When I left my first hotel job for my second hotel job, I thought I was walking right into heaven. I was leaving a job that had started as a promising entry into pastry management and quickly disintegrated into a dead end. My daily routine was miserable and unchanging - arrive at 8:30 am, cut, wash, and spin three cases (24 heads per case) of romaine, make 5-12 gallons of salad dressing (various flavors) and set up the salad line for lunch service, work the service and go home. Clearly I thought that leaving all that glory for a steady job doing exclusively pastry at a prestigious country inn (with benefits!) was the right choice.
For a while, it was the right choice. I had a brief run in with a crazy woman who worked in my department, but she soon left, and what followed was my "golden summer". Restaurants are peculiar organizations. The turnover is high, so it's pretty rare to get a group of people who all get along well and have known each other for long enough to have a seamless routine. For those few months, it was one big happy family in the Country Inn. We had barbecues, we went to the water park together, and every night of service went smoothly.
Things began to fall apart after Labor Day. Like a sweet summer romance gone bad, suddenly, this chef and job that I had come to love and respect started to show cracks. Demands became unreasonable, tempers flared pointlessly. Still, I felt secure enough in my job, and happy enough to be there. Around Christmas, the cracks became fissures and then big gaping sores. The funny thing about the holidays in a restaurant is that everyone's in misery, and everyone just muddles through. After New Year's, what had been unpleasant got downright ugly.
It was a normal Tuesday - my first day back from my days off, and the chef pulled me aside. We went out of the kitchen and up to a seldom-used room in the restaurant. I was naive enough to think that I was going to get a raise or a promotion - I'd been working really hard, and had been there nearly a year. My suspicions were only further enforced (stupidly) by the presence of the HR representative. As the chef started talking, I quickly realized that this was no promotion...