Some people went out and got important fancy internships this summer, and others decided to take classes to further advance their education. Me? I spent my entire summer tickled pink by my job of running food for a local breakfast restaurant in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Not only did some of my coworkers become my closest friends who I looked forward to seeing bright and early every day, but I learned many life lessons that I don't believe I could've learned elsewhere.
Radiate positivity in order to receive it.
After waking up extremely early five days a week, I realized exhaustion often times makes it difficult to be pleasant early in the morning. However, as tired as I was in the morning, it did not take long for me to realize that my energy was contagious to customers. If I was grumpy, customers would return my grumpy attitude. When I approached a customer with a huge smile on my face and a pleasant demeanor, they were more likely to want to engage in a conversation with me.
Sometimes hard work has a little reward.
Never underestimate how hard your waiter or waitress is working at a restaurant. There is a lot of dirty work that goes into making your eating experience as wonderful as possible, and sometimes customers don't see that. What seems like a very simple job to others would leave me coming home drenched in sweat and needing a fat nap. As much as I wish my hard work was acknowledged from time to time, I stayed proud of myself and that was all that mattered.
Manners are important.
The number of times I considered reminding customers to say "please" or "thank you" is astronomical. Therefore, I have compiled some kinder ways to ask for things while in a restaurant.
Would you please get me more coffee?
You can get me more coffee.
Can you please take this back and have it heated up?
This is cold.
No, thank you.
Just some food for thought. Yes, pun intended.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
The famous golden rule can be applied to the food and beverage industry as well. Do not serve something you would not like to eat yourself. Do not treat customers the way you would hate to be treated by a worker. Be the service that you want to have every time you go out to eat. If you know how much it bothers you to be treated a certain way by your server, make an effort to not be that person.
Connections can be made anytime and anywhere.
You'll never know who you are going to run into, which is another reason to be kind and open to everyone you meet. If I found a customer who was interested in getting to know who I am as a person, I made an effort to understand them equally. Through this, I now know I have people supporting me on all of life's endeavors and who encourage me to follow my goals. I have one man who came into the restaurant weekly after reading my articles to have a conversation with me about them. Who knows if one day I will use them as job connections all from starting out by pouring their coffee.
Genuine people will understand if you make mistakes.
I lived out every food runner's worst nightmare: I dropped a man's omelet right in front of him. Instead of getting angry with me and judging my mistake, he was patient, understanding and kind. He made the effort after his meal to come up to me and still thank me for my hard work, and I realized that's how everyone should be treated. Don't discourage someone from their mistakes; let them learn from them and grow as people. Now, I will never attempt to carry a flaming hot plate on my forearm and carry it to a far away table instead of listening to all of my bodily instincts to drop it.
You are more impactful than you know.
Working at a tourist destination, I'd see hundreds of different faces every single day. However, I'd have customers who returned to the restaurant months later and remembered me and the exact conversation we had. I'll be honest, often times I did not remember who the heck the person was. It did feel nice to know that our small conversation stuck out in their head and was worthy of prioritizing for them. The cheesy summer quote "The tan lines may fade but the memories last forever" really applied in this situation. The little acts of kindness you make can completely alter someone's world.
Running food, although it was such a fun experience, is not the job I would like to have for the rest of my life. It could not get further from relating to the goal I have for my life path, but it still taught me invaluable lessons that I don't think I could have learned elsewhere. Instead of belittling your summer job which may not be as ambitious or impactful as your fellow classmates, open your eyes to what is going on around you. You never know what you may learn about yourself or others.
"For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work." - James C. Collins
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