Highschool

Today I wore pink. The air-conditioning is on full blast. I’m freezing. I arrived early today, before 8.30 am. The train, bus, train, streets and Dean and Deluca were all fairly empty. I’m rather bored these days. Inspiration comes in waves, I’m in the trough right now. Incidentally that is (sadly) one of the only vocabulary words I can remember from my Oceanography class in College. I nearly slept through it, really. But I do so love the topic. It’s a shame really. I wish I could go back and know then what I know now, I would take it so seriously. I would be one of those geek note takers, alert all the time, students would be both angry and jealous of me. Yeah.
I came up with a mind-shattering idea on Saturday night. What if all highschool graduates were made to work in the service industry for four years. Upon dealing with, learning about, and experiencing humans at their ugliest, only then would one be ready to go to college. I think we would take it more seriously and approach it all with more ease and less pride. All in favor say aye.

33 Comments

  1. aye. double the aye.

    working in service teaches you more than any school or job could ever teach you.

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  2. I absolutely agree. Not to mention, I think 18 is way to young to really know what it is you want to do for the rest of your life.

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  3. I think it would be great. A humbling experience needed for all. There is no “cool” or “popular” person in the service industry. The service industry knows no rank.

    It could just work… it could.

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  4. You mean service industry like retail? or food service? Either way, I would never have survived.

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  5. Working in service breaks your spirit and crushes your pride. Working in service would make people apathetic and suicidal.

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  6. Going to college did that to me, actually.

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  7. But…it would also teach you to treat service people better, no? I know that after I worked in retail, I found myself being much more considerate to others, after being treated like such shit myself.

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  8. It absolutley does, freakgirl.

    Breaks your spirit? What does not destroy you makes you stronger. :)

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  9. all about learning to be good to other people. even the ones you abhor. and i’m with mihow about the stronger argument. i came out of service work a much stronger, better person than i went in.

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  10. There are so many things one learns from the service industry. Here are some of them (off the top of my head):

    Patience.

    The ability to realize there are others who live here. (ie. Apathy)

    Become less wasteful. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I freaked out when i realized how the life span of some things is only about 2 seconds long. And the amount of time it spends in the trash is at least double that.

    i could go on. But i’ll shut it for now. :)

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  11. CORRECTION:

    I have no idea why I wrote “apathy”. I meant to write “Compassion”.

    I think I was thrown off or something

    Had to clear that up. :)

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  12. I was wondering about that.

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  13. i’m going to go right ahead and be preachy and add that it really teaches you to be thankful for what you have/are. there, i’ve done it.

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  14. Preach away. Truthfully, I can’t think of another area of work that teaches people more about humanity and in turn, themselves and what we’re capable of.

    Maybe Hookers, cops, and hospital workers as well. But that’s service too, right? I would say so.

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  15. see service made me bitter. I came out of it with no patience for stupid people. Someone who I take an order from that asks what choice of sides they have when it is written in the description of the meal they ordered doesn’t deserve to live.

    Someone who picks up a pair of jeans and asks me how much they are without looking at the tag also doesn’t deserve to live.

    If working in service taught me anything it is empathy for current service employees. Now I tip a lot, I wait my turn, I say “when you get a chance”, I don’t yell when my food doesn’t taste right, I look for myself before asking, and most of all I smile at the people working.

    I will never ever ever go back to service.

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  16. Don’t deserve to live? Surely you don’t mean that. That’s just harsh and thoughtless.

    But you’ve proven one of my statements true… it will/can teach people patience.

    You were not there long enough perhaps? If you had been you might begin to wonder why people ask these questions. Maybe your tag wasn’t large enough, maybe the menu was designed by a moron. Maybe it’s your fault. Maybe just maybe there are reasons behind this. Who knows. But to say they should not live is taking a bit far, if you ask me.

    There are reasons people act the way they do. Working service makes you try and understand these reason, or at the very least, ponder over it before saying, “They don’t deserve to live.”

