Sunday, 9 August 2015
So Long ... and Thanks for all the Steak!!
My buddy has been working weekends in the hoity-toitiest restaurant/hotel in our city. I mean, it's the hilt of elitism feeding Himself Mr. Harper when he's here begging my fellow locals for donations. It's where Seinfeld apparently ate and stayed when he was here recently to perform. Each break would see my buddy outside checkin' out the crazy electric cars, as his employer allows free charging with a stay. The coolest was a Tesla no less... worth a lot of zero's.
Employment here, gives you mad discounts to use at this chain in other cities giving you a plush overnight stay for under $50. And of course there was the food. At this fancy restaurant that boasts $20,000 dinner services, everyone working eats for free. And I'm not talking eating the mistakes. I'm talking, ordering right off the menu or yes off the special board. We're talking steaks with red wine reductions and St. Andre's triple cream brie cheese atop prime cuts of beef seared to perfection. He habitually sampled the mashed potatoes every single shift, encouraged by the cooks because they valued his opinion. Buddy ate some pretty amazing meals .. in between loads .. sweating his arse off. As enjoyable as it is to rub shoulders with musicians and socialites, the dish room sucks. It's hard work with a lot of sweating, so it's a draining shift at the best of times.
In addition to this gig, my friend just started at L*blaws stocking shelves on the overnight shift. It's this new gig that has me writing. Two overnights stocking shelves and my friend is ready to hand in his dish towel, and I can't say I blame him. Stocking shelves is a unionized position along with all other positions aside from management, and it pays $1.75 more an hour with a guaranteed raise in three months, and a store discount. I work with someone who has worked at the same job for six years and is still at minimum wage. If there were no minimum wage laws, he'd likely still be making around $7 an hour. Being unionized adds a certain layer of security that the dish room in that hoity toity restaurant cannot ever provide. Hourly waged employment usually means you eventually will find yourself fighting for hours. A union assures that my friend will get as many hours as he wants along with a whole other level of protection assuring his employment rights are respected.
To his surprise, the shift was broken up into two hour work increments. Two 15 minute paid breaks during which everyone follows the horn and goes at the same time. One half hour unpaid break where some people leave for a burger at the nearby golden arches. The work is physically demanding, but clean, engaging, and somewhat rewarding. I've done similar jobs, and when you've stocked and faced an entire section of shelving, the results are instant. It feels good. Clean dishes felt good to him too, but they get dirty soooo quickly :)
The point of this post is this:
In 2015, a good job is not necessarily what we thought it was and too often, rights like breaks are forgotten. I see everywhere, small business owners wanting our compassion and patronage, while they massage labor code to suit their needs. "Sorry, you don't get your break today because whatshername didn't show up so we're short staffed." That shit doesn't happy everywhere, but it seems that the tables have been turned by capitalism to forget that this is a team. The employee-employer relationship is a precarious one. It used to be more important than it is today. It has suffered, but nonetheless it is a team. Or at least it should be dammit! :)
It's shocking, but in 2015 an example of a reliable job where employment standards are followed, and appreciation is shown, is under the golden arches. The pitfall is that you're feeding the world crap and you will forevermore smell like a french fry. But who am I to talk? I'm a bartender, meaning I sell people poison that tastes good.
I guess, in closing I'll just say that we (myself included) too often dismiss certain jobs seeing the grass greener over there. But by the time you get over there, that green grass could look totally different. I guess, don't diss it til ya try it eh?