Talia Jane is an over glorified brat, not a hero
By now everyone in the Bay Area knows the story of Talia Jane, the Eat 24 employee who got fired for calling out the CEO of Yelp (Eat 24's parent company) on social media over the low wages of the customer service representatives. While her story could have started a discussion on high rent and low wages in the Bay Area, it instead erupted into a debate about the work ethics of millennials.
As someone who works at Eat 24 competitor for many years, I understand what she has to go through and the problems with this industry. However that is where the similarities between us end as I can not sympathize with her. If anything, she is the victim of her own poor choices and lack of life planning.
Having worked in this industry, I could tell you right now that in this business there is very little room for advancement. The only positions they really need are delivery drivers and customer service representatives while the only high paying jobs are the few manager positions. The pay is good compared to retail but it’s all based on ones reputation and dedication.
So why have I stayed with this industry for so long despite knowing these facts? The answer is simple, because I’m a working student.
Unlike Talia, who decided to join Eat 24 after college, I had almost earned my Associates Degree but was laid-off at my previous job as a clean room technician. At first I thought I was going to take a pay cut working as a delivery driver but after learning how everything works, I was either breaking even or making more than my previous job. I started from the bottom as rookie driver then worked my way up to become a weekend supervisor while having earned the respect of my colleagues and superiors. All this while going to school full time to earn my Bachelors Degree in Communication and without having taken out a student loan.
However it should be noted that I’m not a star employee or role model at the company. I may not always be the best leader or make the best judgment, however it has always been important to my boss that I learned from my mistakes. There are also employees who have been with the company longer than me and they command more respect. Even if they don’t have the same title or responsibility as me, I treat these employees as if they are my superiors. This is of course is something many in my age fail to notice, title does not dictate power or respect.
Some may wonder why waste time developing in a “dead-end job” or why should an employer invest in someone who is going to leave after a few years? First is that your employer is going to invest in you because they want a reliable team player, regardless of how long they are going to stay. It’s a fact that my boss knows I’m not going to be with the company for long but they still have taken the time to invest in me because they need a reliable employee and I want to professionally develop myself.
Second, it’s only a dead-end job if choose not to develop yourself. These jobs provide working students the opportunity to learn how to rise through the ranks of a business while learning how to maneuver through the web of corporate politics. It may sound funny at first but ask yourself this, if you can’t rise through the ranks at a McDonald's then how are you going to rise through the ranks at a company like Apple or Google?
It’s during this moment of self-development that one should learn how to resolve conflicts or push for change in the company. I have never pushed for a change in policy but I had to bring up issues to my bosses that needed to be resolved. The best way to do this has always been to speak with him in private, provide the facts and work together to create a solution.
Calling out your boss in public or on social media is not the way to address an issue. This is not only very childish but also but also counter productive as now you are seen as a problem employee. It’s also ironic that Talia starts her blog by talking about wanting to be an adult yet she chose to address her problem like a high school brat.
This is the sad truth that Talia and many of her coworkers failed to take into account. This industry is not for college graduates wanting to develop a career or start a life. Those who work here to make a living are at least putting in 8+ hours a day for 6 days a week. Companies like Eat 24 are best for those who are still in college, retired or don’t really need the money but still want to work. However if she felt that this was the best way to start a career with Yelp or in the Silicon Valley then she should have had a better plan.
Not to belittle the struggle of many but it’s true that rent in the Bay Area is out of control. Those of us who have lived her our whole lives are either blessed with a good job, having family that cares or are struggling to survive. For those coming to the Bay Area; it’s best you have a lot of money, have been hired for a high paying job or know someone dependable who lives here.
Yet the out of control rent is only a small fraction of the many social and economic problems that have plagued the Bay Area. These issues must be confronted and not ignored but there are alternative ways to bring attention to these issues. Talia was not wrong to address these issues but how she addressed them was not the right way.
So from one millennial to another, thank you Talia Jane for living up to the stereotype of being entitled