:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, July 17, 2008 ::

:: Server Stories: What Else? ::
It's interesting to see the contrasts between most of my co-workers’ approach to their jobs and lives versus mine. All of us certainly work hard for our money (some more than others) and take some pride in doing our job well. But for guys like Jed and Lou, this is it for them. Jed has been working at Swanky Trendy Restaurant for over five years, which along is longer than my total waiter experience. A few years older than me, he's told me many stories about the many places he's worked at around the country.

Lou's quite a bit younger but I get the impression that he's in this line of work for the long haul as well. Theo, who’s has a wife and a mortgage, is another lifer. My buddy who works at The Abby is another great example.

The contrast between us is that when it comes to our lifestyles, they glide with an easy approach in that if they're not doing exactly what they want to be doing, they're very comfortable with who and where they are. They come to work, make their money and either go home to smoke weed or go out to the bar to have a few beers and many meet a few chicks. Before work, they're either sleeping well past noon and/or smoking more weed. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Granted they have other interests, as Jed has traveled to different parts of the world and Lou has smoked weed from different parts of South America. Jed in particular is quite fascinating.

But the point is that for them, this is it. They can't imagine doing anything else, not because they don’t know or they're too dumb or too lazy, but because they just don't want to or need to.

In a way, I envy that.

I've done other things, like some of these guys have. But while I do enjoy being a waiter, I can't help but feel I'm meant for something... different (I won't use words like "bigger" or "better" since that would belittle the profession and I have too much respect for service employees to do that.) Ever since I found out that the restaurant would be closing in late August, I've been saving money for when I finally leave the service industry (at least full time). I've been (very) slowly working on my portfolio to send out and it's only a matter of time before I'm back behind a desk playing with Photoshop instead of at a table trying to peddle a bottle of Perrier-Jouët.

Or so I keep telling myself.

(By the way, none of them know I have these thoughts. they're buddies and I enjoy hanging out with them but they're not people I would share this much personal depth with. Which isn't a bad thing. Very, very few people I know are people I would share stuff like this with.)

(Oh yeah, blog readers don't count.)

The reason why they're closing after eight years of business is because management is going to open a high-end, fine-dining, steakhouse right across the street. If it's anything like the other restaurant openings in South Beach, it's going to be a cash cow for everyone involved. (And unlike some of the gimmicky places that closes within two years, this place might have staying power.) Management has assured the floor and kitchen staff that as long as we do our jobs well and prove reliable we'll be invited to work at the Steakhouse. Thanks to my recent hot streak, I'm not worried about being left behind.

I've seen bits and pieces of the new place in the form of design renderings, new glass and silverware, possible menu items (and I thought prices at Swank were obscene), marketing ideas and it is impressive. Those other guys are very excited about the opening and are salivating over the possibility that the next Stone Crab season will be very lucrative.

My initial reaction to the news was tepid. Great for them, I hope they do well but I'm going to be behind a desk again by that time. (Which is another reason I'm not worried too much about going to the new place.) But the more I think about it, the more I'm starting to get sucked in. Potentially, I could make in one season (October 15 through May 15) almost as much as I would make in one full year as a Jr. Art Director.

Great, but why? I've said "one more season" last year and here I am now: same shit, different restaurant. I could make my money now but I'm already too comfortable as it is. A higher-paying job doing the same thing I do now and I might end up ensconced in my complacency and might end up doing this for a very long time.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I've often wondered how my life would be different if I actually decided to try bartending and waiting at a younger age, and I've entertained the thought of just saying "screw it" and going into bartending full-time. I've made friends that have done very well doing this; some now own a nice condo, some have nice cars, a few have traveled, some are content just being major potheads.

But would that negate every reason for moving to Miami in the first place? Or at the very least, wouldn't that render those first two years as pointless? The late nights, the endless deadlines, the stress, thousands in student loans, all for naught? Two years followed by a gratifying end, thinking I found my career... only to discover I prefer waiting tables and tending bar?

I'm a very good waiter. I'm also a pretty good bartender. And those three months in Prague, working my ass off during that internship proved that if I really wanted to, I could be a pretty good Art Director. And I want to. But I'm left wondering what exactly it is I want more.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 8:47 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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