I have been talking so much about going on vacation lately that I need to stop or it may end up like X-Men Origins: Wolverine; just doesn’t live up to the hype. I sometimes go on about things at work a little bit much, but the truth is, believe it or not, I am really going to miss working and the people I work with while I am gone. Well, maybe not every-day-all-the-time kind of missing; but I will be thinking about what might be going on there at certain times of the day, what the crew is doing etc. I am one of those sick and twisted individuals that truly love their job. The restaurant business, and those of us who choose it as a career, are sick and twisted that way. We bitch about it constantly, but we really love what we do. We love doing it, and we strive to do it the best we can.
The bond that can develop within a restaurant crew is a unique thing. A big part of it is the “Foxhole Mentality”: sharing a difficult and challenging task and surviving to tell the tale over beers and shots at the bar; or maybe it’s just the beers and shots. Another aspect is the build-up, set-up, and execution of that task; and the fact that every day, every shift, no matter how buried you are or how difficult the guests or the actual work becomes, it all ends and nobody dies. Just sweep up the eyeballs and go home. I read a study once that said restaurant people have lower stress levels because we experience much more closure in our jobs than people in many other professions. For lots of those that have “real jobs”, work just goes on and on like Desperate Housewives: just when you think something is resolved and over, it really isn’t, and now there’s something else. There is always work in their “IN BOX”. In our jobs, we greet our guests, feed them, we give them something to drink; we make them happy, they thank us, pay and then leave. Our “IN BOX” is always empty at the end of the day. Closure.
As management, I do tend to “take the office home” somewhat, but nowhere near the extent that people in “business” seem to; and I really don’t mind it. On my days off I can relax a bit because I know that there are people on the job, doing the work, that care just as much about the success of the place as I do.
Restaurant people don’t need much in the way of praise and accolades (although five-star reviews are nice to get) to validate themselves. We want the place we work to be the best simply because this is where we work; and the overall quality of the experience we deliver reflects directly upon us and on our skills. The money we earn is positive re-enforcement enough of our worth. It’s not important to me that guests at our restaurant know my name when they leave, or remember me later. What is important is that they remember the food, wine, and the professionals that served them; and that the overall experience is positive and memorable enough for them to tell somebody else.
I love the fact that I am finally at the point in my career where my boss listens to what I say; and he values my opinions and experience. I don’t have complete and total free rein over the place by any means, but I am left alone to make many crucial decisions that affect the business and its operation; and I like to think it is because I have earned his respect and trust. In the past I have worked for Chefs and owners that seemed determined to micro-manage themselves right out of business because they wouldn’t trust the very people that they themselves had hired.
So, now about that swim-up bar…