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Writing Stages of Life

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Jason Rimbaud

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Four months ago, at least from the outside, most would say that I was on top of the world. I have a good job, a great apartment, and an amazing boyfriend. I had a good start on a saving account, a brand new car with all the bells and whistles. If I was a normal person, I would have been content at the success I enjoyed. Yet for all those possessions, something was lacking in my life.

I first started working in hospitality the year I turned 21. I really didn't have the opportunity to go to college, and didn't really have any other avenues to traverse. What else could a cute gay boy do for work besides shake his ass as a bartender.

And though I moved from working in gay bars, then stopped bar-tending completely, only to move into serving before landing a job as a manager a few years later. Truthfully, at least professionally, it was the only thing I was ever good at. And I can say with complete modesty, I am very good at my job.

From the time I was a young boy, my only dream was to be a writer. And until I turned thirty, I followed that dream. But then I got sidetracked, I started listening to others telling me that I had to secure a future. So I guess you could say, I fell into the hospitality business. I built a career out of the one thing I was good at and for a time, I was content to do so.

But content is not happy. The future was starting to cement, I started growing my savings account. And I had built up quite an impressive resume with some of the most successful people in San Francisco. 

I calculated each move, every time I left and took a new position, it was for a better future for me. I sacrificed a five year relationship and more friends then I would care to admit in my single minded ambition to secure a future. 

For a time, I told myself that when I reached success, when I finally made it, then I would focus on my personal life. But truth be told, the more successful you become, the more time and energy it takes to maintain that success. I started to wonder when enough would be enough. 

Then I met "N" two years ago. Three hours after meeting him, I told my friend that I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. I just knew it. Two months later, I had gave up my condo in Daly City and moved into San Francisco with him. Again, from the outside, most people would say that I had it all. 

But I wasn't happy. And yes, I could mask it at work, I am a professional after all. But the years of 14 hour days, six to seven days a week, working every single weekend. Sometimes not getting home until 1am only to get up at 4am and then head back to work for another 14 hour day. 

"N" understood the long hours, after all, he is in the same business as me. The difference, the owner he works for truly believes in work life balance, and he rarely works more than 40 hours a week and always gets two days off a week in a row. I am not so fortunate. 

In the dark parts of the night, snuggled in bed with "N", I told him about my long forgotten dream of becoming a writer. Of course he was interested in reading my work as any good "N" would be, I showed him my past writings. And he started to encourage me to take up the words again. And over the last two years, I have slowly dipped my toes in the water of creativity again. Though it had only been occasionally and in brief spurts only. And much like the discovery of an old friend, I started to realize how much I enjoyed sitting down at my laptop and spewing forth nonsense onto the screen.

The dedication it takes to operate at the level I had managed to achieve is total commitment. It's working 14 hours in the restaurant, then spending another three hours at home answering emails from the department managers and various vendors that need my attention it seems daily.

I will admit, I probably worked more than I needed too but the restaurant brought in 12 million a year and I was responsible for every dollar of it. So yes, my focus was on the bottom line for more than just my quarterly bonus.

It had been brewing for a while, my unhappiness at work. And I can't blame the owner for wanting to make the most money he possibly could. But I started to wonder how much money was enough. I knew the numbers, I knew the magic number. Once the restaurant makes this magic number, anything over that amount is profit for the owner. And he was a single owner, he had no partners. So when he set the budget for this year 25% more than last year, I had to wonder what he was thinking. 

He's the owner, he can set whatever budget he wants, its his right. And as a professional, it was my job to try and hit that budget. I"m not so naive that I don't understand business. He is only in it for the money. And its his money and his right.

Any of you that understand budgets and how the restaurant business works, it is highly unlikely that any restaurant, unless something out of the ordinary happens, to grow a business by 25% over the previous year.  Especially when 35% of your business is tied up with the Moscone Center and their convention business.

I'll give him the unreachable budget. When it was written the year before, he did not know Moscone Center was going to be in construction and all the conventions we enjoyed in 2017 would not be there in 2018.

Nor did he realize that international tourism is down due to our current political climate. Add that to our out of control homeless problem and several large conventions citing homeless issues as the reason they are no longer booking in San Francisco, and its no wonder all restaurants in the city are down fifteen percent city wide.

After talking with friends in the accounting world, he should be happy he's only down 10%. He is actually doing better than most currently in San Francisco. I have lost count of the high end restaurant closures and the celebrity chefs that are struggling to keep the doors open.

I know the main reason he raised my budget so high, was to help cover the cost of his new restaurant that was opened in 2017 and was struggling, to put it mildly, in the current climate.

For full disclosure, I started losing my happiness at work the moment I met "N" and realized he was something outside of work that was more important than anything. It had been brewing for months. So when the culture of the restaurant started to change and the owner started to show his stress more and more.

So during the monthly meeting when he demanded what I was going to do to attain this budget, I brought out the numbers, a bit more in detail than what I describe above, and he looked at me and responded that it was only excuses and he didn't pay me to give him excuses. And he is right. He didn't pay me to give him excuses.

So I said the first thing that came to me. And trust me, I had given better speeches over my career. And it might have been a mistake, but every fiber in my being said it was the right thing to do. I can't say what I told him, I don't really remember. But I resigned that day. For the first time in my life, I walked away with no notice and no prospects.

San Francisco is a small town, every owner knows all the rest. And leaving like I did was not the smartest thing I could have done, but that was the day my happiness returned.

And I will be honest, it wasn't just because my owner is an asshole, he is. But I don't think my life has room for something that is so demanding that takes me away from being happy in my life. 

So for two months I've sat in my great apartment with my amazing boyfriend and made time for myself. For the first time in ten years, I have nothing to do. Everyday I spend time with "N" before he goes to work. Then I clean the house, I do laundry, sometimes I play video games, sometimes I get hammered in the middle of the day for no reason, but most of the time, after I do my house chores, I sit down at my laptop and write. 

I write like I did in my twenties when the desire was strong and I didn't know what the future held but I was excited to face it. 

My vacation payout alone was two months salary and I figured I was going to enjoy every moment. We aren't rich and my little diversion from work won't last much longer. After all, this is the most expensive city in the country to live and he won't let me be a bum much longer.

I think my time in hospitality has come to a close. I think my next job will be something that will allow me to pay my bills yet leave me time to focus on what really matters in this life.

The night I left my job, I went out and bought my amazing boyfriend a ring, we are planning on getting married next June and life could not be happier for me.

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