My way to make money with Martin Lamberts Löwenbrück

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As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In the Weekly column ‘My way to make money’ we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work.

This week we interview a student about his summer job as a waiter in the States. Martin Lamberts Lowenbruck is a 23 year old student in the second year of the European Studies program. Born and raised in the USA, he holds a German passport due to his German parents. His German ancestry was one of the reasons that triggered his interest in Europe and come to Maastricht for his studies.

My job…
I work as a ‘waitstaff’ of a seaside restaurant named Jackie’s Too in Ogunquit, Maine, USA. Opened in the 60’s, the restaurant now serves as a tourist attraction for Americans and French Canadians alike, serving both lunch and dinner every day, all year-round. I’ve been working summers at Jackie’s restaurant since 2012, and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of returning this summer for work, albeit for only a short time, as my work schedule in the Netherlands requires my return.

I like my job because…
I enjoy working at Jackie’s too for several reasons, not least of which is the beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean over Perkin’s Cove. The restaurant is located directly on the shore, with only a few metres between the waves and the restaurant veranda during high tide. The smell of the cold ocean on a warm morning is one of life’s simple pleasures. The ocean has always been close to home.

A regular day looks like…
I spend about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week at the restaurant. Starting work at 10:00 means I usually leave work between 4 and 5 PM, depending on how busy the day was. With tips for excellent service included, you can expect to earn around $120 to $170 for 6 hours of work, making $20 per hour isn’t bad.

The thing that makes the job hard…
The hardest part of the job, as in all realms of the service industry, are terrible customers. These very patrons, however, can be what makes the job great. Working busy hours and running food on a 100º day will certainly run you down, especially when a customer heckles for minutes at a time over simple things like water or napkins. Despite shortcomings and unpleasant guests, however, good service is usually rewarded with a good tip, unless you’re serving Canadians. The French Canadians, in keeping with good European tradition, generally do not tip the server, assuming it is already included in the bill. If lucky, I can expect a 5% tip from even the sweetest Canadians; they simply don’t understand customs, despite returning every year. The reason tips are such a big deal for the service industry in the USA is because of the low wages servers receive. Servers do not qualify for minimum wage (around $8.00), because they generally receive tips. When the tips are not received, servers essentially work for free.

The job gives me…
Apart from the location, the rest of the waitstaff is comprised of people from all over the world. Having become acquainted with numerous international employees from Eastern Europe last year, I have now had the pleasure of getting to know a few South Africans, Jamaicans, and seasonal workers. The international and cultural exposure that this job has to offer was one of the hidden gems of working in Ogunquit. People rarely realise how much of the tourist industry in Maine survives off the work of young aspiring guest workers. The cultural and worldly experience gained by the locals is just an added benefit.

I didn’t expect the job to be…
as stressful as it is sometimes. Nevertheless, I also didn’t expect the job to be so rewarding. As a server, it’s important to have the ability to sell yourself. The server’s ability to give the customer a nice experience is the fulcrum on which earnings turn. This line of work certainly puts more responsibility on the server for good wages.

Later in life I’ll…
not work in the restaurant industry. It is certainly a high-stress job and teases one’s patience. It’s ideal for young and energetic people who need something to do for a summer. For the seasoned employees, I have nothing but respect, as they toil daily in one of the harder industries. These people serve others when they are not working. I aspire a career in journalism or maybe life will surprise me.

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