Why I’m Quitting my Job (and what is wrong with America in general)

At today’s meeting I learned that we are raising the prices of our “employee meals” from 2$ to 3$ (I manage a restaurant located inside a fairly nice hotel to put this post into context). These meals consist of food we do not offer for our customers; mainly chicken strips, cheeseburgers (the tiny kind), cheese quesadillas, french fries. Cheap food. Bar food. Food I myself won’t even eat. In the restaurant we serve overpriced steaks, crab cakes, and salmon. So overpriced, in fact, that business is steadily decreasing – a change that was made by our insightful upper management. Which means that my servers can no longer afford to pay their bills, let alone eat our food, and we are quickly losing great employees, some of which have been with us for years.

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But to return to my original complaint… The 2$ employee meal is quite literally the only benefit to working at the hotel. We used to be a branded (franchised) well-known name hotel, and this used to be an excellent place to work. Since we lost that brand and were taken over by a management company, everything has gone to shit. The increase in this meal price comes on the heels of cut hours, increased per-person workload (in housekeeping), a switch to lousy insurance policies, a revocation of our travel discount,  a one-year suspension in the earning and taking of paid vacation (since we were bought by a new owner), a paltry restaurant discount, a laughable wage for our restaurant servers (who, on a extremely slow lunch shift really do only make 2.13 per hour, thank you outdated and unfair Indiana laws), the hiring of a food and beverage manager that does nothing but criticize, blame, and fluster his staff (myself included), a ban on employees using the facilities of the hotel in any way, shape, or form, and a “company policy” dispute between myself and our accounting department over their refusal to cut a check to my hostess who’s paycheck was 19 dollars when it should have been well over 150 dollars (this was no fault of her own, it was the accounting department who messed up her pay). She got paid on her next check, two weeks later. Speaking of wages, the housekeeping girls mostly make minimum wage, and those who have been “lucky” enough to see a raise haven’t seen one in four years.

In case you are thinking to yourself, “geez, well, maybe the hotel isn’t doing so well and so cutbacks are necessary”, let me clear this up. As I said, our hotel is currently managed by a management company. They manage hundreds of hotels across the country. The general manager they sent to us lives in the hotel for free. Eats for free… breakfast, lunch and dinner. Last night he had a ribeye steak delivered to his room, along with sides, a salad and cheesecake. We did a quick estimate of just how much free food he has eaten in the two years he has been residing in the hotel and it was around 20 thousand dollars. He never leaves his office to find out what is going on in the hotel or the restaurant (except to come eat of course) and easily makes three to four times the salary that I do. And at least five to six times that of our minimum wage employees. All while doing five times less work.

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I recently discovered that after nearly eight months of working full-time for this company, I am still classified as a part-time employee. Apparently you have to work full time for a full two “periods” before they will switch you and I “just missed” a full time average in my first period since I was part time for a fraction of it. The kicker is that if I had walked in off the street and began my same job with them without having been a part time employee before, I would have been eligible for the “benefits” of full time after 90 days. Namely, paid holidays. Not vacation, no, since that is on hold. It’s just one more way to dick their employees and save them money.

But to be honest, the biggest issue I take with all of this is the demoralization of the employees I care about and the complete disregard of their happiness and welfare. I’m a manager, so I’m paid slightly more. I also don’t have children so the only person I have to worry about feeding after the bills are paid is myself. Many of the girls that work for us are single moms. Many of the girls in housekeeping are single moms. These are hardworking people trying to make a living on laughable wages and the company they work for is doing everything they can to squeeze even more money out of them all while paying them less.

Why does this sound familiar? Oh, maybe it is because this is happening all over America. The income discrepancy between the rich and poor grows larger each year and it’s scenarios like this that are feeding it. Our nearly worthless general manger who (when you add in free food and rent) probably makes a six figure salary, eats his steak for free while looming over expense reports and deciding that two dollars for a cheap non-nutritional meal (for the employees that work hard to clean the rooms in the hotel that earns him his inflated paycheck) is NOT ENOUGH. Nope, three dollars should do. Maybe they should just gently place those extra dollars into his hotel room toilet so he can flush them down while laughing and punching them in the face.

cbpp income inequality 2011

My last day at my job is August 31st. I’m going to miss the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. But I can no longer work for a company who I do not believe in. Starbucks, for example, provides healthcare to even it’s part-time employees. Google donates $50 for every five hours an employee volunteers. Quicken Loans, located in Detroit, partnered with area businesses to offer incentives to employees willing to move to the city, including $20,000 in forgivable home loans. These are the types of companies I want to work for. This is what I believe in. An employer should take care of it’s employees because without them the business doesn’t run. And even from a financial standpoint it makes sense… happy employees will go above and beyond to create happy customers. You save the costs associated with a high turnover rate. And you retain a great, well-trained staff. Yes, I will miss my coworkers, but my time with this company is done. I refuse to feed any longer into a construct I disagree with on every level. In fact, I am actively rooting for the demise of this this management company and each and every one that shares in it’s outlook and policies. I know that corporate greed is being discussed more often in the media and elsewhere and I feel (hopefully not too optimistically) that the winds of change are blowing in. I hope they blow this company right off the map.

The Importance of Being Outside

I spent the entire day today at Chain O’ Lakes State Park, about 35 minutes northwest of Fort Wayne, Indiana. If anyone reading this is near that area, I highly recommend the place. I can’t remember the last time I took a whole day to just enjoy nature, spend time alone, read, and breathe. This park couldn’t have been a better place for that.

