Thursday, September 15, 2011

… And Another One Bites the Dust

I guess it's no longer important that our microwave blew up because fridge number 2 is being eulogized and mourned over in a cemetery plot next to fridge number 1. I have nothing to put in the microwave since all of my food has walked off on newly sprouted legs (leaving only an unpleasant smell and a trail of green goo behind it). Even if I did have some kind of sustenance, I woke up this morning and realized that I am yet again teething. I may steal some of the dog's chew toys. Maybe her squeaky chicken. It's not very lifelike but I'm desperate enough that it just might taste like schnitzel.
In other news, after the disaster that was the 60's party I knew I had to quit the bar. I worked one more shift and then quit afterwards. Suddenly dressing up like an escaped Bais Yaakov girl didn't seem so bad anymore. At least I wouldn't have to wear peace signs. I decided to ease back into working at the restaurant without them even noticing. I told the manager that I could work any time the rest of the week if he needed me. Which he of course did. The owner's parents came in to eat (gratis of course) and his mother commented that “she was so glad to see me and was so upset to hear that I'd quit.” I'm like, I uh... thanks I guess. She seemed as upset at my leaving as I was on returning to the restaurant.
So I'm pretty much where I started except down some money for the month of August for the few weeks I didn't work at all. Not only that, but when the owner finally noticed that I was working full time again he “renegotiated” my wage back down to minimum. So he's a jerk and I work at a job that I hate to pay for an apartment that's falling down around me. Such is life I suppose.
It's not only my life that sucks. My mother got back from the States last week from helping her mother move to assisted living after becoming essentially immobile and wheelchair bound. My family all met up on Thursday for a sushi dinner in Tel Aviv to celebrate my birthday. Not the happiest of occasions. I was forced to sit through my mother telling us about my miserable, sick grandmother and my sister and her husband telling us about how their apartment caught fire, almost burnt down and how all their stuff is ruined. Great. What an uplifting conversation. At this point I just kind of wanted to go home. Does someone else maybe want to get mugged or come down with E. Coli? Or maybe go through an earthquake, hurricane, subsequent power outage and phone company strike? Oh no wait, we're back to my grandmother. My sister called my parents in the middle of the night and my father picked up. In her state of half-consciousness, when my mother heard “fire” she of course immediately thought there was a fire in my apartment. If my apartment ever burns down, it will be because I burnt it down. Or because the wall next to the bathroom with faulty wiring is still wet. If my landlady's apartment burns down (she refuses to replace the fridge because she wants no responsibility for anything in the apartment), I will proclaim my innocence and take an extended vacation in Baja.
Obviously I was in quite a mood after a.) reading my fridge its last rites and b.) receiving my paycheck for August. I know I demanded 27 shekels an hour but after working at the restaurant during that time, I saw how incredibly busy it was and how much money we collected in tips. For those of you just tuning in or who may have forgotten, the salary is paid in a very unusual manner especially for a restaurant. The customers are charged a 15% service fee directly onto their bill which is counted and split up at the end of the month. We are then paid by check with all the taxes and other various government fees already taken off. If we don't make an average of at least minimum wage an hour in tips for that month, the restaurant makes up the difference.
When I got my paycheck I was a bit taken aback to realize that I'd gotten what I'd asked for but no more. I knew that we'd made an average of maybe 800-1000 shekels in tips a night. Where was all that money going? I couldn't figure it out and I was getting more and more upset as I thought about it.
I sat and stewed some more on the bus and by the time I got to work I was so angry that I demanded that the manager tell me where all that money was going and why my paycheck was so low. I told him if I didn't get a satisfactory answer I was going to turn around and walk out the door. He said he didn't know how the owner paid everyone, he also wasn't sure why my paycheck was so low, bla bla bla, more excuses, and you can't leave because we have a table of 10 coming soon. I was like, not my problem. Call him up and tell him I want to talk to him. He didn't want to call him (he dislikes confrontation and conflict even more than I do) but said he'd let me talk to him when he called in a few minutes. The owner finally appeared (late to a meeting, as usual) and said he'd talk to me after said “meeting” (i.e. shady looking business deal) and then the 10 people came in and I had to take their orders (not as patiently as usual) and then he left again. He did eventually come back and I cornered him and asked him to explain to me how he paid us. After sending me off again to do a few things (go check on the table in the corner, bring that table ketchup, etc.) he finally couldn't put it off any longer. He explained his incredibly complicated method of hour keeping and tip accounting and I finally understood that he's an even cheaper jerk than I'd thought. It seems he also pays the manager from tips (instead of just paying him a normal salary) even though he's not a waiter plus if the tips come out to more than 30 shekels an hour for the night, he counts the kitchen as one person (for 7 or 8 hours) and shares the tips with them too (not that the kitchen staff has noticed any kind of change in their salary). He also pays himself tips if he works in the dining area for a few hours even though he owns the whole place. So essentially, he's paying his entire staff on the tips that the waiters are earning. And that's where all that money is going. Cheap bastard.
After explaining all this to me, he said to me “there were a few nights that you didn't make 27 shekels an hour so I added a few shekels to make it 27 an hour for that night. I thought you'd be happy instead of complaining that it's not enough but I guess no one ever is.” I didn't have anything else to say to him so I just got up and left. I was pissed off and not feeling fantastic (physically and emotionally) so I informed the manager that I was leaving when the other waitress showed up. I don't know what's going to happen with this job but all I can say is if the place burns down, I'll be in Mexico.

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