Everyone Should Wait Tables At Least Once In Their Lives

Everyone Should Wait Tables At Least Once In Their Lives

It’s messy and it may cause you to never want to eat anything with tarter sauce ever again, but it taught me some pretty invaluable skills.
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Do you know how to respond to someone who is yelling at you to get them tarter sauce after you have explained to them for the third time that it’s being made and will be ready shortly?

Or how to time it just right so that your table that ordered drinks gets them as soon as they're made and your other table gets their food fresh from the oven, all while getting napkins for another table and running a credit card for a fourth time?

I do, or at least when everything is running smoothly I know how to approximate that, but anyone who has worked at a restaurant knows that it’s never that easy.

There is always something that slows down the process, that complicates the process. The Blue Moon draught may be out, the kitchen might be out of fried shrimp and the small to-go boxes might be the only size left.

It’s messy, and it may cause you to never want to eat anything with tartar sauce ever again, but it taught me some pretty invaluable skills.

I have been waiting tables on and off for extra cash for nine years. It got me through high school, college and my first experience of being on my own.

It’s a great side gig, and, depending on the place, you can easily make enough money to cover living expenses.

It’s just frustrating. Very frustrating at times. But like any other job you’ll have good days and bad days, then you’ll have some horrible days mixed in.

And by “horrible,” I mean horrific. This line of work will make you question humanity in ways that you’ve only had nightmares about. People treat servers in appalling ways, here are some of my worst customer interactions:

I was covering for the host one day when this elderly man in a straw hat came up to the host stand. He was trying to get into a reservation-only party without a reservation. The more my coworker and I explained why we couldn’t give him a table, the more agitated he became.

Finally, he turned to the two of us and asked, “What’s stopping me from just walking through here and grabbing some food?” He paused, as if we were going to respond with something other than the broken record response of, “Well, you can certainly speak with our manager, if you would like.”

Then, without prompting, he asked, “Do either of you have the education to understand what I just said?” A question that is offensive no matter your background, but he was speaking to my coworker, a young woman with a Master’s Degree and to me, at the time when I was finishing my Bachelor’s Degree.

Another time, it was after Hurricane Irene, a storm that destroyed countless roads, bridges, homes and businesses in Vermont, a place in the hills and mountains where people assume flood insurance is unnecessary because no one could have predicted that a river had the potential to rise high enough and have currents fast enough to wash away people’s livelihoods.

The restaurant I was working at was not structurally damaged, but the grounds surrounding the building were. From the outside deck, you could smell the landfill and see only mud and debris where there used to be fields of grass. One of my tables that had requested to sit outside was complaining loudly about the smell as the table in front of them told me about how friends and family of theirs had to watch as their homes went down the river.

Trust me, I’ve had others. I have been working five tables at the same time and had people walk out without tipping anything and some without paying at all. I've had strangers call me "ma'am", "sweetie", "honey", "that blonde girl over there" and, weirdly, "baby". The list goes on and on, but those instances were by far my most frustrating memories.

Because when it comes down to it I am your server, not your servant. It is my job to bring you food, drink and all the equipment you need to enjoy both of those things. Sure, I will happily give you directions, recommendations, to-go boxes or replacement french fries because the ones I brought you weren't hot enough.

I will laugh at your jokes when I don’t find them particularly funny. I will even restrain myself and say nothing when you shout something racist or sexist. I do these things because I am paid to, but that does not give you permission to speak to me more condescendingly than you would a child or your dog. It does not give you permission to grab me by the arm to ask for a straw.

Nope.

I’m a human and like you I expect to be treated as such.

It’s because of my years living tray-to-table that I have unshakable customer service skills, can think three steps ahead and can carry multiple trays of drinks at a time without spilling. Well, with only spilling a little anyway.

It’s not all bad, or horrific, you’ll have days where all your tables are happy. The food came out right, drinks were on point and you were anticipating customer needs perfectly.

You’ll be tipped 50 and 100 percent.

You’ll feel unstoppable.

You’ll connect with some interesting people and maybe even learn something new about jet skis that you never considered before the guy at table 11 brought it up.

Serving is a balance, and sometimes your worst shifts and your best shifts will be the same shifts. It will be so busy that your feet won’t even hurt anymore because they’re numb, and you know that the second you stop moving the pain will come back with a vengeance.

And it will be so dead that you will be bored enough to form a peace sign out of the salt, pepper and Old Bay shakers.

But it’s never the same, every day there are new challenges and new reasons to love or hate it.

I can promise you that you will come out of the experience with the ability to speak to anyone about anything. You will be able to keep your cool and tackle multiple problems at a time.

More than anything?

You’ll empathize, and the next time you go out to eat you’ll still give Annie a 20 percent tip even though she never brought you your side of ranch.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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To The Nursing Major

Is it all worth it?
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"You're going to feel like quitting. You're going to struggle. You'll have days where you'll wonder, 'what's it all for?'

You'll have days when people attempt to break you down, or challenge your intelligence, skills, and right to be where you are. You'll have moments when you question your own abilities, and perhaps your sanity - but you'll rise.

You'll rise because your strength as a nurse is not determined by one grade, one shift or one job - it's an ongoing journey of learning, honor, humility and a chance to make even the smallest difference in the lives of your patients."

