By Joanna Franco

The most frequently asked question we get here in the Damon & Jo factory is – “How do you actually pay for your trips?” The truth is this: you can master all the travel tips and money saving tips in the book, but what it really all comes down to is your weekly (or bi-weekly) paycheck. And that paycheck comes from… a crappy job. All of the hustlas out there are nodding their heads “yes” at this statement.

The process of saving money to afford even cheap trips is rarely ever peachy. In fact, ya girl has had to get really crafty to afford a life in Manhattan and save for travel without financial support – everything from working the morning shift at a coffee shop, to cleaning mansions for pocket money, to even being a clown at an event for a quick $50.

On top of my current roster of jobs (Resident Advisor in a dorm, full-time student, promotional model, mentor to a entrepreneurs, freelance video editor, and Damon & Jo businesswoman extraordinaire), I recently got a job as a server in a restaurant.

Now, I’m typically an advocate of only accepting jobs where you’re actually excercising your brain, surrounding yourself with passionate people, or doing anything that makes your day more enjoyable. But I told myself this restaurant gig would be temporary and doable.

Although Damon once took a job as a server in a restaurant and quit after three days, I decided I’d try to “werk” it out in this job to make some quick tips before an upcoming trip. I convinced myself that being a server wouldn’t be so bad because I’d be spending my time speaking multiple languages with tourists, learning about wine, and getting free food – all things I really enjoy. By my third week on the job, I was ecstatic at how fast my bank account was increasing. I was also happy about the trendy “Meatpacking” location and wasn’t bothered by my ok coworkers. Things were going smoothly until yesterday, when I experienced the shift from hell.

“Franco, you really f*@ked up yesterday, didn’t you?” is not the best way to start your Monday morning shift. You’d think a manager of a successful restaurant would know that.

“You were scheduled to work. Why didn’t you come in?”

Mind you, it’s 10AM and all I’m trying to do is fold my napkins and sip my cawffee in peace.

“What are you talking about? I wasn’t scheduled.”

He points to the schedule that was posted the day before I was scheduled and yells,

“Oh yea, you can’t read? What’s that date, Franco?”

“Sorry, didn’t even realize I was scheduled.”

Instead of emailing or posting a schedule online like a normal 21st century establishment, the restaurant posts the schedule in the dark and gloomy employee backroom on Friday night, for the week starting on Saturday morning. In other words, coming in on my day off to check the schedule is not exactly how I want to spend my day off – especially since I typically don’t work Saturday shifts anyway.

The restaurant opens and I instantly get flustered with petty customers’ requests to sit in the shade after they had requested an inside table. In some cases, they’d move and sit in the sun without notifying anyone and in some other cases, they’d change their order once the food came – all things that made me want to rip my afro out. It wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have to get my manager’s code every time a customer request was made.

But I did and so, because of that, I heard the following:

“You really suck today Franco, don’t you? How many more mistakes are you going to make?” 

I finally looked at him and said,

“Maybe I wouldn’t suck if you weren’t breathing down my back.”

I continued to dread my life for the next six hours. The stress made me forget for a split second that I’m a happy human being with a joie de vivre that no a$$hole can take away from me.

My day ended with my boss saying,

“On the bright side Franco, you can’t possibly f*#k up more than you did today.”

Trust me, I had to hold everything back from telling my coworker to “hold ma earrings.” What was great about his b!tcha$$ness though, was that it reminded me of few things that may actually help you the next time you’re stuck at a crappy job:

1) You’re still a good person

Okay, yeah your boss may be yelling at you or making you feel guilty about making a mistake, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not a superstar in other areas in your life. Sometimes we forget because of the negative energy mofos be throwin’ down towards us. Don’t let anyone dim your light.

2) This too will pass

Remember how stressed you were last semester about passing a final exam? Or how heartbroken you were when you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend? As you read this, you should realize that some uncomfortable moment that you had experienced in the past has passed. Even in a terrible, crappy situation at your job…the moment will eventually be over, and you will move on and be relaxed at home or working on a new project.

3) You’re actually passionate about things other than your job

In the middle of another stressful shift, a coworker asked me if I wished I were still filming back in LA. I looked at him and said, “Thank you for reminding me that I’m passionate about other things outside of this job.” In the heat of a stressful situation, you forget that what might seem like a huge problem in the moment, like accidentally serving someone Coke instead of Diet Coke, is really not a huge problem at all. There are bigger things to worry about in the world and in comparison, problems at a crappy job are probably really small and unimportant. When times get tough in these menial jobs, think of your mission and passion. It’ll help you laugh off the stressful urgency that people put on you for something so small.

4) People can’t break you unless you allow them to

This miserable manager that made my day hell yesterday is one of those people that make you realize that others may try to drag you down with them (whether they even realize it or not). The fact of the matter is that yes, I missed work and I did apologize for a mistake, but it wasn’t something that had to affect my performance the next day at work. Guess what playa, ya ain’t gon’ knock ma hustle.

5) Stand up for yourself

Just because someone is your boss does not give them the right to be an a$$hole. You canactually be a nice boss. Managing people is all about delivery, so if they’re lacking in the tact department, give them a taste of their own medicine. Believe it or not, being feisty has always been a challenge for me (ahem, off-camera).

The bottom line is that if you’re trying to get out and see the world, it may take a crappy job to get you there. We’re staunch advocates of quitting a job that’s making you miserable (you control your own happiness), but if you’ve got a set trip date in sight, stick with it. Before you know it, you’ll see that paycheck, and you’ll be using it wisely and laughing about the struggles you went through.

Originally published on Shut Up and Go.

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