Saturday, January 14, 2006

quitting work

I had not planned to do this without a back-up in place. But it seems I quit my job yesterday. It also seems I have become so good at quitting that my boss was apologetic when I gave my notice!

I have been working on and off at this restaurant for over 3 years. When I first quit my job as Communications and Public Relations Manager for a national arts organization in 2002 I thought I could do part-time work until I managed to earn a living through writing. First I went to Starbucks since I heard they have a dental plan for employees and despite their bad rep with leftists, they actually pay decently, give shares in the company etc. Plus you get tons of coffee - a pound a week to take home and plenty during and between shifts. I'm all about the coffee. But I lasted just under 3 months - before any dental plan kicked in - since they would not give regular schedules and not being able to plan anything further than 2 weeks in advance was rather frustrating.

Word of mouth, I heard there was a job at an upscale restaurant in Ottawa's trendy, touristy Byward Market. It's all about who you know, so when I went in saying I heard Kate was leaving, I was given the job right away. That was in October of 2002.

The tip-out was good. The hours were fixed and it seemed a decent fit. I got on as a regular reporter for an Ottawa weekly, a contributor for an arts report and for a time I was happy writing, reporting and bartending. I stuck around for a year, then left to go to Africa for five months.

Since coming back from Africa, and subsequently Europe, I maintained a good relationship with my former boss and sometimes she'd call me in to pick up some shifts when she was short-staffed. Somewhere along the line I also started managing the restaurant website - at a ridiculously good rate for them.

She called me up around August of last year and asked if I could take some shifts. Some shifts turned in to regular shifts and suddenly I found that I had stepped back to 2002. Felt I was moving backward instead of forward with my life. 'Well,' I told myself, 'at least this will motivate me to find something else to sustain myself so I can quit.'

I've been hunting since then - always struggling with that balance between something that pays the bills but still allows time to write. Whenever I got close to finding something, I would look forward to giving my notice at the restaurant. But these things would fall through and I would keep going back to the restaurant, increasingly frustrated with this stalled place I'm at.

But now lately things have been coming up. I'm busy enough that sometimes it is hard to find the time for my shifts - which I end up swapping or giving away. I have an interview coming up next Thursday for a part-time web admin job. And starting Monday I will spend the next two weeks visiting 29 schools in and around the Ottawa area telling kids about Multiple Sclerosis and getting them to join to a read-a-thon campaign.

But the Read-a-Thon conflicts with my restaurant shifts. After unsuccessfully trying to get them filled, I had to tell my boss that I won't be able to work for 2 weeks. At first she seemed okay with it, then yesterday she told me she liked me, liked my work - but it seems I'm not too committed to the restaurant and am too often not available to work.

The moment of truth had come. I felt it burning in my stomach like a hunger pain. I could lie and tell her I was committed, that this was temporary, etc... or I could admit that I am desperately trying to find other work so I don't have to keep coming back to where I stood three years ago.

Obviously, this calls for more tact than the words in my heads. So I apologized to her, told her I wanted to do right by her and respected the fact that she has a business to run. 'But,' I said, 'I also feel that when I have opportunities to advance in my career, I have to take them.' She said she could understand that.

She had said before that she has not hired someone else because she does not have enough shifts to give. So I told her that if she needs to hire someone, she should maybe go ahead with that - and give that person my shifts.

I've never been good at confrontations. I was nervous and could feel my eyes tearing up. To my amazement I saw hers do the same. She said she appreciated my honesty. 'No one is mad at anyone, are they?' she asked.

'Oh no,' I said. 'At least I hope not.' She said no and thanked me. Asked if I was okay with that. I told her yes and that I would be happy to pinch hit if she needed me.

As she walked away I realized I must be getting pretty good at this, since I just quit my job and she asking me if I was upset with her! Times like this I don't know if I should feel proud of myself for handing this well, or feel guilty of manipulation.

Either way, it seems I have now given notice. I don't know when my last shift is - or what I will do afterward. It will be nice to not go back there. I just hope something else will fall in to take its place.

No comments:

Post a Comment