If You Never Worked in the Service Industry, I Know You

service industry
service industry
Courtesy of oatsy40 (Flickr CC0)

Outsourcing Began the Expansion of Income Inequality

Although in the early 20th century our country was the leader in manufacturing in the world, America is now mostly a service-oriented workforce. Although the “business strategy” of outsourcing has its origins in the 1950s, it officially began during the George H.W. Bush Administration and escalated during the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton. Corporations involved in manufacturing were not only allowed to move their businesses to foreign nations, but they also received tax incentives to do so. With their factories abandoned, tens of thousands of good-paying jobs were lost, mostly in our inner cities. New employees in today’s service industry were and are frequently paid wages that are just 10 percent of what was earned in America.

Tens of Thousands of Good-Paying Jobs Disappeared

The workforce which labored in those factories was poorly educated. However, after receiving employment at entry-level wages and in entry-level positions, they moved through the ranks advancing in both positions and their rate of pay. This began the current level of income inequality in America. This also removed “e pluribus unum” as our national motto. It was replaced by “profit before people.” Almost overnight the United States became a plutocracy.

Something Good Comes from the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic was a disaster, exacerbated by the fact that Trump ignored reality and failed to lead our nation in efforts to prevent serious loss of life. He repeated the same lie, over and over: “it will just go away.” More than one million lives have been lost related to the coronavirus. However, out of this disaster, caused by your illegitimate president, came a realization from American workers. Most realized they hated their jobs because they were underpaid, overworked, and disrespected. Of these men and women, many were previously employed in the service industry.

A Life in the Service Industry

Now fully retired since 2011, I look back on my life as an American worker, about 90 percent of which was spent in various areas of the service industry. A percentage of my working life ranged from unpleasant to miserable. For the most part, my employers disrespected me and had no concern for my welfare or that of my family. Many of the patrons I attempted to serve looked down on me, obviously feeling superior to me and my fellow workers.

Three of My Many Jobs in the Service Industry

My primary, longest-lasting jobs were all in the service industry. From 1967 to 1976 I worked for an airline at Los Angeles International Airport, LAX. For almost 10 years, I worked in every position available. I began unloading and loading airplanes on the “ramp.” Furthermore, I worked at the ticket counter, the departure area known as the “gate,” catering, operations, and as a driver. I hated the gate but hated the ticket counter even more.

I was frequently verbally abused, and a few times threatened with physical violence while working in the gate area. Whenever possible, I chose an area that did not involve working with people.

Then I worked as a cosmetologist for over 20 years. I enjoyed most of my customers, but some of the other hairdressers were constantly abused. It was hard work, physically and emotionally. Looking back, I remember every time when I was verbally assaulted by a customer. Egos were frequently a huge challenge.

When I moved to Northern Nevada in 1986, I was asked to work in the casinos. I carried change initially but hated it. Instead, I decided to go to the dealer’s school. I dealt with every game in every casino which employed me and worked as a games supervisor several times. The owners and upper management expect their dealers to accept verbal abuse. It’s all about the money, therefore, the customer is always right, regardless of the situation, if they spent large amounts of money. My first three novels were about Northern Nevada casinos and many of my characters were based on actual people I worked for. They are about serial killers: guess why!

The Service Industry Has Lots of Jobs No One Wants

There are three areas of employment that are already facing shortages. They are hiring but seldom receive applications. Restaurants/bars, banks, and of course casinos are shorthanded.

The next will be massive unemployment as major retailers close their doors. As online sales increase dramatically, brick-and-mortar stores are shutting down their operations across America.

As unemployment rises, so will the profits of corporations. Capitalism depends on consumerism. Without consistent sales, many overpriced items will sit on shelves in warehouses gathering dust.

Service jobs in America are plentiful, but many younger Americans decline to apply. They have friends who worked in restaurants, bars, and retail outlets who tell tales about how unpleasant it was for them to work in these institutions. They suffered abuse from both sides, employers and customers. Wealthy CEOs and our government in Washington won’t admit the truth that there is more to life than work. I know this is “un-American,” but I agree.

By James Turnage

Find my novels on Amazon’s Kindle


Daily Kos: This is what it looks like to live in a country where work really isn’t valued
NC State University: A Brief History of Outsourcing

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of oatsy40‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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