My mother was a waitress for decades – in fact, for most of her life until she retired. Several of my aunts were waitresses too. Many in my family work in the service industry – waiters, waitresses, bartenders and others who stand behind the counter.
For the most part, it’s a thankless job. People routinely express gratitude that professionals – doctors, nurses, pilots and so-on give up their precious holiday time or weekend time to heal and to fly, and it’s true, they ought to be commended.
But no more than the waiters, waitresses, retail workers and other people who stand behind a counter, at a till or behind a bar. They’re giving up their family time, too. Growing up with a waitress mother, I barely interacted with her on weekends. It was always a special event for her to take time off, and that’s not uncommon if you talk to people whose family work in such industries.
The frenetic times around christmas and the new year should serve as a reminder to everyone to give thanks to the people who work in the service industry. It’s not the servant industry. The people working in that industry have families and friends too, and are giving up time with their families and friends to allow us to have moments out with ours.
It’s a lesson too many people forget.
So as you’re spending christmas and the new year with your family and friends, have a close look at how they behave – have a close look at how you behave, too. The real measure of a person is not how they treat their friends and family, but how they treat those in the service and retail industry. Do they treat them like people, or servants?
Sometimes the result of that looking isn’t pleasant. But it’s always instructional, and it’s always important.