In February, I got a job at a locally-owned burger joint in Dallas, TX to earn some money for when I go back to school in the Fall. Since working there, I have noticed that some people truly don’t know what it’s like to work in the service industry and treat us as such. Here’s a list of reasons why everyone should either have at least one service job in their life, or should sympathize with those who do.
1. You understand how much tips mean.
Tipping your waitress or bartender is something that I’ve been taught to do from the very beginning. To me, it seems simple. Even if you’re strapped for cash, you can probably afford a couple bucks and maybe a nice note to the person who provided you with sustenance and service for the time that you were in the establishment for which they work. But, for some people, it’s not as much of a regular thing but more of a sign of gratitude for great service. Working in the food industry, I have learned that tips can make a huge difference in my income, my morale, and my overall outlook on the world around me for that given day. That might sound selfish, but honestly I hate it when people run up a $100 tab and then don’t think that it’s appropriate to tip just because we’re not bringing the food out to them at the restaurant that I work at. We still have to make the burger and we make sure that it’s done right and that the customer feels welcome and happy with their experience. That’s sometimes more work than the pay is worth.
2. You learn how to work with people.
Everyone has to eat. At my place of work, I get to interact with all types of people on a day-to-day basis, especially when I’m working the cash register. I make jokes, interact with the customer, and go out of my way to make sure that they’re getting the experience that they pay for when they walk through our doors. We have a unique environment that takes a fair amount of effort to create, and some people make it harder than others. In today’s world where people would usually rather avoid conflict and give up than push through, a service industry job helps prepare you for situations where you have to deal with picky, difficult people and, at a bare minimum, just make it through the conversation having accomplished the goal that you set out to achieve at the beginning. Again, some people will be more difficult than others. They want their burger cooked a certain way; they want the fried egg that comes on that burger to not be too runny, but not too hard; they want to have two tomatoes and half a slice of onions and just 1/4th of a leaf of lettuce and not one iota more; and you have to provide that to them. They’ll bitch and moan about how they didn’t get ranch when they thought that it came with the meal, when we clearly have signage that indicates otherwise. They want free stuff because we messed up their order and at the end of the day you just have to smile and give them what they want in hopes that they will appreciate the fact that we didn’t question them and tell their friends about us, because word of mouth is the most powerful and prolific form of advertisement.
3. You gain an appreciation for how much it sucks to work with people (sometimes).
The difficult and the ignorant are starting to become more and more numerous by the day, or at least that’s what it seems like to me. Learning to work with these kinds of people and still get something done is invaluable. There are going to be different kinds of people at every place that you go over the course of your life and you sometimes have to deal with “those people” that either think that they deserve to be treated different than everyone else, or they just don’t pay attention to the world around them which makes things harder for you and others that are trying to talk to them and help them. Patience is a virtue, but boy is it a damn hard trait to come by.
4. You can bring what you learn home to help cook for your friends and family.
Guacamole is funto make. There are restaurants out there that specifically market their guacamole because it’s made right next to the table and it tastes really good to boot. The ability to make good food for people and see their reaction is awesome, and it’s a skill that I’ve attained and hope never to lose. I love being able to cook for friends and family and hear that I did a good job and that they want more in the future. It makes you the friend that everyone wants to have at a party just so people can have stuff to munch on while they’re pounding brews, or so you can make them some hangover food in the morning.
5. It’s fun as hell.
I honestly wouldn’t trade these last couple months for anything. It’s taught me some invaluable lessons and I have gained transferrable skills that will help me in job hunting after I leave school and start looking for jobs elsewhere in the private sector. The fact is, there really isn’t a downside to working in the service industry besides the pay. However, I feel like those that show initiative and motivation can rise fast in any one of these jobs, and the pay will start to become less of an issue as time moves on. So go out, find a local joint, and grab a part time job if you have the extra hours. You’ll thank yourself in the end for being able to see how the other side of the equation operates, and you’ll have a lot of fun in the process.