A Young, Inexperienced 22-Year-Old’s Ponderings on Making a Living, OR at the Least, a Wine Recommendation

I’m writing to you now after having had the best glass of red wine I’ve managed to find. It’s called La Finca de los Arandinos; I feel so sophisticated, and I also give you permission to slap the pretentiousness out of me the next time you see me if you feel the urge.

***

Today was riotous. I began hosting at 8:00 am almost pleading for something to do, making my way back and forth between French Meadow running out food and clearing tables while keeping an eye on the floor at Blue Stem Bar and Table. After fifteen-minute spurts of making drinks and doing stuff on the other side of the building over at FM, it was a shock to come back to the Blue Stem everytime finding that no one had come in yet.

All was quiet.

At 11:00am, a 5-top came in, and then a 3, and a 2, and a 4, and 2, and before any of us knew what was happening, we were getting slammed by nagging botoxed brunchers and a few other insistent diners, but mainly it was the shear volume fueling the chaos. I’m sure if you took an MRI of my brain when everything was at its most hectic, it  would read the same if I were at a rave dancing on a table shirtless with a binky in my mouth. It was as if we were all relaxing on the beach in a warm daze, letting our minds skip in a thoughtless slumber, and suddenly a monstrous 12-foot wall of water crashed into us, knocking off our sunglasses and sending waterlogged summer reads and our baby cousin out to sea. JIMMY!!!

If you haven’t worked in the restaurant industry before, it’s something I highly suggest doing at least once in your lifetime as a bus boy, a server, a food runner, a cook, a dishwasher, etc.  To be the one clearing the table, bringing out the food and catering to the customer’s every need, preparing it, and finally scraping what’s left of it at the end of the night into the trash is a humbling experience. To be on the other side of the counter, the one in the uniform, gives you an entirely different perspective on the world. And this goes to all jobs in the service industry.

For a time, I didn’t have to worry about money. I was rich, or it felt like it at least. Unfortunate, yet retrospectively fortunate circumstances led to me sitting comfortably atop a plump $40,000 bank account when I was still a teenager, 19. It wasn’t through the generosity of a deceased grandparent or the ingeniousness of an idea such as silent velcro, rather, it was compensation for having been hit by a car when I was 17-years old, crossing the street on my way home from summer cross country practice.

Over the years, that money has gone primarily to college loans, but much of it was frivolously tossed about as if I were five again playing in a mound of leaves, a used car here, a road trip there, an expensive coat. I have no regrets, really. The money was spent how it was spent, and looking back, I don’t know how much I should realistically expect from a 19-year-old given 40k other than to indulge in some good times and some nice things.

Looking to the present however, circumstances are quite different. Budgeting. I had never had to do it before, and when I was down to around $4,000, I began to play with the idea halfheartedly, while abroad in France. Yeah… so that didn’t go quite well. Now, it has definitely become an important tool in my life. Furthermore, living in Minneapolis with my three roommates, a bartender, a barista, and an international student from Japan at MCTC, as well as the variety of different people I have come across who didn’t have a private college experience for example, or who didn’t while away their days via boats on lakes they also happen to live on, etc. has already begun to teach me a lot about the meaning of making a living.

It’s a strange game, making a living, or better yet, finding a job that you look forward to going to everyday. The rules are not always clear, the strategies to employ are abundant, and so much depends on circumstance. Roll a six and you can take a ladder up one tier, that much closer to winning the game. But, ope! You’ve just landed on a slide, and now you’re back to where you started. Now you have no hands and you need to figure out a way to keep rolling the dice, so you pick it up with your mouth, but you’re sixty years old with dentures, and all you want to do is make it to the end and relax because you’ve been playing for so long.

Studies show that if you’re tall, handsome, white, and male, the road to wealth has been paved for you. That’s awfully depressing to think about, and possibly discouraging if you choose to let your life be guided by these statistics (“Oh, god, is he going to reference Macklemore now?!”). What I would like to wrap up with is a thought to ponder, and maybe that thought will lead you to another thought, and perhaps remind you of all the ways in which you can win the game. It’s not necessarily about getting to the top and benefiting from as many ladders as you can, or looking down on the player who is trying to roll a pair of dice with only his dentures. Remember the value in tipping your barista, or your hairstylist, or asking them how their day is going. And remember that the world is run by people, not employers and CEOs, and they’re also hiring people, not only framed certifications and decadent lists of achievements or statistics.

***

Leaving college, living on my own, and now really paying my own bills has given me a different perspective. I’m sure that if you’re in your late 20’s or older and reading this, maybe you’re nodding to yourself remembering what it felt like for you when you were first flung out of the plane at 10,000 feet with a parachute that you needed to assemble in the air, or maybe you’re just waiting to hear something new. Well, if there is anything to take away from this post, try a glass Finca de los Arandinos. It is marvelous.

Cheers,

M

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