Monday, January 9, 2012


In a past post, I talked about my new job, and how crazy it is that I've finally found something that combines my past experience in writing, design, library studies, IT, and communications... and is also faith-based. Essentially, this is a culmination of every professional job I've had in my adult life, and both of my degrees. Neat, right?

The idea of a career in my generation is interesting, and something I'm pretty sure has actually been studied. As children, we were told... The Sky is the limit!... You can have it ALL!... Go to college, and the world is yours for the taking!

So it's no surprise that the idea of staying in one career for 50 years gives us the heebyjeebies. We jump around and are always on the lookout. (This is the first time, at the age of 29, when I can see myself sticking with something for the longrun.) For me, this has always applied to living situation (it seems I'm already checking Craigslist the second I sign a lease) and even the city I live in. And of course no one thought to warn of recessions in which jobs wouldn't be readily available for the taking. If you had told me back in high school that 10 years later, I'd be waitressing at night to make my ends meet, I would have laughed in your face.

This is not to say there is a thing wrong with choosing the service industry as your career. My circle of friends consists of  just as many bankers as it does career servers and bartenders. And I enjoy waitressing. I've learned more about cooking, more about people, and I've made tons of friends in the three years I waitressed. It just wasn't what I wanted for the rest of my life.

But so it goes. And here we are. And I feel fortunate to have struggled and am thankful for the humility instilled in me. Having worked in a restaurant kinda gives you this little in. Either you've worked in food services, or you haven't. And you can instantly bond with someone who has. Because they understand. It's a truly interesting culture. And one that I actually miss a lot now that I'm not there full-time.

So with that being said, check out this article about Five Jobs Everyone Should Have. And of course, working in a restaurant is at the top.

I highly recommend this read for anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant or wants to know more about what goes on behind the scenes. 

There have been books upon books and blog posts upon blog posts written about the things you learn as a server. Really, everyone at this point should be aware that servers are just people, trying to pay their rent and feed their kids just like everyone else. But, alas, this is not the case.  Here's a really great and hilarious blog from my buddy and fellow server Boeskool. Titled "How Not to be a Jack Ass," it should be required reading for all restaurant-goers. In addition, here are a few things I've learned/witnessed in the few years I've been in the biz.

1: Waitressing is one of those "do not bite the hand that feeds you" type of things, and it works both ways. Don't tick off your waiter, since he or she is the person in charge of getting your food to you, paying attention to your needs, and whatnot. I personally would never spit in someone's food or do anything gross like that, but I know plenty of people who would and have. And in the same token, servers realize just as much as patrons that unless they are able to add gratuity to a table, they are being paid solely because of the generosity of the payer at their table. And while there are tons of other circumstances that may lead someone to leave a less-than-desirable tip (greed, arrogance, old age), the server has the obligation to make sure they don't do something to directly influence this. So for the most part, if everyone plays nice and all goes to plan, it evens out well for both parties. But that table can be so quickly tipped in one favor. And like Boeskool says, food timing and quality are NOT a server's fault, but the kitchen's.

2: Teens should never be allowed to go to a restaurant with table service without having been properly instructed on how to act and tip.

 It's true.

3: People really do leave their phone numbers on receipts. And sometimes real relationships are formed from this. I've witnessed it happen a number of times. I've also witnessed someone being offered a threesome via number left on receipt. I do not recommend this. 

4: People are ridiculous, and you just have to laugh it off. I'll never forget the night a buddy of mine, who I'll admit is quite attractive, had a table with a teenage girl who thought he looked like Edward Cullen. And her mother straight-up asked, without hesitancy, if he would bite her daughter's neck for her birthday. And like any obliging server wanting a good tip and to humor some folks, he did. And he was well-compensated for it, I believe. Lesson learned here is... everyone has their price.

Yall have seen this, right? The Edward Cullen body pillow?

5: If you ever want to hear the inside scoop about what's going on in the restaurant, who's sleeping with who (a common theme of working in a restaurant is that the staff inevitably becomes somewhat incestuous), and to add a few more colorful words to your vocabulary... seat yourself close to the beverage well or the area of the bar closer to where servers congregate. 

6: And lastly... always ask the server what they suggest if you're unsure. Most servers are honest enough to not just tell you the most expensive thing on the menu, but what they genuinely think is the best thing to order. And some, me included, will even give you an indication if there's something you should not be ordering. 

(All efforts to obtain a picture to demonstrate this grossed me out and forever scarred my web browser.)


Anonymous said...

ill have the salmon

Christen Price said...

Ha love the Barney picture :). Good post!

Springs1 said...

"And like Boeskool says, food timing and quality are NOT a server's fault, but the kitchen's."

Quality I agree is not the server's fault, however food timing CAN BE.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. WHEN do you put in my order? Do you wait or do you go put it in immediately after taking it?

2. FORGETTING to put in an order. My husband and I have experienced this for REAL that servers ADMITTED to our faces they have FORGOTTEN TO PUT ORDERS IN.

3. Did you put in the order CORRECTLY into the computer? Have had many times servers ADMITTED to our faces they did not do that correctly.

4. Did you FORGET ANYTHING I ORDERED such as a SIDE DISH? We have had this happen a number of times as well.

5. Did you DROP anything I ordered? Luckily, we have not had this happen, but I have seen a server once drop some fries from a plate before and I did have a waiter spill some margarita martini when pouring into a martini glass. In other words, it is possible, not likely, but very possible.

6. Did you remember to GET my food? We have had a server do that before.

7. Did you bring out my food obviously correctly if you bring my food out?

There are LOTS of reasons why you wait a long time for your food, which most of the time honestly, it has to do with the *SERVER*, not the kitchen staff. Sure sometimes it does have to do with the kitchen staff, but most of the time it's your server or another server.

Lauren said...

You are very right! Good points, there. I should have explained that a bit better. THanks for your input!