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Book of Jobs Part 3

THAI LAGOON

by Chris Auman

After being unemployed for two months, I took a job as a restaurant manager at a Thai restaurant in Wicker Park. I did not relish the thought of returning to the hospitality industry, nor did I relish the thought of managing a group of people I had never met. It was a challenge to say the least. My commute to work involved taking a bus at exactly the time three different high schools on Kimball Avenue let out. Being exposed daily to large groups of teenagers in a confined space is the only way to fully appreciate them.

I also found myself waiting tables at this new gig. First here and there to help out, then with increasing frequency. In addition to managerial duties, I was also a server, phone order taker, counterperson/food packer, host, cashier, busser, janitor and occasional dishwasher. I did everything but cook.

Waiting tables felt like a betrayal to my brothers and sisters in the back of the house, but that is what desperate times call for. Waiting money is much better than kitchen money. The drawback is, and this is huge, cooks do not have to deal directly with customers. There is a nice barrier there with the servers in the middle. Does this make the disparity in compensation fair? Maybe not, but it’s a tradeoff to be sure.

Three years in and I got my three year itch right on schedule. I left to work the summer of 2010 in Greektown, after which I returned to the Thai place for another three years strictly as a server, then eventually just to host, pack food and take phone and counter orders. This lasted two and a half years. The restaurant sold and new owners came in. I worked there for another six months, but by that point I had decided, after nearly a quarter century in Chicago, I needed to leave for awhile. Quite possibly forever.

New Jacked City >>


Originally published in RW#24, 2014

RW #24

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