Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back to Square One

Six years ago, after Jason and I got into trouble, we both had to go out and find work. I found my job first in June at McDonald's. In August, Jason found his job at Chili's.

I had been working for McDonald's for a year and a half, and I had worked my way up to being a shift manager when, while waiting for Jason to get off work one late evening, I was talking with his manager. His manager was having an incredibly tough time; he was in the middle of an incredibly nasty divorce and his kitchen crew was falling apart. He didn't have a dishwasher to work the next several shifts, and although that's not as big a deal as he was making it, considering all the stress he was under at the time, I got why he was so distraught.

I was really hating my job at McDonald's. Sure, I got to work with one of my best friends, but the job itself was stressful, paid pennies, and I just wasn't cut out for it. As I sat there talking with Jason's manager, I made the offer to come and help out. In my mind, I thought I'd be a dishwasher for a month or so, just long enough for him to find someone more permanent, and then I'd just go find another job. That's not exactly what happened.

The next day, I came in to officially apply. I was hired on the spot, making $1.00 more per hour to wash dishes than I had been making to manage shifts at the Wal-Mart McDonald's. I began working the next day, and while I knew it wasn't something I enjoyed, it was also considerably less stressful than my previous job.

I continued to wash dishes over the next two months, until a new daytime dishwasher had been hired. He worked circles around me, and as such managed to get most of the hours. I still needed work, and I knew I wouldn't find a job that would pay me the money I was used to making at Chili's, so I decided to train to become a cook.

For a year, I worked as the Salad/Nacho cook, and some days I was lucky enough to work alongside my husband. I still knew that I wasn't really cut out for this type of work though, and although I had long since decided that I'd never wait tables again after doing HORRIBLY at it when I was younger, I decided to give it a chance.

I started out as a server just a couple of days each week, still maintaining some hours in the kitchen, in case it didn't work out. But over the next month, I realized that I'd found something that I was not only good at, but I enjoyed. I learned all the front-of-house positions, like food expediter (QA), host, and to-go.

I decided to take some time off after I found out I was pregnant with Kairi. I had started school, so I'd cut my hours anyway, and since my prenatal vitamins made me sick, standing on my feet for an entire shift was making me light-headed. My plan was to return a couple of months after Kairi was born, but instead I took off until she was nearly two.

About six months after my return, I began working a position called the Key. I basically walked around and talked to each table, making sure that everything was tasting great, letting everyone know about our survey that is on our receipt, and just generally helping out wherever needed to make sure the shift runs smoothly. I had a manager card so I could help the managers out by comping and discounting food. I was really enjoying the job I was doing and had decided to try to go for a management position after I was done with school this May. My manager had just started working with me to get me ready for that.

Then, last Saturday night something unexpected happened. I can't go into very much detail yet, although I'm sure I will at some point, but Jason and I were completely and unexpectedly let go. Jason's termination, I guess, is a little bit more understandable, but he has reasons for doing what he did that I believe will hold up in court, should we decide to go that route. My termination, however, was completely unexpected. I did nothing wrong, unless you consider being married to Jason wrong. I'm being told that I behaved in a way that I most certainly did not behave, and despite all of my plans to move forward within the company, all ties are now severed.

Jason and I are now left flailing... He'd worked there for six years, and I had been there for 3 of the last 5. We had worked out a five year plan, in which I'd go into management to support our family so that Jason could go to trade school and become an electrician. And now we're left searching for minimum wage jobs, which will more than likely leave us searching for a smaller house. We've taken five steps back and are left basically exactly where we were when we were first starting over after getting in trouble.

We're back to square one, except now we have a bigger house that costs more and two children instead of one. We're used to a more expensive lifestyle, and while it's not anything extravagant, it's still something that I am going to miss.

We'll be fine, but it's going to take some time. I have hopes that this will move us forward instead of back, but we'll just have to see where it goes once we get there. Until then, I guess we'll just be hanging out back here at square one.