to quit, or not to quit

Tonight will be my fifth shift at the restaurant; I survived three observation shifts last week -- most trainees leave after two. Other employees rarely introduce themselves on your first day, because they don't expect you to stick around (staff turnaround is notoriously high) and management prides itself on running the two "hardest restaurants to work at in this city."

The chef/owner is an intimidating man, known for his innovative takes on fusion cuisine.
"What do you think of Chef Lee?" a wide-eyed colleague asked me.
"I dunno. It's my third shift. He has nice hair?"
"Don't you find him to be, like, so wise?"
"We haven't really had a chance to chat."
"You know, he's, like, a celebrity?"
"No shit. Really?"

Sure, I've had thoughts about not sticking around. But when both kitchen and floor staff keep asking you whether you'll be back for another shift, you kind of feel like you have to be there, just to show that yes, you can hack it and no, you're not a quitter. There's a whole lot of grunt work for trainees, but it has actually made my Sunday shift at X feel like a walk in the park. This is not to say that brunches were ever difficult at X, but the inefficiencies of both staff and systems there are more glaring than ever.

"The money here isn't that much better than other places. But it's consistent."

"The faster you move, the quicker you learn the menu, the sooner you'll go on the floor [as a server]." I actually don't mind food-running. An excellent work out.

It was my night off last night. A friend and I met at Blowfish for dinner. We weren't wowed by the dessert selection they'd offered, so I suggested that we head to Lee for dessert and coffee, knowing that they'd definitely have something he'd like. My manager seated us, but asked me to speak to her before leaving. We ordered the lemon tart and the creme brulee. I wondered if I was in trouble.

"I know you didn't know this because you are new, but staff is not supposed to eat here on off days. It's our policy. Chef would have flipped if he saw you in here. I was worried that you'd try to flag him down when he entered the room."

So, instead of embarrassing me at the door, she was kind of enough to seat us and discreetly assuage the servers who were worried that I'd get caught. I'd noticed the chef come in, but the room was too dimly-lit for him to notice me. I'm not the kind of person who flags chefs down anyway. But it seems to happen quite often here at Lee. Just last week, a couple asked him to pose with them for a photograph. The woman then told him that he was "much handsomer in person than on television!" Oh please. Just get on your knees and open wide, why don't you...

So. Tell a food-loving employee that she can't eat at your restaurant because management doesn't want to have to deal with employees who expect special treatment? That was the furthest thing on my mind! This would have been useful to know on my first day. I wanted to observe service from a diner's point of view. I wanted to taste the food so that I could better describe it to customers. (Staff meals are not offered here). It's a good thing I'd only spent $40 on dessert and drinks, and not $100 on dinner. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I do believe that's a valid reason to quit. Of course, If I leave this place before my first two weeks are up, then I will not be receiving any gratuities from shifts worked -- just my hourly.

"I can understand somewhere more upscale wanting to have a policy like that -- keeps the elitism fresh and shiny." So true, yet so retarded.

Decisions, decisions. My shift starts at 3:30 today. What should I do?


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