Monday, October 4, 2010

All Good Things...

Well it's hard to believe, but my time in the Hamptons is almost finished.  In exactly one week I will be headed back home to New Jersey with the beach in my rearview mirror and the open road in front of me.  I must say, this past summer has been on of the most interesting summers I have ever had.  In a way, it felt like another semester abroad.  I went somewhere on my own and for the most part had to make new friends, survive, and find a way to suport myself.  The whole point of coming here was so I could have "one last summer vacation" before "real life" began, but now, I'm starting to realize that I am living my "real life".

My summer in the Hamptons was merely the first chapter of my life post-college.  I mean, sure, it was a little cushy (making hundreds of dollars in only a few hours by night and sunning myself on the beach by day), but it was still a part of my journey and I learned a lot about myself.

I think many college graduates like myself look at finding a job as very black and white.  You go to college, you graduate, you get a job.  The problem for me is, I simply cannot justify living my life that way.  Ever since I was little, my imagination has been on overdrive and I live in this fantastical world that's not exactly in tune with the rest of reality.  For example, I always pictured myself as a well-respected actor/writer who was well-liked, influential and a good role model.  But then I thought: what if the things I imagine for myself are my reality?  I mean, if I think about what I want passionately enough, who's to say that it won't come true?  There is a quote I love by a woman named Gloria Steinem that says, "Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." 

In my heart of hearts I know that I can't just settle into a menial job, earn an average salary and pay for my boring expenses.  I know people, both older and my age, that are doing just that.  One of the things I learned this summer about myself is that one of my greatest fears is complacency.  I know I can't be the guy who drives to work every morning in rush hour with everyone else in bumper to bumper traffic.  It's just not me. 

And I know that there are people, my peers as well as my elders, who feel similar.  They want to explore different opportunities and do exactly what they've always dreamed of, but for whatever reason, they take the safe path and make choices that bring about security instead of happiness.

That will not be me.

For myself, and for all those other people out there who didn't take that internship they really wanted, or didn't major in their area of choice because it seemed too far fetched, or didn't "seize the moment", I want to dedicate my life to doing exactly what it is that I want to do.  I don't want to have regrets about how my life turned out.  I want to be able to look at it and say, "Yeah, I did that.  Maybe it wasn't the best idea at the time, or maybe it was, but I did it because I wanted to and I learned from the experience."

So maybe this summer was just a precursor to what my life will bring.  Maybe it will be cushy and fun, and me being able to work minimal hours for great pay (one can only hope).  And even if there are speed bumps along the way that force me into a meaningless career to pay the bills, I promise that it will only be temporary.  I feel that I have too much to live for, and I think everyone in their own respect does too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ups and Downs

The warm summer breeze has been exchanged for crisp autumn air, the hundreds of window shopping tourists have vacated the main streets of the Hamptons, and nothing is as lively as it once was.  It is officially fall.  And it came out of nowhere.  I thought September was going to be my beach month; not too hot, not too cold, perfect for warming yourself on the white sand beaches.  But everything good must end at some point I guess, right?  You become so excited about something and then are devastated when it's stripped away.

While waiting in the Hamptons, I have been applying for jobs in addition to my waiting tables.  Some opportunities have been local and others have been more farfetched.  For example, the latest job I applied for wanted to potentially hire me, but I unfortunately could not afford to take time off and travel south to ANTIGUA where the job was based.  Okay, so I'm surfing for fun, because how awesome would it be to live in the Caribbean, right?  So, it seems like it's fate.  They are in need of a talk show host for a sports network!  Me, having my own TV show?  My one and only dream come true.  So I apply for the position, not thinking much of it.  The worst they can say is no...or so I thought.

About a week and a half later, I get this call from a woman with an accent I can't particularly place.  She asks for me, and I tell her she is speaking to the man she's searching for.  Apparently, she was a producer or something and she said she was very impressed with my resume and writing skills (which shocked me because my resume includes nothing TV-related and the only writing sample I gave her was a link to this blog) and she asked me to come in for an interview!  She told me she had narrowed down the applicants to just a few, and I was one of the chosen!  Ecstatic outside my mind, I'm totally gung-ho for an interview.

Then she asked me what my current location was.  I told her New York.


She then said, "Oh (very disappointingly).  I guess you can't come to Antigua for an interview tomorrow then?"  Antigua?  Well, no, I regretfully informed her that I was unable to fly down to Antigua for the afternoon and meet with the CEO of the sports network.  I know I'm in the Hamptons, but I haven't really made it to that jetset status just yet.

