I love being in the business of Hospitality. It’s a large, encompassing industry with lots of options and different paths to take. I have decided that, generally, hospitality professionals have the arduous job of showing people a good time. I fell in love with working in restaurants when I was in New York City after college. I had moved there to work in Fashion. I wanted (or thought I wanted) to be a magazine editor. While the job was exciting; I was meeting celebrities, going to all the fanciest shops, running around like the crazy pseudo-teenager I was – I couldn’t see the good that I was doing. Sure, it can be viewed as art and clothes are totally fun, but I wasn’t helping anyone. Now, the obvious thing to say in response to this is, “DUH, Lauren. Did you really think you would be helping people working in fashion??” The thing was that I didn’t realize that people were even important to me until that lightbulb moment.
I still wanted to keep giving it a shot. I figured that lots of people use the fashion industry as a vehicle for some great change. Many designers have non-profits and there are plenty of eco-clothiers around. There is a chance this could work. It order to make MY life work (financially in that big city while making little-to-no money) I picked up a serving job just part time. It was a friend of my best friend who was opening his first restaurant. The team was young and fun and like my own little-big-city family. I was SO HAPPY there. But that’s not about other people being happy, that’s just about me being happy, right? Wrong. New York is a city of stressed out inhabitants. Everyone has some craziness going on, big or small. I would have people coming into the restaurant all night long just looking for a chance to relax, make a connection, be silent and still, share stories, be heard, be noticed, be taken care of. I had found my opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives, one meal at a time. Some of my best friends in NYC are my old regulars. Granted, people dine out in New York more than anywhere else, but I made real connections with thousands of people, whether they came in once on vacation or 4 times a week. My happiness only made spreading a little happiness an easier task, and it felt so GOOD!
People who have never worked in restaurants tend to look down on service professionals. It is the BIGGEST shame that everyone in this world (OK, America) doesn’t have to work as a server at least once in their life. I’m not saying this because it would make my life better and easier (which it no doubt would) but because I believe it would make everyone else’s lives a little better. Working in this industry gives you a greater appreciation for the hard work that good people do. It teaches you to be kind to people. It teaches you to be tolerant, that you don’t know how their day is going and they don’t know how your days is going so just TAKE A DEEP BREATH and be nice.
My life’s work, as of now, is to show people a good time. To help them smile when they’ve had a rough day. To feed them well, to lighten their spirit, and give them a few moments in a place of great comfort. It is a good job, a worthy job, and one that those of you doing it should be proud and appreciative of, knowing how much of a better person you are for doing it.