The Least Glamorous of All
When I started my first service job in San Francisco, I absolutely loved it. I loved the people I worked with, I loved Project Juice (and still do), I loved my customers, and I loved the location. I didn’t think I would work in food forever, I thought it would be something I did for a while, until I found my way into the business world. When my husband and I moved to Chicago, I applied to countless businesses and even retail jobs. I stayed away from food. I thought: “Moriah, once you get two jobs in the food industry, you’re going to be stuck forever.” So I stayed away.
All my friends work corporate jobs. Their jobs seem like they matter. When asked what I did, I was really insecure saying that I worked in food. I often got responses like “Oh,” and even hints that it was easy and didn’t matter. I know most of the people who said those things didn’t mean them the way they sounded, but this second time round I’ve realized the stigma that comes with working in the service.
But the more I thought about what I do, the more I thought about the impact I can have. Here’s a few reasons why everyone should work in the Service Industry:
Even though I used to often see people scrubbing the bathrooms and picking up trash, I would dismiss it with, “It’s their job, they’re getting paid for it.” Now that I’ve had to do these tasks, I can assure you that no one wants to do them. In San Francisco, a homeless man went through the trashcans outside of our store. There was garbage everywhere: used spoons, cups, tampons, napkins… all sorts of nasty things strewn all over in front of our store. When I took the job, I never thought I would have to do that, but I had to humble myself and do it without complaining.
My husband worked at Chick-fil-A following graduation before he went to work for LinkedIn: a smart, college graduate working with a lot of high schoolers: Humbling. He said people would come up to the counter yelling at him because their sandwich was made wrong. A sandwich. It’s not easy to apologize and respond well when you know that it’s ridiculous to yell at someone about a mistake on a sandwich.
2. Exposure to Different Social Classes
Working a service job tends to have a wide array of people coming in, above and below you in social status. Not only customers, but fellow employees. I’ve worked with college grads, people who didn’t go to college, moms, dads, high schoolers, college students, male, female, straight, gay, Pacific Islanders, South Americans, African Americans, Hispanic, and White people. They were all brought up different, they all have different stories, and they all have a need for Christ. Working in service may allow the most opportunities to share the gospel with people you don’t typically come across.
It’s easier to understand that mistakes happen after working in service. I’ve always expected excellence in service and always tried to give my best, but sometimes I just have a bad day. If I go somewhere where the waitress or hostess isn’t very friendly, it’s easier to forgive and realized that they might just be having a rough day just like anyone. People in service serve hundreds of people a day. They’re bound to make a mistake.
I used to say, “It’s their job to be friendly, they should learn to compartmentalize.” Then I went to work with a massive headache, and there’s only so much you can compartmentalize. I’m not saying that excuses rudeness or bad service, but there’s so many things that can go wrong with human workers: family problems, emotional days, physical pain, distraction… empathy can go a long way for a service worker when they’re having a rough day.
Service Isn’t the Only Way
I realize that you can learn humility, empathy, and get exposure to different social classes without working a service job. I don’t think that the Service Industry is the end-all-be-all, but these jobs are a good way to learn how to work long, hard days on your feet. They are good to experience and offer a different view of the work we often take for granted. Even I forget sometimes to be gracious and I am working in service!