9 things the restaurant industry has taught me

9 things the restaurant industry has taught me

the ebb and flow of serving food

I had a class this semester that required us to write a paper on what culture defined who we are the most? It could have been anything as broad as being an American to something as small as work culture. I thought long and hard about what has influenced me the most and I realized it was certainly work.

The difference between my industry and let’s say another random industry, like insurance, is that only people who want insurance come to you but, everyone needs food. On a daily basis, I have to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly.

What the restaurant industry has taught me:

1. To fake a damn good smile
I list this not because it is the most important was one but because it is the skill that has benefited me the most. Being able to put my feelings and emotions aside to do a job has taught me respect and responsibility. This is the most useful when dealing with rude customers or clueless management and not let it affect my performance.

2. Everything comes out in the wash
Working for a salary that is based on other people's generosity has taught me more than I could have imagined. It has helped me keep my head level when I otherwise shouldn’t. Getting angry over a table that left $5 on a $100 check will do nothing but affect my other tables. What I learned is just because one tabled stiffed me doesn’t mean my night is ruined. Especially knowing that my next table might leave me $20 on an $80 check putting me right back on track. Even if it doesn't all work out that night by the end of the week I am always right where I should be. It’s the yin and yang of serving!

3. Hard work doesn't always pay out
If you ever want to see a great example of inequality in the workplace just look at the different positions in a restaurant. Waiters by far make the most out of any hourly staffed employee and sometimes we do the least amount of work. Not so say this job is easy but it certainly isn’t as hard for what we get paid. There have been multiple times where in two days of work cleared the a full works pay of a back of house cook who worked 40+ that week doing doubles and all I did was ask a family for their order.

4. Talking to strangers isn’t so bad
I distinctly remember the first time I ever spoke to a table as a server. For some reason, I thought it would be this terrifyingly awkward moment where I would not know what to do or say. Every since then I realized how ridiculous that was and that you can meet some pretty awesome people just by talking

5. Some people have no idea what they are doing
I am sure that this can be found in any industry but it amazes how some people can function on a day to day basis. On more than one occasion I had a customer complain to me that they didn’t order the “gratatouille” and I had to explain to them that it says gratuity while another customer asks “y’all serve food?”. This amazement goes way beyond customers. I once had a manager who instead of telling my table that the floor is not a safe place for their child to lay down instead told them that she doesn't know the last time we cleaned our carpets and they should get their child off the floors because it's disgusting...

6. The art of controlling a situation
Learning how to speak to people is hands down the most important skill I learned. Having to deal with rude or obnoxious people on the daily has taught me a lot of things about communication. Most importantly that I must keep my emotions in check at all times and how important wording can be to a guest. People love it when you make them seem like the most important person in the room which has saved me time and time again.

7. Only waiters and drug dealers make cash this quick
There are very few legal jobs where I can walk out the same day with a couple hundred in cash come back the next day and do it again. Being a front of house server can range from making something as low as $20 for the day or my record high of $520 off of a double. What other job ranges this much in hourly wage for little to no labor?

8. Importance of leaving baggage at home

Having worked in several restaurants that range from corporate to fine dining to family-run I can tell you this is a lesson learned time and time again. Not only do some people enjoy telling you about every detail of their life others let it affect how they work. Putting up with rude responses when it comes to picking up tables, anger being taken out on spaghetti squash as it flies across the kitchen hitting a waitress in the face (true story, I swear) to just downright being miserable and taking it out on everything that breathes. I try my best to let my home life stay at home and my last table stay at my last table.

9. It's nearly impossible to leave
This is one of the hardest industries to leave because it is one of the most fulfilling. Of course, every job has its lows. The horrible people, the terrible management and the long hours of being on your feet but at the end of the day some of the good people you meet make it worth it. I have met some of my greatest friends through serving, and plus where else gives me the flexibility hours I want and instant gratification ($$$). This job has helped shape me as a person and I wouldn’t change it if I could (unless I can find a job to put my college degree to good use…..)

Cover Image Credit: Funscrape

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.


To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.


A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.



I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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