Saturday, February 27, 2016

It's Official...I'm Freaking Out

It's one in the morning, got home from work around eleven. Loaded the dishwasher, dried some laundry and started some more. Zach wheeled the trash out for pick up and went to bed. Massey's in Orlando with Tim for the weekend. Sat looking through old pictures for over an hour and it hit me like a brick to the face.

I have some very major changes happening in the matter of a few short months.

I'm starting to get pretty freaked out.

Last night one of the Sous Chefs at work was talking with me and commented how sorry she was I was leaving. More than several co workers have made comments like "What are we going to do when you're gone?"

I'm starting to worry about what I'm going to do when I'm gone.

I've made so many new friends working at the airport. From shuttle bus drivers to the women who scrub restrooms.

From dishwashers who take their job as seriously as a surgeon's,

to random people I met each and every day, not only at work but on the way to and  from.

Working in the world's busiest airport has been hands down the most fascinating experience of my life.

I've waited on and met up close more famous people than thought I ever would but the people who weren't famous stand out most. I've crossed paths with people from literally all over the globe. I've waited on rich snobs who I won over with my PhD in BS and a few who had more money than sense.

It's been an eye opening lesson to me that each and every individual person on this planet is unique in their own (sometimes not, sometimes good) way. There may be one human race but like snowflakes are all different.

I always thought I was just a "Waitress" and probably pitied by many thinking what a shame it was.

I've always managed to do okay and my salary has increased with every job I've taken.  Before working at the airport I had only worked at three other places since 1981.

I remember after getting fired from LongHorn (still a sore spot) for a ridiculous reason after almost fourteen years, applied for Unemployment since my husband had also lost his job. It was the most humiliating experience of my life but had to do it. I put my  kids on Medicaid and also applied for (and received) food stamps. I've worked since I was fifteen years old and paid a lot of money into the system but was still embarrassing to have to do. You also had to attend seminars and workshops to keep the I did.

I remember the first workshop I attended, the room was packed with unemployed peeps. They asked us to fill out a form with our five year job history. I listed one, the girl sitting next to me said she had held five different jobs in the past nine months. I think that's when I became the teacher's pet of the workshop. I don't like changing jobs, never have. I'm old and it takes me a while to find my groove and feel comfortable at a place. Plus I tend to be a perfectionist at my serving job. Am  nowhere near being one in any other facet of my life but can say with conviction  am a  pretty excellent employee.

I was terrified to take the airport job.  I had secured a job for almost five years with a family owned local restaurant and felt extremely comfortable working there. The problem was we needed to make more money and my husband was still struggling to find a decent job. My initial interview was overwhelmingly ultra professional. It was a five star restaurant serving seasonal Mediterranean cuisine and the menu changed every four months.


Lucky for me I had the "In".

A former coworker and dear friend highly recommended me for the job.  She told me she was averaging a thousand per week, after taxes. The job had full benefits after six months.

If  had been anyone other than her, wouldn't have believed it but I did. They offered me the job at my first interview. It took me well over six months before I felt in the very least comfortable about my new serving position. I was selling and serving things I'd never even tasted before much less sold. Octopus, beef tongue and hundred dollar bottles of wine to name a few.

I had a wonderful mentor who watched me a like a hawk, constantly corrected but urged me to learn and succeed every time I did something wrong. He was the manager who interviewed me and initially offered me the job. He doesn't work there anymore and still miss him every day. The above photo is the last shift I worked with him. He and his wife are from Bosnia and I thought it fitting to give him a turban with his nickname  blinged on it with a shirt boasting pork, which he didn't eat but could wear. He told me later wore both the turban and  shirt all the way home that day. From the corporate office to turn in his badge at the airport to the Marta train back to his car in north Atlanta, getting some mighty strange stares.

He is the main reason I have succeeded at Ecco and so very grateful he took such an intense interest in my training.

My general manager (above) has left since as well. He was as almost as laid back and quiet as my husband but a terrific boss as well. This pic is from his last day working with me. Since  was German, decided giving him the German officer's helmet was a nice sendoff present as well.

I used to call them "Good Cop/ Bad Cop". Damir was on me all the time to do it correctly and never hesitated  calling me out when doing something the wrong way while Bryan was just a nice guy to be around (with his knowing  Damir had the bad cop part under control) so everything ran smoothly...and it did.

Then the above Sous Chef left. Darwin was awesome and sure he still is in his new job. He trained me  while in the expo window my very first day. He later told me  "I knew you'd be a good worker when you asked me so many questions about everything that first day."

It quickly became a running joke between us. When employees would call out from work (which they do) or not do their job the right way, would simply look at each other ... shake our heads and mutter "Acting like Government workers".

So of course  ordered him the above shirt he's wearing for his last shift with me.

Starting at such a crucial financial point in our lives, have recorded every penny I've made. I went from making about 35K at LongHorn with no benefits (which was fine when Tim was making almost 80K with full benefits) to about 30K at my last job with Tim out of work and had no benefits to suddenly making over 70K with full benefits,  both kids still at home under my insurance as well and making tremendous strides in our economic recovery. I bought and paid for three vehicles last year, replaced the fencing in our huge back yard, replaced an $800 garage door and put in a new floor in our kitchen along with catching up each and every bill and are now current on every one of them.

Granted not every server there makes that much but a select few do, like me. In the two years I've been there have called out only twice and was sick as a dog both times. I've never said no when a manager asked me to work an extra shift, just felt grateful for the opportunity. I treat every table and every customer as professionally as I can, to the best of my newly acquired abilities and for the most part have been handsomely rewarded.

Now in six months am walking away from the greatest job I've ever had and moving to Orlando to join my husband again after two years of being apart.

I am freaking out...big time.

I'm over fifty five years old with no idea where I'm going to work making the money I do now and love as much.

Granted Tim is doing well now (thrilled for him) in Orlando but I'm walking away from my over seventy thousand dollar job with no prospect of the same being guaranteed.

When you're over fifty five without a college degree and "just a waitress" is quite the intimidating dilemma, no matter how good a good worker you are.

You know what?

My husband moved a thousand miles away from our family and everyone he loves for almost two years to help this family survive. Surely I can move a few hundred and take yet another leap of faith for him.

I keep telling myself it'll all be okay.

I have to believe it will.

I have six months left to work every shift I can and make each one count in the most positive way to the best of my abilities.

Guess it's time to see how far my PhD in BS  can get me.

My huge thanks go out to Ecco and all they have allowed me to be and do.

It's hard to leave the top.

Til next time...COTTON

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