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RE: Dear service industry. I will not miss you

Note: After a year working in restaurants during a global pandemic, UP editor Olivia Malick has some heartfelt observations.

To my dirty apron that will forever smell like crawfish seasoning and warm tortilla chips, thank you for catching every stray chip for me to find later crushed at the bottom of my pocket. I will not miss you.

To the numerous work T-shirts I bought (at half-off, what a steal!) but no longer wish to wear, I will not miss you.

To the non-slip shoes that now have nowhere to go except my garage, thank you for never giving me the support I needed. I will not miss you.

To all of the random bruises from bumping into too-close-together tables and chairs and scratches from too-sharp corners, thank you for the physical reminders of emotional pain. I will not miss you. 

To my stained blue jeans that I can’t afford to throw out, see you next week.

To my former place of employment, I have some things to say:

To the soda machine that never failed to coat my entire hand in syrup, thank you for always making me sticky. I will not miss you.

To all of the brand-new equipment that never seemed to work right, thank you for at least being consistent. I knew I could always count on you to fail. I will not miss you.

To the phone that I spent the better part of two years answering, thank you for hanging up for no reason. Thank you for blowing out my eardrum and simultaneously being too low for me to hear. Thank you for keeping me on my toes — there’s nothing I love more than anxiety. I will not miss you.

To the unleveled floor, thank you for giving my legs the work out they desperately needed. Thank you, too, for always having at least an inch of water for me to tread through. I will not miss you.

To every customer I had the absolute pleasure of serving, I have some things to say:

To my very last table, thank you for making me stay three hours after the end of my shift. Your tip did not make it worth it. I will not miss you.

To the group of people who left me $0.17 earlier that same day, your generous contribution made it so I no longer had to work. I will not miss you.

To every drunk old man waiting outside to greet every woman as she walked in, thank you for the creepy compliments. It in no way made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I will not miss you.

To every person who complained about having to wear a mask while not wearing one, thank you for giving me COVID — I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I will not miss you.

To the man who threatened me with physical violence because I reminded him of a mandate I did not write, thank you for your insight on the current political climate — I will surely bring your points to the governor at our next meeting. I hope you look back fondly on the day you threatened to pull a gun on a 21-year-old waiter for asking you to wear a piece of cloth for 30 seconds. Good thing I didn’t let the high schoolers intervene, they might have been too tough on you. I will not miss you.

To every person who called with a question that could be answered by Google, thank you for giving me acting experience. My customer service character is bulletproof — I think I’m taking her to Hollywood! Thank you for believing that I could accurately guide you from your house in Louisiana to Beaumont, Texas. I tend to doubt myself since I sometimes can’t tell the difference between left and right ¯\_()_/¯. I will not miss you.

To every customer who made a mistake for which I got in trouble, thank you for teaching me my place in this world. I will not miss you.

To customers that forgot or never realized that I, too, am a human being, thank you for showing me just how entitled you could be. It made losing my faith in humanity a bit easier. I will not miss you.

To all of the rude people I encountered daily, thank you for “thickening my skin” or helping me with my “character development.” I’m sure your verbal assaults will really come in handy later in my life. I will not miss you.

To the nice customers who didn’t actively try to make my life a living hell for no reason, thank you for letting me retain my (dwindling) faith in humanity. I might miss you.

To my coworkers, I have some things to say:

Some of you were no better than the outstanding customers I thanked above. Thank you for making sure each shift was as dramatic as possible. Thank you for picking favorites — it totally didn’t make the work environment hostile. I will not miss you.

As for the others, thank you for being a little glimmer of relief through truly horrible shifts. You were the only friends I was able to see for the last year — without the banter, I think I truly would have gone insane. Sorry we had to meet under such horrible circumstances. I will miss you.

Lastly, to the service industry:

Thank you for always being a reliably shitty industry. Even on your best days, you’re still usually pretty bad. Thank you for never giving me a stable income that I would still rather have than most other jobs. Thank you for showing me the American way — work really hard for not a lot and don’t complain about it because at least you’re getting something, am I right? I hope we never have to meet again, but with a journalism degree in this economy? Looks like I might have to keep the apron in my closet just in case.

I will not miss you. See you in the summer (probably).



Category: UPbeat