Everyone has received less than stellar service in a restaurant at some point. Did you every stop to think about why the service was so terrible? In most cases it’s not as cut and dry as you like to think. It’s easy to blame the server. In reality, the server has amazingly little control over your dining experience. The hosts, the managers, the bartenders, the cooks, the prep cooks, the busers, the dishwashers, the runners, other guests, and countless other factors are just as responsible for your dining experiences as the server is.
As a result, waiting tables is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I know that is a very bold statement. I guess you could argue that fighting on the front lines of a major war, traveling to the moon, or being the President of the United States are harder jobs than waiting tables. Now that I think about it however, allow me to remove President of the United States from that list. Look at who’s running the country. I know I’m smarter than that dude. I also know that he could never handle a 12 hour shift in a restaurant with screaming children, impatient parents, inept managers, angry cooks, stupid hosts, lazy runners, slow busers, other stressed out servers, and a talking buffalo with a lazy eye. Yes, you read that correctly.
I know a lot of you are reading this and thinking to yourself “there is no way waiting tables is harder than my job”. That’s fine. Far be it from me to say that I work harder then you. All I’m saying is that I have worked a number of jobs. I have been the boss and I have been the underling and I’m here to say that serving tables is the most mentally and physically demanding job I can think of that doesn’t involve a gun. The pressure placed on the average server is enormous. The stress level is always high and the physically energy exerted on a typical shift is simply brutal. I know there are a lot of jobs that are mentally harder and a lot of jobs that are physically harder then waiting tables but I think few jobs match the combination of both that serving does.
I’m going to get this out of the way first and foremost. I will not tell you where I was a server. I’m not going to refer by name to the restaurant I worked in or the cooperation I worked for. If you can figure it out by inference, so be it. I’ve worked with a lot of good people over the years. The last thing I want to do is get them fired. Just know this: I worked for several years (over seven) in a theme based corporate restaurant. The restaurant considered itself a steak house and had a lot of dead animals on the walls. We’ll call this restaurant the Dead Animal Steak House. Some of these dead animals talked, sang, and generally scared the hell out of children. There were several stores in the chain, but if you never lived on the East Coast, you’ve never eaten in one of these corporately owned, dead animal singing restaurants. I swear I’m not making that up. We really had dead singing animals on the walls.
Blogs have been written about the restaurant industry in the past. Lots of books as a matter of fact. I hope this blog will distinguish itself for a few reasons. My main goal in sitting down and putting all these thoughts to paper is to demonstrate a few things. First of all, I want people to understand what its like to work in a restaurant and depend on tips for a living, get paid at least two dollars less than minimum wage an hour, not be unionized, not have health benefits, not have retirement programs, contend with unsafe working conditions on a regular basis, contend with terrible managerial decisions constantly… and that’s before we even talk about the people who we wait on. If you have never worked in a restaurant, you don’t know what its like to be us and you really need to.
The Today Show - On Wednesday, March 22nd, I will be on The Today Show somewhere between 9:00 – 9:30 AM. We’ll be discussing how you can get good service in a restaurant,...