This article is about why the service industry sucks. Specifically, it’s about why working in it can really make your life miserable.
As you can see, I’ve decided to forgo any kind of introduction and jump right into the point. That’s because there’s really no easy way to say any of the stuff I’m about to say so it might as well just be dropped like a bomb.
I understand that there will likely be a LOT of people who will get very upset and angry at this article, however, the fact of the matter is that nothing that I’m about to tell you is a lie, fabrication, or falsification of the truth.
If you are a service industry employee or veteran some, all, or none of the following things may have happened to you. But I can promise you that regardless of your personal experience, these types of things do occur. And they do so, on a more frequent basis than some would like to admit.
I can tell you with complete confidence that I have either witnessed or been caught up with all of what I’m about to relay to you.
So with that being said let’s start with:
1. The Pay Sucks!
Anyway you spin it, being a server, bartender, bouncer, chef, etc. is definitely NOT a high paying occupation.
Sure, sometimes a bartender can actually make pretty decent money every now and then doing things like working Game Day weekends. However, by and large those days are the exception and not the standard, and this is not even considering other factors such as:
- You will probably not be working at a popular bar or restaurant that gets busy enough to make nearly that much money even on special occasions like holidays or game nights.
- Even if you are at one of those places you probably will not be working in a position, a.k.a. bartending, where you’ll actually make that much money.
- And that none of what I just mentioned matters, because in the end you still have to average out your good shifts with the terrible ones which will definitely bring down the overall amount you make to something a little bit more humble.
The bottom line is, you can expect to average in any given year (or month) only a step or two above minimum wage.
Don’t believe me? Google search it yourself, just type in something like “bartender average salary”.
See, it’s not that much. Maybe it’s a lot to a High School or College student looking for some personal spending money, but it’s certainly not something you’d want to stay at for the long run.
2. It’s An Extremely Unprofessional Work Environment.
I can probably write an entire book about all the things that happen in a restaurant/bar that just simply wouldn’t be tolerated by any professional organization…or society in general for that matter.
For example, I’ve witnessed employees openly bullying and singling out a lone co-worker for no other reason than to experience sadistic pleasure at the expense of a helpless victim.
This is in addition to the fact that rumors, hearsay, and petty vengeance in the form of passive-aggressive attacks are common traits of many bars/restaurants.
And none of this compares to the fact that you will probably be working for a manager that will have no problem picking favorites and joining in on the bullying. In fact, I’d wager that the majority of managers in the service industry abuse their power on a frequent basis and let their position of authority get to them.
Now you may counter with something along the lines of “…this happens everywhere…” –and while your statement is not technically false, it is misleading nonetheless.
The truth is, this type of behavior occurs by far more often in the service industry than in many other professions. And when it does happen it is usually of a more aggressive, vicious, and personal nature. Lastly, whereas in other career fields there is usually some method of conflict resolution or at least an attempt to mend things, there is nothing of the sort at a bar/restaurant.
All of which leads to the conclusion that you will probably not enjoy your job unless you thrive in an environment resembling the social dynamics of a wolfpack.
3. There is Absolutely NO Job Security At All!
That’s right. No matter how senior you are at your particular bar/restaurant, and no matter how high you climb the ladder there. You can lose your job INSTANTLY and without warning.
This can happen for any number of reasons, or for no reason at all.
When I was at a bar I remember the owners firing people for seemingly no apparent reason. There was literally no pattern, reasoning, or train of thought. At least none that we could figure out.
Sometimes, the firings were completely justifiable. But other times it was a top-ringing bartender who had done nothing but excel at his job only to be suddenly terminated without warning and in the most degrading manner — in front of the entire bar, while it was open and packed with customers.
Again, the haters are going to tell you that “…this was just one place…” or something similar to that, but what they aren’t saying and what’s really the truth is that this doesn’t change the fact that your job is very much not protected at all in a bar/restaurant.
Arguably, the reason for the relative lack of job security is because power is solely concentrated in the hands of a select few, sometimes even one person…the owner. And should the powers that be take a disliking to you, they can and probably will exercise their power to fire you just because. I mean, honestly, you can be fired for a totally ILLEGAL reason even and there’d be nothing you can do!
Also, let’s not forget that you might lose your job for alternative reasons such as the owners selling the place, going out of business, or various other external causes which you have little to no control over.
4. You Will Probably Develop a Bad Set of Anger Issues.
As if the above reasons didn’t suck enough already the last straw will probably be the one most familiar to the general public…dealing with people.
And by dealing with people I mean the customers.
Chances are, if you haven’t been driven mad with rage already you probably will be when you serve enough customers. That’s because customers, in general, suck!
Oftentimes they are extremely obnoxious, rude, and disrespectful. And this is no exaggeration. For some reason it seems like half the population suddenly turns into raging psychopaths when they get the smallest bit of power over another human being.
Now there’s actually plenty of scientific studies conducted by leading psychologists that also concur with my observations, but you won’t need that. Just work a few shifts and you’ll see just how unreasonable people can be. You’ll see how much they enjoy degrading and hurting someone else just for the Hell of it.
