Have you ever just quit something… without regret?

I found this writing prompt today and it got me thinking:

“Have you ever just quit something…without regret?”

I am not a risk taker so I don’t do well with change. In fact, I was talking about taking a risk career wise earlier this week with a friend and I was like “Oh, I don’t know….we’d have to make a lot of changes to do that!” My friend reminded me that “Change is good!”

Since I dislike change so much I like to stick with major things long term. It takes me a long time to decide on things and I tend to research things before I do anything but once I decide on something I tend to stick with it. This is especially true when it comes to jobs.

The one exception: the worst job I ever had.

I had just graduated from KSU. All through college I had the same job (children’s director at a museum) and while it was a cool job I thought it was time to try something new in order to spice up my resume and get a steady paycheck over the winter.  I ended up getting hired at a locally owned kids’ birthday party venue. This venue was looking to expand their programs to include their own summer camp, after school care/ tutoring,  and to make their “Toddler Time” program less of an open play program and more educational.  When they hired me, they told me I would be in charge of these programs and they would give me birthday parties to work on weekends where I could earn pretty decent sized tips. I was getting paid less an hour than at the museum but the owner promised me I would make it up in tips on the weekends. This seemed like a good deal. They were a pretty new company and the people running it didn’t have a background in working with children but they had business experience and the place seemed to run really well.

This place was staffed by like 10 high school students on weekends,  2 stay at home moms who helped during the toddler program, and one college student who was the manager.  Everyone was nice enough and I started training with everyone. Now, unlike many of the younger staff members…this was not my first job. I had already worked on a maintenance crew for 2 years and worked at the museum for 4.  Everyone was surprised that I learned the ropes so fast and that I cleaned up before close without being told (DUH!) I started working some of the parties and the tip money was good but I still wasn’t making what I was at the museum.

In the month I had been there I spent most of my time helping in areas that was NOT part of the job description when they hired me.  I spend a lot of time working the inflatables, setting up for parties, serving food, cleaning up after parties, cleaning up after close, and I even spent a some time in the kitchen cooking pizza and doing dishes! I was getting one tipped party a weekend which was not enough to make up for the pay cut I took. During Toddler Time I was helping the manager teach the class instead of teaching it myself.

After a couple of weeks of this I talked to the owner. She told me it was because the manager made the schedule of where people got placed when they worked and that the manager was mad that the owners hired me to be their educational programs person instead of letting her do it. What it basically came down to was that the manager wanted to run the camps and classes but legally if they want to be an accredited program they had to have someone with a teaching license because they wanted these programs to become full-time day care style camps, pre-school, and after school care.  The owner also asked me if I would be willing to make a curriculum for their camp program and to get it all together in like 2 weeks so they could get it approved. I tried to explain to her that a curriculum of an entire summer’s worth of camp for kids of different ages would like much longer than a few weeks to put together but that I could get her an overview of what camp would look like.

So a couple more weeks went by. I gave the owner the overview of the camp which I had worked hard on off the clock because whenever I was in the building the manager had me scheduled to work on other things. I was getting really fed up. The schedule sucked, I was getting paid $2 less an hour and working less hours than my last job, not getting enough tipped parties, and doing a lot of cleaning, cooking, serving, and bounce house watching along with the high school staff. After talking it over with my parents and Jordan and agonizing over it…I decided to quit my job!

After work the next night the owner told me that what I had given her for camp wasn’t anything she couldn’t have done herself and that she need a curriculum. It occurred to me that she had no idea what a curriculum was. I was honest with her about how much work that was and that my working here wasn’t really working out. She was absolutely stunned because no one had ever quit before. Her exact words were “But I need you on the paperwork for the camp!” Which in my opinion said a lot about the situation. I told her that I think the manager really wanted to run it and that I didn’t want to compete for my job.  She said “But I can’t put her name on the paperwork because she isn’t certified! I know it isn’t your problem but this is my job! It’s how I make my living!” and I told her I understood but leaving a better paying job where I have creative control over what I teach to a job where I was paid less and didn’t get to teach didn’t help me make my living. She pointed out to my that all the high school staff feel they make great money and I agreed that for a part time high school job, this is probably a good deal. She told me “Well, this was a learning experience for me! I learned I can’t expect people to do what they say they are going to do.” I told her I learned the same lesson, which left her speechless (I guess she didn’t think of it that way) and I thanked her for the opportunity, told her I thought the place was great (it is) and turned in my stuff and left.

I really thought I would feel much worse. I mean I felt kind of bad but they didn’t keep up their end of the bargain, so why should I?

I really did not regret leaving that job but I did learn several things:

1. Some business owners assume the success of the business means as much to the people they hire as it does for them, regardless of how the company treat employees.
2. Sometimes employers don’t want your talent, experience, or fresh ideas…sometimes they just want your certification.
3. Some people have NO IDEA what “curriculum” means or how much work it takes to make one. For the record, it’s been two years and this company still doesn’t have a full scale summer camp or after school program. They do have a small once a week camp over the summer. They are just starting a pre-school program this year. I really feel the owner had no clue what it would take to run such a huge program.
4. Some employers have no control over their employees. The way the manager scheduled me was one example but there were also a lot of problems with the teen staff not doing stuff they were supposed to which the owner shrugged off like “Oh those silly kids!”
5.  I guess the most important thing I learned was that I know how talented I am and I know what I am worth and I learned not to take it when people try to take advantage of me!

6. Oh yeah and that Lebron James is a bad tipper and his kids are kinda bratty!

So that’s the worst job I ever had. I quit and didn’t regret it at all!



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Janet
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 20:57:36

    Great article, Katelynn!


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