However, I told her I was more than happy to do a phone interview in the meantime until I was able to travel down to the Caribbean.  She told me she'd be in touch.  Ouch.  So I began researching plane ticket prices from JFK to Antigua and I didn't like what I saw.  The tickets were upwards of $500.

A couple days passed and I called the woman with the accent back and asked her if a phone interview was possible.  She said no, understandably so.  I mean, if they are putting someone on TV, they want to see their face, I get it.  I just wish there was some way they could have seen mine.  I then inquired if maybe the network would compensate either a partial or full amount of my plane ticket if I indeed made the journey south.  She told me she highly doubted it.  And that was it.  An official rejection.

Rejection is a part of life and I think I handle it pretty well.  I can't even say I'm that upset about the circumstances because it's so funny and ridiculous now.  But hey, that's my life.

I feel that life is full of that kind of rejection.  You get your hopes up about something and then you unfortunately are let down.  In the restaurant, I'll get so stoked because a very nouveau-riche looking couple will be seated in my section, and then they end up tipping me $30 on a $300 tab.  Very anti-climactic.

However, I also believe that great things might fall apart or not work out so other things can come together and provide better opportunities.  I recently had an article published in the East Hampton Star, the local newspaper, which was great exposure.  It may not have been a TV show in Antigua, but it's a start that hopefully will lead to something else down the road. I don't think we are set up for things that will skyrocket us to success right away. Because if we are, where's the journey? Where's the learning, and making mistakes, and finding ourselves through our experiences that's supposed to happen in our twenties? If we all received six figure jobs right after graduation, life would be pretty bland because there would be nothing to work toward.

So this seems to be the time in life when there are ups and downs, invitations and rejections, clear headedness and confusion. Later in life though, when our life's journey has led us right where we are supposed to be, we'll look back at this time and understand that everything happened for a reason.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Play Nice

Working in the restaurant industry, you can imagine the less than favorable patrons that that often permeate my workplace.  When you go to dinner, I think you should generally be in a good mood.  You have someone waiting on you hand and foot, you're probably with family or friends, the least you could do is be nice to your server...right? 

Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

However, last week, one of Inlet Seafood's patrons happenned to be four-time Oscar nominee, Julianne Moore.  As fate would have it, she was seated in my section of tables.  I was beyond excited.  I'm a huge fan of her work and I had just seen her latest film, "The Kids Are All Right", which I fell in love with.  I approached her table and said hello, mustering up as much confidence as I could and trying to not become too starstruck. 

It was like it happened in slow motion.  She looked up at me and smiled the kindest, most genuine smile I have ever seen.  I introuduced myself and we began talking.  However, I did not once mention that I was a fan of her work or anything too fan-crazy because I assume, being such a great actress, that she gets that a lot.  I wanted her to feel comfortable and at ease.  Afterward, I jotted down her order and made my way into the kitchen to tell the chef to rush the order out for the VIP. 

What truly moved me though was just how kind and congenial she was.  She was not pretentious, condescending or rude, as other celebrities tend to be.  She was a beautiful, down to earth person who treated me with courtesy. 

It made me think about a quote I heard once; "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."  I mean, I think that quote was written for Julianne Moore.  Here she is, an award winning actress with oodles of success and fame, and she is still such a kindhearted and friendly woman.  It made me think about just how important it is to be nice in life.  It can get you so far.  Farther than say, talent or skill sometimes.

Think about it.  I'm trying to find a career right now and no one wants to hire someone mean or boring.  They want employees who are friendly and nice to be around.  I mean, you could have the greatest grades in the world, be the smartest person on the planet, have the brain of a supercomputer, but if you aren't a joy to be around, who's going to want you?

I think personality and friendliness outshines a lot of things.  Don't get me wrong, no one is going to find success if they don't have a good head on their shoulders or have minimal intelligence, but I think people sometimes forget just how far being charismatic and friendly can get you.   

I've always been a pretty happy go-lucky kind of person who values kindness and respect.  At the end of the day people want and need to be around other people who treat them warmly.  There is not a doubt in my mind that if I had an employee who got his work done perfectly but was neglectful personally, I would exchange him for someone who maybe had to work a little harder at the job, but was nicer.  And my assumption is that my potential employers feel similar...

Moral of the story: be nice to everyone because you never know who you're going to meet.

