Emma Koza joins SDTC for a four-part series entitled, Diary Of A Hostess. Read parts one, two and three.

Part 4: The Good and The Bad

The one thing I know for sure is that everything has both good and bad qualities to it. Miserable rainy days feed the plants so they can support animal life and make our air clean. Even hostessing, for all its challenges and frustrations, had its benefits. Lessons learned from the messy mistakes are invaluable. For those I am grateful.

Before I moved here a year ago, I was a student. I had always been a student, surrounded by people the same age as me, with whom I had at least three things in common. I always had peers and I always had friends. At Queen’s University, we spent the first week of our new lives in shirts that are definitely not one-size-fits-all doing activities involving finger paints, mud and choreographed dance routines as part of a forced bonding experience called “frosh week.” It is ridiculous and embarrassing but it works. In real life there are no parents setting up play dates, no principals and teachers working together to create a safe environment and no silly songs you can sing to feel like you’re a part of something. I thought that in a city as large and diverse as Toronto I would easily make friends, but in actuality, it was extremely difficult.

Being offered a hostess job after months of looking was a relief because I was broke and unhappy. Having a job gave me a sense of purpose, something to be responsible for and a schedule. Because I now had the chance to see the same people over again and routinely, I was able to build lasting relationships. Having a job gave me the sense of community I missed so much from my life in Kingston. It’s small, only a taste, but I’m learning that it grows the longer I stay at the same work place.

Making adult workplace friendships is intimidating because, other than the job itself (and all the things you hate about it), there is no guaranteed commonality. Those ill-fitting shirts from frosh week are like a magic spell that makes everyone look approachable and act friendly. The value in diversity is an obvious one but I didn’t have a complete understanding of it until I was able to experience it myself. Maybe it’s on that list of things—falling in love, watching the sunrise, the taste of a P&L burger—that you can’t understand until it happens to you.

Working in a restaurant is an attractive job because tips allow us to make more than minimum wage and with service hours that operate on an opposite schedule than the rest of the world, it is possible to dedicate time to another job, school or a passion project. You could have a med student, a mother, a guy who makes furniture and someone whose first language is not the same as yours work with you and become your friends.

Ultimately working as a hostess has given me the opportunity to (sort of) support myself while I live in the city and try to figure it out.