Jobless And Broke In DT Toronto

Ever since I moved to Toronto, my life has done a complete one 180.

Before I moved, I was very comfortable with my life, too comfortable in fact. There were no more big challenges for me. I stopped growing, and that's why I had to leave. 

I had a nice, affordable apartment in downtown Fredericton, an AMAZING king size bed, and I got to drive around my parents' balling Chrysler 300. I lived seven minutes away from my family, I worked from home for Nora Swimwear but I had a good job at a restaurant that I could always fall back on and pick up shifts, and I pretty much did or bought anything I wanted (within reason.) 

Purchasing last minute trips to Cuba or expensive concert tickets? Yep, that was me. 

I would meet with friends for sushi or nachos once or twice a week, go for blizzards with my boyfriend, and get coffee from Starbucks or Reads on the regular. BUT I felt stuck. The move to Toronto was inevitable. I knew it was going to happen. I wanted it, and I needed it. 

I moved to the city on May 19, 2017. I was eager and I had a plan.

  • Get a job at a high-end restaurant
  • Make LOADS of money
  • Make super cool connections on the job
  • Land a big position in fashion or media through those connections
  • Live happily ever after

Spoiler alert. NONE of this worked out like I had planed, but we'll get to that later. 

My apartment is located in the entertainment district (aka, I can see the Rogers Centre from my building). It's a one bedroom plus den. I have the den. My room is the size of a large elevator. I have a single bed, a desk, a shelf, and a wardrobe. There's no TV.  The apartment itself is beautiful and brand new. It's twice as small and twice as expensive than my old place in Fredericton, but I have no complaints (and I have a roommate!) 

My second day in Toronto, I landed a job at a restaurant on King St. West. The owner guaranteed me five shifts a week. It looked perfect and every thing seemed to be going according to plan. 

I started working at this restaurant three days later. The first training shift felt okay, I shadowed a few of the servers and watched how they engaged with their customers. I followed them around, took drink orders, poured water, and brought fresh bread over to tables. I went back the next day for my second training shift and I managed to keep up but I still wasn't sure about the place. During the shift, the person I was shadowing told me I was standing too close to them while training, and during the third shift, my trainer tried to teach me how to hold my tray "properly". 

"Hold it like this" she said, as she held the tray with one hand, elbow in, away from her body. 

"But I've always held my trays like this," I said. (I hold my tray with one hand, but with my elbow touching my stomach so I can keep the tray steady with my body). 

"You need to learn to do it this way." she said. 

I tried it her way for a minute, but went back to my way, the same way I've held a tray for the past five years working as a server at McGinnis Landing.  

Later in the night she caught me holding my tray "the wrong way" again and it felt like I was being scolded. 

"Babe, you've got to hold it like this" she said as she motioned to me how to hold it "properly" again. 

"You'll get use to it and you'll thank me me later," she said. 

Later that night while I was clearing some plates off the table, she told me to hold the plates straight because things could fall off when I lifted them up. She grabbed onto my plate while I was holding it and turned it completely straight. 

"There ya go" she said. 

After my shift, I started feeling like this particular restaurant was not for me. 

Monday was my next shift and I woke up stressed and in tears. I didn't want to go. It wasn't just because of my bad experience during the last training session, I concluded that I really didn't like it there. I called my mom, cried a lot, and then she told me to quit. 

I hate quitting. I always do my best and I stick it out as long as I can. I quit my last job in marketing because I started getting a lot more freelance work from Maclean's, but the company understood and even encouraged it. I don't quit unless it's on good terms or I have something else lined up. 

This time however, I had only been serving there for three days so I felt like I was failing. I HATE failing, but the thought of going back to that place was even worse than the feeling of failure. Also remember, I had nothing else lined up. Forty minutes after getting off the phone with my mom, I worked up the courage to call my boss and quit. My ex-boss said "thank you for calling" and hung up. 

It felt really good. But now, I was basically jobless. I was earning a small income from side projects, but not enough to make a living, at least the living that I was use to. When my boyfriend moved to Toronto two weeks later (which is another story) he helped me out by paying for things and buying me a small load of groceries. My parents and other family members helped a lot too. I felt embarrassed not being able to provide for myself.

I saved some money before I went to Toronto, but I spent most of it during my first two weeks on sit-down dinners, concert tickets, and clothing ( I figured I'd be making money quickly so I did not choose to be frugal). My credit cards were being used like crazy, and I watched my bank account fade. I had money to cover my rent for the summer, but that was it. 

My plan crumbled in front of me, so I started thinking of other ways to make money. Old dreams began to brew again, and new and exciting interests starting coming around.

I'm talking about acting, dance, and improv. But we'll get into that later. 

Thanks for reading, 

- Alex