I started waiting tables in June of 2003. I had just returned from a rather unplanned trip (but really, really worth it) to Italy for a couple of weeks, and was in rather dire financial straits. My power had been turned off the month before. My car was really close to being repossessed. I had no money to get through the summer. My credit score was terrible.
So I got the second job. It's helped me a lot. It got me completely out of 5-digit credit card debt. It helped pay for medical procedures as a result of my double retina detachment. It helped me pay off my car. Nowadays, it's helped me pay for graduate school. I now have a bit more credit card debt than I'd like as a result of said graduate school, and it's helping me pay it down while I wait for tuition reimbursement. It's also giving me extra spending money. And, frankly, I really enjoy the social aspect of it; I've made some good, even lifelong, friends.
I like waiting tables a lot. Really. When I'm not overscheduled, it makes me happy to be able to go in there and make some extra money. I've made $340 over the last two shifts, on Saturday night and Sunday night. Add $125 on Valentine's Day, and I've nearly made rent for the month. Heck, after tonight, when I'll have worked my 4th night out of 5, I'll have made more money than I do in one week of teaching. Plus, I've been there so long that I have a lot of freedom and plenty of sway, and that's nice as well.
But I'm tired. I realized on Friday night that almost all of my current friends know me only as a guy with two jobs, the guy who works way too much. I've been there nearly five years, so only friends from way back in the day know me as someone with a consistent social life. I turned down what could have been a pretty cool date on Saturday night because I had to work. And I'm actively pissed off that I'm working tonight, as I've just been there way too much in the last four days as it is. I'm not supposed to be working during the week, but because of the resignation of the aforementioned server, and apparently my off-day from teaching today, I guess they figure I can do it.
I'm just tired. I'll have had one day off - Election Day - by the end of February. That's just not enough.
So, once again, I'm wondering how long I'll do this. I'm sure I'll feel better about it in a couple of weeks, when hopefully some folks are hired and they're relying on me for 1-2 days a week rather than 3-4. Next year, with a Master's degree and a $7,000 raise, I'm almost certain I won't be doing the second job. But will I last until September? I like working there in the summer, but the pay is terrible; no one eats there then. Maybe it's best to cut ties before then. We'll see what happens. My friends are probably as tired as my readers over hearing me contemplate this. It just seems like quitting is signaling that I really don't care about making extra money, which isn't something I want to signal. And, often, when I feel most like it, they at the restaurant tend to ease back on the hours, which just makes me wonder why I would even consider quitting. So we'll see. I might not be the Hardest Working Man in Baltimore much longer.
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