The Lessons of Waitressing

Oh, I know; it isn’t “correct” now to call servers waitresses or waiters. Be that as it may, I learned a lot about people and business when I waitressed at a popular ice cream and breakfast, lunch and dinner at the best restaurant in town during the summer; I worked there all during the summers to save up for college.

It was a very popular place to eat, and the tourists just loved it. The owners of the restaurant made sure that we waitresses knew exactly what to do and also how to treat customers. We were always on the go, too; if there was any slack in the day, we always found something to do; cleaning out the coffee pots, folding napkins on the paper place mats, and so on.

Often we would get crabby and cranky folks who never seemed to be satisfied with anything. That became a challenge to us to stay friendly and smile no matter what. This too was a lesson in patience for me; later on in life it came in handy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but being a waitress taught me a lot about people and I found that it helped me to understand people better. In fact, it was a life lesson that I still remember.

There were some funny sides to waitressing. One day a young couple came into the restaurant, looking a bit on the grumpy side; in fact, they started bickering just as soon as they sat down. The man ordered an open-face egg salad sandwich; the woman wanted nothing, and started crying again. The man picked up his sandwich and threw it in her face! The resturant owner walked over to their table and said, “I don’t care what your problem is, but just LEAVE.” And so they did.

The restaurant was famous for many things, but the huge favorite was the lobster salad and the fruit salad. They were so popular that we always ran out of them around noon time. I had a couple who had driven up from New Jersey just to have the salads. Luckily, there were two left. I had the salads on my tray, and as I walked toward their table a little boy zoomed out of nowhere and ran into my leg. I lost my balance and both salads crashed onto the floor.

Not only did I feel terrible about this, but worse of all, those were the last of the lobster and fruit salads that day. The customers as well as the owner had seen it and no one blamed me, but boy did I feel bad about those folks who had driven up so far for those salads.

I learned a lot from waitressing, and to this day I thank any wait person who brings me food. Trust me; it’s not an easy job!

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