The Price of Hospitality
The late Saturday morning hour ticks by and soon enough becomes the afternoon. The sun is higher in the sky and the pounding in my head is at its peak. I’m coming down and groggy. The only logical remedy is one thing—more drugs.
My shift starts in an hour. That’s just enough time for me to shower, letting the scalding, hot water erase the remnants of last night, then get the next fix that will ease the withdrawals and help get me through the night shift.
I arrive at work, cocaine flowing through my veins. It brings me to life. I look out across the restaurant as customers begin to claim the vacant seats. The more customers there are, the more money I will make. The more money I make, the more drugs I can buy. The more customers that arrive, the more drugs I will need. It’s a vicious circle.
An hour into the shift, I’m exhausted and it doesn’t go unnoticed. My co-worker looks at me with skeptical eyes and a crooked smile. We meet in the walk-in cooler for another pick me up and the transformation from lethargic to jittery is instantaneous. I strut back out onto the floor and start back up with a new table, effusively greeting them through a fake smile and high eyes.
The atmosphere does a 180 from the restaurant to the kitchen. Plates are brought in from an unhappy customer. Bitching and complaining from all the servers about the terrible customers. The kitchen staff plays music and talks shit. Everyone is high off their own supply. We act like one big, dysfunctional, loaded family.
The shift comes to an end. Four tables remain occupied but for the most part, the restaurant has emptied out. Tips fill the pocket of my apron as I impatiently pace the length of the restaurant anxiously awaiting the departure of the remaining few. At last the doors are closed and the patrons have all left. The music has changed to something more upbeat and the volume increased.
Time to sit at the bar, count tips and have a drink. Make that 4 drinks and add 2 bathroom breaks to fill my nose with more white powder. A cigarette or two will top it off. The night at the restaurant comes to an end, but it’s still early.
The street is dark as my co-workers and I walk across the parking lot. We load into the car and pack a bowl of weed. Then off to a bar that’s open for more drinks. Tomorrow’s shift will look the same as it did tonight.
In the hospitality industry, there is no shortage of drug and alcohol addiction. Yes, there are many professionals in the industry who work in it because they love what they do and it is their passion. For others, mainly unskilled wait staff, it is a matter of needing the job and not having enough experience to work anywhere else. Or maybe just trying to make ends meet.
More times than not, the shift is long, there are many customers and the easiest way to handle it, is to use some substance to get you through. Think about all the times your order was wrong or the waitress never came back for a long time, or she didn't quite seem all there. You probably suspected something and unless you had a loved one who abused drugs (and unfortunately know all too well the telltale signs), you probably excused their behavior by saying they “were having a bad day.”
It’s never too late to get help for yourself or someone you love. Drug addiction, whether justified by “it gets you through work” or some other reason, leads to a life of destruction. And while you may think you are only doing it to stay awake at work or push through your shift, it will eventually take over your life. Soon there will be no job and no income and all the times you told yourself you only needed the drug to get through work, become irrelevant and you still use even though you no longer work.
Addiction can take over without your ever realizing it. Don’t wait till it’s too late.