Tips From A Former Server: Understanding Empathy In This Industry

Restaurant & Night Life Industry in Downtown Chicago

Personal Perspective

Both my mom and dad did not have the opportunity to go to school beyond the sixth grade because poverty forced them to work to help their families survive. I mentally checked out after my final year of grad school. I had burned myself out with a low-paying community job, late nights at the bar, and my grad program. I had no idea where I wanted to go in life at that time in my life but I knew who I wanted to be. I wanted to honor my truth and roots by innovating the way I lived authentically and passionately with purpose but I also had to make money without endangering and exhausting myself. Fortunately, my experience working in restaurants and bars in Chicago allowed me to focus on some needed healing with humility and perspective.

The Dangers

My parents are devout Catholic Mexican immigrants. We went to church every Sunday and I went to Catholic school for primary, secondary, and my first year of college. As a child, I loved our church’s summer mercado hosted to raise funds. One year, I was at the right age to be geeked to play the outdoor games in my church dress, shiny white shoes, and calcetines de olan (frilly socks). I happily carried my prized junk back to our home in Pilsen, an apartment above our restaurant. Every weekend, our restaurant, El Restaurante Gonzalez, served fresh-made menudo on Saturday and fresh-made pozole on Sunday as specials. My dad always loves to host and, so naturally, our family gathered on Sunday evenings for pozole at the restaurant.

Letting Go of Fears

This story is one of my vivid memories as a child living on 18th and Damen. After that night, the thought of the fear of safety began to creep into my mind quite often and I wondered if other children constantly carried similar fears.

By Conchi Martinez

Fearless and Protected

Tragedy has a way of putting things into perspective, but trauma has a way of distorting your sense of self. Fortunately, although these memories aren’t close to the trauma my parents experienced as immigrants living in dangerous neighborhoods for decades, those memories are vivid because I, being the sensitive soul that I am, stood up to fear early on as a child.

An Empathic Message

Empathize with the people who are serving you. COVID-19 has changed the experience of all workers in The Industry. Workers are overworked and stretched out thin. Pay close attention to the details and the cast of the production. Every detail is thought out and made seamless for the guest.

Writer & Content Strategist, Mexican American Woman, Poderosa, Spiritual Warrior