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Have you ever worked in a restaurant?
On average, how much do you go out to eat? Whether you go through the drive thru at McDonald’s or go to a sit down restaurant think to how many times you did not cook at home last month. Odds are, unless you cook at home you have dealt with a server.
If you have EVER worked in a restaurant, as anything (cook, carry-out, dishwasher, prep-cook, server, server assistant, hostess, etc) then you will probably share some of my experience as I tell you a day in the life of a server. There is no doubt, that if you have ANY type of social media that you’ve probably seen a post or two about someone’s experience at a restaurant. Most of the time, it’s a negative experience that you read about. Very far off, is it a good experience about the restaurant.
Personally I love reading about the negative aspects of the visit more than the positive ones, because I have more than likely experienced it on the other side as a server. I worked at a restaurant for a little over 5 years. I only recently quit earlier this year, so trust me I’ve experienced it all. Don’t get me wrong, when I worked as a server, I worked hard to get positive reviews as opposed to negative ones. But hey, I’m only human.
I like reading negative reviews because I like to put myself in that position and think about how I would have handled the situation differently, if anything different could have been done (and sometimes there isn’t anything at all you can change).
5 Things you should know about servers.
- Most servers make well below minimum wage. When I worked as a server, the company paid us 2.64 an hour. Yes, you read that right. No typo there. It is expected that you will make up to minimum wage (most likely more) through tips. You know, sometimes no matter how good of a server you are some tables just don’t tip. Some people cannot afford to tip that much. Some people tip you in compliments.
- Some restaurants have a tip share. Tip share means they share a percentage of tips with the hostess, server assistant, bartender, etc. So not always does your full tip go to just the server alone.
- They don’t purposely forget your stuff. Seriously, unless you are being over the top rude they are not out to get you. Trust me they don’t want to make 104 trips back to the kitchen (also being said, when they ask you if you need anything tell them EVERYTHING you need at the same time and don’t make them go in multiple trips and they’ll be less likely to forget something. Unless it’s ranch dressing for some reason WE CANNOT REMEMBER THE RANCH.)
- They want you to enjoy your stay, but not overdue your stay. After you paid the bill, if they are busy they most likely want you to leave. Not because of you yourself. Remember, they make 2.64 an hour. They need more tables to make more money. If it’s dead, as long as they aren’t closed by all means stay as long as you want. Include them in your conversation.
- They are not the ones that cook your food. How long it takes isn’t necessarily their fault. Generally, your server is most likely standing on the cooks line looking for your food. They’re probably bugging the fire out of the cooks wondering why its taking so long. Server time and guest time are two totally different things. In server time, if food is taking more than 15 minutes, they want it. They feel rushed when you are sitting there for a long amount of time (while you may be perfectly fine they are still stressed over your food).
Serving: my experience.
I considered myself an excellent server, and sometimes I would get those tables. I still made up for those non-existent tips with other tables, but I still got frustrated a lot of the time. After I took myself out of the serving industry, I realize now that I shouldn’t have let it bother me so much. Yes, I did work hard but does those tips affect my life now? No. Do I remember the people that didn’t tip or why they didn’t tip? No. Not all of them. (Unless they stood out in some way, sorry nope).
My typical shift went a little something like this:
As soon as I walked in the door, I would go to the POS station (point of sale. Not the other meaning). I would slide my card and clock in. Then I would put my apron on and walk to the hostess stand and find out my section. Sometimes I would close, other times I wouldn’t. After I found out my section I would go check on my side-work. (Did I get stuck with cleaning the lids on sauces? Clean honey jars? Restock to-go stuff? That one was a good one for me considering I’m only 5’3″. I couldn’t reach ANY of it so I would jump around until either I grabbed it or got tired of looking so silly.)
Once I got my first table, the game was on. I was on a mission to give them the best possible service to my abilities. Sometimes, I would fail if I wasn’t in the right mindset. You see, you have to have the right mentality when going in to serving otherwise everything you do seems wrong. I, like any other server ever, had my off nights. Those nights drove me crazy. I guess you could say that I was a serious perfectionist when it came to serving. After my shift, when I either got cut (let off the hook from serving) or we closed the store, I would try to get my stuff done and go home.
One situation that stood out
One thing that I stands in the back of my mind even to this day, was the day a man grabbed my neck while I was serving/bartending. I remember this all too clearly because I almost lost my cool that night.
It was my moms birthday and my entire family were sitting in my section, I happened to be the bartender that night. There was a man at the bar, being served by the other bartender. He was getting pretty wasted and I could tell, so I cut him off. I told him that was his last beer, but forgot to mention it to his server. As I was taking my family’s order, the man kept trying to interrupt. I turned to him and politely asked him to wait a minute, I was almost done with their order. He kept asking me for his ticket, but since I wasn’t his server I couldn’t get it for him. I told him his server would be right there to get him his bill and turned back to my family. I was taking my brothers order, when the man got up off the bar-stool and walked over to us.
He was swaying back and forth and he looked at the table and said, “she’s a very sweet server, but she cut me off.” I looked over at him and just smiled and said “yes sir I did.” He kept babbling away, but I focused in on taking the rest of the order and a fellow server walked over and took the tray I was carrying out of my hand. The man walked back to his seat and the server gave me a beer glass and I was in the process of telling my family I would be right back with their rolls and salads when I looked over I seen the drunk man with another beer. I returned to my family with their salads when I suddenly felt the man’s hand on the back of my neck.
He was slurring his words and his grip kept getting tighter. My mom and dad looked at him and I had never felt more scared. I know how protective my parents are so I held my hand up to them and bent out of the mans reach and walked behind my bar. I told him he needed to pay his bill and leave and I took the beer that was in front of him and put it on my counter.
He kept saying how he was no-one to be afraid of and that he would never hurt me. He said that the only people that should be afraid of him are the people that tried to hurt me because he would hurt them for me.
- He didn’t know me at all
- I didn’t need his protection
- I wanted him OUT of the restaurant
I looked at him, my blood boiling, and said I wasn’t afraid of him. I said if he EVER laid his hands on me again, he should be scared of me. Every inch of my body was on fire. I was furious. He paid his bill and left and I immediately went to my manager and told him that if that man stepped foot back in the restaurant again, I was going to hit him.
I do not like for people to touch me. I have to be really good friends with someone before I let them hug on me or anything. But never in my life have I ever felt sooooo disrespected. That day was really the beginning of the end of my want to serve anymore.
Serving isn’t always bad
Not every situation was as bad as that. I actually had a lot of fun over the years serving. And I made some reallllllyyyyyy good friends who I will always have love and respect for. Seriously, most of my co-workers over the years have been amazing. We, at one point, were a family in my opinion. I have so many great memories of working in the restaurant and I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for the co-workers that made serving an amazing experience for me.
In my opinion, I think everyone should work at a restaurant at some point in their life. It teaches you so much and so much about yourself. You learn exactly what limits you can be pushed to.
If you have some experiences working in a restaurant, please let me know! Thank you so much for reading my post! If you are new to my blog please check out my About Me page. Also be sure to check out my Blog page and read the other posts. I have an art gallery up, so if you want to buy some homemade gifts for the holiday seasons please check it out! Email me any questions!