It’s been 4 months since everything kinda up-ended itself and lets be honest, life wasn’t ideal before losing my job. In this post I’m going to talk about some of my experiences in the last 4 months, and how I got to where I am now. I couldn’t fit the whole thing into one post if I tried, so keeping with the trend, I present the first installment of “Riley Kilo and the Backpack of Possessions”
Before I got fired, I was quite enjoying myself. Life had ups and downs, and I was stagnant, but making good money. I was busy, starting to find a balance between life, work and internet. I was being paid well at a pretty swanky cafe, networking was great, I knew many of the regulars before starting there from my past in working/existing in the coffee/bar scene. I would work most every morning, spend my evenings out with friends, I spent very little time at my apartment for good reason. I liked my roommates, but the standard of living wasn’t quite up to my standards of living. If you remember the video, it was a pretty cool place, but not when it comes to things like general cleanliness and bugs and rats. No shower, a bathtub with a length of tube as a shower, the cracked single pane windows that rattle super loud, everything rattled, the rats rattled. I loved the fact that it was an international place, we would have a girl from Sweden over for a couple weeks, then a night of random Germans, and my roommates were vibrant, lovely people, but it was a very busy place. There were many things that I was frustrated with, my town, my life, fear of seeing my old coworkers/customers. I tryed to stay focused, and I replaced coffee with beer and continued chain-smoking cigarettes after getting fired… lets talk about the firing shall we?
I got a letter yesterday saying I still have another round of appeals to go through. I don’t know why they think they have a leg to stand on. Let me fill you in… as far as I was concerned, people liked me at the coffee shop. It’s really tough to think about the reasons why I was fired, I had a nightmare last night about the owner that made me feel the way I felt every moment he was around, I figured now was the time to get it off my chest. In the roughly 6 months I worked there, I was late by half an hour once, and had 1 no-call no-show due to a scheduling error, within a month of starting. I was made to read a piece of paper (out loud within earshot of the other staff and a few guests) about the importance of checking my schedule often. I had never been told I was doing something specific wrong, the owner would come in once in a while and point out little things. I’m human, I messed up orders now and then but the worse reprimand I received was for poor handwriting on food tickets, by the cook. I kicked ass at that coffee shop, I seriously know coffee and tea and wine and had no problem doing power-washing shifts, I worked my butt off and made great tips for it. I LOVED working there. I was the happy cafe-girl, until one day the owner came in…
Pretty normal day at the coffee shop, my coworker in the morning is someone that had started about a month before, was new there and constantly doing “flare” with the coffee stuff, something that we conflicted on, I was into coffee shop speed and efficiency, all he liked doing was espresso and talking to customers. He hadn’t worked in this kind of coffee shop before, a teenager and frankly needed to learn. Everyone had this problem with him, but I worked with him 90% of the time. Coffee drama, its a cutthroat industry, and so he texted the owner when I confused an order that morning. I have to give my co-worker credit, thats brutal, thats tough, thats the way to get ahead in that industry apparently. We were cupping that morning so I was a little jittery, and when the owner showed up and stood silently staring at me during our second morning rush. There’s always a line out the door, regardless of who’s working, it was busy and I did my best.
I was nervous, there were 3 people and a cook, plus the owner silently breathing down my neck. At one point during the rush, my boss asks me about a piece of food bussed by another employee that I didn’t have anything to do with. He was angry about food being wasted, this was a good portion of the reason why I was officially fired, which I didn’t learn until the day of my appeals hearing, months after being fired. There was also a muffin that I buy every shift, same muffin, and due to it being close to the food or something he apparently assumed I was stealing a unwanted piece of quiche… which I wasn’t, and was not questioned on it, its tough to recreate minor details that didn’t become under scrutiny until months after they happened. I don’t like the quiche there, I bought food all the time, it’s fucking ridiculous to think that this whole thing was about a piece of quiche, and the appeals judge agreed. There was no conflict, I didn’t know anything about the quiche and I threw away the muffin remnants. He later asked me to join him outside, without any further discussion he told me I was being fired for cause. I was pretty emotionally distraught, so I went around the corner, sat in a staircase, cried and smoked a cigarette, on the way back to the cafe I ran into a friend, an old co-worker at the same shop. We talked, he could see I was crying so he offered me a ride home. I had to get my tips and my stuff, I open the side door to the business, my boss hands me my stuff, and I let my emotions get the best of me. I called him a pussy, I say he doesn’t have the balls to manage his staff and fires people without reason. He put his hands on my shoulders, told me this wasn’t going to end well, I walked away, got in the car, and while driving away I got my last words in… “suck my dick!”
I know!!! I was crying, I was upset, I just lost the best thing in my life and I didn’t know why, he seemed like a monster to me. I didn’t go too crazy, I was more scorned woman than raving lunatic. Deep down iI wonder if i’m glad I did it, I just wish I had chosen my words more carefully. I didn’t know what to do after being so randomly fired, I tried so hard to be good and do well and that wasn’t enough, I was kinda fed up. We all resented him, feared him, but we all got paid well so we wouldn’t say what I had the newfound freedom to say, he might have needed to hear it. Officially the reason I was fired is because I “threatened my employer”. There was no threat, I was already fired and blowing off steam. Simply, the owners are liars, they are fighting for their business and the money they are having to spend extra on insurance. From working there I learned that the bottom line is all that matters in the coffee world, price per pound, price per minute, price per effort. The only thing I said that could be perceived as a threat was the following day I went into a location where I knew the owner wouldn’t be, and spoke with some coworkers, who were blown away that I got fired. I told them that I would do whatever I could to make this right, and that he wouldn’t get away with this.
What worries me, is in this second round of appeal they will have people under that fear/money influence, people like independent coffee, its a moral choice for many, and people will lie under oath for their morals. They’re probably going to have a lawyer. I’m going to face people I haven’t seen in months. I have a iron-clad case, but maybe theres something I forgot about that they can pull-out of nowhere. I had a couple days of success, can’t believe they can do this, I fear I was wrong to think that getting involved with unemployment was a good idea, not really worth the stress… but how else would I rectify my unemployment record… this is like a catch-22k, my head and heart is going in so many directions, getting that letter yesterday has scrambled my brains, but I feel better after writing all this. I have NO idea what the next step is, I just have to wait and find out… and plan some steps of my own.
To conclude this little bit, I stayed in the apartment until the end of August, was pretty over the squalor of the place and decided it was best to move on, I miss my roommates but have revisited the place many times since. I’ll pick up the next installment just as I walk out of the door of my apartment with my traveling companions, a backpack, a blog, cautious optimism and whoever I meet along the way.
Thanks for reading, more adventure soon 🙂