UnderCover Waitress: Guest Post: Life Lessons in Restaurants

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Post: Life Lessons in Restaurants

Today I treat you to a guest post by Hannah Vergara. Words of wisdom from the trenches, enjoy!

Life Lessons in Restaurants 

Have you ever come across a friend that you’ve watched coast through life?  Maybe finding a job here or there, but never committing for longer than a month.  High school and college pass by while your pal repeats the same behaviors, and now you’ve graduated.  Yeah, it may have taken your buddy a couple extra years to finish school (and a couple extra thousand dollars), but he moves back to Mom and Dad’s and wonders why nobody will hire him.  Well, parents don’t blame the economy for the lack of opportunity; instead, teach your children some values and make them work.  

Throughout my adolescence I have worked many different jobs, and I must attribute some of my growth to the lessons learned working in restaurants.  I have had the privilege of being bossed around, yelled at, spilled on, sexually harassed, and under-tipped all with a smile on my face and aching feet.  Who wouldn’t want to be a waitress, right? Kidding. In all honesty, working in restaurants has given me the chance to develop social skills in learning the right way to respect and treat others.  Here are a few vital lessons that have stayed with me while building my career…

Lesson 1: The Customer is Always Right

My grandpa taught me this when I was very young and I always reference back to it no matter what the predicament; it has yet to fail!

My last restaurant gig was at a brewery.  I helped open the place and got really integrated into the “family.”  This spot was hoppin’ every single night, with a waiting list that never seemed to end.  New restaurant in the city plus tons of people yearning to be a part of the buzz plus craft beer equals a jam-packed pub peppered with an angry customer here and there.  You just can’t please everyone.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that a middle-aged man would execute a verbal attack on a 20-year old over hunger pains and impatience, but it happens much more than you’d think.  As the man was busy telling me how important he was, I was busy observing what an embarrassment he caused for his wife and innocent by-standers.  The greatest of faults is to act superior to others.  This man probably had a low self-esteem and lacked any character, but it is times like these that make me realize it is always the secure who are most humble.  Do not let people like this interrupt your jive.  Just take everything with a grain of salt, and enjoy the show!

Lesson 2: Keep to YOURSELF

The restaurant atmosphere can be laid back and quiet, so in many cases you’ll find servers passing time with gossip and more gossip.  If you are wise you can spot the genuine, honest people that are true friends.  I still have relationships with old co-workers that I value to this day.

On the contrary, try to avoid those gossip queens that cry once month, and sleep with every guy in the kitchen.  Keep to yourself.  It’s that simple. With this method you protect your image, and don’t have to hear gossip nor be a part of the gossip.  I prefer to avoid the toxic people at all costs.  Just put on a pretty smile and agree with everything that comes out of their mouth, for you will come across this problem in more places than restaurants.  It is best to begin your practice of good business ethics sooner than later.

Lesson 3: You Don’t Always Get What You Want

Yes, we all know you order the same dish every single Sunday, so it is unacceptable the kitchen ran out of walleye.  Hate to break it to you, but no matter how much you plan in life it will never be exactly how you want it to be…so get used to it.  And more importantly, don’t kill the messenger.  Try living on the edge and order the duck.  Just roll with the punches, keep a positive attitude, expect problems and eat them for dinner.  With this outlook, you’ll never be disappointed.   Appreciate the little things, like the pleasant conversion you’ll have with dinner companions.  Isn’t that why we typically go out to dinner anyway?  Just remember to live in the moment and apply that to life - something good may come out of it.

These are just a few of the lessons I have taken from working in the service industry.  I couldn’t possibly fit them all into one post, so I am calling all servers, bartenders, cooks, bussers and hosts: what lessons have you learned from working in the restaurant business?

Hannah Vergara, writer, yogi, nature enthusiast and animal lover.  This post was written on behalf of EZ Corporate Clothing, helping restaurants with custom embroidery.

1 comment:

  1. I truly believe in Lesson #2. Even though restaurants/bars seem to be the birthplace of gossip, it really is everywhere. Being a genuine, honest person will get you farther than you think in any career you enter.

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