When I first started college, I worked in a restaurant near campus. It was a great first job, and I am grateful for the experience; however, working with the public especially in positions such as food service is not an easy task.

For all the bad experiences I had with customers, though, they did teach me, or reinforced, some valuable lessons.

1. Be Respectful

Just because a person works in a restaurant does not mean that they are beneath you. There were numerous times when my coworkers and I were talked down to or treated like we were dumb just because we worked in a restaurant. None of the people I worked with were lacking in intelligence, and my friend was a nursing student with a full scholarship. I too had a full scholarship, and we were both members of an Academic Honors Society.

A lot of times the people who work in food businesses as waitresses, cashiers, or cooks are there because that was the only job they could find, or, like me, go to college nearby. This behavior reinforced in me that there is never a reason to treat someone, no matter what their job or status is, as if they are worthless. Everybody has value and should be treated as such.

2. Have Patience

It's true, patience is a virtue. One of the quickest ways for someone to lose their patience is to keep them from their food. Some people do not have any patience when it comes to getting their food. Some think that it should magically appear in front of them as soon as they order. Many times when it takes a while to get food it is because we are either understaffed or slam packed full. Most of the times when I had problems with people demanding their food or wanting their money back was during these times, and in situations like these, it does not help to get angry.

Trust me, we are just as stressed as you are because we are not getting food out quickly enough.

Since working in the food industry, I have so much more patience than I used to. I no longer get aggravated when I have to wait a little longer. Seeing the other side of the counter helped me to realize that some wait times can just not be helped.

3. Some People Can Not be Satisfied

My second day on the job, a lady cussed us out over toast. We had a machine that buttered and toasted the bread just on one side. She wanted her bread toasted on both sides, but she did not tell us that when she ordered. It did not help when we tried to fix it either, she just wanted to argue with us. Some people just like to get angry. They will not and can not be satisfied because they all they want is to tear somebody down. My job helped me to realize that you can not please everybody. You just have to do your best and pay no attention to the people who try to tear you down.

4. Be Kind to Others

The best way to get good service at a restaurant is to be kind. Everybody has bad days and waitresses are humans just like everyone else. We mess up, spill things, and get orders wrong sometimes. My favorite customers were always the ones who were nice and respectful when mistakes happened. I always try to be kind and treat others the way I would want to be treated because I remember how it felt when people were rude to me when I made errors. Always practice kindness.

5. Tip Often and Tip Well

At the restaurant I worked at, customers ordered at the counter, and then we brought the food out to them. Because of this, we did not often receive tips, and when we did we had to share them with the rest of the girls that were working the same shift. It was a good day if we went home with five dollars. We worked hard to make sure our customers were satisfied, and when we didn't get but just a couple of dollars at the end of the night, it was a little discouraging. Restaurant staff always appreciate being recognized for their service, and every little bit counts, especially when you're only making minimum wage. Now when I go out to eat, I always try to tip my waiter or waitress well. I remember how hard it was sometimes to make sure all the customers had what they needed, especially when it was busy.

The next time you go out to eat, take a moment to consider the person who is waiting for you. They are just trying to make a living like everyone else. Please remember to show them some kindness and respect, and if the service was good to give them something a little extra.