The toughest service industry jobs are those that deal with the general public. These occupations are physically and mentally demanding, and the pay is rarely decent. In fact, a Southern Medical University study found that demanding jobs are among the most detrimental to mental and physical health. This means people who work as baristas and call center employees may deal with more stress than a neurosurgeon.
Unless you’ve worked a service industry job, there are some things you’ll never understand. The work is difficult, but the bonds you develop with co-workers are deep. You’ll absolutely have some crazy employee stories, but the laughs may not be worth the lack of job satisfaction.
If you're having trouble with your sewage system, a septic tank servicer comes to help. Dealing with sewage is easier than it was in the past, but technicians still have to get their hands dirty. They climb into small, unsanitary places and do all sorts of he dirty work. Plus, they have to deal with frustrated home owners. Richard Rosano, owner of R.W. Rosano Excavation and Septic Specialists, said hiring for his latest tank servicer position took nine months because the job was so intensive. The starting hourly wage was $17.
When your laptop is permanently frozen, your bank lands you with a random fee, or the cable is out for the hundredth time, you may be outraged as you call the 800 number for help. But the person on the other end of the phone isn't the person who caused the problem. In fact, they are trying to help you.
Working in a call center is hard. By default, every person you speak to either has an issue with your service, or you have to sell them something. On the sales end of the industry, the job can make you feel like you're taking advantage of people. One call center employee noted:
The worst experience was [taking calls at the] credit card company because most of the people were elderly and I felt bad selling them an online credit card they probably wouldn't use. I quit that job about two weeks after I started because I had morals.
Head chefs don't typically encounter the general public, but being in the kitchen isn't exactly easy. The chef may not have to deal with an angry customer, but if the food is cold or allergy mistakes are made, there's only one person responsible. The job is extremely fast paced and demanding job, but it may only pay $13.50 an hour for a 40 hour work week. PayScales 2015 restaurant report noted that only 62% of head chefs are satisfied with their jobs. Only 25% of those workers described their job as low stress.
Window washers have behind-the-scenes service jobs that almost always involve scary heights. Window washers also face daily exposure to chemicals, weather, and other malignant elements. Injury rates are high; about eight window washers in New York City are involved in accidents each year, and 75 died on the job there between 1983 and 2008.
These workers must all deal with the pressure of being watched by people on the other side of the windows.