I happened to be wandering about the blogosphere the other day and stumbled upon the tumbler blog of a friend of mine. Well. By friend I mean friend of a friend. That sort of person. We've met. He's nice. I like him. Very intelligent well spoken individual. Which is why what I read surprised the hell out of me.
LONG story short...due to some experiences he had he said, "I have already declared that none of my children will be allowed to work in the restaurant industry when that time of their life comes around."
I'm Hoping that he was saying this with his tongue firmly in cheek.
I'm Hoping that he was being more than a little sarcastic. As he's prone to be. And I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here...because this statement was so out of character for him. On so many levels.
But I'm going to approach it on why it upset me.
If someone, namely my parents had said to me, you're Forbidden to work in the restaurant industry I would have missed out on a huge part of my self. And because of this world I worked in I learned skills that I was able to carry over into every other job I have had since.
Waitress: The organization needed to maintain 12 tables of hungry people, all at different stages of their meals. You learn to move quickly. You learn efficiency. You learn customer service or you don't pay your rent.
Line Chef: Again. Organization. Time management. Taking your day and breaking it down by tasks. And you'd better have your mis en place right or you are fucked for the night. Just like any other job. If you don't have your shit together for that meeting? Yah. And working as a team. Huge with this one. Learning how to take my 'stuff', leave it at the door and get the job done. Which was interesting, because generally, by the time the job was done...my 'stuff' had worked itself out. We didn't need umpteen different meetings and write-ups about it to discuss it.
Catering Chef: This can possibly be summed up with the title of my forth coming book "101 Uses for a Latex Glove". From Tourniquet to piping bag, I've seen and done pretty much everything with these handy buggers. But the underlying lesson? Creativity. Being able to look at an object and see dozens of uses for it. Who doesn't need to know how to McGyver their way through life?
The biggest lesson I carried away from my years in The Industry? Customer Service. Dealing with the public. Not just, 'Meh, customer service...'. Doing it well. Getting the details right. Understanding that when you fake it people can tell. And understanding that when you are on that side of the desk, or the kitchen, you have the ability to make, or ruin, someone's day. Yes. People suck sometimes. Hungry people with screaming kids in a foreign land with jet lag? Good times. But a genuine smile, followed by laughter and a box of crayons will get you quite far in this world.
Now, don't get me wrong. There is quite a bit wrong with The Industry. It is one of the most abusive, sexist, drug and alcohol infested work environments that I know of. I saw, heard, and experienced more shit then I care to remember.
It is also one of the most diverse, accepting, hard-working and creatively inspiring professions I've ever been involved in.
So, please, my friend. If you were possibly even remotely at all serious about barring your children from this avenue of profession. Reconsider. I managed to make it through 13 years without being scarred for life. We aren't all degenerate psychos.
And Yes. My knife skills come in handy...but they seemed to be frowned upon at the offices I worked in...