She was tired and old. Her knees clicked and her heels ached with every step. She could barely manage to roll her wrists around on their joints. Short to say, everything hurt. There wasn’t a moment when she wanted to give up and give in.
Yet she endeavoured. Though the restaurant had demanding staircases, an incredibly wide floor plan, and what many people dread an outside terrace exposed to the harsh weather, she went to work anyway because the shifts were filled with great staff. Personalities and a talented workforce made all the difference in how any F&B establishment survived, going on dynamicity, functionality, and most importantly, trust.
Though the bars required incredible specialist knowledge, etiquette, and customer service, dealing with the customers that ranged from the patient, educated, and nice to the disserviced, unreasonably furious, and those that lacked the characteristics of human beings, all the knowledge and experience in the world could not prepare any person to the Food and Beverage industry; it takes an almost literal forging and hardening of one’s character to handle the hardships, mishaps, and disappointments. A literal Survival of the Fittest contest occurs every day in any cuisine and drink establishment. In so many ways, she was stronger than the average Olympian, despite her failing body persevering wear and tear.
Yet worst of all… she often felt unappreciated back at home. Supposedly a place of love, comfort, and rest, she still masterminded and did every single chore.
Cleaning the floors, washing the clothes, cooking the food, shopping for necessities…
Her hard-earned money spent on rent, luxurious meals had outside, tuition fees, school needs…
Barely enough time to warrant calling any of it proper rest, hardly any money for any kind of enjoyment for herself, constantly thinking that returning home might as well be unpaid labour…
Almost never hearing a word of thanks or receiving a form of gratification, watching other people with the freedom to foster, grow, and travel, and perhaps even a form of regret of many decisions made past – opportunities that were thought could be pushed back, thinking it could wait until it was too late, or chances and desires dropped simply because other things happened (or did not happen, unfortunately).
Despite all of this, she continued to work hard to be the money-maker and carer of this home because she believed in the investment of her children. She raised them well. Her children were decent, civilized, educated children that previously had just taken things for granted, but now understood with great empathy that they owed everything to their mother. They knew they were difficult and F&B was many different definitions of ‘bullshit’, so anything that their mother did could and should be recited as tales and legends of a daring, loving Hero.
That’s what F&B is really as an industry. Last long enough, and you will bear the scars of every triumphed villainous customer. You will reap the reward and realize what truly matters after every apocalyptic trial, be it parties, events, or even just lunch hour. You will learn how to read people’s minds, tones, and body language. You will be able to endure any challenge you receive thereafter with your acumen for professionalism, diligence, and improvisation. Your employment will be narrated as sagas and epics with your comrades, management, returning customer, and even your children. Every bar, cafe, and restaurant is pantheon for the Gods.
That’s why on this Christmas Day in this year, I don’t need any more gifts from you. Your work speaks for itself in the physical. But the stories of your day at work, for a bookworm like me, are gifts enough for me.