Street Smart Chicago

Change Your Life: Wait Your Time

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By Jessica Burg

This past year, I came upon an important unforeseen life lesson all because, despite my efforts, my life did not change the way I thought it was supposed to. 

One lazy afternoon just after Christmas, I was sitting at my kitchen table waiting for leftovers to reheat when my phone rang. Jason, my new boss and part owner of the Logan Square restaurant I’d helped open in November, was calling. I greeted him vivaciously, assuming my help was needed in some way. By now I was used to the chaos that followed our trial-and-error system of operations, scheduling and menu changes and last-minute mandatory meetings. I’d made a point to arrive early, help out in any way and remain positive for every shift. It was important because this job meant more than an hourly wage plus tips. It was the first move in my plan to change my life. That was until Jason bashfully said, “You don’t need to come in Monday. Blah blah blah. It isn’t working out. I’m trying really hard to make it sound as though I’m not firing you, but you’re fired.” 

I pleaded for an explanation but all I got from him was, “I figured it best since you haven’t quit your job at the blues club yet.” True, but that was beside the point. Whether he meant to or not, his efforts to sound considerate only added injury to insult. The embarrassment and resentment was one thing, but the feeling of failure hit me the hardest. For months it had been worked out in my mind: work a glorious nine-to-five shift at the new job up until the end of the busy season at the blues club. Then gracefully bow out, saying goodbye to ten-hour shifts, getting home at 3am, and the exhaustion and hangovers that go along with the lifestyle of working at a bar. I longed for early mornings and regular weekends with my friends, and free evenings to catch shows or comedy, and most of all, fall into a routine of writing and exercise.

My next shift at the club felt more like showing up to the workhouse. I was feeling too sorry for myself. I greeted my first tables on the verge of tears until finally I broke down and was escorted to the quieter upstairs women’s bathroom by my friend, bartender and spiritual advisor, Na. She gave me a solid, “don’t give up” pep talk. Then, to my surprise, Charlotte, my manager joined us. What she told me made me realize how much I was valued; something which didn’t matter much to Jason amid pending liquor license and Yelp reviews. In the year since, I have taken advantage of my situation working at the club with plenty of travel. This fall I returned to my decision to part ways with the beloved blues bar, only now I’m more certain of what I want from my next job. Feeling appreciated for busting my hump is a must. There’s no doubt that the change will be worth the wait. (Jessica Burg)

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