Ah, Spring. Birds kinda singing, snow melting and then freezing into treacherous sheets of death, watery sun peeking out behind the clouds...ahh, Spring.
As Spring waxes into Summer, you will hear that phrase that irritates me right down to my eternal, goddessy bones. As school lets out and the teeming masses of Gen Y/Millennial/Whatever Stupid Generational Moniker That Comes After Millennials come home to roost, they will descend upon the modest, unassuming restaurant looking for jobs.
But not just ANY job... a job they can do ‘until they get a REAL job’.
Yes, folks.. those of us who have spent our lives in the food & bar business.. we apparently do not have 'real jobs'.
Forget those slammin’ nights behind the stick, pouring and blending our little hearts out.
Not real, those days when the ‘bus lets out’ and you, your one closing server and your scruffy line cook pull off a miracle of food preparation and service.
Completely faux those long days in the office trying to find a snowball’s chance in hell of meeting your budget.
A mirage that you sleep in your office in your chair after a 16 hour run with a banquet tablecloth as a poor excuse for a blanket because you have a clopen.
No, apparently, the only ‘real’ jobs are those outside of the food & bar service industry. But don’t believe me. Just try taking any kind of poll or survey. Scan the abundant list of jobs someone considers real.
If you are lucky, and only recently, you MAY find something like ‘food service and manufacture’ or ‘hospitality’. As if those limited categories could cover the range of positions within them. But a server isn’t a cook isn’t an assembly line worker isn’t a concierge isn’t a pastry chef isn’t a front desk clerk isn’t a bar manager isn’t a sommelier.
When you check ‘accountant’, that pretty much says it all.. you account for things. Or you are a doctor, a lawyer or an indian chief. Perhaps an retail associate or a miner or a carpenter. All these jobs have their special category, as many do and are fairly obvious as to what they entail.
For us, there is the ubiquitous ‘Other’.
OK. So those are real jobs, but so are ours and, as the biggest industry in America, if not the world, you’d think that we would get the justice we deserve and not just be a bi-way where young people stop on their way to respectable industry.
You know, I believe that OUR industry is, in fact, the oldest profession. The default is, of course, of the silver boot wearing, hoochie-mama, saucy tart persuasion.
But let’s consider...before there was pay to play, there were people eating and drinking and someone making and serving all those comestibles. In fact, the very first thing we do after getting squeezed out and slapped is have us a nice long drink of mother’s milk off the proffered tap.
So, when you hear.. or rather overhear.. a young’un talking about how they are ‘only doing this until I graduate and get a real job’, ask them these questions:
Is there a roof over your head?
Are you eating?
Do you have money?
Gas in your car?
CD’s, clothes, an I-Phone, shoes?
That’s a real job that provides all that.
And then ask:
Do you really think that you are gonna pull down $1000 bucks a week, drink pretty much for free, eat like a king, party like it’s 1999, have a slew of PYT’s at your fingertips, tell the boss when YOU can work and watch a million beautiful sunrises with a posse of great friends-for-now at your entry level accounting job?
Food and Beverage work is REAL work. Important work. We feed the hungry, water the masses, provide a place to celebrate, hang out, watch the team, break up, entertain the kinder, people watch, try the latest trendy cocktail.
We remember our guests, know their stories, look forward to seeing them, run our butts off at their every bidding. We work long hours, rarely get weekends or holidays off, do double shifts, clopen, fill in, take on, bust out.
In fact, we get to do the funnest job on earth...a job that pays us well, allows us to delay maturity, provides a steady stream of new friends and lets us live large.
My little goddessy friend Andrea likes to say that, when it came time to chose what to do with her life, she ‘checked the fun box’ and picked the restaurant business.
So, go ahead, be a shopkeeper or a computer programmer or a scientist or a realtor. Find your path. But don’t for a minute think that this hospitable life isn’t a real job.
It’s real, all right... real fun, real hard, real lucrative, real exciting, real crazy, real important, real life. A real job.
Ya coulda been an accountant. But yer not. Snap. Go on, check the fun box.