List of Demands

When I started looking for a job I had three demands:

1. I would be paid $11 an hour

2. I would only work evenings

3. I would work in a positive environment

A golf club in Franklin, TN appeared to have all of these qualities – except one. They were paying a minimum of $16 an hour, and the staff were quite friendly. I was all set to accept the position when the manager and I started speaking about availability.

“I want you on my team, Micah. But here’s the thing, we need people from 9am-4pm who can work about 30 hours a week. Is there any flexibility in your schedule?”

The $16 an hour had me licking my chops. I’d never been paid that much money at a job in my life! I was about to say “I can change my hours!” when I looked down.

The manager and I were sitting at a dark mahogany table, three feet from the bar area made of the same wood. The table was small and likely to only fit two people; on it was a tiny circular plate with silverware rolled into a bleach-white napkin. Immediately to the right of the plate in front of me was my pad folio. The pad folio was open and my list gazed back at me:

1. $11 per hour

2. Evenings

3. Positive Environment

“$11 per hour? Check.” I thought.

“Positive Environment? I’ve been here twice and everyone’s approached me with a smile and desire to make me feel comfortable. …Check.”

“Evenings? Evenings… . Evenings… .”

I looked up at the gentleman interviewing me. He smiled lightly as he waited for my response.

“I cannot take the position unfortunately.”

His smile vanished all together.

“Thank you for the opportunity though.” I said

“I understand Micah. Look, you have my card. If your availability changes, give me a call.”

“Absolutely!”

We shook hands and I walked out of the club. As I left I knew I’d not be calling him. I knew because of how proud of myself I was for sticking to my guns. There was no chance I was going to undermine that feeling. I hopped in my car and happily drove the 40 minutes back to my parents’ home.

The job search continued the next day, but my success at the golf club had me feeling more confident than before. I wrote one more qualification onto my list of demands:

4. I will drive no more than 10 miles to work

This would save me time and money – it also helped me dwindle down the Craigslist search results.

At the top of my results was a job posting:

“Restaurant hiring Front of House employees!” it read “Pay Rate: $10-12 an hour! Part time or Full time Accepted! Apply for this team-oriented restaurant by clicking the link below!!”

I ran the address of the restaurant through Google Maps.

“Oh! It’s exactly ten miles away. Perfect!”

In an hour I had completed the application, and the next day I received a phone call.

“May I speak to Micah Markray?”

“This is he!”

“Hi Micah! My name is ____________ with ________________. I wanted to let you know that we wanted you to come in for an interview!”

“Absolutely! What day or time can I come in?”

“Can you make it today at 4pm?”

“I sure can!”

“Excellent! I won’t be here, but come in and tell them you have an interview with _____________.”

“Sounds good. Thank you.”

“No problem Micah. Good Luck!”

Within a few hours I was dressed in formal clothes and had pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant. The building had a wood and stone exterior, and each door was made of glass.

“Looks nice.” I said before climbing out of my car and walking up to the door.

I entered the door and the hostess greeted me.

“Hi! How many?”

“I’m actually here for an interview with ____________.”

“Oh! Awesome! One moment let me grab him for you.”

The hostess walked away and came back with the gentleman I was to speak to. The man and I shook hands. Just as we were about to walk away, a server hurriedly stormed the host stand.

“Who’s table is 201?” the server glared at the hostess.

“Um…yours?” she responded.

“Why didn’t you freaking tell me?!”

The server stomped off towards what was probably the table she’d missed.

The host rolled her eyes, huffed, and puffed as she grumbled “Pay attention to your freaking tables!”

At that moment I knew I would not be taking the job; this was not what a “positive environment” looked like to me. Nevertheless, I did the interview. When the man — I found out he was the manager — offered me the job, I told him I could not take it. He asked me why, and I told him how important positivity was to me, and that I was concerned about the altercation I’d just seen. He thanked me and I left the restaurant.

The following day I received a call. It was the manager from the day before! He told me that he thanked me again for the feedback and that

“the server you indicated has had some issues in the past, and is no longer with us. The offer still stands if you want to join the team. Just let me know.”

So impressed was I by this man’s perceived dedication to positivity, I accepted the position on the spot.

Still, I felt uneasy. Was that server an isolated issue? Was this restaurant the positive environment I was looking for? I would just have to find out.

The first day went well. Everyone seemed cordial and happy to be there. Then I began to really interact with my new coworkers: I talked with them about their goals, their jobs, and listened to their conversations. Something set off an alarm in my mind: complaining.

More than one of them expressed dissatisfaction with their job. Half a dozen of my coworkers communicated that they did not care about the job and would only do so much work. They gossiped about one another, and giggled behind each other’s backs.

Then a question occurred to me:

My coworkers do treat our guests with care and respect, and I’ll say about half of those employees I’ve met seem to be quite positive people. Is that enough?

I realized that in listing my demands I’d failed to actually define positivity. “$11 an hour” and “evenings” were clear enough to me, but I had no idea what “positivity” actually looked like.

So, what is positivity to me?

And now that I have given my word to work there as long as I am able, is it right (in my mind) to leave the job?

Micah Markray

May 25th, 2017