Friday, July 6, 2012

I Can't Control You, You Can't Control Me

Happy Friday everyone. I know that most of my friends are happy that its here, because that means its the end of the work week. I'm excited for all of you. You get a full weekend to rest and enjoy yourselves. Its a time to relax. For me, of course, I'm in the middle of my work week, so I won't be celebrating with you as you go into this weekend well rested and (for my American friends at least) having had an extra day off already.

I've learned a lot about myself this week. It seems timely to me that this week is Independence week- the week where most Americans celebrate personal freedom. I say timely, because I've learned this week that the thing that keeps me from being free and independent most often is me. With Mr and Mrs Boss gone on vacation I've spent much more time this week working as a supervisor at Casa Bueno and I've learned a few things.

First, I should cut them way more slack than I do. I'm not saying I'm tough on them now, or that I think they aren't great managers, because they really, truly are. What I am saying is that there were times in the past where I wondered how it was they seemed stressed out all the time. I know now. Work is always a joy to me when I am working as a server or bartender. I have plenty of time to talk with my guests, my day is lined out with plenty of structure and I have a good time while I am there. Even normally when I supervise, I have a great time. For the most part, I love our staff. I love working with them, and I feel like they are very courteous and cooperative towards me. But I never really noticed all the tiny little things that stress out a manager on a day to day basis before now. Not really.

I mean, sure, have I supervised on busy days when the staff seemed unmotivated and the guests seemed bent on making life difficult? Sure. Have I worked on days when there were spills, mistakes and minor technical glitches? Absolutely. But spend a whole week being responsible for those things and your viewpoint is completely different. Who deals with crashing computers, cold food, high volume days that produce lots of stress for everyone? Who fixes broken light fixtures and thinks about how to deal with that bar guest that isn't hurting anyone, but doesn't seem quite right? Who makes the liquor orders, the soda orders, and makes sure new menus are being rolled out properly? Who deals with the possibility of brownouts because of issues in the local power grid and hornets nests outside the store in the parking lot? Mr and Mrs Boss- that's who. And after a week of it, I think I appreciate much more how hard they work.

Some days they come in and they say things like "I have to get this done today. I have to." and I think to myself, okay, so get it done. Not until this week did I appreciate that the more something needs to be done the more things will get in your way of getting it done. There is not a single second that goes by where someone or something doesn't need their attention. I don't know how much they make, but they deserve more, whatever it is. Because the two of them are saints for maintaining their composure and sanity on a day to day basis. They really are. I've managed an office before. I've managed a huge construction site full of headstrong workers and picketing union members. It was easier than running a restaurant.

This has led me to the second and third things I've realized this week. I am completely and totally stressed out (and its all my fault) and I am an absolute, complete, and total control freak. I was outside smoking with Tex, one of my coworkers (and one of our other supervisors) yesterday and we were talking about it. I told her I figured out that since I can recall, I've always dealt with my stress by increasing the control I have over the things that stress me out. Here's the rub- I can't control a damn thing in that restaurant. I can control how I act, and I can encourage people to act a certain way. But I have zero control over how my staff acts, who will come in the store, how they will behave, how they will respond to my staff, what mood everyone will be in, and how expertly my co-workers execute company policy. None. Zilch. This is very stressful when I know that as a supervisor, if they screw up, its me that's going to hear about it. And if I screw up, its Mr and Mrs Boss who get the raw end of the deal. I love them. They are wonderful people. And the idea of them being punished for things utterly beyond their control seems terrible. I wanted this week to be perfect and to run smoothly. I wanted them to come back and think of how lucky they were to have supervisors like me, Tex and Stalin to run the store in their absence, because we took care of things. As of today I am counting down the moments until they return and while I'll aim for perfection, I'll settle for survival.

