Recently I have forayed back into the realms of waitressing. In a lot of ways I love it. You get to connect with so many different types of people. It's active and engaged, an exercise in patience and non-judgement. I'm pretty certain that after every shift my neuronal networks are stronger from remembering all the little things from a side of hot sauce to crisp bacon, but not too crisp, but not soft. There are a few things however that really suck in the service industry, and for those of us that haven't worked in it, we might not know.
1. We're all human
Somehow our culture has transitioned into a mentality that those serving us are somehow beneath us. The hierarchy is alive and well, friends. But we all know that's no recipe for a beautiful world -- whether you're scooping up garbage for a living or performing high risk brain surgery. We all have a story, we all have joys and pains and we all deserve to be treated decently.
2. Wasting food is not cool
I'll be frank, this point is the entire reason I decided to write this article. The amount of food waste I see every day makes me cringe, and if you saw it you probably would too. It's cool to not want to stuff yourself to sickness. I'm not playing over zealous mama bear who's going to make you eat every last bite. But unfortunately most restaurants don't compost and wasted food which could be turned into soil to grow more food, just ends up in the landfill. At least take it home and feed it to your dog, or be a responsible human and put it in your own compost.
The ideal solution to this problem would be to do something like this mall in Brazil. Talk about sustainability.
3. Tipping is customary
Unless you live in Australia, where you can actually live off minimum wage, tipping your server is necessary. If you can't afford to tip, then don't eat out. You're not just tipping your server, you're tipping the kitchen that made your food and the bartenders that made your drinks. We rely on tips to survive, minimum wage just doesn't cut it so we should stop pretending it does and #raisethewage.
4. It's really annoying being flagged down
Excuse me, monsieur, is it just me or is it kind of annoying when someone raises their hand like an eager child in a classroom to get your attention? Or screaming miss, or snapping of fingers. Usually, we're making our way to check on your table anyways. Patience is a virtue. Observe the environment, if it's super busy and you try and flag me down, there better be a damn good reason. There are better ways to get a server's attention, the simple act of making eye contact or remembering your server's actual name work wonders.
5. Ask questions before ordering something you're unsure of
This one might seem obvious but so often people order something, take one bite and send it back. I'm all for trying new things, but if you don't like cilantro, make sure you ask what chimichurri is so I can tell you it's cilantro sauce. Not a fan of spicy? Szechuan might not be your cup of tea. It's a server's job to know the menu, to know what's popular and what to recommend. When in doubt, ask questions.
6. Complaining is fine, just be nice about it
If you don't like something, let us know, but don't be a dick about it. I'm not the one who overcooked your steak, or didn't crisp your fries up enough. I understand, you're hangry. The nicer you are about it, the more I'll care about assuring the kitchen to be bloody quick about fixing their mistake.
7. Unless you're literally starving to death, don't come in 5 minutes before close
Most businesses function on a static schedule for obvious reasons. We make plans, have to pick our kids up from school or the babysitter, tell our partner we'll be home at a certain time. The same goes with restaurants, it sucks having to stick around an extra 45 minutes because someone decided to come in 5 minutes before closing time. If this is you, just bite the bullet and go to Denny's.