Privilege to Collect

I currently live in my dad’s truck. Now that was enough of an opening statement for you to open this post, huh?

Yes, I’m a stray cat and my litter box is a gallon sized Arrowhead plastic bottle in case of the dark AM emergency – when I need to pee. Other than that, I don’t need a mattress and I sleep just fine.

So, I came back from NY last April. I was renting a room in a small town shortly across the George Washington Bridge – yeah, I didn’t think it through- paid work taxes in two states when the only real time I’d come in contact with my room would be when I didn’t work or when I’d enjoy a fully stove cooked meal. So for the proud 16 months that I was out there – $600 x 16 and the rent came out to $9,600.

I hear the struggles of Talia, the YELP employee who got fired for voicing the struggles of her living conditions – to all other entry level employees who feel the same, I’m sorry. If I too were in SF, I’d probably have no other choice but to crop my current truck to an accessible van – making it mobile through the city and through parking regulations.

What’s the hardest part of living like I do now? Answering the question, “Where do you live?”. Yeah, that’s it. The easiest part is actually sleeping through the night. To everyone in their 20’s not paying rent, you and I are on the same boat- same truck. And why is “I live with my parents” a more socially acceptable and less embarrassing answer? 

So let the judgments fly and while the swatters let their privileges determine why they cannot relate, I’ll try to live a godly, healthy, and creative life. If the wheels on the truck fell off and if the container let in rain would I be able to survive? Sure. If I needed to sort through bottles in trash cans to collect money would I be able to cash enough in? Sure. And if I can live without the microcosms that tell me I’m superior to others would I endure it as a lie or actually live in that truth? I’m hoping in the latter. 

A homeless man was digging a trash can for bottles and as soon as I opened my car door he asked me, “Do you have any recyclables?” MY GOD. THE HUMILITY OF THIS MAN TO STRAIGHT OUT NOT ASK ME FOR MONEY. Instead, I found some change in my car and transferred it to his hand. “That’s like 10 bottles.” Go on collecting my friend, go on collecting. 

And I’ve been collecting more of His wisdom- divine in the process, repentant of the pursuit, and more peaceful with the outcome. More gradually within the past two years, I’ve learned that there is no one black and white way to love Jesus, but there is only one way to respond to His love. Jesus, I love you in return. 

Tips, Inc.

Let’s explore the tipping culture in America. I’m probably only really thinking of LA and NY. Below is the conversation between Luigi, Sejin and David.

Sejin works at Nobu, a restaurant who leaves it up to guests to tip accordingly. David works at Kazunori (SUGARFISH) where each check automatically adds 16% service charge onto the bill (18% at SUGARFISH).

Luigi’s argument: Much of what a server, barista, or bartender does in the hospitality industry is HIS/HER JOB. So why create a custom of tipping around the 20% mark? It’s absurd.

PRODUCT = PRODUCT + SERVICE.
PRODUCT = EXPERIENCE.

Sejin’s argument: Much of what these hospitality enthusiasts get paid isn’t reflected fairly without tip. These environments make it a pay-it-forward responsibility for customers to reward them for doing a good job.

PRODUCT = PRODUCT.
PRODUCT + SERVICE = EXPERIENCE.

Luigi: Shouldn’t the owners pay them that difference? It’s unfair for me to feel bad for not leaving tip as if their livelihood becomes my responsibility. I rather have no problem with going to places where the tip is already included.

Sejin: What’s the difference between tip being mandatory and it being your responsibility to accurately reflect that yourself?

Luigi: I can make that choice of going or not beforehand.

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Why is there presumably a high starting turnover rate at SUGARFISH?

These individuals weren’t promoted quickly enough. The management’s game is to have these workers be excited about higher pay at a higher position. But it speaks loudly because their current pay is shallow in its depth of field. Taking longer than expected? Got screwed? Quit.

Why is there a low turnover rate at Nobu?

Promotion for a higher position may take a while. BUT current pay (tip percentage) is reflective of the work being done.

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Overall, I feel like if Nobu moved away from the tip system, I’d have a much harder time finding great reason to work there. It’s hard work! There should be a documentary about BUSSERS. I’m glad I moved out of the catering and retail world. Honestly, the pay was upsetting. I feel bad walking into a retail store. I know I’ll probably dig lower in a pile to find my size and stand dumbfounded because I don’t know how to do a perfect fold to put it back. I’ll just leave having made a mess. If I could leave a tip at a Club Monaco to erase the mistakes of having made the store look like my closet, I’d be happy to do so. Then I wouldn’t leave knowing I just purchased something that I’ll return in a couple days because I felt bad.

By the way, I’ve gotten more generous with tipping- working from within changes the perspective.

The Amphibian’s Death

I booked a Pepsi gig recently, only to have left disappointed. Oh, did I mention that I did a fitting the day before and went through the same run through at the shoot only to be left out entirely- I won’t be in the ad and I won’t receive a heftier paycheck. I left bitter and sweetened my revenge to the casting gods in a losing attempt. “If I ever book Pepsi again… well what can get worse?”

That same day I gained advice from my beloved biblical and marine mentor, Daniel- what’s the difference between active and reserve duty? What are the benefits of becoming an officer? I was one physical away from completing the last portion for enlistment to the US army. Instead, I failed the over-the-phone Korean test and now with my recruiter giving me a cold shoulder, it’s as if I never met the requirements for the MAVNI program to begin with. Citizenship, will you marry me?

I disregard articles that promote special international flights at dirt cheap rates, and I calmly toot via email that my agents should release me on options that hold me for jobs overseas. Germany, I wanted to go, and Braun thank you for even considering me.

I feel like I’m slighted at work- I’m doing as well as my coworkers yet my tip percentage is less. How much does 5% make a difference? It’s an average of $15-$25 a night. How many nights have gone by? PLENTY. What gets me to the next 5%? Countless consecutive nights of perfection – believe me, the ink of their reasons is drying out and the mental cord of “I QUIT” is only harnessed with prayers of godly sanctification.

Jesus, my feet are tired. My vision is impaired. The light that stretches below the pool of water wades my eyes to want to follow it, but I lose breath before I do. The water is warm and the air is cold. My body is tucked in, but my head peeks out. I envy the amphibian that plays on different terrain. It finds community in the comforts of its skin and decides to leave when the stench of its predators seep in. It’s a regular in its hometown and travels when its met with arrogance and deceit. It takes seafood on Monday and poultry on Tuesday allowing its menu to rarely hit repetition. The weight of Your glory sinks me and the droop of my flesh wants to get out. It’s the amphibian in me that wants to choose complaint over conditioning and luck over discipline. Oh, that amphibian needs to die. Jealously and anger grind too coarse and hate permeates too quickly from mind to heart to action. Jesus, take the scales off my soul, my amphibious entitlements, my burdens, and my right foot’s Plantar Fasciitis. Take everything.