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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Dreaming of Your Own Tech Startup?

4 Steps to Move You Towards Success
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In the last few years, tech startups have become fast-growing businesses by improving lives with technology and have made their owners vast fortunes in the process. If you want to get in on the action by founding your own tech startup, it isn’t too late. Here are four steps you can take that will prime you for success as a cutting-edge tech entrepreneur.

Think of an Idea

At the core of every successful business is a basic good idea. However, the idea that makes you into a tech millionaire may not be quite what you imagine. In most cases, it’s a better idea to improve something that already exists, rather than inventing something entirely new. Completely new ideas can make you rich, but they are also less proven and more likely to fail than improvements on existing products or services.

Start Learning How to Make It Happen

Once you know what you want to do, it’s time to figure out how to do it. Depending on the nature of your idea, you may need to learn one or more computer programming languages or a new hardware system. Often, this will mean going back to school. This is especially true if your idea is hardware-based, in which case you’ll likely need an electrical engineering degree to bring it to fruition.

If you already have the skills and want to just jump into the startup process, you will want to surround yourself with people who will move your startup towards success. This means that you will need to gather people around you who have the experience and educational backgrounds that will get your business further.

Create a Basic Prototype

Once you’ve learned how to bring your idea to life, you’ll need to come up with a prototype version. This basic version doesn’t need to have full functionality, but rather needs to deliver proof of concept. Once you know that you can create whatever it is you want to, you can start pursuing more complete development.

Raise Funds for Development and Production

To bring your idea to market, you’ll likely need more money than you already have, which means securing a loan or finding investors. Taking on investment partners can be a great way to raise money, but it also means sharing your profits with a larger pool of people. A loan, on the other hand, means qualifying and paying interest that will eat into your profit margin. A good third way is seeking out a peer-to-peer loan, which usually will have a somewhat lower interest rate than a traditional bank loan.

The journey to creating your tech product or service will be a long and hard one, but these steps will give you the basic framework for getting from here to there. Once you have your startup successfully running, you’ll be happy that you went to the effort.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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3 Awkward Personnel Situations Every Business Might Face This Year

Personnel problems are some of the trickiest to deal with in the business world so be sure to plan ahead.
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Personnel problems are some of the trickiest to deal with in the business world. You’re not just dealing with numbers—you’re dealing with people and all the attendant emotions they bring with them. As your business year continues, you are likely to run into a few awkward personnel situations. Below are three that tend to impact businesses across the world.

Inter-Office Relationships

While television and movies make inter-office relationships look fantastic, they’re actually a headache for anyone who runs a business. If you’re lucky, the people involved will keep everything very low-key and you’ll never be any the wiser. If you’re not, you can expect some real personnel issues to crop up. The best way to deal with these problems is to be equitable and to follow any protocols you have in place to the letter. Don’t become involved with these relationships on a personal level and make sure to keep a level head when dealing with any of the resulting problems.

Bringing in a New Generation

There’s a good chance that you’ll be bringing in a new generation of workers this year, and that’s going to mean changing the way you do things. Despite the doom and gloom forecast by most of the media when it comes to dealing with millennials, you won’t have to completely upend your business in order to cater to these new hires. You will, however, have to adapt to workers just as they adapt to you.

Many millennials pursue postgraduate education if they can manage it while working at the same time. For example, a hospital may hire a young nurse with an associate’s degree in nursing who wants to pursue further education. That employee can take an ADN to MSN program at the same time as working. The availability of online education makes hiring millennials a possible investment for greater future returns.

Dealing with Major Shifts

One way or another, your personnel needs are likely to change this year. You might have to deal with the pain of letting some of your best employees go, watch as one of your managers moves on to greener pastures, or have to hire a number of new workers quickly in order to fill vacancies. You can’t expect this year to be the same as last year, so don’t rest comfortably just because things are going well now. Start looking at your staffing needs early so you can put contingency plans in place.

You might also have to make major changes in your operations based on your employee demographics. It’s obvious that each generation or background your employees come from can change the way you have to run things. It can be tempting to attempt a one-size-fits-all approach, but research on leadership through multigenerational differences suggests that you may be better off playing to the strengths of each demographic individually. If you can draw out the best of your employees with a unique, and even personal, approach, your business will inevitably thrive.

The next year might bring some real changes to your workforce. Be prepared to deal with relationships, new hires, and wildly changing circumstances as the year goes by. The more you prepare, the better you will be able to weather the storms that are likely to come your way.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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