Teared up, but didn’t let any tears escape over my last waitressing shift because . . . I GOT A JOB IN MY FIELD! Granted, it’s a remote part-time job, but one nonetheless. More on that development next week.
I have been a waitress for three years. For my post this week, I want to focus on the ten HUGE life lessons I learned as a waitress. So here we go:
- Any job is a “real job.” When I first started serving, I thought my waitressing gig was a temporary job, an in-between job. I said to myself that once I got my feet under me, I could start my “real job,” my career. But when you get into a job like that, you see how many people are affected by your position. There are the high schoolers who are beginning to learn responsibility, college students who are about to take on a TON of loans, older servers who are trying to support a family or who never went to college, and people who work just because they love it. And that’s just the staff. You never know who your customers will be – white collar, blue collar, or child. A “real job” is a position where you learn to work hard, earn a living, and affect other people.
- Hard work doesn’t always PAY off. Most people say that waitresses work for tips, but if you go into waitressing for the money, you will be disappointed. Customer service jobs can be gritty, thank-less jobs. Sometimes the “pay” off doesn’t come. You can work forever without a promotion or bonus. But that’s when you have to work hard for something other than money. *GASP!* You work because you are able. You work to see a smile on somebody’s face. You work so you can hear your coworker’s woes and laugh with your regular clients or customers. You work to do what you love.
- “Thank you” means a lot. As I said earlier, customer service jobs can be thank-less. To show you are grateful, just say thanks and be sincere.
- Smallest interactions can make or break a person’s day. If you ask a coworker or customer how they are doing, don’t shy away if they actually talk to you. Nine times out of ten they will just say, “I’m good/fine/okay. How are you?” But that one chance they have a story to tell, listen. I don’t know how many times people came into the restaurant because of a funeral or a friend’s birthday or troubles at work. I had a chance to make their day by sharing stories and being real with them.
- A little bit of kindness goes a long way. There are times when you can’t please everybody. Somebody’s pancake was supposed to have sugar-free syrup; somebody’s mashed potatoes are too cold. Most of the time it’s not your fault. Every person has a choice. When somebody says:
And proceeds to flip the table, you can freak out OR you can put on a smile and try to help. When you take on the challenge of sharing kindness with others, often their attitude toward you changes.
- Tip your server. Kindness being said, tips are a kindness you can do for your server. In Ohio, servers are paid half of minimum wage ($4.08/hour). Some restaurants also require servers to tip out bartenders, hosts, and clean up crews, giving away approximately half their tips. The reason why receipts recommend an 18% tip is because that’s the average for a server to walk out with minimum wage. If you’ve been working all day – say 10:30 AM to 8 PM – and you have $50 in your pocket, you didn’t meet the minimum wage standard.
- “Schmooze” is not a word in my vocabulary. I hate that word. I will not laugh at lame jokes or flirt with customers to make money. I want to be sincere, friendly, and bubbly because that’s who I am. If I’m having a bad day, I will cover that up or leave it at the door. When I’m with my customers, I am focused on them because I want to serve them.
- Life’s not like a movie. Another reason not to flirt. No, chances are that you aren’t going to have a love story moment in the middle of your restaurant.
He won’t have those dreamy eyes; my makeup will be smudged, and I’ll have to take care of multiple tables – not just his. He won’t even remember my name by the end of his meal. He will probably walk out and never come back. Or my coworker brushed my hand because I was in the way of the refrigerator or laughed at my story because he had a similar story earlier. Not flirting, just similar experience. Work isn’t an environment for a budding romance; it’s a place for work.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. No one will understand you like your fellow employees. Everyone else might think you’re weird. They won’t get why you thought the little kid was cute with his gravy beard or why the lady who stiffed you was super rude. Your coworkers know. Swap stories. Laugh. Be weird. Have fun.
- No use crying over spilled coffee. Finally, mistakes happen every day. On a daily basis, I would spill coffee down my arm and burn myself. No use crying over a broken dish or a mistake that you can’t fix. Take a moment to compose yourself, remember that it wasn’t that big of a deal, and do your best to recover (because you have two more hours of work ahead).
Which of these tips resonated most with you? Any advice you’d like to share with me? I want stories, friends! Until next time!