Five years working in a restaurant can make or break a person. It’s not easy work, and the pay isn’t always great either. My experience had it’s hills and it’s valleys. To this day, waitressing is my favorite job I’ve ever had. But it’s also my least favorite.
I stumble across these lists everywhere. Blog posts, magazine articles, Youtube channels. It seems everyone wants to give their take on the topic, and I can see why. From my own experience, I tend to disagree with half of what these writers say, and whole heartily agree with the other half. No two people are going to have the same exact experience working a service job, so this difference in opinion makes complete sense. As I find profound interest in these lists myself, I thought I would take a moment to construct my own list of the 10 things your server wants you to know.
1.) We have bad days. I can’t count the amount of times a costumer would complain to another one of my coworkers about my ‘attitude’, when in reality, I just didn’t smile wide enough. I know you are paying for good service. I understand that you expect a server who smiles widely and returns to your table promptly at your every beck and call, but the reality of it is, we are human too. We have bad days. So if I’m not smiling when I return to your table with the extra dressing, it’s not because I think you’re needy for asking for extra ranch. It’s because I wish I was in bed instead of wearing this apron and taking your order.
2.) Any tip is better than no tip. Often when reading these lists people say angrily TIP AT LEAST FIFTEEN PERCENT. I get it. We live off of these tips. We make crap money so we depend on these tips to pay our bills. But I don’t agree with the argument that if you can’t afford a fifteen percent tip, don’t go out. I’ve been in the position where I couldn’t afford that fifteen percent tip. My family and I all ordered the cheapest things we could on the menu to keep our total low, and we tipped what we could. Everyone deserves to treat themselves. We are all trying. So if you can only afford a two dollar tip, then leave a two dollar tip. I might complain in the moment to my coworkers, but I get it. It’s better than nothing. This does not mean however, that it’s okay to rack up a bill of over a hundred dollars and only leave a two dollar tip. This will put you on the servers sh** list.
3.) PLEASE clean off the space in front of you before I bring you your food. More times than not, costumers will place their phone in front of them, or their drink, or their own elbows, and expect me to clean the space for them while balancing a tray and carrying refills in the other hand. This almost always results in me struggling for a good five minutes trying to set your food down while you stare at me with an angry glare, and then an angry note about my service written on the comment slip when you leave. This can all be avoided by just keeping that space clear. Thank you.
4.) This is on every list. But it needs to be repeated. DO NOT take drinks off of my tray. It took me months to learn exactly where each glass needs to be placed, and in which order each glass needs to be taken off in order to avoid every drink landing on the floor or worse, on your brand new dress. I know you think you’re being helpful. But you’re not. I know what I’m doing. You are only going to cause a mess. It won’t hurt you to wait an extra ten seconds for me to get to your diet coke.
5.) Just because I don’t look busy, doesn’t mean I’m not busy. When you see us walking around the dining room and you get angry because you haven’t been checked on in the past two seconds, know that we are probably very busy, even if it doesn’t seem it. You are not the only table your server is responsible of, and serving requires mental multi tasking to the point that I would often leave with headaches Tylenol extra strength wouldn’t even touch. Wait for us to come around. We have a system and I promise we will get back to you.
6.) Your server has no control on when your food comes out. All we are responsible for once we put your order into the system is picking it back up and bringing it out to you. We are not in the kitchen cooking it for you. Someone else entirely has that job, so yelling at us to cook your well done steak faster, is going to do nothing but make both you and us very angry. The most we can do is go back and ask the chef how much time is left, normally causing the chef to promptly yell back a line of profanities and usher your server from the line. Just enjoy the company at your table and sit back. Your food will come, I again, promise.
7.) PLEASE do not come into a sit down establishment and tell your server you are in a rush. If you must, we will do our best to get you out in a timely manner, but as stated above, there are so many other variables out of our control. Most restaurants offer take out, online ordering, or even delivery. If you are in a hurry, please consider one of those options. Our jobs include making your meal the best experience it can be, so if we have to rush, not only will you experience sub par service, but other tables might suffer as well.
8.) The nicer you are to your server, the better experience you will have. It sounds horrible, but it’s true. Again, we’re only human. Most servers, or should I say, good servers, will always give you good service. But if you are nice to us, patient, kind, understanding, you might even experience great service. I’ve been known to give a free refill on a drink we aren’t supposed to, or an extra sauce for no charge where their should have been a fee, just because the costumer didn’t yell at me when I forgot to bring ketchup to their table. Like the saying goes, you reap what you sow.
9.) Your server does not control the prices. I have had two service jobs, one of which, and my all time favorite job thus far, was at a health food cafe. You get what you pay for, as in all things. So, I thought understandably so, prices were a bit higher because the food was farm to table. Everything was organic and handmade. Still, costumers would complain to me, after ordering and eating, once receiving their bill, about the price. I do not get paid from your check. I do not make the prices. I have no control or interest in the prices of each item whatsoever. If you can not afford a particular place, pick another. It is okay to look at a menu and leave without ordering because you can’t afford anything on the menu. I will not judge you and I will not be angry. I’d rather that than having to deal with your angry complaints as I am trying to buss your table and serve three others.
10.) And finally, please don’t look down on your server for the line of work they are doing. I have met some of the best people working service jobs, people with some of the most interesting stories and lives you wouldn’t even imagine. Some of the most intelligent people. Some servers are High School students saving for a car or college, others are single moms working three jobs to put food on the table, and others stumbled into serving on accident and never left because they loved it. And every story in between. No matter what the reason, they are no less of a human than you simply because they are bringing you your meal. If you can afford a bigger tip, leave a bigger tip. If you are in a great mood that day and want to leave your server a note on how amazing they were, please do. Each and every server you will ever have is only doing their job, living their life and trying to pay their bills, just like you.
After reading my list, I hope you leave here with a bit of a different outlook on your servers and I hope you learned something. If you’ve ever served or worked in costumer service in general, please leave a comment and add to my list. I’d love to hear what you have to say!