(I've literally had these conversations. Many times.)
It seriously makes me feel panicked, even though I've not NEEDED to pick up a shift the entire time I've been juggling Cheesecake and my full time job (and my freelancing and my Etsy shop...). In the back of my head I always said, "I need to keep on at Cheesecake just in case we need extra money for some reason." And you know what? I've never once had to pick up a shift because I actually needed to. I've also come to realize and understand and believe that since I've been there for so long and am leaving on good terms--I can always come back! People do it all the time--seasonally or moving back in town after living somewhere else for awhile.
But even Saturday (after being called in as a standby to work on New Year's Day!) I found myself wavering about whether or not I should quit. I said goodbye to Roy, a regular who sits at the bar, and he teared up and was so sad to see me go! He said he so looks forward to our chats on Saturday mornings and it about broke my heart. I didn't foresee anyone being that sad I was leaving. So I gave him a big hug and a business card so he can read my blog (Hi, Roy, if you ever read this!) and that was that.
Another thing about serving that made me waver today was the realization that in no other profession can you meet such an array of people in such a short amount of time. I met two of someone else's regulars today and it might turn into a freelance editing job at some point in the future. They were such wonderful, nice people and it was great to meet them. We decided that they were meant to be in my section today instead of their usual server's so that we could exchange information about her book for the future. It's the networking and coincidences and contacts and friendships that you make that has me finding it so hard to leave. (I attribute my current full-time job to a couple in the company I served when they came in to celebrate a family birthday. Let me know if you're interested in that story.)
(This is brilliant for so many reasons: secret shoppers, lemonade, etc.)
One thing I'm super excited for? Knowing that I can plan anything for the future. I don't have to worry if I requested a day off in time. Or if I'll be scheduled on a holiday because we can't request off. It feels so freeing to know that my time is really now my own. And the nights and weekends are just open with no guilt strings attached. When I get rid of shifts I feel an enormous sense of guilt because I just think about the money I could have been making. I don't have to worry about that anymore! :)
Cheesecake Factory has really been the best place I've ever served. There have definitely been challenges, but it was leaps and bounds above everywhere else I've served as far as atmosphere, professionalism, management, co-workers, etc. The good thing is that, as we all know, I currently eat at Cheesecake Factory more than I serve there anyways! :) So I'm sure I'll be able to strike a nice balance in the future.