In honor of the summer, each week we take turns to recount a summer job we had back in the day. [Editor's Note: Back in the day refers to when we were in school...sigh...college].
The summer before my sophomore year of college I wasn't satisfied with having just one job. I already wrote about my days as a camp counselor, but what I failed to mention was that one of those summers I had not one, but three jobs. Yea, I was an overachiever (if by overachiever you mean I really needed money to buy alcohol and outfits to wear while drinking alcohol).
One of those 3 jobs was working as a hostess at the restaurant Mirabelle at Ravinia Festival. Quick background: Ravinia is an outdoor music pavilion that is only open during the summer and is super, super popular in Chicago. People trek out to the burbs to see acts here because not only can you sit on the lawn, eat a little picnic and listen to music, but Ravinia also gets sick music acts (like this year Carrie Underwood is coming!). In addition to the lawn seats, there is also an actual stage with stadium seating available, so people who come to actually view the musical acts usually want to go somewhere to have a sit down dinner and Mirabelle is usually where they end up (since at the time it was the only sit down restaurant in the park).
It was a perfect gig for me because I worked in the mornings at camp and then would go home, change into my uniform, and drive my ass to my next job. So ultimately I ended up working a 6 hour shift at camp, get a little break, and then work a 8 or 9 hour shift as a hostess.
I had great expectations for this job. I had always wanted to work in a restaurant - I think mainly because on TV it was always the job of some teenage character. So I thought I would be making lots of friends, possibly meeting a boy who I could have some summer fling with, and I got nada of that.
Most of the kids that worked at Mirabelle were a lot older than me - almost all the servers were over 21 so they could serve alcohol which means they were seniors in college or in grad school (some were even in law school or medical school), so they really didn't want to hang out with my 18-year-old self (and because I was underage I was rarely invited to parties or to hang out after work). I also didn't realize that in the food chain of restaurants, or at least the one I worked at, hostesses were pretty low on the totem pole. So I ended up being friends strictly with the other hostesses. But we really weren't that close, especially when I realized they were all brownosers because they wanted to be promoted to waitressing.
Also, I didn't realize being a hostess is hard work. Since we had a bigger outdoor seating area than indoor, when it rained people got wet. And then they complained. But on really busy nights we had no choice but to let them sit in the rain and deal with it. Most people had no qualms about screaming at me about where they sat. Not only do we have to deal with unruly customers, but when there aren't enough busboys, guess who gets to help out? And sometimes the other concession stands would need us step in and assist, which means that summer I also worked as an ice cream scooper, coffee maker, and helped hand out greasy food.
Customers also didn't mind screaming about their food, their waiter/waitress, or really about anything...to people they think are in charge. Us hostesses got the brunt of all the problems. We also got no tips, but sometimes they let us take leftover food from the buffet table home (yay?).
The really only up side to this job was that I got to listen to a lot of musical acts for free. During that summer, I saw the Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, and Tony Bennett (and others but I can't remember any).
Since then I've never worked in a restaurant again. Though I do really appreciate my servers now whenever I eat out!