Don't ever give up on achieving your dreams to be a nurse. Keep pushing forward, no matter how hard it is. Nursing is not an easy major. You will have very little, if any, time to do anything other than study. But just think about how great it will feel to connect with a patient, pray with them, and even save his or her life.

This will make all of the late night studying, weekly breakdowns, countless cups of coffee, and tests so hard all you want to do is cry, worth it. To see a patient's face light up when you walk in his or her room will make your heart melt and you'll know you chose the right major.

The kind of nurse you will be isn't based on a test grade, it's based on your heart for the people you are caring for. You may have failed a class, but don't let that ruin you. Try again and keep pushing toward your goal. Don't allow others around you to drag you down and tell you that you aren't good enough to be a nurse.

Show them how strong you are and that you will never give up.

There will be days when all you want to do is quit, I know I question my major more than once a week; however, there is a patient out there that needs you and your caring heart. You can do this, have faith in yourself that you can move mountains.

I will say that you definitely must have a heart for nursing.

Personally, I want to be a Pediatric Oncologist and work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Just the thought of those precious children going through the hardest part of their lives, keeps me going so that I can be there for them. I want to be a light to my patients and their families during a dark time. When I feel like giving up, I just think about how many lives I have the chance to touch and I keep on going.

So when you feel like giving up, just think about your future patients and how you can make a difference, even if its only for one person. I love the quote from Katie Davis that states, "I will not change the world, Jesus will do that. But I can change the world for one person. So I will keep loving, one person at a time."

Even though this quote is about foreign missions, I believe it fits the mold for nursing as well.

Nurses have the opportunity to change the world for people every day. Just remember that, smile, don't give up, and keep pushing toward your goal.

Cover Image Credit: chla.org

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5 Things That ALL Millennials Get Wrong About Investing

Millennials tend to save more conservatively and our aversion to taking risks may prevent us from reaching our full wealth potential.

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Millennials get a bad rap when it comes to making personal finance decisions. But while we may enjoy our avocado toast, surprisingly enough, we're also saving more money than previous generations. We also tend to save more conservatively and our aversion to taking risks may prevent us from reaching our full wealth potential.

Here's what millennials get right about their money and where room for improvement exists.

1. We wait too long to start

Even though experts have long recommended starting an investment portfolio as young as possible, many millennials hesitate when it comes to opening their own trading accounts. This results in missing out on the opportunity to sit back and watch our money grow through compound interest.

Many of us utilize savings accounts but relying solely upon these avenues prevents us from letting our money do the heavy lifting for us. Most savings accounts pay relatively little in terms of interest, often less than 1%. Throwing all our money into savings accounts earns us mere pennies for each $100 we invest.

Instead, millennials need to harness the power of the stock market which provides far more in terms of long-term financial gains.

2. We overvalue cash

Because we came of age during an era of financial crisis, millennials shy away from the stock market. But this hesitancy costs us big time in terms of future economic freedom.

No reward comes without risk, and by far the easiest way to reap huge financial gains remains investing in high-yield growth stocks. The best time to take any financial risk occurs before age 35, before the expenses related to home ownership and child-rearing require more financial conservancy.

Stashing away a small amount of cash under our mattresses for emergencies can't hurt, but wasting valuable time simply saving for a rainy day impacts our long-term wealth. If you're hesitant about investing on your own, hire a qualified financial advisor to manage your investment portfolio.

3. We miss out on tax deductions

Failing to diversify investments means missing out on valuable deductions come tax time. While interest from savings accounts gets taxed at the same rate as ordinary income, the capital gains tax rate remains substantially lower.

In addition, certain types of investments, such as investments in oil and gas partnerships, allow taxpayers to take advantage of government subsidies to offset any potential risks to capital.

Millennials do themselves a disservice by failing to seize these opportunities, as experts predict no decrease in demand for these resources over the next few years.

Even making an additional contribution to a 401k or other qualified retirement account can offset tax liability but far too few of us take advantage of this potential tax-buster!

4. We don't do enough diversifying 

Even though one out of every six millennials possesses over $100,000 in assets, few take the time to adequately diversify their investment portfolio. A strong portfolio consists of a mix of high-risk, high-yield stocks, steady, reliable blue-chip stocks, bonds and other forms of property.

Failing to diversify costs us big time in the long term. No matter how much cash we stash away today, inflation remains a powerful force that decreases the value of each dollar saved over the life of our savings.

The only way to account for price increases due to inflation remains investing in the stock market, where gains have a reasonable expectation of keeping pace.

5. We ignore history

Many millennials, myself included, tend to panic when we hear news stories of the stock market rising and falling at breakneck speeds. Indeed, current fluctuations in the Dow tempt many of us to pull out of riskier investments in exchange for less risky vehicles such as bonds.

Savvy millennials, though, resist the temptation to abandon ship.

Historically, investments in the stock market pay off over the long term. Market ups and downs tend to balance out over time.

Despite saving more than ever, we millennials need to educate ourselves about the importance of building a diversified investment portfolio.

Being willing to take greater risks while we're young will lead to a wealthier, more financially free retirement down the line. We millennials must learn to make our money work for us!

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