Much of What I Needed To Know I Learned While Waiting Tables

Like many people, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons – in kindergarten. Share stuff, don’t hit people, clean up your own mess, put things back where you found them etc. But I think, well I actually believe, that everyone (in addition to going to kindergarten) should be encouraged to serve food and/or drinks to strangers at some point in their life. Serving people teaches you lessons that are hard to learn as a young kid in college. Here are a few things I learned…

– I learned to smile more. People are paying for a fun and happy experience.
– I learned that asking for help is not only OK – it is often necessary.
– I learned to be prompt.
– I learned to look at people in the eye when they were ordering.
– I learned how to look presentable every day. Shave, tuck in shirt, iron clothes etc.
– I learned to listen better and write stuff down so I would not forget.
– I learned a lot about wine and how to open a bottle and serve it.
– I learned how to gauge people and their mood and react appropriately. Sometimes people want you near, sometimes not.
– I learned how to multi-task. One trip out to the floor – take order at one table, bring check to another, drop off ketchup to another, tell specials, refill water etc.
– I learned how to speak to groups of people.

I’m thankful for those days. Even though I was kind of a lousy student that went surfing more than I went to class – I still came away a better person after those years. If nothing else – I know what it’s like to be a server and I’ll always tip people well for giving good service.