Five Reasons Why Waiting Tables Was One Of The Best Jobs I've Had

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When we imagine the life of a server, many of us think of the struggling 20-year-old cocktail waitress who doesn’t have a savings account. We assume that their life must be full of sleep deprivation and a lack of a social life. While I can’t speak for every food service worker, none of those descriptions summed up my life as a server. In fact, I would argue that waiting tables is actually one of the best jobs a person can get. Whether it is temporary, or a potential life-long side gig, waiting tables actually has more benefits than people believe.


Here are some the reasons I actually miss the gig every one in a while.

1. Having weekdays off. This is a big one. Because my colleagues took entry-level corporate jobs that mandated they be in an office all day, this limited their night life exclusively to the weekends. Most of you are probably thinking “Um, duh, that’s when everyone else goes out." HAH. That’s exactly the trouble that I, a service industry worker, got to avoid. On nights that I went out (especially in my city), I rarely found myself having to pay a cover or squeeze between bodies to find a bathroom. Bonus points here for “industry night” , which is really just like a huge party for waiters and bartenders…with discounted drinks.
2. Flexibility. No, I did not get paid vacations when I worked part-time. However, I never had to work on a day I absolutely didn’t want to. Every single time I requested time off (even if it were a ridiculously absurd amount of time, for a PERSONAL reason), I was granted my wish. Now take note: This might not be true of every restaurant, and a lot of this has to do with the rapport you have with your management. Usually this involves a trade. You might have to work during peak seasons like summer when your friends are in Cabo, but if your boss is cool, they will likely return the favor by giving you New Year’s Eve off. I loved having the freedom to be able to request time off two weeks before a vacation and go on a whim, rather than have it limited to weekends and select vacation days.
3. Short shifts. Okay, this one isn’t entirely true, because most of the time I worked doubles. This was mostly by choice. When I wasn’t bleeding into my nonslip flats**, however, I was usually in and out with 200 dollars in four-five hours on any given night. It seemed like a fair trade off to me , as that number usually doubled or even tripled on days with full, eight to ten hour shifts.
4. Money. I hate to mention this because I feel it is such a cliche to talk about how servers make decent money. We already know if you work in a decent, well-established place, your income is surprisingly steady. However, I needed to mention money here, because people assume that one night you’ll be pocketing Benjamins, and the next night you leave with ten dollars…Where I worked there was always comfortable range of tip-outs, and it never dipped to anything drastically low and unlivable at any point. Of course, I’m speaking as someone who was a server in a densely populated city, and this might not hold true for people in smaller communities. In my particular case, I was making more than my managers, more than my peers in entry-level jobs, and I felt significantly less stressed.
5. More time to focus on other passions. When I was a server I had much more time to pursue other interests I had in my life. In my opinion, this was the best possible sustain myself because it granted me the freedom to explore what I want to do, rather than rush headfirst into an entry-level job I might have unsettled feelings about. It was a position that granted me the freedom to be an individual without any expectation other than to be good at what I did.

**Lady waitresses/bartenders, please don’t try to be cute by buying abhorrent, rubber Mary Janes. They are ineffective for both fashion and function.

In any case, I want to acknowledge that this list is as someone who was lucky enough to work at a popular restaurant in a large city, and that I cannot speak on behalf of someone who works in a small town cafe. However, I believe the above is true for quite a bit of service industry workers, who are frequently told their jobs are beneath those of their peers.

I am grateful for the time I had as a server, because of how much I learned about myself. I made a 360-degree diversion from what my college degree predicted I would do in order to pursue my creative passions. None of this would have happened had I not decided to reject an entry-level desk job and take up my part-time waitress gig. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

So if you find yourself at a point where you are unsure of what you want out of life, but maybe want to develop your social skills in an environment that demands hard work and plenty of optimism? Head down to your local gastropub, tiki bar, or brunch restaurant and make your way into the exclusive club known as “the industry." Just remember while you’re down there, don’t forget to leave a tip.

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