5 Lessons That Waiting Tables Has Taught Me

Having been in the food service industry since I was but a wee gingersnap of child, many lessons have been bestowed upon me that I wish I had known several years ago. Because I am a giver of all things, and not just sides of mayo and extra lemons, I want to share with you some of these lessons so that you can become wise beyond your years. This is what I know:

Most people in this world are nice, but some people suck ass and there’s nothing you can do to change it. In the course of a busy double, it is possible for us to interact with dozens and dozens of different people. When you come across one of those people who seem miserable for no apparent reason, let them stew in their own crappy broth and focus your energy on others. When I first started waiting tables, I would see those people as a challenge and would try my hardest to put a smile on their face thinking it would increase my tip. It doesn’t. We don’t know why they are unhappy miserable POS’s (in this case, POS stands for “pieces of shit” and not “point of sale.”), but don’t waste your time with them. They aren’t worth it.

Great co-workers can make a bad job more bearable, but don’t let them keep you there. I worked at Houlihan’s for a long time and I absolutely loved all of the people I worked with. Seriously, it could be so much fun and even though it has been over 15 years since I worked there, I am still friends with a lot of them. However, I stayed there far longer than I should have. The working conditions were difficult, the hours sucked, the clientele was awful and the tips were all over the place, but I stayed because I liked working with my friends. That is not a good reason to stay at a job you don’t like. I finally quit and made sure to maintain the relationships that made working there so great. Never stay at a job you don’t like just because you like the people you work with.

When you punch out, don’t think about your job anymore. We are not doctors or lawyers or teachers who have to take our jobs home with us. When we leave, the only thing that will leave with us is our apron, our tips and the stench of restaurant food. If you find yourself thinking about how a certain table upset you or how you forgot to take that third Diet Coke to table 9, let it go. It’s done and it doesn’t matter anymore.

For every bad tip there are two good ones to make up for it. As servers, we tend to focus on the negative,. Hell, you’re reading a blog called The Bitchy Waiter for crying out loud. When someone leaves us a bad tip we are quick to complain about it, but what we seem to forget is that the majority of people tip nicely. If you get a shitty tip, and you will, don’t focus on it too long. Shrug your shoulders, shoot them a side eye, curse them under your breath and move on because it’s more than likely that the next table or two is going to leave you something that will make you forget all about that cheap asshole. Waiting tables is like driving on a hilly road. You can never know what’s over the next hill, but every once in a while when you get to that peak, you are rewarded with an awesome view and it’s all worth it.

Our job is pretty great. No matter how often we may complain about it, waiting tables can be a perfect job. In a way, we get to choose our own hours and we always have the opportunity to work extra shifts if we need more money. It can be stressful sometimes, but that stress leaves completely as soon as the last customer waddles out the door and we put the closed sign in the window. We can take days off when we need to and even though we don’ get paid for them, at least we have the option. Sometimes it’s worth it to take that Friday lunch shift off and go to the beach or something. Not all jobs have that flexibility so embrace it. And if someone ever tries to pass judgement on you because “all you do” is wait tables, make sure they know that you’re good with it. It’s the job that works for you at this particular moment in your life and the only person that should matter to is you.

Yep, I wait tables. And I learned some stuff while doing it.

I hope you will consider buying my book. It’s called The Bitchy Waiter and you can buy it on Amazon.

I wait tables and bitch about it on my blog, The Bitchy Waiter.

6 thoughts on “5 Lessons That Waiting Tables Has Taught Me

  1. Thank you!

    I left serving a while ago for an office job. The pay was great, benefits, 401k, paid holidays…etc. I swore I was never going back to serving, that lasted the first 6 months, by 9 I couldn’t wait to escape the Monday through Friday office grind. I resigned and found a serving job and I’m so much happier. Others servers are my people, my tribe, and there’s NOTHING wrong with that. This post reminds me that yeah, serving has its pros and cons, but so does every other job. Oh well if I don’t have the ‘prestige’ of working for ‘so and so big name fancy office’… I’m good at what I do, I’m happy doing it, there’s no reason to feel bad about it.

  2. Bitchy , u provide us with much needed therapy . We love u . If u ever visit ugly ass Los(t) Angeles I’m taking u out ,waiting on u & making u cocktail (I told our bartender he puts cock in every cocktail) .Fuck ,u made me a better server .I even wash lemons & offer ranch to fatties before they ask me . I think u r a real star .

  3. This is one of the best pieces I’ve seen on this blog. It hits many of the positives of our industry and I love it! Cheers Bitchy!

  4. I love this. Waiting tables has taught me so much patience towards the “real” crowd of people. Meeting so many people and learning so many different backgrounds is the best part. Its great most of the time.

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