I always thought people found jobs through connections. It’s true that applications are still filled and submitted, but even so, the majority of times the person knows an employee or has already been a semi-regular customer. I’m talking about the service industry here as I don’t know any other kind. It’s a very word-of-mouth kind of industry. Not in the cool way I imagine elite professionals such as hitmen or revered artists being referred by extremely pleased clients, but more in a spontaneous, floaty party-invitation way where you’ll run into someone, and you’ll jive together in the moment until the fact that they’re looking for work comes up, which at then a casual suggestion is often enough to move the gears into making it a reality. This is how I got every job I’d ever had before Hop Syn’s.
When I took the job there, I had no connection to the restaurant. I had eaten there once, a year before, and it had left such a lack of impression on me that I never thought of the restaurant until the day I saw a job posting on a bulletin board at the cafe. It was one of those sheets of papers with the perforated stubs on the bottom that you took if you were interested. Usually I glanced past such postings. They were ugly and were usually made by old people running boring organizations such as churches. But the design on this one had stood out to me. It actually looked pretty — that’s the best word I could come up with. And so even though I had had a job at the time, two in fact, I took a stub.
It was easy to get the job. There wasn’t even a formal interview. I had the required experience, and soon I quit my previous main job. I was surprised to learn what the restaurant looked like after some searching on the internet. Based on the flier that’d attracted me, I’d assumed this was a kind of high class Viet restaurant. But actually it was in a bad neighborhood and the building looked like trash. That didn’t matter to me. Initially I had gotten a bit excited, if even for just a moment, about working in a upper scale place. But I got over that quickly.
I had already been trying to ditch my main job for about a month after so many years. I’d been working at a brewpub bar, not the fancy kind run by hipsters but rather by townies who’d figured out how to survive the transition from franchise chains to the local aesthetic. Not only my work-life, but also my emotional and social life had been rooted to this place. Before working here, I’d been a mess. I was a Journalism graduate with no prospects of being a decent journalist. Then I found this job and felt as though the right place had opened its doors to me. The right mixture of people and a new purpose that I could undertake. I knew where I had to be and why I had to be there. For the first time since high school, I didn’t feel lost, roaming without aim.
Then after working at the bar a couple years, I felt even more lost. Like I had made a terrible decision from the get-go but was only blinded into thinking I was onto something. All that sense of purpose no longer felt relevant to me. I wanted to get away as fast as I could. I could no longer bear working at The Rusty Spoon.