Yup, from 1998-2002 yours truly was a big old campy Outbacker, and I’ve got the kangaroo pins to prove it.
“Outback time” means you are expected to be 15 minutes early for each shift, but you are not to clock in, because, well, then they would have to pay you. If you are not 15 minutes early then you need to stay late and roll up extra silverware or lick the cabinets as punishment. Oh, and you have to clock out before you take on your penance. (Note to Outback – perhaps you’ve heard of this little thing called FLSA? If not, I’d get Aborigine counsel on that for you right away). In my 4 years there, I refused to ever get on Outback time. My shift starts at 6 pm? See you at 6 pm. If you need me at 5:45 pm, ask me to show up at 5:45 pm. So one afternoon I saunter in at the requested start time of 5 pm and I am immediately confronted by Craig the Manager. He is so pissed that I blatantly ignore “Outback time” because I consider it still “my time”, that he demands I roll 100 sets of silverware. I laugh and ignore that too. I think I made him pop a vein in his eyeball. Fast forward to the next morning when I’ve rolled in to pick up my tip-share from the night before. Phone rings, I answer, and oh goodness it’s Craig the Manager. He needs to know what time his shift starts, so of course I lie and tell him the latest possible time and remind him to be on Outback time! Me and the Mexican prep crew had a good laugh that day.
I picked up my first fake ID from another Outbacker. It was the single greatest ID ever to have been bestowed upon a teenager. It was so golden my own mother thought it was my picture. The only trouble was my benefactor’s name…Kibbe Cernahorsky. No middle name, just Kibbe Cernahorsky. It’s pretty difficult – alright, impossible to convince a bouncer that no, he did not graduate from high school with Kibbe, or take Kibbe to prom because I am Kibbe and I would remember that. Lesson here is to stay out of bars in the town where Kibbe Cernahorsky grew up while using Kibbe Cernahorsky’s ID. Also, don’t continue a losing battle with a bouncer and say “I don’t care if you call the police”. This is never going to work out well.
God bless you Outback for teaching me how to drink on the job. Bartending is waaaayyyy more fun if you are on the same level as your patrons. Suddenly grenadine in a beer doesn’t seem like a bad idea any more…you don’t mind making 1,000 strawberry daiquiris because you know you get to finish the extra little bit in left the blender! You want whipped cream on your gin and tonic? Yum, coming right up! It’s super fun when your fellow bartenders say things like “hey do a shot with us real quick” and you’re like absolutely, lets do this. If you came into work with a hangover, you have all the tools for a Bloody Mary right in front of you. A hair of the dog that bit you works every time. I cannot stress this enough.
Also awesome? Working with all your foreign friends. Especially your Russian friends. They don’t give a sheet about 17 seasonings or vhatever. All they want to know is who is having the Vudweiser at the house of beers later. The kitchen crew from Mexico? I totally admired their commitment to not speak English while at work. Outside of work they would totally have a beer with you or invite you to their soccer games, but inside, hablamos espanol, gringos.
My time at Outback ended rather abruptlyawesomely. I had an epiphany of sorts. It was like heaven cracked open and a great beam of light distracted me as I was being yelled at for not wearing the right kind of dark jeans and bright white sneakers…I tuned out Craig the Manager as he rambled and focused on what I believed was God speaking. He said, “Barista, you should leave here right now. Just go. Nobody will ever care that you worked at an Outback or that you don’t wear your kangaroo pins or have really dark blue jeans. I promise you, you are going to be a peon for many years to come; this job will not alter the course of your life. It won’t matter at all if you don’t finish your side work. Just go. Go now…live your life”. I stood up and slowly drifted out the door with the sight of Craig the Manager already fading to black.
Quit a job without any regrets or notice at least once in life – trust.