March in Austin is a damn good time to be in the service industry.
Pretty much every hotel, food trailer, restaurant, and bar is hiring
extra people to accommodate the 30,000 or so (rich) people that show up
for SXSW. Even if you haven't worked as a waitress or bartender in a
while, you can still find something to make some extra cash.
It's not like anyone who's been bartending in the last couple of years
can afford to actually attend any SXSW events anyway.
Just a heads up to all you out-of-towners: people are going to be
getting rich off of you, but most of them deserve it. Service industry
people here make $2.13 an hour all year, and during the March
festivities often don't make an hourly wage at all. Lots of bars and
restaurants need to hire extra staff, but don't want to jump through the
hoops of doing so officially. A lot of bar owners know that they have a
desirable spot to work at and will refuse to pay bartenders anything. In
my opinion, this is ridiculous. The people who are really getting rich
off this festival are the restaurant and bar owners (I'm pretty sure you
have to be kind of rich to own a bar), and the people putting on the
fest (Louis Black, SXSW founder).
The flip-side to the money-making coin is that Austinites can be a
little protective of this weird little city. People that live here have
a hard time even going to the store or driving down the street because
of the extra traffic during SXSW. An anti-foreigner vibe (foreign as in,
if you don't live in Austin) has been known to creep its way into the
hospitality industry's heart, culminating in all sorts of ways. A
reporter from Seattle, who came to SXSW last year, noted an attitude
problem best summed up by one bartender's t-shirt that read, “thanks so
much, now go home." What's with the 'tude guys? We need the money,
right? Yeah, it's annoying to not be able to do all of the things you'd
like to for more than a week because all of our favorite places to go
are swarming with vacationers, but I think smiling through the pain will
make it a better experience for all.
So, in short, make a lot of money all my service peeps. And all you
other people, we're working our asses off (14 hour shifts, seriously),
please make it worth our while :)