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  17. i find it very difficult to trust anyone who has never worked in food service. i definitely wouldn’t want to go to war or be stranded on a mountain with someone who went from the comfort of home, to the comfort of (a paid-for) education, to the comfort of yuppie workaday living.

    food service teaches you how to vent, how to accept the venting of others, how to bust your ass for nothing but pride (since money is usually slim), how to bond with others, and how to respect lifestyles your grandparents may not approve of.

    bike messengers develop an instinct – they can tell 3 blocks up when a cab is going to hit the brakes or when a ped is going to step off a curb. it’s a result of being good at what they do, and it translates to the world outside the job.

    food service pros (that is, the people who survive by service, who depend on it and do it well—not the kids who tried it for 2 weeks or did it for extra money one summer because their allowance wasn’t high enough) develop a similar instinct. waiters and waitresses usually know when the drunk guys in booth 11 are going to start a fight, or when the guy at table 3 is going to reach for a handful of ass, or when those indy rock bastards outside are gonna try to dine-and-dash because they need a thrill and their dads have good lawyers and provide too little affection for their poor tormented existentially troubled disaffected offspring. they can sense it and they act. cooks can tell, just from mild changes in the din penetrating the doors whether a concert has just let out or whether a fight is breaking out, and they are ready to prep more burgers or grab a cleaver and run to the rescue of the waitstaff, respectively.

    i learned more in years of food service than i have anywhere else. i did, as mihow pointed out, see the lower forms people can take on, and i saw the highest, the celebration of relatively simple achievments, and the admirable love-hate relationships formed in a kitchen of cussin, yelling, and insulting one another. i’ve thrown a 20 poind pan of bloody ground beef at the head of a coworker and 3 hours later, at 7am, when the shift ended, gone out to the river to drink with him and everyone else in the place.

    in my experience, when you’re ill, or low, the yuppie office-job world will often provide nice emails. the food service world will provide visits, food, medicine, money, and help. i’ve seen the latter in the office world, but only from a food-service vet.

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  18. hookers, cops, hospital workers- totally service industry. imagine the horrors of humanity that cops see. or hospital workers. and nurses too, i think.
    you know, even the uniform- hair net, company polo shirt, smock, whatever- even those teach an awful lot about humility. there’s something about working your ass off all say and not giving a damn if you still have your uniform on while you’re in the liquor store (or whatever) that makes you grow up.

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  19. michael, i would assume that the entire time you somehow saw yourself as ‘meant’ to be doing something else. if you resent your job, and if you think you’re too good for it (too lazy, stupid, snobbish, spoiled, maybe, but not too good), you’re going to have problems with the simple things that you are there for.

    i have no interest in what i see as a weak, jaded view of people in contrast with obvious delusions of grandeur.

    we always made sure the momma’s boys left covered in filth and crying on their second or third shift.

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  20. oh, tobyjoe good point. my friends from the service industry were really there for me in good and bad- even the people that i didn’t necessarily get along with- but the people in the “professional” world (me and my i yr of “real” work) seem to only be able to offer emails, mass signed cards and occasionally flowers for those in need.

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  21. I would go back in a second. If I lost this job, you better fuckin believe I’d be in the nearest bar or restaurant, filling out applications left and right.

    I have yet to meet such a large group of great people in one place. I imagine it to be a bit like it would be in war (sorry for my analogy here. I have no way of knowing this) you have your people, you fight for them and with them no matter what. There is no real rank because if one falls down, you all might. Ego is set aside for the simple structure of the business’s success. It’s stripped to it’s bare minimum, there is no time for bullshit.

    In the “real world” I see so much bullshit get in the way of simple structure it often meets and creates its own demise. Deals are lost and money is wasted. There are so many more thoughtless, ignorant, mommy fed weasels here on Broadway, working in some office with a view then there are getting their hands dirty on the streets below.

    But even the mommy fed, weasels deserve to live.

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  22. Why do I get the distinct impression I’ve touched a nerve?

    I obviously meant “don’t deserve to live” as an exaggeration. When saying “waste of skin”, you wouldn’t go ahead and try to remove tht persons skin, and thus, I wouldn’t try to kill someone who I described as not deserving to live.

    I think I was in service long enough. I had my first job when I was 13, and continued in service of some type or another until I was out of college.

    I didn’t at any point consider myself above the other employees, above the job, meant to be elsewhere, screwed over in the grand scheme of life, or suffering from delusions of grandeur.

    I also don’t consider myself now or then “too lazy, stupid, snobbish, spoiled” and I resent the implication toby.

    Maybe the term I used offended you? Maybe I should have said they deserved to be “assed”?

    That was in no way my view of people in general as you seem to think. I would have hoped you would have more respect for my opinion than to assume I am an evil monster just flaming at the unwashed masses as I step on the little people to make my way to the top.

    As an aside: the fact that I didn’t enjoy service industry does not mean I didn’t do a good job. I smiled and stayed polite, I got along well with my co workers, and I made the most of my day. I used the service industry to move forward in my life to the point I am now, and I will use what I’m doing now to move forward in my life further.

