what ya girl is worth

Right then, I'm back from my little sojourn to see Cameron in Houston. Let's get to the bad-but-actually-good very big news.

I was laid off two weeks ago yesterday. My company closed all of its restaurants - the entire operation. There may be some element of the farm that stays alive in one form or another. But I'm not sure and I don't really care. For all intents and purposes, the company is donezo. It was sudden and unexpected, but also not, because there's been some shenanigans. But that's a whole huge story that I'm not going to tell because it doesn't matter. The point is, that chapter of my life is now closed. 

Everyone in the entire company - hourly, salaried, from the farm workers to the managers to the dishwashers - was paid out extremely well. We all received 60 days of pay on top of our paychecks for the current pay period we were halfway through, as well as compensation for all of our unused vacation time. Benefits will also remain in place until the end of the year. The credit for this generosity belongs solely to the one person who fought for it, who was my boss's boss, who is a fucking king.

I was one of two people clued in the night before the big announcement, which deeply gratifies my need to be teacher's pet. It would have been three, but the third person had her suspicions about what was happening and wanted to wait and learn along with everyone else at the company-wide zoom call the next morning. 

The zoom was painful, but over quickly enough. And everyone who found themselves without a job has that joblessness cushioned by the equivalent of five paychecks. On top of that, the head of the restaurant division is doing everything he can to make connections and introductions, and get his former employees into new positions asap. They don't come more well-connected than him. He has worked at the top levels of the industry, like, everywhere. 

It's been an emotional roller coaster. It isn't rare for me to cry from gratitude, because hashtag emotional dysregulation. But holy shit, this past two weeks I have received such an incredible amount of love and support from the small but amazing network of people I can call My People, both socially and professionally. I barely had a chance to hit the ground before half a dozen hands were pulling me back up.

I considered using my payout to leave California until I realized the timing isn't right (more on that later). But for a few days when that was my very chaotic and loosely-formed plan, all three of my close friends turned into fucking Ellie's Avengers and assembled, armed and ready to help me get where I wanted to go, geographically and professionally. 

When the moving quotes came in at $4k, Cameron started investigating cheaper options. He offered to buy an 18 foot trailer at an auction in Texas, drive it to me in LA, help me load it up, drive us across country to my new place, then drive himself back to Texas where he would then sell the trailer. "You're insane," I told him. "How are you my best friend?" 

"It would be an adventure!" he insisted. "We could go to the Grand Canyon or whatever!"


My buddy Steve meanwhile played sounding board / devil's advocate. I told him the two cities I was considering (one small, one very large) and he, Aries that he is, attacked my choices and offered alternatives until it was clear from my coherent and clear defenses that I do in fact know what I want. He also pushed back on my inclination to leave restaurants, asking if maybe I don't want to aim for even higher levels (operations etc) where the stress, he presumed, is less. (I do not; it is not.) His blessing is important to me, because he's really the only career professional that I am close to. He knows how to make the big decisions in life, the ones you can't easily backtrack on. 

Erin was just straight cheerleader, telling me how proud she was of me for considering making such a huge change with nothing but fearlessness and a deep drive to leave Los Angeles. I floated various schemes to her and every one got a "Yes! Do it!", making me feel invincible and way more brave than I really am. 

And then there's been the support from my former boss, my former former boss, and my boss's boss, all of whom have been checking in and weighing in and listening and encouraging and basically making it clear that they believe I can do pretty much anything I want. And that is the real (and only) tragedy of this situation: that I won't get to work for these men anymore, because they are fucking badasses.  

So here's the thing, and why the timing is not right: I am still exploring my options and nothing is finalized until, I guess, I sign a new work contract - but I am looking to get out of restaurants and food service management altogether. 

I can't do 12-hour days anymore. 10 hours are expected - but all in, with everything that needs to get done and everything that inevitably comes up - 12 was more the norm, several days a week. 

I can't do weekend nights anymore. Fuck that. Fuck that forever. 

I can't do callouts anymore. I had no idea how much latent resentment I had, for the kids I had true affection for, when I was their boss. For the dozens and dozens of times they called out last minute, with absolutely no compunction, resulting in my having to work open to close again. Having to cancel whatever plans I had again. Having to miss another couple of hours sleep again. Having to sacrifice even more of my free time again. It didn't matter how many scheduling acrobatics I performed for them, or how many extra hours I worked myself, to grant their requests. Zero fucks given. If they didn't want to work, they wouldn't. Not putting myself into anything even remotely resembling that situation ever again. And while I still hold affection for them - oh man. Oh man am I glad to not be their work mommy anymore. Buh BYE.

I can't do endless equipment emergencies anymore. You don't know what stress is until a walk-in freezer containing $$$$$ worth of product goes down at 8pm on a Sunday night, on your watch, when your budget is already razor thin and you're desperately trying to turn a profit so maybe one day you could hit a bonus???? Yeah NOPE. 

I can't do rich, entitled customers anymore. I cannot grit my teeth and fake my way through one more obsequious Yelp response, because some asshole with anger management issues didn't get his slice of avocado.

I can't do egomaniacal chefs anymore. Or just plain stupid ones. Or apathetic, lazy ones. I don't want to work in a setting where I am partnered with someone who doesn't put in the time, effort, or care that I do. I don't want to carry my de facto co-manager anymore, which is precisely what I did for most of the past year+. I am smarter than that. I am better than that. I deserve to work with professionals who give a shit and are expected to perform at a professional level. 

I can't do no real days off anymore. When you manage a restaurant, you are always on call. Always the go-to. There is rarely any real rest from responsibility. And it is exhausting. 

Anyway, here I am with all of this management experience, looking to transfer it into another realm. I ran two locations with very little turnover (i.e., my employees liked me) and became an absolute wizard at organization, time management, administrative work, crisis handling, and to lesser extents, budgeting and sales building. I have no doubt that I could manage, like, a lot of different settings - and crush at it. I just have to find the right one. 

I have ideas. I have probably more confidence than is merited - but let's count that a good thing. And now that I'm home from playtime with Cam, I have the time to get laser-focused on my next steps.

My plan is to work a year or maybe two in a new field, then leave California, when I can continue on in this new field, but elsewhere. 

When the former head of restaurants from my company found out I want to leave, he more or less said "Tell me where you want to go and I will help make it happen." And I can't tell you the feeling that gives me. It makes me want to cry all over again - because I know it's true. He's connected me to one of the VPs for a very, very, very large international hospitality company, with whom I've had a really nice couple of emails with. This executive is aware of my hesitations around staying in the industry, and asked that I at least have a phone conversation with someone at his company (which offers an interesting offshoot of food service that may constitute enough of a change to keep me onboard). 

This executive asked this solely because the former head of restaurants reached out to him to say, basically, "I got someone. Her name is Ellie. She's amazing. Connect with her." I am paraphrasing, but the exact compliments came back to me and are gratifying and encouraging enough that I am going to have the conversation - and see what's up.

So that's where things stand. Ya girl be having no job at the moment. But ya girl is not really worried. Ya girl knows what ya girl is worth.