Waiting Tables / Serving / Bartending
The fiction: People tend to think this job is easy. Come to my table, take my order, bring me food and keep my drink full. Sure, there’s a lot of running around but overall it’s not a challenge as long as you have stamina and an energy drink handy. The server is as fault for the restaurant temperature being too cold or hot, their steak being overcooked, or even the loud table they got stuck next to. If I don’t like mushrooms and I failed to read that in the item description, it’s the server’s fault and they had better replace my meal fast. It’s also the server’s responsibility to ensure my bar drinks and food get to me as quick as possible.
The fact: Your waiter has to learn the entire menu and memorize ingredients, as people have special requests or dietary restrictions. They deal with extremely difficult guests and messy children. They have to have great timing, especially if they get two tables sitting down at once; it takes time to properly greet a table and get their drink order written and delivered. They are often called away from their current task (you) to run food out to a table that isn’t theirs. They are in charge of preparing some of your food, generally salads and soups, but also have expediting duties at certain hours. They are at the mercy of the cook; how fast your food is prepared is not under their control and them yelling at the chef only results in your food being delayed even longer. It’s the same with the bartender, who has their own customers along with making drinks for the entire restaurant. They also work long shifts with little to no breaks until their section is closed. Working this job makes you appreciate a great waiter or waitress even more and shows you little things you can do to make your server’s life a bit easier, such as asking for all condiments at one time or not letting your kid tear open all the sugars.
Retail / Dressing Room
The fiction: This is a job generally reserved for retirees and high school students. It’s a laid back job that allows you a bit of downtime when customers are scarce. The downside is the cleaning and straightening, but it’s a little like organizing your closet, just on a larger scale. The employees always tend to either be a little too helpful or nowhere to be seen. They must think everyone is a thief the way they watch customers. The sales associate is at fault if my item rings up incorrectly. I don’t understand why some businesses won’t let me keep the hangers, I think I’m entitled to get them with my purchase. I also better get a discount if there’s a makeup smudge or deodorant stain on the shirt I’m purchasing.
The fact: Retail is a job with a lot of work and stress for a little bit of pay. The dressing room can become a pigsty in minutes and often it’s on the shoulders of one person to police it and keep it clean, as well as organize all the leave-behinds for restocking. Many stores have a speech that associates must recite to a new customer entering the store and many are told to just stay visible without being bothersome. Loss prevention is also important and thieves come in many shapes and colors. Some businesses require that the associate memorize the sales because they are not set to automatically ring up at the sale price. Hangers cost money and store policy doesn’t always allow for them to be given away. The associate must straighten every hanger to ensure all are parallel and must organize shelves; you can imagine how long this lasts when customers are browsing and children are exploring. Many stores have also suspended discounts for “damaged” goods because there are awful people who will damage or stain an item themselves in order to get some money off. Working this job allows you to see the challenge that goes into making a store shoppable and pleasant for you, resulting in you hopefully becoming a more considerate customer.
The fiction: This is the most annoying type of person out there! They bother me at dinnertime, they’re pushy as all hell, and they don’t understand the word NO! If I wanted whatever they’re trying to sell me, wouldn’t I have gone to them? They have no respect for my privacy. They shouldn’t be allowed to go knocking on doors, bothering people.
The fact: This is the most annoying type of person out there! They bother me at dinnertime, they’re pushy as all hell, and they don’t understand the word NO! Unfortunately, that’s their job. This type of work is easy to get into and therefore attractive to people seeking work; it’s often advertised as a “fast track to management.” Door-to-door salespeople work on commission and your hospitality is their paycheck; if you’re not signing a check, they aren’t getting paid a cent. Companies like AT&T have turned to door-to-door sales as a cheap way to get a hold of their customers to upgrade their packages, paying the salesperson a few dollars only if the customer upgrades. Working this kind of job stinks, but it makes you more appreciative of your current job and every other kind of work out there, as well as shows you the benefits of putting a “No Soliciting” sticker on your door.
Call Center / Customer Service
The fiction: These so-called helpful people are anything but. They always say the same thing: “I care about your problem, I’m happy to help, blah blah blah.” It’s frustrating to wait so long to get through to someone only to get the person who is condescending/unhelpful/foreign/whose system is down/etc. I’m calling you so you can fix my problem because that’s what you’re paid to do. Don’t put me on hold and don’t transfer me. Resolve my issue! How hard is your job?
The fact: They probably don’t care too much about you personally because they’ve already talked to dozens upon dozens of people like you, been cussed at and called an idiot, and had their eardrums blown out by loud yellers and hang-ups. They generally have a script to follow which includes a lot of “I’m happy to help” and other variations of it. They are the people who deal with the repercussions when a business or another individual screws up. Sometimes they have to transfer you or rush you off the phone because they are often required to take a certain number of calls during their shift; if they talk to you for an hour, they are putting themselves behind. Working this job will help you keep your anger in check next time your cable is out and you decide to go off on the poor girl who happened to answer your call rather than be angry at the storm that knocked things loose.
The fiction: Sure, it’s a dirty job, but it’s not challenging. They clean up, which is something we all do at home (unless we’re a trash bag away from starring on Hoarders). It’s all right if I make a bit of a mess because it’s their job to clean up, after all, and it’s not like anyone tries to make MY job any easier. They need to work harder anyway, have you seen the bathroom lately?? Besides, how difficult can it be to empty a few trash cans and sweep up?
The fact: Do you have any idea how messy and disgusting people are, especially when they know that they don’t have to clean up their own mess? Have you ever stood ankle-deep in sewer water, trying to unclog a toilet filled with someone else’s mess, then had to mop it all up, all the while listening to angry women complain that they can’t use the stall? Dealt with the frustration of cleaning a glass door only to have someone walk through the minute you’re finished and put their hand print on the glass? People also tend to treat janitors worse than the trash they are emptying. Working this job will make you think twice about dumping your half full coffee cup in the trash can or dumping a wad of paper towels in the toilet.
Nurse / Receptionist / Anyone But The Doctor
The fiction: They never seem to know where my doctor is or why he’s running behind today. Every time I ask, I get the same few excuses about an emergency patient or some procedure that ran over. They tell me to come early, but they never manage to get me on time; such bad organizational skills. I don’t get why I need to give them my insurance card every single time either, or why they make me fill out my address every visit even after I told them it’s the same. It’s like they’re on a mission to slow me down and make me miss work.
The fact: Their job is to provide assistance so the doctor can get through their patients as quickly as possible. These patients are generally always overbooked; the overbooking compensates for cancellations without the practice losing money on that particular day, so when no one cancels or you have emergency walk-ins, the whole process gets behind. Sometimes they are forced to lie; “emergency patient” sounds better than “your doctor ate too much Taco Bell and is locked in the bathroom.” Your information is requested each visit because honestly, you can’t be trusted to remember whether or not your insurance card or bits of personal information have changed since your last visit, especially if it’s been over a year ago. Working this job will make you realize that the nurse/receptionist has zero control over practice policy, what the doctor does and how fast they move, and definitely deserves a little slack.