    20 years from now I may say that stupid design clients don’t deserve to live, and I hope the people I say it to will have the depth to understand that its not a statement of fact, it’s simply hyperbole.

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  23. i’m with mihow. i would have no problem going right back to the convience store i worked at throughout college. the money sucked and it un-impressed future employers and the work itself was hard and the customers annoyed the crap out of me (cat’s name is annoying customer. c’mon, who’s with me here?) but i’d go back in a second. i was, i think, far happier in that kind of working atmosphere, with those people than i am here.

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  24. Michael, I get frustrated when people write, or speak without thinking about what they’re saying. You used a superlative, and it bothered me. There is way too much of that around. Especially on the internet. I get tired of it. That’s all.

    If that means I lack the depth to understand what it is you’re saying, then so be it. I’m sensitive to language, that’s the only outlet we have in order to make things better or worse.

    Oh fuck it.

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  25. its like a million degrees outside today ; )

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  26. Try being an 18 year old reffing a soccer match where parent’s of the kids playing yelled about doing all sorts of horrible things to me and often made serious allegations about the legitimacy of my birth.

    Now imagine that you KNOW these people yelling at you are WRONG! Not mistaken but WRONG in the fact that they didn’t know the rules of the game (which I had to attend courses and pass tests in order to take that job) but you can’t say a single thing to them.

    I tell ya, it made me want to take a baby, tie a puppy to its back throw them both in a burlap sack, glue several really cute kittens to the outside and throw them all into the river.

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  27. My first job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sometimes, when I’m sleeping I hear, “WHITE MEAT! GIVE ME ALL WHITE MEAT! YOU KNOW I DON’T EAT NONE OF THAT BLACK AND BROWN SHIT”

    I don’t think the chickens will ever stop screaming.

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  28. Well I have experienced an ostensibly happy and stable life until I fell flat on my face. It sounds like a chiche but time working as a Kitchen Porter in a manic and stressed kitchen and jobs like cleaning offices etc gave me a more valuable lesson in the value of things than any class in a university.

    I find that being ‘served’ is something does not sit well with me nowadays because I cringe at myself about the time that I used to take that for granted.

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  29. nods to kafk. indEEd, herr kafk i concur completely…

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  30. hmm.. as someone who has never worked in the food service industry, i will have to pass of some sort of judgement. my friends who have worked in it refer to it as incestuous (in both sexual and non-sexual ways), and alcoholism inducing. But then again, they may have just had negative recall, I don’t know.

    Either way, I totally agree that everyone should work in some sort of ‘service’ industry. Life is a series of ladder steps of service where hopefully the people you cow-tow to get better behaved. ..so you might as well start somewhere. Atleast that’s how it works in theory.

    As a little bit of an older person going back to college however, I look at all the ‘young’ folks and think, ‘Sure they are pretenious. But when you get down to it, it’s a ‘fake it till you make it’ type of deal.’ I honestly think that most college kids have their shit together and are going in the right direction. They’ll learn how the world works soon enough. Why not give them a little time to walk around in adult skin, even if it isn’t the weathered skin of the nine to fiver?

    BTW Rob – why glue the kittens to the outside of the sack? Ornamental, or are they headlights?

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  31. “why glue the kittens to the outside of the sack? Ornamental, or are they headlights?”

    It was purely for the shock value. Other wise they would have just seen a burlap bag sinking, but by seeing little kitties they would realize just how pissed off I was.

    The sad thing was, the reffing job was the greatest/worst job you could imagine. It was something I loved and something that payed a great deal of money (especially to an 18yr old). But dealing with some of the crap was very hard and really caused me to develope some self-control.

    It helped me in waiting third shift tables in a 24 hour dinner all through college though. And I can speak for my mihow (my sister, who worked at the same dinner) when I say that it caused us to both become big tippers in our older age.

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  32. Jazz, thanks for the input. You made me think about it again, on my way to work (before I was called a “sinner” and a “fag”) and though I wouldn’t change my major now if I went back to school, I wish I would have taken the whole experience more seriously. (then again, can’t this be said for everything, hence the power of retrospect?)

    I look back on all the Art History courses I took and I wish I had let them sink in more. I am SO intrigued by it now.

    Not sure what I’m saying. Sometimes 18 just seems so young and you just sort of go because that’s what you’re told to do.

    dunno.

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