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Suck It Up Buttercup

a hand holding a tree

Suck it up buttercup.

If you have worked in the food service/hospitality/customer service industry, I would have no problem betting a paycheck the vast majority of us have heard that phrase or something very similar in your experience. If indeed you have worked in the industry, you also know it would be a terrible bet to take because you’d lose. Every one of us at some point has been questioned about our toughness, our loyalty or have had our integrity questioned when you’re not at full power or were not able to work.  

This is understandable, there certainly have been people who have taken advantage and called in sick, only to post that they went to the concert/party/whatever.  So an element of skepticism sometimes, is understandable. We in are very tough business, the people whose job it is to create a great experience for you; help you find the right item, cook a great meal for you, keep your hotel room clean, they are all under enormous pressure to put on the good face, and help ensure YOUR good time regardless of what’s happening in their personal and private life.

Suck it up buttercup.    

Complicating the above issue is 2020 and what we all have gone through so far. Every one of us has faced unexpected difficulties, major changes, impact against our personal life, quality of life, finances or much worse.  All this adding to and compounding the above issues.

Suck it up buttercup.

Here in the Spokane food community, we recently lost a very well respected and liked chef.  It landed really hard on many of us.  It was most likely one of those side issues with 2020 that some people talk about; Isolation, despair, hopelessness… Sure it was not THE virus, but make no mistake when you may be vulnerable, and are facing hard challenges alone, or feel like you are alone, it is related.

This is what happens when we are all told or are expected to suck it up.  

Dale Carnegie said: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

And right now emotions are raw, exposed, at risk. All of us are compromised somehow, to different levels. You can’t not be.

Then here come the holidays... well known for those at risk to depression, loss, loneliness.   The Washington Department of Health recently put out a report that says we may be heading for a perfect storm (my words) with the usual mental health challenges that accompany the season, and adding in all that’s happened so far this year. There is room for real concern.

So what do we do?

Open up:  Be present to who you are talking to and what you’re talking about. When we are asked ‘how are you?’ We all tend to answer from the perspective of how things in your life are moving or whats going on: It’s cursory small talk, it’s comfortable, and that’s ok. I attended a ‘call to action’ meeting after the loss of our friend put on by Big Table, a wonderful organization that stands for and supports the very people I’m talking about here. One of the most important things we can do, is the follow up question after the chit chat; ‘Ok, now how are YOU doing?’ We need to be tuned in enough, tender enough to ask that second question to get past the ‘what I think you want to hear’ answer, the answer that somewhere inside… desperately needs to be given. Remember to ask the question; ‘Ok, now how are YOU doing?’ And be ready to take the time to listen.

Many years ago, it was not uncommon to see someone who was in mourning, with a black arm band on their sleeve. That was to tell the world ‘I’m emotionally compromised.’ Some Native American peoples would cut their hair to tell everyone that they were compromised.  Why have we gone away from acknowledging being emotional and human?  

Oh I know… suck it up buttercup.

Personally, I’m finished with that ‘suck it up’ concept. If you are my friend, you matter to me. If you are hurting, it matters to me. If I don’t know it, I can promise you this; I’m going to ask you that follow up question.

‘Ok, now how are YOU doing?’

We all need to be asking the question too.

Food For Thought.

Chris Patterson is a Managing Partner at Navigator Consulting.

If you’d like to discuss this article or have any questions, please contact Chris at:

For further resources please consider the following:

Big Table at: 

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) at: (800) 950-6264

If you want to read the Washington Department of Health report, here is the link: