The summer of my senior year of high school I was looking for a job and I came across waitressing. I always thought it would be interesting to have a job where you directly get to interact with people and get good tips. So, I applied for a job at my local country club and here is everything you need to know about waitressing:
Waitressing is not easy. Going into the job I thought I would have short shifts and all I would be doing was serving food and taking orders. After nine-hour shifts five days a week with minimal breaks, I realized quickly that was not the case. I always thought it could not be that hard to mess up someone’s order, but I did not realize all the little details that went into waitressing. As a waitress not only was I serving food and taking orders, but I was also: bussing tables, taking reservations, moving furniture for the new floor plans, carrying trays that were full of heavy dishes up and down a flight of stairs, trying to convince the chef to modify certain orders for the members, remembering each member’s face and drink order, splitting each check evenly, setting up buffets and taking buffets down and then resetting the same exact buffet two hours later with fresh food, and many more things. No matter how hard waitressing became, you always had to remember: while waitressing everything revolves around the customer.
Taking orders may seem simple. When your taking orders from a small family it honestly is simple and fun. Memorizing all the alcoholic drinks was the hardest part for me. Every day you had to check in with the bartender to see what was on tap, as well as know what alcohols were on the shelf. My manager always told me the best way to upsell on your checks was to sell your members the most expensive alcohol. With this advice, I tried to memorize what types of alcohol were in each special drink so the members would not just be getting what was on house (the cheapest alcohol). The members enjoyed your service, even more, when they did not have to tell you what drink they wanted to order (meaning that you would already know their drink order). So, knowing members on a personal level was important for my job. However, many times customers will be nasty to you and you can not take it personally. For me, I would laugh it off with my co-workers, but the first time you experience a rude customer it can be hard. However, I would never be rude back because I understand that the members are paying a lot of money to be here and at the end of the season that one time you were rude to someone may outweigh the millions of times you were nice to someone and may cost you your tip. Additionally, you must consider there are times when people are having bad days and you have no clue what is going on in their life. Again, everything you do as a waitress revolves around the customers. CUSTOMERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT!!!
Since customers are always right, if a customer walks in after a long day from golfing and the kitchen closes in ten minutes you must serve the member. This is when I would go and convince the chef to let me serve the customer food. A problem that the chef may run into is then when he serves one person a meal before closing, the chef had to serve every other member a meal that walked in right before or after closing. Almost any problem that a member may have from their meal while being served is rarely the server’s fault. As a waitress, I can not control the temperature that meat was cooked at, if the bread for the grilled cheese was too toasted, or if the meal is taking a long time to come. If could, I would make the member’s meal come down in 30 seconds.
- One time I served a table that sat down thirty minutes after their reservation during the busiest dinner hour and they added four new people to their table. Besides their table, that had 13 people sitting at the table, I had four more tables I had to take care of. The downstairs restaurant at the country club had a pool and the big table of 13 had many kids sitting at the table, so trying to chase after their kids in the pool and get their kids’ orders was a challenge itself. Once I got the kids’ order I went over to get the adults’ orders. The adults kept asking me if they could order specials from the restaurant upstairs which was not allowed, but they were begging me so then I had to waste even more time trying to convince the chef to let me. After the chef agreed, I put all 13 orders in. Keep in mind one of the country club’s biggest events was happening upstairs so the kitchen was already overwhelmed. The order was taking a lot longer than usual because the kitchen was overflowing with orders. The table of 13 was getting very frustrated with me, but it was completely out of my control what was happening. Additionally, I had to make sure I was checking up on all my tables and every member was getting accommodated to their needs.
Furthermore, servers have almost nothing to do with how the food is prepared or how the prices of items on the menu are selected.
In my experience, many problems that arise while serving that almost always had to do with poor communication whether it was from the server’s end or the kitchen’s end. CLEAR COMMUNICATION IS ALWAYS KEY. At the country club, for holidays like Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July, there would be big buffets open to all members and their guests. Keeping track of each member and their guest required a lot of communication because my co-workers had to make sure we did not double charge someone or just not charge someone at all. It was important to have clear communication with the kitchen because sometimes members like their meals cooked in a specific way. Communication would always be the main factor in whether that day at work went smoothly or rough.
Each restaurant you work at has a different vibe. As a waiter and even a customer, people have a certain level of respect for people. At the country club, there were many times where I felt looked down upon. Although to be a waitress you do not need an education, it does not mean that every waitress was uneducated. As a matter of fact, almost all my co-workers were in a university and they were just doing this job for extra money over the summer. Many members did not understand this though. Numerous times I would walk past different members and they would be surprised to hear I go to a prestigious university. However, the number of members that were interested to hear about your studies at your university and even network with you were more significant than the members that would belittle you.
Finally, while waitressing may not be an easy job, there is so much gratification you can receive from it. After a long two weeks and knowing how hard you worked, receiving the paycheck feels very good. When the members check up on you and notice your hard work by giving you a generous tip, it can be very satisfying. Additionally, it feels good to know that you helped make a 5 year old’s or 85 year old’s birthday a very special day. Waitressing has taught me how to use interpersonal skills and how to work under pressure which I know will translate well to careers that I am interested in after I graduate college. To conclude, if you are trying to find something for a summer job, become a waiter. It will teach you skills you never knew you needed.