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Life Lessons I learned while being a server

Working in a restaurant is one of the most popular choices for a teenager, not only does it offer excellent hours (a regular shift is only 4-5 hours long) but it also offers great pay. I remember starting college and wishing I could become a server because I thought it was an easy and fun job, you got to hang out with friends and talk to customers. AND FREE FOOD !!! But, as I’m quitting my job (After two years at a small restaurant) I decided to write a small post for other future waitresses & waiters out there, and some lessons I learned while working. 

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I wish.

1. People always want someone to blame.

This happens to me all the time. Whether you’re a server or a host – you’re bound to get yelled at. I worked as a host for about three months before I quit because I couldn’t handle all the yelling and drama – It wasn’t even by the customers, it was by the servers. “Why did you double seat me?” “Why are you not seating me?” “You’re doing it on purpose! How come you sat ______ and not me?” Well, is it my fault that the customer wanted to sit by the window and not next to the bathroom?

After working as a server, I understand a little bit more about their situation. As a server, you are helpless (unless you’re a horrible server or your boss is really cool and lets you talk back) – You can’t argue back with a customer. You have to put up with their demands, they know you aren’t the boss but they act like you can change things.

Ex.

Customer: Okay, I want veggies with my soup.

Me: Oh, that’s going to be about 1.50 more.

Customer: Are you serious? I always go here, and you guys never charge me for extra Veggies.

Me: I’m sorry, I just work here.

Customer: I know you’re not the boss, but I’m just saying that because of you, I am getting charged $1.50 for extra veggies.

First of all, I have worked at this place for 9 months and am usually the ONLY SERVER on duty (its a pretty small shop) I have never seen his bald ass in here. Second, the dish does not come with veggies, obviously if you are adding a extra stuff then you are going to get charged for it. I actually called my boss over since he was giving me such a hard time… she gave it to him for free and told me not to charge him for it in the future. 

2. People take advantage of you when you’re too nice.

This always happens to me according to my boss, but I don’t really see it. As a server, I am supposed to take care of my customers and make sure that everything is fine. She told me that the nicer I am to them, then the more they will ask of me. I think she doesn’t want me to be taken advantage of by some overdemanding customers. Then again, my boss is really awesome and doesn’t care what customers says. But this applies in real life also. People walk all over you and can be ungrateful.

Ex.

Customer: Can I have the meat on the side? Then both super hot, but not too hot where I will burn my tongue? Also, can I have the remote so I can change the channel? Thanks so much!

I imagine a coworker will take advantage of someone as well, there are people who are willing to go out of their way to help others such as scan some documents or type up a report. People just take that stuff for granted, will they really do the same for you?

3. Hard Work beats Talent any day.

There are some servers that are very fast, and can carry multiple plates at once. If you’re not one of those people, don’t worry – I’m the same. I’m not that fast when it comes to serving, and can get flustered quite easily but hard work is what seperates you from the other person. When I told my sister that I was pretty slow compared to another guy that worked with me, she told me that I could provide better service instead. I always refill water cups before it gets half way down, ask customers if they need anything else.  Still, he did what he was asked to which was – 1. Serve customers 2. Be a Cashier 3. Clean up. I tried to be a fast server like he was, but I end up being more clumsy instead. So, in order to make up for it I would try to help wash the dishes or sweep the floors. Also, my co worker would wait for the guest to come up and pay for the bill but I decided to bring it to their table (something working at a chain restaurant taught me). Try your hardest at work, and know that you can always improve. This applies to any job that you will have in the future.

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4. The people you work with are more important than who your boss is.

Some people may beg to differ, but once again these are my personal opinions. The reason I quit my previous job as a hostess at a Chain Restaurant was because of my coworkers, I remember having to eat alone (there are only two hosts on at a time, compared to the many servers who worked) and the other host left early. I felt awkward sitting by myself while the table next to me was crowded with servers gossiping about their customers. Management was nice and friendly, but it wasn’t enough for me.

The job I have now, I love it. Not only am I blessed with amazing co workers but also amazing bosses as well. My co workers help me out all the time even though I am usually the only person in the front. They overfeed me with homemade food, offer me snacks (such as donuts from next door) and even help me buss when they don’t need to. In the future, I don’t want to work for an office where I will have to deal with stupid drama everyday, I don’t want to be stuck with my coworkers for 8 hours. I don’t want to go to jail for strangling one of them either.

5. At the same time, if you love your boss. You will work harder.

This is just something that I believe and do. At my other job, I didn’t really care since I was just a hostess but as a server, I take everything personally (something I shouldn’t do). I interact with my boss on a daily basis and have been working there for so long I feel like part of the family. I try my hardest to know customers name and their orders. If a customer complains about the food or price, I will let the boss know so that they can try to improve. Plus, my boss spoils me with as much food as I CAN EAT ! (usually at chain restaurants, you pay for half of your food) as much drinks as I can drink, and I can leave early if I want to.

6. There will always be a Hierarchy.

Again with my hostess rant (I’m sorry); I considered hosting one of the worse jobs but easy compared to the other jobs in the restaurant. It was Hosting, Takeout and then Serving. Even when I’m serving, the Hierarchy. is with customers – Some of them treat you badly just because you are the “help” the person who is supposed to serve them and make sure they are satisfied with their meal.

