co workers, as I quickly found out, were all very nice, and I soon discovered that two lovely ladies I had known in high school were working there as well. Getting to work with them sealed the deal; this was an awesome job! Yet it was anything but easy to start. The amount of stuff I had to learn to work at the front counter was overwhelming. Even the touch screen tills were a hefty challenge, just so many items to remember, all hidden in menus and sub menus. Yet everyone was pretty laid back and patient with me. There was one manager there who caught my eye and I would become enamored with during the lenght of my employment. Laura was her name, and she was extremely nice, patient and fun to work with. She was the scheduling manager as well as the second assistant manager, a fairly high post in the McDonald's hierarchy. I liked the other managers there as well, and it seemed that everyone was fairly cool and laid back.
Despite my best efforts, I was totally stumped on how to operate that bloody computer screen. Watching my co workers take orders, their fingers racing over the screen, I couldn't believe I could ever learn to do that. After my three days of given training, I still didn't no where anything was on the menu. It seemed it would take longer than everyone expected for me to learn. That turned out to be a major understatement, as it took me at least six months! Yet once I did I never forgot it, could probably still walk in today and start working again.
All through this Laura was pulling for me; she would give me shifts when I needed extra work, help me out without getting mad when I was working on her shift. She was, and to this day is, the best manager I've ever had; without her compassion and understanding I would have surely been fired. As the months went by, I started to get into the routine of the place. I was enjoying my time there, especially when the two girls from high school, whom I admired greatly for their intelligence, kindness, and beauty were working beside me. It seemed that there was a shortage of work at the Kitsilano location, so I started getting scheduled mainly at the UBC one. That was fine with me as I liked it better, even though it was ten times busier. As I said before, I've always liked UBC; the atmosphere is dynamic and peaceful. The restaurant itself was slightly bigger, yet it was a shock at how busy it was. A Late Night (open until 3am), and later twenty four hour, McDonald's, there were always students lining up to fill their bodies with some of the most unhealthiest food on the planet. I was both appalled and fascinated at the horrible food they ate, not to say anything of the amount! Knowing how bad all the food was, the staff also willingly ate there; almost every single one actually. I quickly became known as the "health nut", receiving skeptical and surprised glares and jibes from the staff and managers, as if they have never considered eating healthy before.
I worked hard when I first started, then as time went by I began to tire, to grow weary of having the same job month after month, year after year. All through this, while my fellow employees around me were getting promoted, for some reason the managers decided not to let me climb higher on the food chain (no pun intended). After begging for a year, I finally was allowed to work at the back, the grill as it were. I liked it immensely better back there; no cleaning the lobby, no taking out the garbage, no talking to the customers. Of course when every other manager said no, it was the lovely Laura who gave me my first chance. Yet she quickly realized that it wasn't going to work, that I was simply too slow to keep up with the massive volume that was the UBC customers. In the end I was sent back to the front, to wallow in despair over what might have been. It was there I stayed for the remainder of my employment.
After a year and a half though, I started getting bored and frustrated. The constant under-staffing, especially on the restaurant's stock delivery days, when I would more times than I should, be the only person to unload the truck, maybe with one other helping me only for a short while. That task often took me a full, tiring, six to eight hours to complete. I got increasingly frustrated; Laura didn't do Brower often (called so because of the delivery company's name, Martin-Brauer) so she didn't really understand all the work involved I think. Nevertheless, it was sometimes a nice break from taking orders, that is on the days we weren't severely understaffed. Yet it was still all weighing on me. My friends I had made there were leaving, I found out Laura was leaving, the manager taking over for her having a unfavorable bias towards me; I was just tired of it in general. I made a decision to leave around the same time as my friends. While I had looked before for other work, I had never seriously considered leaving, mostly because the friends that I love still worked there. Nevertheless, I set out on my days off, which when Lukas took over the shifts and only scheduled me two days because he didn't like me, I had lots of. After a month of looking, I found a job at White Spot downtown, as a salad chef. As the position was starting that week, I had to leave right away. My time at McDonald's had come to an end.
I left my job there, only giving them a weeks notice but who cares? I was excited at the prospect of starting a new job; something different. The position was full time and paid slightly higher than McDonald's. I had told them that I was looking for full time only and the manager had said it was, indeed, a full time position. My initial impression of the manager there was he was a nice guy; an easy going, friendly person. While he was indeed nice, the easy going part was wrong. My position there as salad chef, "fresh start" it was called (we also made all the deserts and milkshakes), seemed at first to be a great one. Situated in an alcove in the front of the restaurant, there was no working in a busy, hot kitchen. The guys who were training me both seemed to be very laid back and simple to get along with. My first day I thought went fairly well. Yet there was trouble brewing on the horizon, and it would only be a matter of time before the storm hit.
During my first two days there, it was revealed to me that I was expected to learn and memorize the ingredients for each item(there were about twenty or thirty) fairly quickly. Indeed, I was asked at the very end of my first shift to make a Ceaser salad on my own. That wasn't the only issue; they expected me to go without breaks if the restaurant was busy, and as I was the only one making the salads, that basically meant I could never have a break (even ten people ordering salads in the whole restaurant was considered "busy"). This presented a major problem for me as I have a good metabolism and am used to eating every two to three hours. When I go longer than that, I am usually hit with fatigue and an inability to concentrate. As you can imagine, I needed to be at my best to learn my new job.
