Confessions of a College Server

As a college student, the last thing I want to add on top of my course load, extracurriculars, and social life is a part-time job. Unfortunately, the real world is expensive and I have things to pay for so I work at a restaurant one or two days a week. During school breaks and in between semesters, I like to pick more shifts up so I can build my savings.

On my way to work, I’m normally thinking about how tired I am from the week I just had, but I’m also thinking about what my goal for that night should be. I usually base my goal on making enough money for any bills I have to pay that week or events I have coming up that I need to save for. When I get to work, it’s nice to have a change of scenery and be away from the dorm for a bit. I get to catch up with my “work friends” and meet tons of new people. Usually, the summers are slow, but when it gets colder, business starts to pick up.

A typical shift for me is anywhere between four to seven hours long. Recently, I’ve gotten into the habit of recording my shift movement on my Apple Watch. For the past couple of weeks, I've been averaging around four miles of walking in a six-hour shift. It’s exhausting, to say the least, but it’s nice when I’ve been slacking on my workouts throughout the week. I enjoy the social aspect of my job as well. Between working in my hometown and the going to school in a completely different city, I often see people I know or learn about connections that we share through simple conversations.

Unfortunately, every interaction that I have isn’t as pleasant as I would like it to be. Whether it’s me forgetting the lemon in the customer's water or the kitchen putting extra mushrooms in the dish even though I said "no mushrooms" on the ticket, customers get mad about everything. Things get especially hard during the holidays because, in my experience, I’ve noticed that exhausted shoppers are much more unforgiving. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been called “incompetent” or have broken down and gone to the freezer to cry. Luckily, I have awesome coworkers who never fail to remind me that, “It’s just salad and breadsticks.”

Regardless if you’re just stopping through the drive-thru or sitting in for a bite to eat with your families, being a server, especially a server who is ALSO in college, is a hard job. Treat all customer service workers this holiday season with respect and remember that we are people too.