In January of 2017, I was working as a waiter, and I enjoyed it. But, whenever I’ve done this work I’ve almost always modified the job title with the adjective, “just.” It’s a defensive move. A way of signaling that I know how people perceive a 39-year-old waiter.
When it comes to restaurants, I’ve worked as a manager, bartender, and baker. All of these positions required some combination of lower pay, more physical labor, or more intense schedules. Yet all were better job titles to drop in conversation.
A manager is “the boss.” A bartender works with a controlled substance on a stage. Bakers and cooks have skills and to the novice, they’re all “Chefs.”
It’s not fair to say, “Just a waiter.” Done right, it’s hard work. I’m also good at it. I say “just a waiter” because I’ve grown tired of defending the job.
Is this bitterness? Probably.
At the start of 2017, I was working as a waiter, and I was frustrated, sad, and exhausted, and like a lot of people, I assumed it was because of the job. While it paid well, I was still sliding financially. Did I mention that I was always exhausted?
In the next few months, changes and challenges would compound. By October my life seemed to have fallen apart, with my existence reduced to a couple of suitcases, half a dozen Trader Joe’s shopping bags, and no permanent address.
I had to do something…