Reality Check for Older Restaurant Servers
5 Lies Older Servers Tell Themselves
- I make great money for the few hours I put in at work.
- I don't have skills that will translate into another career.
- I can't wake up early to work a 9-5 job.
- I don't want to be part of the corporate rat race.
- I'm too old to change careers now.
Wake Up and Smell The Coffee
If you're an older restaurant server, meaning over 30ish, it might be time to wake up and smell the coffee. Now don't get me wrong, even though we all know the restaurant industry is fueled by young people, it's possible to have a great career as an older server..... for a while. I worked in the "biz" for over 20 years and I loved it - but I also know from personal experience that you could very well be deluding yourself into thinking this "career" is making you happy, or that you will be financially secure in the future.
Yes, there are many folks in the hospitality industry who have learned to make the business work for them; they have saved money and actually have a healthy work/life balance. But for many of you out there - let's face it - you are terrified! If you're starting to wonder what your 40's and 50's will look like as a restaurant server, or even as a manager, it might be time for a reality check.
Many older servers vacillate between serving and managing because they get so burned out by the long hours, the toll it takes on the body, and the grind of the day-to-day routine. For years I went back and forth between being a server and a manager. As a server I had tons of free time and didn't have to deal with whining employees. As a manager, I didn't have to deal with the physical aches and pains from being on my feet for long hours of working doubles....I could at least sit down occasionally, or go into the office to do paperwork. But either way, I had to deal with long hours, a rotating schedule with little advance notice, and always having to work on the weekend and holidays. Not to mention little to no benefits besides a sweaty handful of cash at the end of my shift.
Like many of you, I didn't think I could change my course; and I had no desire to work in the business world. After all, I had "chosen" this life because I'm "unique" and I didn't want to sell out and join the ranks of the cookie cutter corporate 9-5ers. Most likely, some of you were aspiring actors or models or artists; and some of you even have a degree, but found that you just love people so much, you wanted a job working with the public. But now I bet many of you feel trapped and you have no idea what to do.