Ex.

Customer: Is it my turn to be seated?

Me: I’m sorry, there’s a line. It will be about 10-15 minutes.

Customer: Excuse me? I don’t have time for this. I have an important business meeting to get to.

This one lady even told me she was a medical assistant and was too busy to wait in line for her food. Okay lady…

7. You learn how you deal with stress.

In my first few months of serving, I hated my job – actually not even the first few months… more like the first year! I would literally get nightmares about messing up on people’s orders or giving them the wrong change (I did both mistakes.. plenty of times). When it got busy, I would seriously be too scared to come to the floor and face my customers, the kitchen would be backed up and the phones would literally be ringing off the hook. As a server, many of you know that once you step into the floor to deliver food to a table on the way back to the kitchen you will be repeatedly bombarded with requests such as: Can I have extra napkins? Where is the restroom ? (Oh, maybe that flashing blue sign that says bathroom?) There isn’t enough meat in here. Can we have our bill?

After working for a while, I began to change drastically. Before, I would stay in the back and pray for a miracle (that sounds so funny now…) my boss would run out and help me conquer the crowd. But now, I find that I work best under stress. I throw myself into the crowd and make sure that everyone has their drinks and then bring the food out. If people have requests, then I tell them that it may take a while since the kitchen is really backed up.

8. People complain just to get free shit.

This one woman, complained that there was too little meat in her sandwich. The amount is ALWAYS the same, my boss couldn’t take it and literally gave her enough to fill two sandwiches. When she saw it, she said, “wow, thanks so much!” I didn’t get a tip from her or her friend.

People know that if they complain, they will get free stuff. My boss told me a story about how a woman came in with her daughter and said they didn’t like the meal. The weird thing was that they finished all of their food, my boss told them that she would give them a small discount but her daughter blurted out, “Oh, well the other place gave us our meal for free.”

9. People will think your job is easy.

Other people will always some jobs are easy; but others forget that many things happen behind the scenes.

Hosting: “All you have to do is seat people.” UH NO. I hate hosting, I will never go back to that! You have to seat people, pick up phones, and you also have to deal with HUNGRY CUSTOMERS (note, these people are apparently ‘starving’ and have not eaten- they are grumpy, angry, and looking for someone to blame!) Also, not only do you have to deal with customers you have to deal with the servers. You have to be careful not to double seat anyone, make sure that the customer doesn’t see the empty table by the window, and you have to make sure that the table is clean. Also, you have to clean the bathrooms and walk around making sure that there are empty tables.

Serving: My job may have more things to do (because I’m the only one working) so I am pretty much stressed most of the time. I have to work the cashier, did I mention that if someone calls then i can’t use the credit card machine? I am in charge of making all the drinks (they have to be on the table before the food comes out), I have to make sure that nothing is in the food, clean up the tables, write down the orders, answer the phone call, and do takeout. Also, The job is never done until after the customer leaves. For instance, if the food is done then the cooks can relax in the back – oh but not for servers, we are always watching over the tables and making sure everyone has enough napkins and their water cups are always full. Then we have to see when they are almost done with their food so we can give them their check without them having to ask for it. Then we have to be the cashier and clean up the tables.

Yes, we get good tips and good pay but we are always on our toes.

10.  Always be nice to your coworkers, they will help out more than you think.

I love my coworkers!! When it gets busy and they are done with all the food (^ Check previous post about servers not being done until the customer leaves) they will help me by bringing out the food and even bussing  tables for me. Also, my cook spoils me by making me delicious food that have huge portions… that i can’t even finish it. In the morning when I come in on an empty stomach, he will make me spring rolls or pour me a hot bowl of soup. Also, when I had to wash dishes they would always come and help me even though they don’t need to.

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11. Always be prepared for the worst.

Always. I remember when I first started working, we had these dishes that consisted of: basil, jalepenos, lemon and sprout (you put them in Pho); my boss would only make three and he told me to do the same. Now, I make 10 dishes! It goes unbelieveably fast, I make waters in advance and sometimes even set up menus in case large parties come in. It is better to be over prepared than under prepared.

 12. You learn whether you are the type of person who wants to be around people everyday.

Do you want to have a job that will make you deal with people and their crazy demands all day? Or are you going to have a job that requires you to sit in an office and sit in front of a computer, a job that doesn’t require teamwork or customer service at all? Although serving makes me hate people sometimes, I love the fact that I can brighten up someones day just by giving them a smile. I love the old man who comes in with a book in his hand and a bright smile on his face, or the two teenagers who ask me about my day and for college advice. I love how if one person is taking out his anger on me, there is sometimes that one person who will stand up for me. I love how one person can really make a difference, although I don’t see myself serving for the rest of my life I want a job where I can help others- maybe I’ll become a nurse. Either way, serving has taught me so much.

Hopefully this helped any other inspiring waiters or waitresses, and just gave you a good read.

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A 22 year old college student majoring in Health Science. I'm a blogger who loves to design and spends her free time seeking inspiration from magazine articles. I love blogging about relationships, and life in general. dianasadventures.wordpress.com

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