Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!
It's no secret. I'm a big fan of working in food and beverage despite all its pitfalls and pratfalls. It's not an easy life but every time I get too bummed out about it I thank God I'm not chained to a desk in a dark cubicle somewhere, dealing with an endless line of people while working at the DMV or stocking shelves at Big Lots. But, like any other industry, The Biz has its shortcomings and they are generally in the lifestyle department. The money is usually pretty decent, it's fun, and there are a lot of perks but the bad stuff is enough to make a real dent in your personal life (and maybe make you pull your hair out.) Here are my picks for the seven worst ways F & B will ruin your life.
1. You'll Probably Hate People
Okay, it's not that you're gonna categorically despise everyone but it's more like you'll learn to hate the CONCEPT of people (if that makes any sense). Okay, imagine if you are a fireman; assuming you are not a total pyromaniac you probably don't want to be around a lot of raging fires on your day off. It's the same in The Biz. A huge part of what you do entails dealing with the public's random nonsense and, believe me, if you get a chance to avoid it you will. You know who we hang out with on our days off? Other peeps like us and it's not because of the schedule.
2. You're Gonna Party Too Much
Unlike most fields, failing a pre-employment drug screening is probably a requirement in The Biz; in fact, testing positive for two or more illicit substances might get you promoted right away. That's not much of an exaggeration either. We generally make our cash every night then go screaming off immediately after to squander it all, raging 'til the wee hours of the morning. It's beyond a cliche that all of us party to the extreme but you really don't realize its excess and pervasiveness until you get down in the trenches.
3. You Might Get Trapped
It's fun to party but the biggest pitfall of The Biz is getting overly caught up in the culture and realizing it too late. I remember when a much loved bar near my house closed up a few years ago and a long-time bartender friend who had been there for decades was ass-out of a job with no other skills or prospects. The biggest warning I have to newbies is do something else while you are partying like it's 1999. Anything. Night shifts and flexible hours make it easy to sell denim on eBay, have a little side gig doing catering or spend two of your precious days a week taking a class at OCC. Seriously, always have a plan B for when you are too old or burned-out to handle it anymore. And don't forget most restaurant jobs don't have a 401k and you're probably not paying much into Social Security, so be prepared to work 'til you drop.
4. Your Memory Will be Shot
It's true! Bartenders, chefs and servers are constantly entering bits of information into their brains only to forget them moments later when they pour a drink/hand off an order ticket and that is NOT good for your neuroplasticity. The evidence is only anecdotal but my experience is that every person working F & B has the attention span of a ferret on meth and they'll probably remember what their first car was long before they remember what they had for dinner last night. Of course, drinking all that booze and eating those pot dispensary Twinkies probably doesn't help much (don't even get me started on all the blow that goes around).
5. You'll Have Some Serious PTSD
It's a little known fact that I spent a decade of my life schlepping chickens and pouring pitchers of crappy domestic beer at Medieval Times. Since then I have thankfully gone on to other career choices, a few of them very high pressure (like getting browbeaten ten hours a day by James Cameron while interning on Titanic). But you know what I have stress/anxiety dreams about to this day? F'ING MEDIEVAL TIMES!!!!! It's true of every server/bartender/chef I have ever known. Do my teacher friends have stress dreams at the start of a new school year? Nope! It's always about some restaurant job they had as a kid and they got sat late, can't get their tables bussed or the credit card machine is down. Wifey is a professor at CSULB and the only stress dreams she has are about running plates of bland Mexican food and crappy salsa at Don Pablos a million years ago in Ohio. Unless you go on to work in an ER or enter combat, it's probably the most traumatic thing you'll do for a living.
6. You Will Miss Out on Important Life Events
Working nights and weekends means that taking a stray one off to catch your best friend's wedding, godson's baptism or birth of a buddy's kid can be kind of tough. While everyone else is commiserating about life over a few beers on a Saturday afternoon you will more than likely be scraping the booze sweat off yourself from the night before to get ready for your shift. Good news is, while everyone else in the working world is stuck on the freeway or in the office, you're sleeping in and have some time to handle miscellaneous life crap (and maybe some laundry).
7. You're Gonna Learn to Eat Too Fast
Dining with my fellow people in The Biz is like being in the middle of a pack of hyenas tearing into live wildebeest. We don't get the usual breaks like everyone else in the workforce; in fact, when you are in the weeds you don't get one at all. That means we have almost no time at all to slam back a burger or salad while on shift and that propensity doesn't stop when we punch out. My idea of a relaxing breakfast is inhaling an omelette in 90 seconds while the non-industry pals I'm eating with sip their coffee and leisurely ruminate over the nature of our collective experience. Meanwhile I'm asking for the check and eyeballing the door.
Want more of Dave's rantings/ravings/ramblings? Check out www.dinnerwithdave.comfor the latest!