Let's face it. If you've ever been in a position of servitude, you've probably wondered if that was the path of your life and if you'd ever get out of it and land a real job. As I've been in and out of restaurants for- gasp- 15 years, I've realized there are a ton of benefits to it. Here are mine:
1. You can always get a job. Even if it's just a backup.
2. There's usually a great meal waiting at the end of your shift.
3. You meet all kinds of interesting people. And some less than pleasant ones, but usually they're solid folks with a wealth of stories. If you work in the biz, eventually you get some great stories of your own.
4. Learning to multi-task. When I get in the zone, I check everything about the real world at the door and all I care about is keeping my head down and getting through the rush.
5. There is something so gratifying about making people feel they are taken care of.
6. A flexible schedule. I have evenings free and there's always someone to cover if you want time off. Plus, time flies. A six-hour shift goes by in a snap.
7. If it's slow, I learn about my colleagues, or scribble ideas on cocktail napkins in between side work.
8. At my latest restaurant, I have a view of the Russian River flowing into the Pacific. And I'm instantly happy and grateful.
9. I learn something new every day. Today a customer told me about the Sazerac, the first cocktail ever invented, the step by step process of making it, and the restaurants in the country that made them the best. I bartended in New York for two years and had never heard of it.
10. The bottom line. It's pretty rad walking out the door with a bit of cash in hand.
I find I often apologize when I talk to people about my patchwork quilt of restaurant jobs as if it indicated a lack of ambition. I realize it can give a range of experience to people you meet, places you've lived, general observation, work ethic, stress management, and even keeping in a positive mindset. There are days when the last thing I feel like doing is talking to other people, let alone be pleasant and charming. Those are the days when I have a complete turnaround and walk out the door feeling happy, with a sense of accomplishment.
Each and every moment of our lives is propelled by our interactions with each other. There is nothing that is too small or insignificant to make an impact, even with a cup of coffee or a smile.