In order to become a decent human being, one must work in a restaurant or in retail at some point in their lives. In addition to strengthening your socialization skills, you also learn how to multitask under pressure and master the art of the fake smile. Below are the most important attributes a server will (hopefully) take with them when they graduate from the restaurant world.
1. How to hustle.
It’s a busy Friday night. It’s loud, crowded, and the temperature in the restaurant continues to rise due to all of the hungry bodies lurking about. You continue to get double sat and your cranky customers are already pissed off before you greet them because of the extra long wait. Once you have been serving tables for a while, this night becomes the norm. You get into a groove and the night flies by. Before you know it, you’re stacking chairs and counting the giant wad of $20s in your pocket. These nights prepare you mentally for the days when there just seems to be no break.
Go ahead. Stare at the salad chef while he prepares that Greek salad for table 21. He will only go slower because he knows you’re watching him. Only have one table? They can’t decide what to order? Don’t continue to ask them every two minutes. Time management is an important skill to learn in the hospitality industry, and it will stay with you forever.
3. If you’re not early, you’re late.
Sometimes a rush in a restaurant can come out of nowhere. I have had countless days where I have had to come onto the floor early because half a dozen tables walked in out of nowhere. If I had come in on time, I would have missed those six tables. Because I was early, I made more money. Time is money and no one successful is ever late.
4. How to get along with annoying people.
Most restaurant employees are college students. It provides a flexible schedule and fast cash, which are the only things you care about in college. College students are also incredibly annoying. They come in late and hung-over, they want to leave early so they can drink, and they call in sick because they are hung-over. If you can deal with a dozen coworkers all under the age of 22, you can deal with anyone.
5. Smiling will get you far.
I admit, sometimes I have a negative attitude and can be a sourpuss. But whenever I was talking to one of my tables or answering a phone, I was Shirley freaking Temple. I was sweet as pie because whomever I was talking to would probably be paying my cell phone bill. People notice your disposition, so make it a sunny one.
6. “It’s just a pizza place.”
Those are the wisest words I could have listened to while waitressing. It’s so easy to get upset when you get double sat or stiffed on a bill or end up having to stay later than you planned. These things don’t matter. You will make your money and go home. You won’t be doing this forever, so don’t overreact to silly things that won’t matter tomorrow.
7. How to treat your fellow human beings with respect.
Just because someone is working in hospitality or retail does not mean they are beneath you. I have gone out to eat with plenty of people who have no idea how to treat a stranger with respect, and these people all lack customer service experience. It’s 2013. Your server is not literally your servant.
Also keep in mind the negative things that stay with you once you leave the restaurant world:
Back problems, permanent scars from foot blisters, the ability to see any food item in a phallic nature, fluency in Spanish curse words and the inability to tip anything less than 25% for the rest of your life.
Maria is a mild-mannered, 20-something Boston native with a secretly sassy mouth. She still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, but in the mean time she will obsessively blog about it. You can follow her on Twitter and tumblr.
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