Long story, short you’re going to get customers that just PISS you off, and those are going to be the people that leave a lasting impression on you. And when this routine goes on long enough, you’ll eventually wake up one morning and realize just how moody and irritable you’ve been for like…ever!
And the worst part of this one is that when I say anger issues I mean ANGER issues. As in the kind that change you into a different person, maybe even into something not entirely human and makes you into a dangerous person. The kind that aren’t cute or funny like something out of a sitcom but rather something that resembles a diagnostic criteria inside of the DSM, and you know what? It’s probably going to stay with you…permanently.
So if nothing else, consider your sanity.
5. Your Work Schedule Will Suck!
Any service industry position will not have a ‘regular’ schedule per se. The reason is that you will always be working when others are not.
When everyone else is off work and getting happy hour drinks, dinner, or socializing on the weekends that is when you’ll have to work. Because, that’s when the bar/restaurant will be the busiest.
And the obvious conclusion to this is that the hours will make a very dramatic impact on your life. In some places more than others, but especially in a bar.
If you work in a bar, you can count yourself as a night owl for sure. This may not sound too bad to you, but consider the consequences. It’s an unnatural sleep cycle to maintain, and because of this your health may deteriorate. Probably not much at first, but eventually it’ll get to you.
Plus, you’ll have to deal with the fact that your work schedule will interfere with other important things such as your social life and professional interests.
Ever try to socialize with your friends on the weekends when you have to be working 2 or even all 3 days? How about just getting the things that need to be done in your personal life during the day when you should be wide awake but are instead exhausted from working a late shift?
Now, it’s certainly possible to juggle a service industry schedule, but be prepared for the times when you just simply can’t do what you want to do. Because they’ll happen and they’ll happen more often than not.
6. No One Really Cares About Your Service Industry Experience.
This one is quite obviously geared towards those of you who don’t intend on making a career out of the service industry. For those of who are in it for the long run, this one doesn’t really apply to you.
Now, that we’ve separated the wheat from the chaff, in a manner of speaking, we can get to the main point here. Which is that your experience(s) in the service industry won’t really help you later on in life. In fact, they won’t help you at all.
If anything, they’ll actually hurt your chances of getting a ‘real’ career later on, because you don’t really learn anything of value while working as a server, bartender, bouncer, etc. You don’t learn any technical skills nor are you immersed in an environment similar to a corporate culture or small start-up, and this means that when you put your service industry experience on a resume for a job application it will either mean nothing to the guys who are trying to decide if they should take a chance with you or it could actually hurt you.
Because, they’ll see that you’ve been busy working in a restaurant/bar during your time in college/high school. When instead, you should’ve been pursuing more professional opportunities or interests such as an internship related to what you are currently applying for or at the very least that you used your time to learn some valuable skill(s) that someone is willing to pay top-dollar for.
The take home message here is that you should look for an internship or another job that is more related to what you want to do in the future. For example, if you want to work in corporate America you would be better off taking an internship (even an unpaid one) at a company that you may consider working for in the future then you would be working as a server. Likewise, if you wanted to do something tech-related like Mobile App Development, then you should seriously consider just designing, coding, and programming aps/ideas on your own spare time instead of being a bartender.
I realize that this was a long list, however, I want to reiterate that I stand by all of it; completely, wholeheartedly, and 100% with confidence.
Now I understand that there will certainly be readers who disagree with what I’ve said. I encourage you to start a discussion about this. I look forward to and enjoy a friendly debate.
But with that being said, there are a few things that I want to mention before I leave. They are, as follows:
- The purpose of this article was not to insult, degrade, attack, or any way, shape, or form ‘talk smack’ about the service industry and its people. I make no such statement or implication, and I want to make that part clear. What I was trying to accomplish here was to write a piece attempting to convince people who are thinking about working in the service industry to not do so. And those are the reasons I have presented. Alternatively, you can think of it this way. That I was trying to inform some people about a few of the things that might make them reconsider being a server, bartender, whatever!
- I touched on this a little earlier, but I wanted to go more in-depth now. As I mentioned, some/a lot of this list doesn’t really apply to service industry veterans who have decided to make a career out of it. To those guys I say “kudos to you and good luck”! But to anyone that does not fall into that category, this article was written specifically for you, because it’s assumed that you will only be temporarily working in the industry to make ends meet. But that as soon as you’re able to, you’ll take your leave and never look back. This article will make much more sense and be of greater relevance to someone like a college student who is thinking about working at a bar for the extra cash, then it will to someone who NEEDS to start making money now and does not have other options at the moment.
- For those of you who disagree, know that I did not have the time nor did I think it would be a smart idea to include any and all counter-arguments that I anticipated for my list. It would simply drag this article on for too long, plus it could very easily distract the audience from the main points. And it’s this exact reason, why I encourage people to talk and debate this stuff. I want to start and continue a conversation that goes on for a little while.
Finally, I want to say that I hope all of you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Until next time,