As a bartender I am constantly subjected to one of the most insulting, insensitive, and ignorant questions that a professional in any business can be asked. "When will you get a real job?" is a staple inquiry from my customers, friends, x-girlfriends, family, and even colleagues. It seems to be appropriate to everyone, I suppose, because of the myth that anyone working in the restaurant industry is either in college with greater career aspirations, or an actor waiting for their big break in Hollywood.
I am neither. My acting career took a turn for the worse in 6th grade when my drama teacher asked me if I would be interested in becoming a stagehand, and my college experience ended when I realized that most graduates of music and english were lucky to find employment making salaries that I was making as a busser at Charlie Brown's when I was seventeen.
So, I became a bartender. I work in a beautiful restaurant and I take my job seriously. I show up on time every day with my shirt pressed, a smile on my face, and I offer the rest of the community of people with 'real jobs' an experience and a product that makes them feel good. When you think about it, it's quite a bit like tv producers, iphone manufacturers, video game technicians, rock stars, talk show hosts, clothing designers... You get the point, right ?
So why restaurant workers? Why is it assumed that what we do isn't real? Perhaps it's the hours. When you start your workday during happy hour does your work cease to be real? Maybe. Maybe all of us in this industry are strange little hollographic nighttime unicorns, prancing around in a dimension that doesn't even exist, waiting for a genius quantum physicist to uncover the incomprehensible construction of the molecules in our cartoon bodies, so that he can liberate us from our non-worlds, so that we may either take a huge pay cut or find a less pleasurable life in joining the class of people with 'real jobs.'