So after Mrs. Moore's food was served, I periodically stopped back at her table to check on her to see if "the kids were all right".  We ended up joking about wine and laughing together, a moment I will cherish for a long time.  And I will remember Julianne Moore the next time I see her on screen not only for being a great actress, but also for being a nice person.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't Fret, We're All In Debt

Debt is a funny thing. I mean, the majority of Americans are in some sort of debt whether it be from mortgages or car payments, or in my particular case, student loans, and that's a scary thing. We've built a society around the idea that it's acceptable to get things right away and then pay for them later. Rather bizarre if you think about it. And what's weirder is, a lot of people in my generation who have graduated or are about to graduate from college are going to have some sort of debt to pay off. We're all in this great big boat of debt and at times it feels like we're going under.

You know why else debt sucks? It doesn't really improve your chances of wooing women. I mean, you'd think it would be such a turn off for ladies to be interested in a guy who's $40,000+ in the hole. But the fact of the matter is, almost everyone, men and women alike, owe money to someone. Creepy.

Today, as I waited on America's upper crust, I pondered about the general idea of debt; that is "Something that is owed or something that one is bound to pay for" and I realized that my job sort of feeds into that idea of debt. Hungry people bark at me what they want to eat and I bring it to them as soon as they tell me. They don't have to pay for their food right away, but instead they put off paying until the end of the meal. Sure it would be weird to think about paying for food right away at a restaurant because it's not what we're used to, but don't you usually have to pay for something to get it? Not in America.

This thought arose in my mind when one of the women who was sitting at my table, a party of 11, said to me, "Thank you so much for doing all of this for us. You really accomodated us well." They were a needy bunch and I bent over backward to please them. Frankly, when she uttered that phrase, I was taken aback. Her daughter's fish tacos came out 5 minutes after everyone else's food and I was sure she was going to rally. However, much to my surprise, she did not. She was grateful. But after she told me how appreciative she was, it made me think that she was indebted to me for providing her and her brood with exceptional service. Now honestly, I don't have delusions of grandeur and think I'm the greatest waiter known to mankind (in fact, sometimes I think I'm not even that good of a waiter, but my uncanny ability to smile through anything and talk my way into peoples' hearts helps me out) but the woman felt like she owed me something, which was interesting.

It turned out, the kindly family tipped me extra after I added the gratuity onto their bill.

So, debt. It's everywhere, all around us, lurking behind every American Express card and palatial mansion. It's interwoven in our culture into things we do not even think twice about. Though it, according to my collegiate peers, "feels like you are paying for things and can't catch up", it's an all-too-real facet of society that we have to suck up and deal with because it probably will never change. Sounds like a bright future, right? Bring on those student loans, baby...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting Tables While Waiting For Dream Job

So, I'm a recent college grad and everyone knows what that means...I'm jobless, careerless, and money-less.  I studied Journalism and Communications in college, which I utterly enjoyed, but now the time has come to stray away from my college fun and all-night-cram-sessions and dive full force into the "real world"; whatever that is.

In a last ditch attempt to squeeze in one last summer vacation before I enter the land of bills, taxes, and all the other grown up responsibilities along the same vein, I escaped to Montauk, NY, the perfect beachside paradise at the very end of Long Island.  I scored an incredible job waiting tables at Inlet Seafood, a delicious seafood restaurant resting on the banks of the Long Island Sound.  Sounds incredible, right?  Well, I can't lie, it is pretty awesome.  The money is great, the people are a ton of fun, and whenever I go into work a celebrity sighting is not uncommon.  In fact, I made special friends in Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romign, who frequent Inlet Seafood when they're in town.  Hearing them call my name and giving Jerry a casual handshake like we've known each other for years really lifted my spirits.  I felt cooler than probably anyone I ever knew.  I just hope they remember me when I see them on the red carpet some day...

It's a charmed life, or so I'm told.  However, my real focus is on what's going to happen next.

In this job climate, prospective employers aren't exactly breaking down the door with job offers.  I mean, I worked very hard for my degree, but I can't help thinking that all my hard work was in vain.  Who's going to hire my bachelor's degree over an industry professional with 20+ years in the biz? 

If nothing else, it motivates me to be the best I can be and always be on top of my game and ready to network.  I'm usually such an optimistic person, but the daunting thought of waiting tables forever is permeating my mind.  Don't get me wrong, walking away with butt-loads cash every night is rewarding, but I went to college and I want to put my hard earned (and expensive) degree to good use. 

Which brings up another fun fact: student loans.  Boy, am I looking forward to that treat.  In just a few short months I'll be getting calls about owing money to the government.  Good thing those celebs tip well; I'm saving almost every dollar I can spare.

So until that date with destiny when my career path starts unfolding, I'm waiting in the Hamptons.  I'm waiting tables and waiting, quite literally, for the opportunity to kick start my career!