The restaurant I’ve been working at for the past year has become a second home to me, and the people I work with have become family, so it’s an understatement to say that it felt bittersweet.
For those of you who have worked in the food industry, I don’t need to get into the less savory details of serving. For those lucky enough to have avoided it, let me just tell you that it’s a messy business with long hours and little respect.
Don’t get me wrong! I loved serving—the pay is actually really good, and sometimes you meet awesome people. But we’ve all seen Waiting… right? People can be real nasty sometimes, and even a few days of dealing with it can wear you down.
But I’m glad I stuck it out for this long, because here are some of the invaluable lessons I’ll take with me everywhere:
1. The practical things
For example, I can carry three glasses in one hand and a full tray of food in the other. I can memorize long, complicated orders. I can multitask like nobody’s business (good news: all employers love that!). And most importantly, I learned you don’t really need to clean your uniform until a solid month of work has passed.
2. How to say sorry
When you have 11 tables’ orders to take and deliver, you’re bound to mess up somewhere. I’ve endured quite a few public beratings in my day, and there comes a time when all you can say is sorry. Being humble is a good thing to know. A good, old-fashioned “I made a mistake, and I’m sorry” goes a long way, and sincerity is key for paving over any sticky spots. In jobs and in life, this is one lesson I’ll always remember.
3. When to stand up for yourself
That being said, I won’t allow anyone to make me feel small. Nobody should be yelled at or blamed for something as miniscule as a dull steak knife. It’s a fine line between holding your own and pleasing the customer. If you give a free glass of wine to everyone who’s mad that you’re out of ranch sauce (as I had one customer suggest I do), well, then you’ll run out of wine real fast. And then how will you unwind after an awful shift?!
4. Friends will get you through anything
It’s hard not to cry when somebody circles your name on the receipt and writes “TERRIBLE!!!,” but coworkers who laugh it off and buy you drinks after can make it easier. In all situations, surrounding yourself with happy people who make you smile will get you through the rough patches. Having a list of nearby happy hour spots doesn’t hurt either…
What life lessons have you Lovelies learned from your work? Any fellow servers out there who can relate?
And watch this trailer for 2005′s Waiting… to get an idea of what really goes on in a restaurant.