PART 1 Working on the Floor
Working in customer service in the hospitality industry is neither as glamorous nor as awful as it is portrayed on television or in the cinema. The truth of the matter, like most truths, is that it falls somewhere in the middle and an individual’s experience of the job depends on one’s own temperament rather as much as on the job itself. If you are willing and able to be personable and cheerful and are happy listening to other people then you will have a good experience in the industry. Most people that we deal with on a daily basis are great, they have realistic expectations, are grateful when they are met and they give us back the friendliness that what we put out. Gone are the days when servers were considered servants, we are friends, advisors, attentive listeners and we provide an environment where people can feel safe and comfortable.
One of the greatest pleasures of our industry and one of its greatest rewards is that if we do our job well then we make people happy. Not in a life- changing, ‘hey-I-just-won-lotto’, kind of way but in small ways we make people’s lives better, when people leave our businesses they feel slightly better than when they walked in. There are lots of jobs where the goal is to make people happy, clowns for example (unless your clients are coulrophobes), but there are very few like ours where we get to do it for people every day. As a massive coffee drinker myself, the simple ritual of getting a really good cup of coffee (or sometimes multiple cups), makes my day a little bit better. When the people I deal with are polite, or smile, or ask about my morning, it makes my day a little bit better. When I’m at a café and I bump into someone I know, it makes my day a little bit better. When I’m being a bit naughty and I get a scone or a muffin or a pastry or whatever, it makes my day a little bit better. And when I head off to do whatever chores I’ve been procrastinating over and one of the staff says ‘thanks’ or ‘have a nice day’ or whatever, it makes my day a little bit better.
Really that’s my first reason for working in hospitality (that and the free coffee), it’s because every day those of us who choose this industry to work in can and do make people’s lives just that little bit better. It becomes meaningful because every day we get to make hundreds of people feel a little bit better and then we get to do it again tomorrow and the day after that, which makes a real difference.