You can take the girl out of the restaurant…

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I have learned to be grateful for any job, and I have the 2008 recession to thank for that. I was gaining residency for graduate school and had just quit my restaurant job, with nothing lined up. I had heard terms like “stocks,” “crisis,” and “housing market,” but never paid much attention. Then I went looking for work. I sent out dozens and dozens of resumes and cover letters. I stopped in person, offering to do anything – anything – for a paycheck. Nothing.

Finally after a month, I was offered a position at a sports store making $7.00 an hour. In this vulnerable and humble state, I felt such enormous gratitude for minimum wage – for anything.

Now, fast forward eight years. Graduate school has come and gone, I’ve moved and moved back, worked in an office for three years, and quit the 9-5 to start my own business. As was expected, money dwindled, reminding me once again of vulnerability. But instead of acting desperately, throwing my resumes to the wind in a “spray and pray” sort of way, I stayed focused and made a list of personal priorities:

  1. Keep writing.
  2. Morning coffee time is very important.
  3. I need a little social interaction. A little.

The answer kept creeping back to me, despite my attempts to squander the thought: return to the restaurant industry.

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I was torn between being embarrassed to tell people I would be serving tables again, and simultaneously, total excitement to work in a fun, social environment where I would get to talk about food and wine everyday. I caught myself justifying my decision as I told people about my plans, playing it off like, “Oh, it’s just a job.”

But now I own it. I love this job! I am inspired by the chef’s excitement with his new creations; I travel the world everyday through our extensive wine list; I learn about people’s lives as they celebrate the evening over delicious food. And to top it all off:

  1. I still write.
  2. I drink coffee and read food magazines every morning.
  3. I have social hour every night with other apron-donning, counter-culture, cynical, wonderful people.

So here’s a toast to those taking the alternative route, to the people who love the restaurant industry, and to those who “work to live” instead of “live to work.” These are my people.

Do what you love!

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