I asked Kitchen Boss the other day how she dealt with it. She said that me and Mr. Kitchen Boss were exactly the same in that we wanted 100% all the time and that we expected perfection from everyone, including ourselves. I said to her, so you understand? And she said, no, not really. "I operate on a shit happens philosophy. Shit happens. Sometimes its your fault, sometimes it isn't. You have to move on and roll with the punches." It was a remarkable echo of Tex telling me that I needed to let the stress pass me by and move forward. I have to deal with it, because trying to control it will only make me crazy. She offered to help talk me down when I needed it. I appreciated that.

A brief segue where I tell you that because of all this stress Esbat this week snuck up on me. I totally did not remember until Tuesday that it was full moon. Cue me leaving off all my plans to relax and instead planning a lovely Esbat night for the coven so we could worship together. After ritual one of the things that we did together was make a Manifestation Board, which will hold pictures and writings of all the things we want to manifest in our lives. Sakura came over yesterday and we had dinner. I was sitting under the manifestation board and he laughed at me and told me to look up at the board and tell him what it said right over my desire to have "No More Migraines." It read: I don't need to stress out all the time.

Point taken.

Tex said something to me that was very telling yesterday afternoon. She said she had a quote that she framed and that she thought it would mean something to me. The gist of it was: Its easy to fall apart. Its even easier to fall apart when everyone else expects and understands why you would. But to stay together during times like that is what makes a soul truly strong.

She's right. That spoke to me. Of all the things that I consider my personal characteristics, strong would be in the top five. I may not be physically strong. I may not be healthy the way I would like. But emotionally, spiritually, I've always thought of myself as a strong person. There's been enough in my life that has forced me to be strong, I feel like it has become a part of me. I'm ashamed to think I haven't been as strong as I could this week. No, I haven't fallen apart...not at work anyway. But I've been far less able than I usually am to let things go and pay attention to the beautiful things in my life than I normally am. Shame on me.

The universe seems hell bent on teaching me patience and strength in its own way. I need it, in fact, this last holiday of ours I asked divinity for patience and discernment. I was stupid to think it would come in a nicely packaged envelope in my head, and I would somehow instantly acquire these things. No. I have to be taught them, and believe me when I say I am learning them now. I'm proud to be learning them now, and I look at all of this as a manifestation of something I asked for, even if I've only just realized it. Sometimes it takes us a while to catch on to the blessings we're sent, because we aren't looking for them in any package but that which is easy and simple and uncomplicated. I know better. Sometimes you must work very hard for even the blessings you expect will come quickly. (Serendipitously-I don't believe in coincidence- this last full moon was called the Blessings Moon. Too right.)

I am fortunate. This week, despite the unseasonably hot weather we're having - 100 plus every day- I've found ways to keep cool. Kitten and Oscelot surprised me with a little kiddie pool to splash around in, which they placed in the shade under my beautiful Hydra in the back yard. Sakura, Felix and Shorty have been there beside me all week, cheering for me and telling me its okay to be frustrated, upset or afraid- but that I can't let that keep me from seeing the good things I do. Mrs. Kitchen Boss and Tex have leveled me out and kept me from feeling like an utter failure. They have tempered my days with good humor and a bit of laughter- and in Tex's case, plenty of nicotine. I do get today as a day to serve instead of supervise. I get one break. I appreciate it, because its coming at the exact moment that I need it. Tex is my boss today, so I've got her at my back, pulling me through the crazy parts. I'll be first off tonight and my lovely wife has offered to meet me for dinner while we wait on Oscelot to get off work. Shorty and I are going shopping together tomorrow, which will be a good time.

So things really aren't as bad as I want them to be. I do have things to be happy about.

Yesterday when our electrician was in, he was pulling broken bulbs out of the chandelier in the front lobby and offered to replace them. I couldn't find the bulbs, which I had gotten out not two days prior, anywhere. I turned the store inside out looking for those things. I honestly didn't know where they had gotten to.  I finally told him to come down off the ladder, I'd put them in whenever I found them. Last night as I sat down and began to eat with the girls and Sakura, Stalin texted me: "I found the lightbulbs"

I texted her back: Good.

Because it was.


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