My parents have always been big advocates of work ethic. When I was 14, they decided it was time to expand my “skill sets” and pushed me into the bustling restaurant world (which doesn’t make sense, because I already knew how to wash dishes).
It all started one Saturday afternoon; they threw me in the car and drove me to our local small-town restaurant to interview for my first job—as dishwasher. This is when the term “work ethic” really came to life for me. You can’t imagine how fast my little hands sprayed those ketchup-covered plates that afternoon—and many afternoons after. Believing in high energy and perfectionism, I quickly moved up the restaurant ladder. Soon dish land (and the smell of leftover greasy French fries mixed with bleach) was in the past. I finally began to see the front-of-the-house, as a host. This was a whole different world.
Fast forward to today. I have now worked for four completely different restaurants over the course of eight years, five years of serving experience. From wine bistros to bar and grills, I feel I’ve learned enough to share with you. So, here I go. You’re about to see the world through the eyes of a veteran server. #WaitressProblems
Here’s 13 things to remember/ask yourself next time you dine out:
1. Be observant when ordering ranch.
We live in a ranch-stricken world. My favorite question after I’ve annunciated and asked numerous times is, “Can I get a ranch?” My only request is that my guests be observant and listen when I come to serve them. I am your server, not a Hidden Valley Ranch maid.
2. Do you actually need “waters all around”?
I am happy to bring your table a round of waters; hydration is important. However, when those waters sit in the middle of the table, sweating and taking up room, no one wins. A piece of me dies a little when I enter the kitchen and there are no longer clean glasses available to get you your Diet Coke.
3.Your server makes $4.86/hour.
Once upon a time, I served (and lived) in Minnesota. Then I moved to Fargo. I was shocked when I found out the North Dakota minimum wage for tipped employees is a generous $4.86/hour. When getting taxed for our tips, that tax comes out of our paycheck and we are left with little to nothing. Your generous tip is our only hope at paying rent.
4. What did you order?
Please don’t eat other guests’ food. If you ordered a cheeseburger, wait for your cheeseburger. Don’t settle for your friend’s wrap. (#ItHappensAllTheTime).
5. Well-done=higher anticipation.
Remember, when you order a well-done burger or steak, you entire table’s food will be delayed. Be patient, we are doing the best we can to provide you with your high quality hockey puck.
6. Consider the value of your service, not your bill total.
Mondays mean “kids eat free!” Just remember, we are still entertaining your children and cleaning the mac and cheese off the floor. Lucky for you, you get more bang for your buck. Lucky for me, it means I work harder, usually for less profit.
7. Would you shake your glass at your spouse?
I am more than happy to get you another Coke. Just please, please don’t shake your glass at me. I’m human, too.
8. Get off the phone.
We have to thank technology for all of the conveniences it brings us daily. But there is a time and place for it. Please do not order food and/or beverages when you are on the phone—its rude. Furthermore, it breaks my heart to see a table texting or playing Trivia Crack instead of having a real face-to-face conversation.
Try playing towers instead.
Towers (n., [tou-ers]): A game in which guests, while eating out, stack their phones—one on top of another. The first opponent to touch their phone loses. As penalty for the loss, the player that loses is subject to pay for all other players’ meals.
9. This is not Subway (unless it is).
I understand your peanut allergy, need for gluten free choices, or that you can’t stand tomatoes. But, please don’t ask me to invent your own flatbread or create your own specialty burger. We have a menu for a reason.
10. Don’t assume others will compensate.
You think “Lots of people means lots of tips.” We think not. When you walk in with your party of 40 at 9:00pm, we cry. While your children are breaking glasses and putting salt and pepper in each other’s drinks, we are getting 43 refills, while attending to our other 3-6 tables. After 2.5 hours of service, you leave $3 for a $60 tab. But, no worries, someone else will get the tip. Right? The problem is: everyone is thinking the same.
11. Your server is not the one making your food.
If your fries come out cold or your burger is overdone, let me know and I will do everything in my power to make it right. However, don’t make me take the hit. I had nothing to do with how your food came out tonight—except making sure your order was correct. Do I look like a fry cook to you?
12. Be that customer the staff likes to see.
I’m a people person—that’s why I love my job (most of the time). I take pride in generating genuine conversation and meeting new, beautiful people daily. When you get to know me, you might find I’m a hard working, driven individual. Your attitude can make or break my night. Please feel free to serenade me or encourage your kids to draw pictures. I will love it.
13. Your server is not perfect.
In the five years I have served, I’ve had one recurring nightmare: one in which I wake up sweating and gasp because I forgot to get ranch, ketchup, or water for my guest. While I try my best to write everything down, I am also juggling not only a tray full of dishes, but also a million tasks in my mind. If I forget to refill your water, I am sincerely sorry.
So next time you go out on the town to quench your thirst with ranch or celebrate your boyfriend’s best friend’s dog’s sister’s birthday with 27 friends, consider what you’ve learned. And smile… because life isn’t that bad if you can afford to eat out.