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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15 Things That Need To Be Invented Now

The next round of needed life hacks.
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For Millennials, life is constantly being made easier. Compared to our parents' generation, almost everything about the way we run our day-to-day lives has been modified for speed, simplicity, and convenience. You want a cup of coffee? Here, have an instant cup of hot coffee at the push of a button! Missing your friend across the country? Call them with your smartphone, see them instantly! You can Google virtually any question, there is an app for every want and need; each step of the way Millennials are working to make things easier. I have a few ideas to contribute:

1. Extending USB cord: There must be USB plug that can stretch. The way a dogs leash will release more cord as it is pulled on, there needs to be a cord that can stretch as I roll over in bed without pulling the plug out of the wall. The struggle of being attached to a wall is too great.

2. Closet Organizer App: Some mornings you wake up and wonder how it was ever possible that you once found a decent looking outfit in your closet. Other days the prospect of having to dress yourself is just too much. There needs to be an app that can record what is in a closet and make an outfit, for any event, at the ready, similar to what Cher Horowitz has in Clueless.

3. Hangover Curing Drink: Stronger than Gatorade, better for you than pumping your stomach with Advil and water, and putting an end to the old "flu" excuse at work. A foolproof drink that can give everyone what they need to get up, pick their dignity off the floor, and soldier on. You all may thank me later.

4. Rent-A-Boyfriend: Have you ever had one of those weeks where you just need someone to bring you chocolate cake in bed and tell you you're beautiful? Maybe you really can't figure out how to build all the new Ikea furniture for your apartment and you are incapable of rounding up a guy friend to do it. Either way, the ability to rent a boyfriend on a needed basis would be quite handy. Think of all the stuff they could do for you, then you get to return them when you're done! It's like a dream.

5. Parking Tracker: What is it about parking garages that suddenly make everyone's memory go blank? Whatever the reason for the world's inability to keep track of their cars once stationary, it needs to be resolved. Too many minutes are lost aimlessly wandering the garage carrying heavy shopping bags. Please, someone invent a tracking app for your car, so that you can remember exactly where you parked and follow the map directly to it.

6. Forever-Hot Coffee Mug: I'm not sure what type of wizardry would be required to create a coffee mug that can abolish the awful lukewarm state that coffee turns into after such a short period of time, but someone needs to discover it. Long nights of studying and hours-long brunches of switching between the mimosa and the sweet nectar of the Gods will be forever changed by never again fearing cool coffee.

7. Teleportation Pad: The year is 2015; I was promised a flying car. In lieu of the flying car -- I am willing to accept teleportation pads. Think about travel becoming as easy as "stand here and click that button." Imagine not having to bother putting on a bra to go from your apartment to your friend's apartment for wine night! This could be revolutionary.

8. Sassy Siri: Every girl could use someone to help them come up with the perfect come back in a pinch, and who better than Siri! With her constantly involved in your conversations, it would be easy to just ask Siri for a little sass-assistance the next time your best frenemy mocks your highlights.

9. Compliment Earrings: If you have never seen Aquamarine, go rent it now. For those who recall, the star fish earrings were "notorious suck ups" to the girls who wore them. Imagine going through a tough day, when unexpectedly you are given a compliment! Talk about a great mid-day pick up.

10. Food Printer: My stalking of Pinterest food pages has progressed from a mild addiction to a full blown problem; I always find I want the things I see in the pictures immediately. I want to be able to hit print on one of the pictures and have those lemon-blueberry iced cupcakes in my kitchen right then.

11. Necklace De-Tangler: Ladies across the country lose thousands of necklaces to tangled knots. Chains break, two beautiful separates become one big mess, and before you know it your jewelry box is empty! There must be a machine where one could drop their knotted necklaces and have them come out the other side in perfect condition.

12. Hot Slippers: On a cold Monday morning when walking around the kitchen, debating which is worse, waking up or being awake, it would be nice to be comfortable. Nice pajamas are all well and good, but a fuzzy pair of slippers that can become warm? That is the dream. There is no morning too grey or hangover too intense that would not be cured with these slippers.

13. Calorie Rewind: There needs to be a way to take back that entire pepperoni pizza you ate last night. Whether you were not in the proper state of mind to be making that decision, or even if it was emotional turmoil over exams; it shouldn't count. Perhaps the next big thing in weightloss is a pill that allows you to take back a meal. A way to go back in time and undo that embarrassing trip to the doughnut shop down the road in favor of a more healthy alternative? Not a bad idea.

14. Sleepy-Time Studying: How awesome would it be if you could fall asleep with headphones in and wake up knowing an entire textbook? Humans spend an average of 26 years sleeping-- there should be a way to put that time to good use. A way to absorb the information while you sleep should be the next big invention. It would be the perfect cure to the all nighter!

15. Decision Making App: Desperately struggling to pick where to go for dinner? Unable to decide whether to go out or stay in? Unsure of whether it's a day for heels or for flats? These are the everyday questions faced by thousands of Millennials. We need to find a cure for the indecisiveness. An app that takes the guess work out of meaningless day to day questions such as, "Do I want a grande or a vent?" (Or I suppose you could just flip a coin...)

Bonus 16. Articles That Write Themselves: I wish I had a magic box I could give an idea to and it would instantly put print out the article I am trying to write.

Cover Image Credit: giphy.com

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Starbucks Just Opened Its First-Ever Sign Language Location And We Are SO Here For It

Complete with the cutest mugs we've ever seen.

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On October 23rd, Starbucks opened their doors to the first ever U.S. signing store in Washington, D.C. In addition to the 20 to 25 people who are all fluent in American Sign Language, this location features lower tables, lower ordering counters, brighter lights, no background music, and larger text sizes, to accommodate for easier communication between baristas and customers.

Along with these features, the Washington, D.C. store, located in an existing Starbucks, includes tablets for customers to write their orders and screens to alert customers when drinks and food items are ready.

Aesthetically speaking, the new location will feature brighter lighting and many displays of ASL artwork. These original touches include "Starbucks" written in sign on aprons and in the window, a mural meant to encapsulate and celebrate deaf culture, and mugs designed by a deaf artist.

An article from Starbucks Newsroom says that there will be "a variety of enhancements to support the Deaf and hard of hearing partner and customer experience. Deaf baristas will have ASL aprons embroidered by a Deaf supplier, and hearing partners who sign will have an "I Sign" pin."

These are all initiatives put in place and sponsored by the Deaf Leadership of the Starbucks Access Alliance.

Store Manager Matthew Gilsbach, who is deaf himself, told Washingtonian in an interview, "We often talk about being the third place. We are your third place, you have your home, you have your work, and then you come here for a break between those two things to enjoy your day and your coffee," says Gilsbach. "So too does the deaf and hard of hearing community. And now they have direct access to other options for their third place. They don't have to feel isolated. Deaf and hard of hearing people have a place to come to call their own."

Starbucks has a history in both the positive and negative lights for getting involved in the news, and this store, creating opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing customers, is yet another step in the right direction.

To find out how to sign your Starbucks order, Manager Matthew Gilsbach offers some tips here:

To all the pumpkin spice latte fans out there...

Starbucks Manager Matthew Gilsbach signing "pumpkin spice." Washingtonian

For all my friends who just like coffee...

Starbucks Manager Matthew Gilsbach signing "coffee." Washingtonian

And if you're trying to be polite...

Starbucks Manager Matthew Gilsbach signing "please and thank you." Washingtonian

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