(Note: Sometimes in writing a post I find certain songs running though my head. On select occasions I recommend these as a soundtrack. For today’s post I would like to provide a sampling of “old guy music” I didn’t think I would like when I was younger. Might I recommend “A Pirate Looks at 40” by Jimmy Buffet, “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens, or “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.)
Last night Senor Esparza, my girlfriend, and myself went to go see John Heffron at the local comedy club. It was actually a pretty good set. One bit in particular resonated with me. He dedicated part of his routine to informing the young men in the audience of some of the things that would happen to them, as they grew older. As I laughed hysterically, Senor Esparza sat mildly amused. The nine-year age difference allowed me to relate as Esparza held out hope it wouldn’t happen to him.
While I won’t go all Carlos Mencia and steal the bit, there are a few things that I think younger servers don’t realize will happen to them too as they age. After 15 years in the industry, I have recognized a few unavoidable consequences of prolonged exposure to the restaurant life. Many of the younger readers will refuse to acknowledge that it will happen to them. Ignore this insight at your own peril. I come from a future time when you will be remarkably like me and all the other old servers out there.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Save a little money. I know it seems impossible, but it is far easier to save money with an income than when you are unemployed.
You will be unemployed one day. You will quit, a guest will complain, the restaurant will shut down, or you will be fired.
If the restaurant stays open, it will continue running just fine without you.
You will regret working 13 shifts a week when you start to wonder what happened to all of your friends that you don’t work with.
Keep your friends from outside of work. It sometimes feels like you have less in common with them, but when you change restaurants you will have the most in common with them. That is why you chose them as friends in the first place.
Be nervous when a new employee is hired and tries to integrate into the social network too soon. You will find out what happened to their old friends.
Skipping family events to work is like taking a break from college. The longer you wait, the tougher it is to get back into.
Loyalty is a one-way street. Restaurants owe it to their owners, not their employees. Employees owe it to themselves and their families, not their employers.
Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you will need to cross them again.
Be nice to the people you work with. You will probably work for at least one of them in the future.
The person you celebrate getting fired will go to the restaurant you want to work at. They will be asked to be a reference for you.
Going out every night after work is far easier at 20 than at 25.
Going out after work every couple of nights is easier at 25 than at 30.
By 35, you just want to go home and get to sleep. At that age lack of sleep will make you feel worse than a half dozen Irish Car Bombs would have at 21.
If you haven’t figured this out by 35, the 20 year olds really don’t think you are that cool.
You won’t feel like you are old at 35, but your body will remind you.
Buy good shoes now! You will thank yourself one day.
You may have experienced the “Freshman Fifteen”, but don’t sweat it. It prepares you for the “Late Twenties Fifty” that lay ahead.
Hostesses suck everywhere. It isn’t their fault. If they do their job perfectly, they are invisible. You only notice them when they make a mistake.
They will suck even more when they only “notice” you as a wise older friend or father figure.
Your managers work far more hours than you know.
Every co-worker you hook up with will marry someone. That someone will usually be the one interviewing you for a job you really want one day.
Listen to the stories the old guys tell. Restaurant people don’t write books. As soon as the stories stop being told, the history disappears.
You know far less than you think. You don’t learn more as you get older, but you do become aware of what you do not know.
Just order the cheap booze. You aren’t really impressing anyone.
Eat something healthy once in a while. Every fried meal you eat now trades of directly with one your doctor will tell you not to eat one day.
You may never be a manager and get to experience how annoying you are as a server. You will probably become a parent though. Every time your child gives you a lame excuse for being late, tells you they are out of something, or comes to you with a last minute crisis, you will know what you did to deserve it.
Fall in love, but know it might not last forever.
Have your heartbroken, but know it won’t last forever.
Fall in love again, but know that it just might last forever.
Hug your friends and family. Tell them you love them. Let them know how proud you are of them. They won’t last forever and you can lose any of them in a heartbeat.
Find something to be passionate about and work for it. Nothing makes you feel more alive than working hard for something you want and care about.
You will get old, gain weight, become tragically uncool, and probably lose your hair. When this happens, your life is measured by the friendships you made, the people that love you, and the contributions you have made to the lives of others. Live well and treat others the way you want to be treated. Your twenties will end and you will either be left with some great relationships or to clean up the damage you caused. Forgive others, because you will one day need to be forgiven. Appreciate others, because one day you will need to be appreciated. Love others, because one day you will need to be loved.