For 5$ an hour, I rented a kayak and cruised around on Sand Lake, a good-sized lake surrounded by green forests, hundred of lily pads and sunbathing  turtles. The lake connects to 9 other lakes through river-like channels through the woods. I couldn’t decide which scenery was more lovely, the sunny open lake or the shaded channels filled with bird songs (and the occasional mosquito, but hey.. what do you expect. Next time I’ll remember my bug spray!). The embedded video is a small clip of my exploring, the nature sounds mixed with the quiet sounds of the paddle were very relaxing (the video itself may be quite boring but there is a quick hello from me at the end :)). I then spent an hour or so reading on the beach, followed by a total of a mile and a half trail run on two of their “rugged” trails. With as flat as Northern Indiana is, rugged is sometimes used lightly. Hiking a mountain in California, to me that is rugged. But it was a nice workout nonetheless.

However, what surprised me about the park is how few people were there. “What a great find” I kept thinking… but also “I’d be here every day if I were closer”. I’m not complaining at all, I loved the solitude and that I didn’t have to run around anyone on the trails. But I think that many people just don’t think of going to a state park on their day off, or after work even. Everyone is running off to the next errand, the next kid that needs picked up, running home to catch a TV show they can’t miss. Going outside for no reason at all is often not at the forefront of things to do, but it really should be.

There is a multitude of research out there touting the importance of nature to our well-being.

In recent years, numerous experimental psychology studies have linked exposure to nature with increased energy and heightened sense of well-being. For example, research has shown that people on wilderness excursions report feeling more alive and that just recalling outdoor experiences increases feelings of happiness and health. Other studies suggest that the very presence of nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.

People who take part in conservation projects report subjective health benefits, ascribed to being outdoors and to feeling part of a greater system connecting beyond the individual. Such projects can help overcome social isolation, develop skills, and improve employment prospects, as well as provide the known benefits associated with exercise.

A 2009 study by Kaplan et al showed that walking in the park at any time of the year has benefits for both attention and memory: after spending an hour in nature both increased by 20 per cent.

You can feel better and more relaxed from just taking a short walk outside in as little as 15 minutes. I’d love for everyone to be able to take an entire day and go to a park but I know that that is not always realistic for someone with young kids or an extremely demanding work schedule. But whenever you can, remind yourself to step away from the tv, set down your cell phone, step outside, take a deep breathe and remember that you are a part of this world that we live on, and that that is such a beautiful thing.

 

 

Starting at Zero or Not Starting at All.

So I’ve been single for awhile now, around 6 months. Entirely single for three (I will admit there was a grey post-breakup time span for a bit) and I’ve had some time to reflect on the silliness that was the last two years. And what I’ve felt is a lot of indignation, some sadness, some indifference, a bit of longing, and fleeting bursts of red hot anger. One of those anger bursts just happened on my way back home from the gym today. I just had a moment of realization that my ex (let’s call him Austin as a token to my joke name for him during our relationship “Austin Tacious”. Yes, even while in love with him I knew he was an ass), not for one second, let himself go enough to ever give this relationship a chance. He’s in his mid-thirties, a reformed (for the most part) playboy, and has had somewhere around five serious relationships in his life. All of which ended in lies and cheating by one partner or the other or both. The last serious relationship he had carried into ours by the way of late night texts, frequent phone calls, and a few “wrongly dated” (as in the date on the picture was wrong…) ass-in-the-mirror selfies (yes he actually thought that was believable). So needless to say, I wasn’t ok with said ex being in our new life together. And this is was the beginning of the end. To make a long story short – he never gave this girl up 100%. Because he was never 100% into us. He wouldn’t allow himself to be in fear of getting hurt again. Any time I would break down a wall after hours of talking and crying and explaining, it would be right back up again in the morning. And I’d be left feeling cheated and exasperated.

But here is my reasoning for this post and for my post-workout anger. If you have the desire to begin a new life with someone, commit to them, spend time with them and invest in a future together… then cut the bullshit. We have all been hurt before. We have all been lied to. We have all cried and wished that things could have gone differently. To use this crap against a new partner (through passive aggression, wall-building, dishonesty, etc.) is to waste someones valuable time. You are now burdening them with “fixing” the damage that someone else entirely has caused you. And maybe you wont ever even let it be fixed and instead you will torture them with it until they give up on you (ooh that sounds fun, right?).

Austin and I were doomed before we started because he was never going to give me his all. He had already given it to others and had none left for me. So what I got instead was two years of wondering why it was that I was never trustworthy (no matter how far I went in attempting to prove this… “Want my passwords? here. My text records? here.” Makes me cringe now…) and why it was that he was never all that affectionate and why it was that I always felt like I was waiting for something (a breakthrough maybe?) but I wasn’t quite sure what that something was. Just a constant lingering feeling that something was off. I wish I had left when I found out about the ex. When I had seen red flags (and I did see them, early on). When he was checking my phone a month into our relationship. When I discovered for the first time that there was another woman in his life who’s presence he valued over mine (I’m talking about a recent ex-girlfriend, not a regular I’ve-never-had-sex-with-you friend or a relation- I’ve known girls that try to get in between those types of a mans relationships and that’s so not cool). And when no matter what I did or how hard I tried I was always “guilty” of something.

But I did learn something very important through all of this. When I do meet someone new that I believe is worth my time I will jump in 100 percent. This does not mean give up my life to them or become dependent on them or get too serious too quickly! This is not what I’m talking about. I’m saying that I will not hold anything against them that someone else has done, and I won’t build walls to avoid getting hurt. I just know now that if you aren’t willing to give it your all you’re shooting your horse before it even leaves the starting gate. And that’s not fair to someone who wanted to let it run and find out where it goes.