Scrubbing Your Way to the Top

March 01, 2012

Multiple Pages
Scrubbing Your Way to the Top

Fortunately I am not one of the newly unemployed. But if I found myself jobless and needing to earn a few bucks, there are lots of ways to get back in the game. If one is really desperate, offering to volunteer in the sort of establishment one would like to work is a good way to let the boss know you are a solid worker and a decent soul. Solid workers and decent souls seem to be dying breeds.

One must remember that there is no job too small. I am not a maid, but I like to serve others and to clean. If I had to start over and move downstairs so to speak, I’d aim to one day become the head maid. I am serious. If I had to choose another profession I would be a maid or a personal assistant. I have the skills, and I like to think I have the humility. Surely some of you will think this is rubbish and that I have been spoiled all my life. In part, this is true. But every now and then I get down on my hands and knees to clean one toilet or another. Sometimes the bowl is my own. Other times it belongs to someone else. I do this because I prefer a clean loo to a filthy one. I also do it out of respect for the owner and the next visitor. Most importantly, I do it to remind myself that despite the fact that a nice Polish lady cleans my john once a week, I am not above the task.

“Perhaps if more people worked in restaurants, customers on the whole would be much nicer.”

Lately I find people prancing around as though they were above any sort of occupation that serves others. I find this odd given the state of the world economy, particularly in places such as Greece. Several sources tell me that Greeks are refusing to work in the service industry as waiters and suchlike. They leave it to Eastern Europeans. In America, Mexicans usually fill such jobs.

People with this kind of attitude are brats. How can you have your own business without starting at the bottom?

I have friends in completely different industries who are just as lazy. Sure, it’s tough to take an entry-level position over age 30, but if you haven’t paid your dues, sooner or later you must. And if you’re “overqualified,” don’t forget everyone needs to eat a little doo-doo to get wherever they would prefer to be. 

A good sign of maturity is when someone is willing to submit to annoying rules imposed by those who have something we want. If that means answering phones, picking up dry cleaning, and scrubbing a bloody loo to prove you are there to stay, that’s what you do. If you’re too good for that or any kind of manual labor, grow up!

For the most part, I dislike Italians. But to their credit, they make very good waiters and servers when they embrace it as a lifelong career. The ones I know are gentlemen of the highest order—the only Italians worth their weight, in my view. All across the world in the best hotels one will find the head waiters, bartenders, and cooks are Italian. They are the only ones you remember if you are lucky enough to spend any time in one of these places. Their jobs are not beneath them, so why should such jobs be beneath you? Unless you have what it takes, you simply aren’t qualified.

Once upon a time, being in the service industry was seen as a noble life choice. Service is still a decent career path for some people. But now everybody thinks they are entitled to free money and a footman. The idea of waiting tables for the rest of one’s life is unheard of. But it shouldn’t be. Not everyone is equally competent for the role of prince.

I can understand not wanting to work at McDonald’s or in some disgusting, out-of-the-way dump. No one should have to do that. I know because I’ve done it. Customers can be awful, even in high-end places. Nevertheless, patience is never a bad thing. A little humility goes a long way. Perhaps if more people worked in restaurants, customers on the whole would be much nicer.

The Italians are onto something, and we should take note even though they are…well, Italian. They know a thing or two about good food and good restaurants. Their version of fast food is called Autogrill and it is a delicious roadside pizza joint run by the Benetton family. The food is as good as home-cooked. Beyond that, there is no such thing as fast food in Italy unless you count the Burger King by the train station. 

So many fortunes have been started with love and good, simple food. Even McDonald’s. Why do people scoff at waiting tables when it could lead to owning your own restaurant or having your own business? Is the answer simply that nowadays everyone wants to be an actor and is hoping for a big payday? Being the boss or having your own business is incredibly hard work. It’s a hell of a lot easier to merely be an employee. So why are so many folks reluctant to serve at all? Where has this attitude of entitlement come from, and how can we get people back to work and singing for their supper? 

Whatever position you are in, the answer to all these questions and many others is simple. Get on your hands and knees once in a while and clean your own can. If you can do this with care and pride, you can do almost anything. If you do, I’ll bet sooner or later you might be the one in charge, too.


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