Waiting table sounds like such an easy task. You deliver drinks and food to customers and they pay you money. In a nutshell, that’s true. However, some fail to realize that waiting tables is one of the most nerve-wracking and under-appreciated occupations.
Memorizing menu content, menu changes, constant movement, small talk, good and bad attitudes and table bussing are all just a small part of being a server. There is absolutely no sitting down or leaning against anything for rest during a shift, even for a moment. Those caught doing so, receive the “if you’re leaning, you need to be cleaning” spiel.
In a span of one shift, I’ll see hundreds of faces, memorize several orders, walk many miles and deal with a long list of problems, all with a smile on my stress-ridden face.
Having to rely on the generosity of people, while simultaneously putting up with every request is challenging. Many customers are extremely particular and picky when it comes to their orders, and if something is wrong with their dining experience, the server is essentially put to blame, whether at fault or not. They seem to forget that while they are our customers, we do have other tables to tend to who may be as needy.
In one case, a fellow server received poor treatment after the kitchen had confusion with a customer’s order. The customer told her server that he had completely ruined her dining experience even after the server did his best to have the kitchen prepare the order properly. The customer left with a free meal and without leaving a tip.
Just to be clear, servers do not have control over what the kitchen does or fails to do; therefore, take into consideration that if an order is messed up, cooked the wrong way or the taste isn’t up to par, it is not always fair to take these issues out on the server.
The most difficult part of serving is having to deal with unappreciative customers who seem to look down upon the waiting staff. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met many truly great people through waiting tables; however, you can tell a lot about people by the way they treat a server.
I will never forget when a man I was waiting on was dissatisfied with the way I was serving my tables and took it upon himself to chew me out for a full five minutes in front of several other customers in the immediate vicinity–after he had already yelled at a co-worker for sweeping her section during his meal. Needless to say, all he left were very bad feelings.
I’ve been a server for more than a year now, and while I enjoy my work and many of the people I’ve encountered, it’s easy to be discouraged by rude customers or slow business. At $2.13 an hour, wages seem pointless, considering most of it is taken out in taxes. Therefore, if a table fails to leave a tip, the server just spent at least half an hour working without pay. It’s rather surprising how often this happens.
Also, while servers greatly appreciate verbal praise for a job-well-done, keep in mind that compliments are not accepted forms of currency. We can’t tell our landlords how much our services were enjoyed in exchange for rent money and expect to be able to remain a tenant for long.
Please understand the trials and tribulations a server has to go through on a day-to-day basis and treat them with the respect they give you.
Whitney Howard is a freshman communications major from Henderson.