I’ve had the displeasure to work every position in service, retail, restaurants, and hospitality. I’ve been a dishwasher, line cook, bar back, server, bartender, manager, maid, staff, associate, talent, cast member, and crew. I’ve worked FoH, BoH, as an assistant manager, backstage manager, production manager, director, assistant, teacher, head teacher, adjunct professor, and instructor. Currently I work as a founder, audio engineer, voice actor, and co-host of the mega hit podcast MINDFULNESS OF DOOM! To but it succinctly, I’ve worn a lot of paper hats.
It’s easy to forget, sitting on this side of the counter. The experience as a walking pile of money…(no wait that’s not the technical term) Ah Guest! The Guest experience has been so codified into our culture that it becomes an expectation. Allow me to highlight my point poorly with a recent anecdote.
Highland Oatmeal Porter, Beef Brisket Sandwich, Fries, Coleslaw, sub Sweet fries. Wait? $2.50 upcharge for different color fries? Oof. Too steep, I’ll settle for sub-standard tubers. Key LIme Pie? Don’t mind if I d…SIX DOLLARS? Ugghh, Sparky’s Roadside BBQ, we gotta talk. I love that you’re the best BBQ in Miami, but I just don’t feel like it’s BBQ if I don’t leave stuffed to bursting. Your prohibitively expensive sides and desserts are preventing me from gorging myself like I was raised to. You’re so lucky there’s not a Bono’s BBQ in town. …ok. That’s not really fair to Sparky’s. It’s Miami. Good cheap BBQ as a staple of Florida cuisine ends south of Lake Okeechobee. It’s a good spot, and they have a great beer selection so I forgive them for pricing me out of gluttony.
For a moment I even had that familiar urge to think, “I could work here”, but then I remembered what the other side of the counter is like. The scrubbing, sweating, clueless managers, the disrespect, the shitty hours, shitty scheduling, being called in on my day off, closing up early only to have someone walk in last minute making you re-clean everything you just cleaned again. The human indecency, oh I could tell you horror stories. The experience expected vs the experience delivered leaves something to be desired, to drastically under-state it. It’s horrid. You can tell I’ve been hurt before. I’m not bitter. Just scarred. Afraid to serve again.
Then there’s Stefan Ravalli. Host of the Serve Conscious Podcast. He’s just so amenable, understanding, and hospitable it makes you want to spit. But you don’t because you know his desire to serve is genuine and his very presence makes you want to be better. Just talking about service with him makes one question the meaning of the word. Makes me redefine what it means to serve. He makes me forget the horrors and consider the art of serving. It’s the earnestness that gets me. He’s right. It wasn’t about me. It was about the giving. Is it better to receive or to give? Turns out the skill of serving was one that could have been cultivated. It could become and art. To become selfless in the act of doing. The giving becomes a receiving.
I want to hate on the service industry’s many terrible qualities in quantity. Stefan stopped me cold. He’s crafted something beautiful. Made me think, rethink, and has converted me.
It’s a subtle art, serving. If you’re doing it right your ego disappears, and might just find out who you really are.
~Woke up with the whole song in my head
Listen to the Podcast Episode: http://mindfulnessofdoom.com/podcast/episode-41-service-is-self-mastery-with-stefan-ravalli/
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