Everyone should have to work a service industry job

Alex Hopper, News Editor

Everyone should have to work a service industry job. Nowhere else will you find such a convergence of life lessons under one roof. Nowhere else can you get a front row seat for all that humanity has to offer.

Working in a restaurant is a social experiment to see how many different reactions you can get from a group of people in one night. It can be a war-zone, and in the field of battle you’re vulnerable, tired, underpaid and armed with only a pen and a notepad.

It’s a funny game really, walking up to someone with a simple task – getting their drink and food order – never knowing the answer to the question “are y’all doing okay tonight?”

In the service industry, you are victim to the customer’s mood and unique set of personal issues. Someone is mad at their wife? Not anymore, they are mad at you.

On top of predisposed displeasures, being waited on changes some people. They may not have walked in thinking they deserved the world, but they sure do now, and you will suffer the consequences.

There is nothing worse than feeling like you are trying your best, running back and forth, only to be met with unsatisfactory remarks or a blank tip line.

It’s sad when you are met with basic- level politeness and find it to be a rarity.

You have to learn how to deal with people and their ugly sides, brush yourself off and leave it at the door.

Especially these days, when everywhere is understaffed, being a server can feel like a futile venture.

You inevitably have to end up becoming a one-man band, taking on more responsibility than your role entails.

Busing tables, moving furniture, rolling silverware and polishing glasses all need to be completed after having spent the last four hours of the shift stressed and uncomfortably waiting tables.

When you first start out at a service industry job, even the behind the scenes operations can be uncomfortable. Meeting your team, learning how the kitchen likesthe orders put in, finding out where they keep everything – most of which you will never use – are all changes you have to roll with.

However, this team becomes your only back-up defense. Once you walk out of the kitchen doors it’s just you and them against everybody else, so get comfortable with one another.

You have to learn to be adaptable and become a hands-on learner. Everyday is different, and even when you think you know what you are doing – surprise – you do not.

You can never prepare enough when working with the general public. They will always find ways to surprise you. Just when you’ve worked out last shift’s kinks, they have found new and unique ways to put you behind.

After being a server, you start acting differently in restaurants. You will never have a dining experience the same way again, because now you know the behind- the-scenes secrets.

Instead of thinking my food magically appears because I said I wanted it, I now see all of the steps my server has taken with not only my table but the many others’ they have that night.

“Can we split the check?” I will never utter again.

Of course, there are positives about working in the service industry. People aren’t all bad (even though I might disagree with that statement some nights).

Working with the public, you get to meet all kinds of people and hear their stories.

They ask you questions about your life, having genuine interest in how you got to where you are today.

They can also be sympathetic to your struggles of being a server, both in spirit and financially.

If you’re in a talkative mood, there is no better place to socialize.

People from all walks of life come together for a singular purpose, and you get to be the center of it all.

Working in the service industry is harder than people realize from the outside. It’s manual labor, being a therapist and
a clean-up crew all-in-one. You can gain confidence in your ability to adapt to any circumstance and to navigate people and their eccentricities.

At the very least, you can decide that waiting tables is not for you, and all the sudden those college classes don’t seem so hard to get to.

Whether its for a long time or a little, working in the service industry is an essential experience.