I was 17 years old. I wanted a job. My parents gave me $20 allowance every 2 weeks. Many of my friends had jobs by then so they always had more money than me. Those that didn’t have jobs were handed money every time they walked out the door. My parents couldn’t do that. I was the oldest of 4 kids. My parents were on a tight budget. I wanted the stylish clothes my friends and peers had but my parents couldn’t buy it. My solution: get a job. Start buying my own stuff and save for college.
I got my work permit approved by the school. I applied to a few places. My first job ever was a server for Perkins restaurant. Used to be called waiter/waitress but I guess server is more PC. I could only work part-time being in school full-time and involved in volleyball and track. Normally I’d work an evening shift 1 or 2 days a week for 4 hours then I’d work at least one 8 hour shift on the weekends, sometimes two.
As a high school kid I could make decent money as a server. Other nights I didn’t even make minimum wage. Why? In 1997 servers only got paid $2.15/hr. They expected you would get tips however tips are not mandatory. On a really busy night I might make $10/hr with my hourly wage and tips. Other nights I might only make $3/hr. The sad part is, it’s still like that today. At least in Pennsylvania.
Since I was only 17 and didn’t have any bills to speak of I was able to save over $2300 toward college in the year I worked there. I bought my own school clothes that year, bought my parents nice Christmas gifts, and more.
For some reason, when you work in a service job some people tend to think they can treat you bad and you’re supposed to just smile and bend over backward for them anyway. I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life but I’ve told many people, I’d have to be on dire straits to go back to being a server again.
One time a guy came in with his wife. I wasn’t familiar with him yet but the rest of the staff knew him. They warned me before I even went out to greet him that he was a jerk. Always trying to get something for free. I just went out there friendly as I could be and tried to do my job. Not knowing him from Adam I figured they were exaggerating. They weren’t.
They ordered drinks, complained there was too much ice (but didn’t say anything to me about no ice or only a little bit of ice). Brought their soup out he yelled at me because there weren’t enough vegetables in the soup. I had to go back and get more veggies of his soup. The rule of the house was to bring out one bread stick per person plus 1 for the table … as they would say. So if there were two people, like in this situation, I’d bring out three. He yelled at me and told me he didn’t get enough bread sticks. I tried to tell him why I did that. He swore at me and told me they ALWAYS give him more breadsticks. I went back and got him more. Then I brought their meals out and he didn’t like something about his meal. I offered to take it back. He grabbed me by the arm pulled me into the booth with him and started screaming in my face. I was 17 years old, it was my first job, I thought I had done everything the way I was supposed to. I started crying. I couldn’t cover the table anymore. I didn’t want to. Someone else took over the table. When I walked past to help another table he called me a cry baby.
Another time, the restaurant was dead. Dead, for hours. So they sent some staff home. It was just me, another server, 1 hostess, 1 cooks, 1 manager. A bus came in. The restaurant filled up. why they kept seating people I’ll never know. Of course people had to wait for food, there was only 1 person cooking and 2 servers for the ENTIRE restaurant. People were yelling, complaining that the wait was too long. Brought out a check for a table and a woman proceeded to lecture me that “When you see 4 ladies at a table you should bring out 4 separate checks not one” (They never told me they wanted separate checks. I was too overwhelmed to ask.)
Those are just a couple of the stories. Honestly, I work in a trauma hospital now. I deal with the public every day. People in pain, in bad situations. I still say being a server was the worst job I ever had. I love my job now.
Many times I had guys make disgusting comments to me. Some guys want to hit on you and it’s pretty uncomfortable.
I had been called stupid usually because I forgot to bring a dip out for the chicken fingers or something silly like that. I’ve been talked to like I was beneath them.
So with that in mind I just wanted to put these little tips out there:
- For any job, put yourself in their shoes. Is it really worth getting bent out of shape over not having enough vegetables in your soup?
- Your server is not a mind reader. Sure some with more experience might be able to anticipate some things more than others but if you want separate checks tell them. If you want extra breadsticks tell them. If you don’t want ice in your drink tell them.
- Unless your server is a real so and so consider leaving a tip. I can speak for Pennsylvania, in that if you don’t tip your server, your server is only making $2.15 to serve you and try to make your experience the best they can.
- Your server does not cook the food. They only bring it out. It’s not your servers fault if it’s too salty, the steak isn’t done to your liking, or the restaurant no longer has that dessert you used to like. If you have an issue, tell them, don’t yell at them. Can’t fix it if they don’t know and they’re more likely to go the extra mile for you if you don’t call them stupid, or berate them in other ways
Were you ever a server? Tell me your server stories in the comments below