A few months ago, I wrote about 10 things I learned in the hospitality industry. It wasn’t particularly complimentary. In fact, I included some pretty gross stuff.
A couple of weeks ago though, when scanning a place we were eating in with a critical eye for its waiter service and how long dishes were left on the hot plate before being run (a habit, even four years on, I can’t shake), Will asked me if I ever missed managing a restaurant.
Actually, I do. Oh, I wouldn’t go back. I’ve put my degree to good use and I’m working my way up the dream career ladder, steadily and hungrily. However, on reflection, there were some serious advantages and perks to working in service.
If you ever want to, or perhaps need to start a job in hospitality, here’s what they are:
Rapport with colleagues
I don’t know another job where you can get so frustrated with someone, call each other a c*nt, go outside to have a cigarette to calm down for five minutes, and then come back in and carry on laughing and joking as usual. It’s a stressful role and everyone recognised that. Nothing was personal, everything was about real team work.
I miss finishing a 14-hour shift and not bothering to go home, but sitting together in the empty restaurant and working your way through a pack of shared fags and your allocated staff drinks …heading to a club until 3am and then doing it all over again the next day. Or maybe that’s rose-tinted glasses – we definitely drank far too much!
You know the job inside out and upside down
By the end of my time at the restaurant, I don’t think there’s anything that could have been asked of me that I couldn’t sort out. I had that shit handled. Nowadays, I’m constantly learning on the job – developing new skills and doing new things. Errday. Whilst doing a great job is hugely satisfying, it can sometimes leave the door open to making mistakes.
When you look at it like that, I do sometimes miss the pure confidence I’d have in walking in the door at the restaurant and knowing that I could absolutely handle whatever the day threw at me. HOWEVER – mistakes make us. I’d also got to the point where there was no more to learn – and where’s the fun in that? Now, I love my personal mini fist-pumps when I manage to pull off a calculated risk at work, and the knowledge I’ll have learned something new by the end of the day.
Now do not get it twisted. I love my monthly pay check. It’s stable, reliable and a HELL of a lot more than I was ever earning before. But…there’s just something about that little brown envelope with your weekly wages in it that I found so satisfying. And the tips! The thrill of clearing the table and finding a crisp fiver under the plate – joy. We used to make (what we thought was) a fortune around Christmas too. If you’re good at your job, it pays off – and those tips helped me out no end when I was at uni.
I certainly do miss the amount of exercise I got on a daily basis. A 12 hour shift, four or five times a week, walking to and from home …even with food, we were definitely creating a calorie deficit. It’s probably why we never gained any weight from all the booze we were drinking each night!
Sitting at a desk now, I have to be careful with what I eat, and there’s definitely more of a need for ‘proactive’ exercise, i.e. having to actually run my ass off until I’m dead a few times a week.
Not having to shop on the weekend
If you’ve never had the luxury of having a job where your days off are in the week, you don’t get it. Casually sweeping around shops, walking at the pace you like, not having to stop yourself CRACKING PEOPLE ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD FOR WALKING TOO SLOWLY. Switching to a 9-5 and venturing out to do a usual shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon had me thinking I’d made an error in life choice. Thank god for Amazon Prime, eh?
New people, everyday
My job is exciting and creative, I work with some great people and there are always more opportunities to meet fun and interesting individuals, whether that’s a prospect, client, journalist, influencer or colleague. My life is full of a bunch of sick people (my 2017 / 18 resolution, get rid of the arseholes – tick). Pretty much though, all these people are on a level and are fairly normal and friendly – or as normal as you can be, working in consumer PR, where you have to come up with wacky ideas daily.
So, I definitely miss the absolute fascination of meeting the biggest arseholes on the planet. There was nothing more fun for me than to sit and listen to how much of a stupid fucking blonde I was for serving them mushroom with bread dumplings that I asked for that but I am CLEARLY GLUTEN FREE [are you?] AND IT SHOULD BE CLEARLY MARKED ON THE MENU [it is]. I will never cease to be amazed at the lengths people will go to for a couple of pounds off a bill. Absolutely amazing. I wish I could write down all my stupid customer stories. Maybe I will, I’ve bloody got enough.
Maybe the last one is a weird quirk of mine, but working in hospitality isn’t all bad (although a lot of it is pretty fucking bad). I still definitely think it should be a requirement for everyone to have to work in a hospitality environment to understand what it’s like to be on the other side. Might write to the PM to make it part of work experience requirements or something. You might encounter the worst kind of scum (NB: you will), but you’ll also experience the fast-paced fun the job can bring.