Posted by Robert on January 20th, 2016


Most jobs are stress-filled. Some are more stressful than others. The person working the cotton candy concession at the state fair is living a virtual stress–free existence compared to the high-rise window washer in Dubai.

In a recent article by Chad Brooks, senior writer at “Business News Daily,” the most stress-intense job in America is held by enlisted military personnel. I agree with that assessment. Brooks’ list is as follows:

1.) Enlisted military personnel: 84.78

2.) Firefighter: 60.59

3.) Airline pilot: 60.46

4.) Police officer: 53.82

5.) Event coordinator: 49.93

6.) Public relations executive: 48.46

7.) Senior corporate executive: 47.46

8.) Broadcaster: 47.30

9.) Newspaper reporter: 46.76

10.) Taxi driver: 46.33

I have no problem with jobs one through four. I can relate to number five. Though six through 10 seem a little “iffy.”

I have experienced the life of an event coordinator when I dove into the catering business for a three-year stint in the late 1990s. It’s rough and it’s stressful. Plus a caterer is typically dealing with someone at one of the most stressed out times of their lives— weddings, entertaining clients, and hosting large banquets.

Nothing against public relations executives and senior corporate executives, but anything with the word, “executive” in the description seems dubious at best. Mike Rowe would snicker at the suggestion.

Nothing against my friends who are broadcasters or newspaper reporter, but I think even they would laugh at their inclusion on this list. As far as taxi drivers go, my experience is that a New York City cab driver could care less about stress, much less any other cab drivers who may be driving in front, or behind him.

Restaurateurs have noticeably been excluded from this list. If I had the time, I would complain. But I am a stressed out restaurateur and I am too busy, and too stressed to take the time to complain.

The restaurant business is already stressful, but never quite as stressful as during the opening of a new restaurant. I have been a part of 17 new restaurant openings over the course of my restaurant career. Four were as an employee and 13 were as an owner. Until one has done it, it can’t be imagined, or even explained. Though I will try.

If someone wants to open a dress shop or gift shop there are certainly aspects of that process that will be complicated and stressful. Making relationships with new buyers, trying to guess which products might fit the concept, utilities, credit card processing, construction, remodeling, and contractor relations all play a part.

Take all of that and multiply it by close-to-impossible and then throw in several dozen people who have never worked together before, along with dozens and dozens of recipes that have never been cooked before, and throw it into a process that requires time sensitive production and you’ve got one big gumbo pot of stress.

And I love every minute of it.

There is something masochistic about all restaurateurs. Whatever that is, I’ve got it in spades. I love this business. It is my passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

This latest opening has been a huge challenge. There was no advertising done for the new restaurant except a small Facebook campaign. But the building is located on the main drag in my hometown of Hattiesburg, and 35,000 cars each day have watched the progress as the building has gone from a rundown old hibachi restaurant in a converted bank to a high-energy burger joint.

In 1987, during my first restaurant opening we opted for a “soft opening.” A soft opening is where an owner just opens the doors one day and business trickles in. Eventually word spreads and within a few weeks, the kitchen is up and running on all cylinders as the people begin pouring in. In the 21st Century days of social media, soft openings are a thing of the past.

I should sit down and write Chad Brooks an email and invite him down for a restaurant opening one day. He would surely alter his list and put “restaurateur” in his top five. Unfortunately I am too busy to send Mr. Brooks any correspondence.

We are swamped. We are stressed. We are happy. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I am blessed to work in a job that I love every day. I have always believed that if one does what he loves as a profession it’s not really like work. That is true for me. I get to do what I like to do everyday and get paid a little for doing it. Bring on the stress. Onward.

 


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