March 25, 2012

Ten things you should know about your waitress...

I've been doing it long enough to compile together ten of the most important things you should know about your typical family-style restaurant waitress, waiter, etc. Feel free to agree or dispute, these are all my own but I think in one way or another, I'll be able to identify with every server out there.

Let's take it from the bottom...You should know that:

10. You’re not my first table: and if by chance, you are, consider yourself lucky. I enjoy an early table more than I do a table during rush or after rush – when I’m probably trying to recover from something that happened during rush. Catch us early, we’re better prepared, we’re quicker, and we’re a hell of a lot nicer. I’ve probably just had a Red Bull, or something and I’m likely on the top of my game. 

09. We hate when you seat yourself: and if you do and you choose a dirty table, don’t eyeball me while I rush over and struggle to clean up around you. Do you know how awkward that is for the both of us? If there’s no hostess, just wait and be patient. I won’t let you stand there forever and this gives me a chance to clear a spot suitable. I’ll come back for you, promise, and if I don’t you can speak with my manager. I won’t let that happen, trust me

08. We love when you call us ahead of time: if you’ve got special requests or a large group. I hate seeing more than five people come in during a rush and expect to sit together. No way. If you call ahead, we have time to prepare your table, get started on your food, and we’ll likely be in a better mood now that we know what to expect. 

07. Whatever mess you make, I have to clean it up: don’t get me wrong, that was in my job description and I’m fine with that, but when your seven-year-old grinds wet pasta into oblivion on a tight-weave carpet with his light-up shoes, it’s degrading to get on hands and knees to scrub it out. When he or she decides to play Picasso on the walls with crayons, too, this is our hell. It’s taking time away from necessary things when it could have been avoided. Torn bits of straw-paper confetti, mashed up crayons, and silverware flying off into the floor are not fun things to "fix" and again, they're unnecessary. Control your young, more importantly.

06. You can trust me, I’ll get your refills: but each time you jingle your cup full of ice up in the air at me and give me a death-stare, or each child you send up to me to ask for a refill, or each time you suck the straw at the bottom of the cup making that annoying gurgling sound, I get closer and closer to not coming over at all. Drinks are the most overpriced part of the meal, in my opinion. If you’re nice to me, I’ll let you get your money’s worth.

05. We can book your kid’s birthday party, but we’re not a party supplies store: and if you’re expecting balloons, streamers, table cloths, hell – I’ve even been asked for gift wrap, you’ve got the wrong idea unless stated otherwise, we won’t be playing party-planner. I can blow up a few helium balloons but that’s about it. Think ahead and for God’s sake, DIY, it’s your kid’s birthday for crying out loud. (Too, please see #8)

04. I am here to do a job and I will: and this simply means questions like, “is our food ready yet?” is insulting to me. I’m not going to leave prepared, hot food sitting out and wait to give it to you. As soon as your order is ready, I’m bringing it to you. I’m in this field of work because I enjoy customer service, communication, etc. (No, seriously!) And your hospitality will make me more likely to visit your table and make you happy. My hospitality, in turn and with great finesse, earn me a nicer tip or at least a repeat customer who’s nice to me. (And hey, I’ve been known to give out free stuff to those that are patient and deserving.)

03. From the time you hit the door, I’m reading you: and your children, your parents, everything. I’m not judging; I’m reading. I can tell an easy table from a difficult table in just a few seconds. I can tell if your kids are going to be a handful. I can tell whether or not I'm going to get tipped. But I am reading you and I will remember you, be that a good thing or a bad thing

02. Tipping is what gets me home some nights: My pay checks are lower because I am getting supplemented pay when I take home money each night. What I claim in tips is taken on out of my pay check so when that time comes for me to get my week’s pay, it’s generally lower than expected. Now, that’s not your fault, but it does help when you leave me something. I can remember a few night in particular where tip money helped me put gas in my car to get all the way home. I was particularly appreciative of my patrons that night. 

01. I am human: just like you. I get up on a daily basis, I shrug on uniform that I can’t wash the restaurant smell out of, and I clock in to get a pay-check. I don’t make much, but I’m a server because it’s completely necessary and it’s something I maybe slightly possibly enjoy every now and then. Treat me like the human that I am and know that we – as humans – make mistakes and you, as my customer and a paying “client” if you will, should keep this in mind. In other words, treat me like you would treat your son or daughter if they were your server. Treat me the way you would want to be treated as a server. It earns you high marks and I’ll be nicer and nicer each time you sit in my section.

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