[Serial reports] A story of a restaurant server Klaus (1)

Klaus Petersen (56)

Klaus Petersen (56)


The reason why Danish waiters are much happier than Korean doctors

How is a waiter satisfied with his job in a restaurant? When you were waiting for your food, have you ever wondered this question looking at the person who carried the plates back and forth? Last April I started to notice a waiter. His service was fantastic, with his agile movements in spite of his old age; he looked the oldest among the servers in that restaurant.

He came up to my table and asked: “How can I help you, Sir?”

He did not have any particular facial expression, but he fascinated me. His charm might have come from a combination of humility and confidence. I truly felt that he really enjoyed what he was doing. I imagined his whole life while I was having the food he served.

When I left the restaurant, I walked over to him while he was busily serving his customers, I had lots of questions for him but I only asked a brief question – his age.

“Me? 56 years old. I am Klaus Petersen; I want to continue my job until I can walk with two feet”

I admired him and asked him to take a photo of us. When I came back to my accommodation I realized that I should have asked him to have an interview with me.

Two months later, at the end of June, I visited the restaurant again during my second visit to Denmark for my in-depth report. Luckily he was there and he recognized me instantly.

“You must be the reporter from South Korea?” he asked.

He was pleased to take an official interview this time.

“There are 30 staff members here in total, and I am the oldest one. I can have like 30 minutes for an interview because we aren’t so busy yet. This is a kind of senior’s benefit (Laughter).”

Now, here are the secrets of his happy life.


[Special lecture about happiness by Klaus①]  My life, do what you really enjoy

“You looked really happy” I said.

“Because I truly love my job now.” he replied.

“I have worked as a cook and waiter for nearly 40 years, since I was 17 years old. I thought I did not need to go to university so I got a job that I liked, in a restaurant as a cook and  waiter, and there I worked and studied at the same time.”

Working and studying at the same time is Denmark’s distinctive system; Danish workers enjoy vocational programs while working, for 10 weeks a year with government support.

“I took this kind of education for 7 years; during this time I had a chance to love my job more and more.”

He learnt not only labor skills but also the meaning of fruitful labor in a vocational program. That is why he really enjoys what he is doing now.

* To read entire article in Korean :  http://omn.kr/2xer (by Yeon-ho Oh)

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Eunbin Ko

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07 2013

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