Why I Think Everyone Should Work in Food Service at Least Once in Their Lives

When I got my first job the summer after junior year of high school, I really didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I had babysat from time to time, and done odd jobs here and there. But when it was time to get a real job, I didn’t know where to start. Like any 17-year-old, I started by doing a quick Google search. This led me to a website called indeed.com, where I hit the jackpot of searching. I quickly narrowed down my search, using filters such as "no experience necessary" and "part-time." I probably applied to 20 jobs, some in retail, some in food. However, it wasn’t Indeed that got me my first job. It was simply driving down the road and seeing a "Help Wanted" sign.

I applied to Pita Pit, and shortly after, I got the job. What I didn’t realize was that I was going to be a part of the opening staff for a brand-new store. Working in food service has taught me lots of things, which I'll go into later. But I had the chance to see a restaurant start from the very bottom. The first day the restaurant opened, we had a soft opening. This means we invited family and friends to come and check it out. Free food was exchanged for practice dealing with customers in a new environment. Everything was new: the grill, the equipment, and the furniture. I remember staying after our soft opening was over and cleaning the baseboards of the restaurant with a sponge and a bucket. That wasn’t in the job description, but it made me that much prouder to know that I contributed to opening a brand-new restaurant.

In almost every job, you are bound to work with people. Good communication is important, almost necessary, to make the job easier. Sure, there were people I didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with, but learning how to work alongside them was an important skill I acquired. I think if everyone works a minimum wage paying job at least once in their lives, they will learn communication skills that can be applied in every aspect of life.

Another thing I learned while working in food service was patience. I have learned to deal with difficult customers, disrespectful kids, and bad tippers. Because the golden rule of foodservice is, "the customer's always right." There have been plenty of times when I have wanted to disregard this rule, but in the end, it is true. At least when the customer leaves, my co-workers and I can talk about them!

Speaking of tipping, working in food service has taught me how to tip. I'll admit it, when I would go to a cheap restaurant, like Subway, McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, or Chick-fil-A, I would never tip. I would tell myself, "she only took my order-how hard can that be!" Let's just say that now, I try to ALWAYS leave a tip. Working in food made me realize that the cashier doesn’t just work the register, (which, by the way, isn't as easy as it looks) but they also do a million other things. There were times when I was swiping someone's card on the register while taking someone's order in my headset for the drive-thru while running over to the grill to check on the chicken all at once. Working in food made me realize that the employees don't just do one thing, they do everything.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Another thing I learned is how much of a help it is to clear the table. Whenever I go out to eat now, I always make sure to stack my dishes up for the waiter or waitress, and not leave many crumbs on the table. I think about how annoying and disrespectful it was when customers would leave the table a mess.

Working in food service has taught me so much. There are little things that I never would have thought would be significant until I saw the other side. Seeing a different perspective will guarantee to make you more considerate when dining out. So, next time you're at a Chick-fil-A, or in a Dunkin' drive-thru waiting on your order, cut the employees some slack. They are doing the best they can, trying to keep it together with a smile on their face. Because after all, the customer is ALWAYS right (even when they're wrong).

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