So, a few weeks ago I started having these mini-personal crises about my job. I used to be able to mask my true emotions about working in a corporate restaurant better, but I’m not so good at it any more. I used to be on my way up. I really wanted to be a General Manager 1) for the experience and 2) to be able to write that on my resume. In a way I have reached a short-term plateau in my job and have quickly become restless. I know in a way I am good at my job. I meet a lot of interesting people and I love my employees, I really do. But that’s about all that’s left of me enjoying my job these days. I was hoping that the personal crises would be a short-term thing, but they just keep coming back. I can see myself becoming cynical, and it’s scary.
I would guess that many people spend their day doing things that they find utterly useless, but the amount of time I spend doing those things has increased since I started at my current company. There are many things that are not meaningless about running a restaurant — customer service, hiring, most paparwork, inventories, ordering, customer service, cleanliness, training, etc. These are all things that can be done well and can improve the restaurant for the guests who visit it and make it a fun place to work. However, there are also many nitpicky, stupid things that the corporation makes us do that contribute to my waning sanity. I can’t really give an example because they require some knowledge of the business and I think most of you would say, “who cares, just do it, it takes two seconds!?” But with these things multiplied many times a day and the expectation that a manager can somehow stay on top of all of them while still maintaining the important aspects that I listed above, is crazy.
I do think I could enjoy working in restaurants again if it was for a company that didn’t allow men in suits with no practical experience to devise ways to make their employee’s lives more difficult with no real benefit to the operation. I could also enjoy working in a non-corporate restaurant I’m sure. But I’m finding it more and more difficult to be a person of integrity in my job. I am starting to see why a great majority of the 30 and 40-something restaurant managers I know are either totally burned out, have some sort of drug habit, or are very cynical, bitter people. It’s really hard, the hours are long, and the money’s not that great.
With that, I hope my time working for “the man” is creeping to it’s end. I am not quitting or looking for other jobs, but I really want to travel some more. Fermin needs to spend some time in Mexico this winter and I might just quit and go with him. I met a girl through work that is going to Mexico in December and asked me to go with her. I need to have some more adventures. I need some new writing material, some time outside of this insane country. I want to learn a new place, to explore and absorb. The conventional wisdom would say that I should think about my 401K and my retirement savings and my future, but I have no kids and little to really bind me here, and when have I ever cared about conventional wisdom?
I paged through the Lonely Planet guidebook for Beijing at Barnes and Noble today and almost started tearing up as I read the writer’s “perfect day” in Beijing. It was strikingly like many of my best days in that fascinating city. Get a strong cup of coffee, jump on my bike and head to this great park where if you can’t find someone practicing calligraphy with brush and water on the sidewalk, you will at least find a shady place to sit near the lake and read or watch people in peace. Do some shopping, stroll in Tiananmen Square, eat and have some drinks at Sanlitun. Ahh yes.. how I miss Beijing.
There are many places in Mexico I want to explore, and I bought the Mexico Lonely Planet guidebook today so that I would be reminded of the nagging tug I feel today.
By the way, if I go to Mexico for a few months this winter, I will be seeking some travel partners as some of the time Fermin will be doing other things while perhaps I go to different states to explore. Any takers?