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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

The Waiter Chronicles: Slave To The Schedule

Monday, July 23, 2007

I worked 34 hours last week over six days.

That's not that much. It's not even full-time. But the thing with a job in the service sector is that 36 hours feels like 70, because every one of those hours is an on-your-feet hour.

But this is not pity party. This is an observation about the schedule and the service sector. Not only do service sector hours seem more strenuous, physically, but they're also less constant. It had totally escaped me until last Monday that a waiter's hours are written on a schedule, a schedule that he/she does not create and into which he/she has only minimal input. So last week I worked six days. This week I work four. There are only so many hours to go around, and when you need to get paid . . . you know what I'm getting at.

Then there's this aspect of it: the owner called me this afternoon to tell me that the schedule had been changed. Now I'm working Thursday night, as well as Thursday lunch. I'm also "on call" for Friday night after working Friday lunch. I sounds inconsistent to point up the scarcity of hours in one paragraph and then complain about too many the next, but I've grown accustomed to a body of work that allows me to choose how and when it gets done. This is not that work. As a waiter, your work week gets set for you, and changes to it are to be expected.

What can you do? If you have no other job, how can you say no? I don't feel like I'm in that position, personally, but I'm acutely aware that most of my colleagues are.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:33 PM

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