Again it was expected of me to not only learn all the salads, shakes and deserts within the span of a week, but to make them with speed and efficiency. With my short term memory loss which has been such a burden to me over the course of my lifetime, this proved impossible to do. As they started getting impatient, even flabbergasted that I wasn't retaining anything I was told, I stepped up my efforts to learn. I brought the sheet in which I had written all the various items that I was to make, and started studying it every night after work. Yet it simply wasn't enough time for my memory to retain it all, a process which at McDonald's took me a year. Add to this my need to eat frequently and I wasn't all that surprised when, after only working there for a week, my manager took me aside, told me it wasn't working out, and proceeded to terminate my employment. I was devastated, as another job came to an end.
It was back to the streets again for me, looking for a job during the day, searching Cragslist at night. I was feeling pretty hopeless at this point; even with a union at White Spot they still managed to fire me for something that really wasn't my fault. It took a few weeks, during which my bank account continued to steadily drain, before I got a call from Costco. Surprised at the speedy reply, for I had only applied there the day before, I readily agreed to come in for an interview. The position, as fate had it, was for a cashier in the food court. I was somewhat disappointed to hear this, as I was really hoping to get out of the industry that I obviously wasn't cut out for. Nevertheless, everyone I talked to said that Costco was an excellent place to work, and as I had bills to pay, I went there for the routine interview. Again, dressed in my best to impress, I made my way down, thinking it would be nice to work there as I spend so much on their products anyways. As well the hours of 10-830 on weekdays the early close Saturdays at six and Sundays at five held great appeal to me. The managers there were very nice again, I had a instant liking of the Food Court manager, Jim. He was an easy going guy again, with a habit to joke around with his crew and work with us side by side when it was busy.
This time around, the first thing I said when I went into the interview was that one, I had a short term memory loss and would need time to learn, and two, that I absolutely had to eat every three hours if I was to be able to concentrate. They took this in stride, saying that for an eight hour shift, you get a lunch break and two coffee breaks anyways. So all seemed well, my first day went pretty good again; I got all my breaks when I needed them and the work area and machines were very similar to those at McDonald's. As well, the people who worked there were very friendly and helpful. In addition to all that, there was a day where I was scheduled on the same evening as a Rihanna concert that I had been looking forward to for months. I was disappointed at the notion of having to work instead and I brought this up with Jim, asking if there was any way I could get the day off, or maybe work in the day instead. He sympathized with me and after changing a few things around in the schedule, I was off by six thirty, allowing me to change and eat before the seven thirty concert. And at eleven dollars an hour, I was making more than I had ever made before; it was a good job!
Yet it seems that trouble follows me wherever I go. The first time I had gotten called into the office, it was for a time card error; with their system you have to scan in right on time, for your start and end time as well as your break. If you are more than three minutes late, or three minutes early, you get a mark in your file. Of course, with my memory, as much as I tried, I couldn't get it. I would often only be off by a minute, yet it was a minute to much. In the weeks to come, I would be called in about ten times. I even went so far as to scan out for my break, time it on my phone, and when the alarm went off, scan back in. Evidently I forgot to even do that a few times.
That wasn't the only problem; it seems that I wasn't fast enough for their standards of service. Time after time they kept saying I had to speed up, I had to speed up. Even though I learnt the til within a few days this time, and the menu was so limited that it was fairly easy compared to McDonald's, I still needed probably three months or so to get it down. As well as that, when I was working a closing shift in which the entire kitchen and lobby needed to be cleaned in only two hours, I had trouble there as well. Since it was taking me awhile to learn the cleaning routine, I wasn't as fast as everyone else and often ended up staying five to ten, sometimes even thirty minutes behind after all my co workers had left. As the union forced them to pay me overtime for this, I would get another mark on my file.
I was talked to about all this many times during my employment there, and each time all I had to say was simply that it takes me time to remember things with my memory and I was trying my best. Apparently, my best wasn't good enough; after only two months there I was brought into the managers office and told that I wasn't the person they were looking for. Since my position was officially seasonal anyways (although Jim said that I would probably be able to stay on as full time if I did well), they said that they didn't need so many people and were officially ending my contract, even though it was supposed to go to September. When I pressed them for details, however, they admitted that it was because of all those little problems I mentioned. I wasn't learning fast enough, wasn't retaining what I had been told, and of course the time card issues. They didn't say it but, during my time there, one night on the way home from work, at ten forty five, I was driving along Pacific and looked away for a second at my car's radio, looking back up just in time to see a pole I couldn't avoid. I spent the good remainder of the night in hospital and my car was totaled in the accident. Consequently, I was off work for a few days. I later returned, yet was unable to do my duties because I had infected my leg in the crash and after working a few hours, could barely walk. I left early that day and it was the next day when I returned and before I had even started work, that they called me in to dismiss me. Yet another job come to an end; the third in as many months.
I have been laying around the house for the last month, semi-looking for jobs while at the same time not really holding out hope I would get any. Or that is to say, I would get them but they wouldn't last. It is only now that I truly realized how patient Laura was with me; to keep me employed for almost two years. Just last week I went up to UBC again, to continue my hopeless search for employment. I was only up there about twenty minutes when I walked into Vera's Burgers and got hired on the spot. As I will be starting school in the fall it is only part time; weekends only. While I would like to be optimistic about this job, while the manager seemed to be a nice guy, and while the location couldn't be any better, I'm afraid the past has made me cynical when it comes to keeping gainful employment. So I start tomorrow at eleven, and I can only pray to a God I'm not sure exists, that this job, for a while anyways, will be my last.