Serving: it's one of the most difficult part time jobs, but it can also be one of the most interesting. Many people have held a server job at some point in their lives, and once you've been one, it's hard to think of a restaurant the same way again. Here are 6 things that all servers, past or present, should be able to relate to.
1. The customer is always right...even when they aren't.
One of the most infuriating situations to deal with as a sever is when a customer has a bone to pick, even when none of the staff did anything wrong. Whether they don't like the sauce on their pasta and make you get them a new one, their silverware isn't shiny enough or their soup is too cold for their liking, you just have to grin and bear it until their (often ridiculous) demands are carried out.
2. Getting stiffed.
Unfortunately, some customers are terrible tippers. Whether they only gave you their change from the bill--which happened to be $0.85--or they left no tip at all, the harsh reality is that you just got ripped off. Tips aren't just bonus cash--most servers only get payed a couple dollars an hour, leaving the rest of their wages in the hands of customers. Customers: if you're ever unsure how much to tip, 15-20 percent is standard, or more if you stayed for a long time or had an excessive amount of requests.
3. Actually getting a really good tip.
It's always a joyous occasion when you discover that the nice couple that was in your section tipped far above the expected 20 percent. It almost makes up for the other tables that left bad tips that night.
4. Teeny, tiny paychecks.
Not only do we servers only get payed about $2-3 an hour before tips, but because taxes eat into most of that, some paychecks are so small it's almost laughable. There's nothing quite like picking up your check from the last two weeks, having worked several shifts a week, and having it be for only $10 or less. I've even had paychecks that literally say $0.00. Oh well, at least we can make bank in tips on a busy night!
5. Never knowing when you'll be done with work.
While your friends who work at the movie theatre or the local pool may be able to clock out at the same time every day, when you're a server you're almost always dependent on all the customers getting out of the restaurant on time. Some customers will stay at their tables for an extra hour or more past the time that the kitchens close, and unfortunately, every hour that they stay is an extra hour that you have to stay, too.
6. Free food.
Two words: Employee. Discount. Most restaurants give their servers a free meal every shift, so not only do you save tons of money on food when you're working, but you'll also know the menu inside and out after a month on the job, making you a much better server. Better service = better tips!
As with any part time job, there are many ups and downs to being a server. Dealing with difficult customers can be some of the most stressful work there is, but when the customers are friendly and interesting, it can make work so much more rewarding. Even with all the cons, being a server has been my favorite part time job that I've had, and I hope to continue serving until I start my professional career.
Lead Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television