Reality Check – Ouch!

Well, I’m back at work – well, I’m not back at work, but I am…ish. As mentioned in a previous post about Selling Out, I need the money, and so I resisted jumping – but instead slyly sauntered – at the chance of taking a couple fill-in, cash-in-hand shifts at the place that laid me off.

Let me give you a run-down of what was, and what now is.

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This place is located in the middle of nowhere, but is just at the bottom of one of the most beautiful drives you can make on a sunny day. It’s got a Japanese Style Garden in the back, with koi that are up to 18 years old (and Massive!) that you can feed during the warmer months, and a coffee house where organic, local and fair trade coffee was served, and local artists had their pieces on the walls.

Business #1 was the Coffee House, and business #2 was the dispensary for medical cannabis. The coffee house was there to for the folks that wanted to enjoy the gardens, but not be deterred by the fact that there’s a co-op on the property, and the co-op was there for obvious reasons. One business owned both businesses, but each business was technically separate.

The dispensary access point is pretty small, so that business rented a space from the coffee house, an office in the back. So, patients would come in, check in, fill out whatever paperwork was needed, and the receptionist would take them back to the access point. More often than not, the coffee house shared staff with the dispensary, and visa versa. The barista job soon merged to be barista and receptionist. Since the location is on a tourist, day-tripper spot, it was pretty quiet during the winter days.

Then the coffee house closed. They laid off 8 out of 12 or 13 of us, including closing the coffee house. My boyfriend, Toby, worked in the dispensary, and his mom worked in the gardens. We three were on the list of people that were let go. Our roommate was let go as well.

No, I’m back, working reception as a fill-in position, just for the weekend (so I’m told). It’s cash-in-hand, nothing exciting. But the atmosphere is so different. Granted, it’s snowing, which deters people from making the drive to this location, but there’s no music playing, there’s no people stopping in for coffee to warm up. Members aren’t coming in to enjoy the presence of the staff as they used to.

It’s all so different.

Within the first two hours of my being here, I learned that my boyfriend, his mom and I, had all been had. Everyone, save for two, that had been laid off, were able to return to regular work here. The ones that should have been fired months ago for showing up hours late, coming in drunk, leaving hours early to drink, drank on the property, were hooked on uppers, would regularly no-call no-show – these were the people that were allowed to come back to work, regularly.

I put in over 55 hours a week with no over time, and with a weekly salary of $500. Three out of four weeks I worked over 55 hours. I wrote procedures for the staff, I cut down the supply costs for the coffee house, I cut down on the cost of staff, and I gave myself to this place. I bought signs that it needed with my own money, and donated it. I made myself available 24 hours a day for whatever they needed. My boyfriend gave more! he was working 70+ hours a week with a cash cap of $450 a week. He would work 3-4 over-night shifts while working the 11 hour day shifts in between. He made inventory lists, he kept track of all the finances for this place. He brought the dispensary up to regulations. He spent hours in attics running cables for security cameras.

And we were both just easily let go. Just like that, dismissed.

It’s kind of heartbreaking, and I suppose, in some regards, a lesson learned.

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