• Chad R. MacDonald

Yes, Restaurant Jobs are Important

Photo by Dave Kaup

Not long ago I told someone that I was proud to be a restaurant industry veteran. Their response was troubling. They thought this was a funny thing to be proud of, because after all, restaurant jobs "aren't that important."

"Those aren't the kinds of jobs that make a difference in people's lives," she said. "One should be proud of a job that makes an impact, not something like a restaurant job." Not that important?

Not that impactful? Let me tell you a little story.

In 2005 I was working a small Italian fine dining place. First table of the night was an obvious first date. He was a little nebbishy, kinda nerdy looking, she was more flamboyantly dressed and extroverted, but both were in their late forties and neither of them couldn't have been more nervous or awkward around each other.

When I approached the table, they weren't looking at each other, but nervously staring into the menus.

So I decided to save their night.

I suggested drinks, got them talking about their favorite drinks, got them talking to each other, and disappeared.

When I came back, they'd reverted to awkwardness again, so I started chatting brightly about the weather, how weird it had been, how the changes in weather made me feel, and got them talking to me about it. Once again, I redirected them to each other, and disappeared again.

On my next return, they were back to being shy, so I brought up March of the Penguins, which had recently been released. I'd just seen it, asked if they'd both seen it, they had, and so I again redirected them to talking to each other.

That seemed to do it, they needed no more help from me and they enjoyed the rest of the evening.

The restaurant shut down suddenly later that year, as restaurants tend to do.

In 2009 I was working in an upscale sports pub. The same couple came in. They didn't recognize me at all. They were now clearly comfortable with each other, and settled into their night with an easy practiced grace.

They both had wedding rings.

That's a standard day in the life of a restaurant and bar worker. We help you create happy memories. We forward your relationships. We give you somewhere to be other than home or at work. And we prevent tragedy. More than one bartender has talked someone down from suicidal thoughts. Yes, we make a difference in people's lives. Every day, multiple times a day.

The people who say "anyone can do the job" that restaurant workers do have simply never done it. They have no idea what it takes to work in "The Industry."

As for making an impact, here's a quick thought experiment to explore. If every CEO from every bank and/or corporation took the day off tomorrow, you wouldn't even notice. If everyone in the restaurant industry took the day off, the world would grind to a standstill.

Tell me again how restaurant jobs "aren't that important."

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