Suddenly, everyday, I read or hear about yet another “What Servers Should Do” article, blog post, etc. Frankly, I am surprised that so many feel the topic important enough to speak about it in such inglorious, minute detail. (I did enjoy Waiter’s recent rebuttal, to one such article, however.)
Why isn’t anyone writing about “100 Things Bank Tellers Should Do” or “Top 20 Pet Peeves about Electronics Store Employees?”
I guess it has to do with food, the big kahuna of human survival: You, the dining public, must eat to survive, thus you, the dining public, feels emboldened and empowered to tell those in the service industry how to ensure your survival by spelling out in sometimes whining and nit-picking detail exactly the way you prefer to pound your food in a restaurant setting.
Oh, I know. You were once a waitress or a bartender in college, so you are justified to make these semi-arrogant suggestions about not talking too much to your table unless I am handsome/beautiful and want to comp drinks or dessert, or to not leave plates on the table too long after you are finished. Ha ha ha. We’re all in this together, right?
No, we are not.
Spend a day serving. Spend a day tending bar. Today.
Better yet, spend the next two months depending on this income to live, so you get to know the best and the worst aspects of serving the public as well as that of bonding with your co-workers, upon whom you will depend for laughs and venting, but mostly for covering your ass when you’re weeded and for picking up your shift when you are too hungover or actually sick to work.
Better yet, make the hospitality venue your full-time profession. Hone your skills and be able to work plenty of doubles and still have the energy to get the orders in and the food served after 13 hours on your feet. See how much you care about striving for that perfect balance of not-too-perky but oh-so-jovial with your customers.
Some days you will have other stuff on your mind and will get distracted and forget an iced tea or a side of spinach. Some days you won’t feel well but you have to work to earn money, and you don’t want to lose your place on the schedule by calling out. Some days the cook will be hopeless and strung out and you will bear the brunt of it on the floor.
Some days your customers will drive you insane with insane demands, but you will laugh it off with your fellow servers in a successful attempt not to give in to the overwhelming urge to dump food in said customers’ laps. Some days you will have customers whom you would love to wrap up and save for tomorrow’s shift, because they are incredibly nice to be around, which makes them incredibly easy to serve well.
One day you will have more tables and customers than you ever have, and somehow on that day you will stay in your zone and get it done just right so that you, your customers, the kitchen, and your managers are all pleased, which will result in a fat bundle of cash in your wallet after your shift is done.
Some days you will understand that, by and large, most customers are simply okay to really great, and that the truly heinous ones–mostly an exception–feel as demanding as a table of 20 all by themselves, and they are the ones you never forget and who can ruin what was otherwise a good shift.
Learn to do your serving job well by knowing your menu and understanding the overall pace of your store, keep your focus, welcome the reasonable customers and cope with the terrible ones as best you can, and your profitable, good days will outnumber the others. You won’t be perfect, even though the rest of the world expects you to be as evidenced by recent press on the topic, but you will be a pro.
I detest bad service as much as anyone. I like to enjoy my dining-out experience, too. But so much of what I have been reading lately seems so petty and, well, unimportant in the grand scheme, you know? Go out, have a good time. Focus on your friends, your lover, your spouse, your kid, and don’t waste those minutes setting yourself and your server up for disappointment because you’re over analyzing the whole damn thing.
Still feeling a need to chastise your server for bringing out the entrees too soon because one member of your party kept texting someone and didn’t finish the soup 10 minutes ago like the rest of you did?
To quote one of my favorite co-workers: It’s just food. Everyone will get fed–some sooner than others.