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20 Things Only Waiters And Waitresses Would Understand

20 Things Only Waiters And Waitresses Would Understand

Most people being seated and served have no way of knowing what it feels like to be a waiter or waitress – and while guests are being served, we all want it that way. We want guests to leave with an experience that would warrant the words “pleasant” and “enjoyable”, even “indulgent” or “fun”. Happy guests are happy tippers, and we love happy tippers!  

Having been on both sides of the counter, I cringe when I see guests get bent out of shape even when they think they are completely justified. Unless I actually see someone spit in my water, I have a hard time getting irate.

Only by being a waiter or a waitress could you ever know that tips are hardly a thank you and that your best days are still very trying. Maybe it would be a better world if everyone had to wait tables for some length of time, not just to make some extra money but to pay some bills.

Take a look at these 20 things that only waiters and waitresses would understand:

1. You know how irregular-shift jet-lag feels

You don’t get the same shifts every day, week, or month, but are instead plugged-in where most needed and in accordance with who has called out, who hasn’t showed up, what foot traffic is expected, and how experienced the other waiters and waitresses will be during the shift. Without a set time and set routine, irregular shifts make an already tiring job more tiring and stressful. Having someone inexperienced or uncaring assigning shifts can compound things and make it all worse.

2. You know what the financial drain of side work is

You don’t just grab your tips and go home but are required to assemble takeout boxes and roll silverware at the end of your shift – while standing, usually! It isn’t based on what your tables’ used, but on pre-set amounts. The manager is watching just to make sure that you are working fast and not milking the clock; or stealing from another co-worker’s already finished side work. This constant shadowing of management can make you feel disrespected and less of an adult.

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3. You know you are always on Candid Camera

You have no privacy because the security cameras are on and sometimes it will be more than the manager watching from the office. Adjusting your pants, getting teary eyed, mouthing off or making a face, tripping or slipping are all recorded, and sometimes watched and replayed by the staff. What was supposed to be installed to protect the owners from theft and fraud is instead turned into a venue of entertainment and sometimes harassment. Sure you have nothing to hide, but sometimes you forget that big brother is watching – so you might regret letting your guard down from time to time.

4. You know team building exercises are humiliating for older adults

If you are a more mature waiter or waitress working for an establishment that is designed to depend on youthful staff, you might find the clapping, singing, and sometimes dancing before shifts demoralizing, especially if this is a second job you had to take on because your primary job is not paying enough to make ends meet. Some can have fun with it, but for you this might just be more sour grapes to whine about.

5. You know about parking lot perils

You aren’t allowed to park near the entrance and are required to park in the deepest part of the parking lot to make parking available to customers. While this is great for the dining hoards, you (with cash in your wallet) are sometimes walking to your car alone and in the dark, presenting yourself as a tempting target. It’s always best to have a buddy, but sometimes no-one is available. So you’ll take your chances because you really want to go home now and not at the end of someone else’s shift!

6. You know it’s a hard knock life for all

You don’t get help or sympathy from your co-workers, and whining is not an option – most of the staff is not there at their leisure for extra money. Everyone is tired, everyone is stressed, and no-one chose to be a career waiter or waitress. Bringing your problems to work, or making a problem at work, costs money in tips. So as a considerate co-worker you keep your troubles to yourself. Enabling each other to make tips and work fast is real help. Taking twenty minutes to cry it out in the bathroom or to beg someone to take your slow shift so you can go out on a date is lame.

7. You know you will get blamed for everything

You didn’t cook the food, set the menu rules about sides or combos, and you didn’t bus the table or fill the dispensers before guests were seated; but you are the person the guest complains to and punishes with puny tips if the bathrooms are messy. You have little to no control, are paid little to nothing, and are dependent on those tips – and it can all go sideways just because the FDA recalled all romaine lettuce due to a listeria outbreak. Yes, guests can get bent out of shape fast, and then their bad day gets shoved off on you! You, who have been standing on your feet, lifting heavy trays, and taking complaints for hours (about lettuce… Seriously?) Don’t even get me started on the absence of sprouts or avocados! For shame!

8. You know you will get nasty notes on receipts

You will have a guest that is eager to leave a nasty note on the back of their receipt that will attack you personally. It isn’t always provoked, but sometimes you let your irritation show and they notice. You will of course shake it off and smile for the next guest. Sometimes you can afford a few tears or a curse in the back of the house, but most of the time you just have to shake it off.

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9. You know common considerations are thrown out the window at times

You would never leave trash and spills all over their table for your Mom, Dad, or spouse to clean up; or leave a wad of crinkled bills in spilled soda on the table – but for some reason, at the average eat-in establishment there will be a table of guests that will think that they are allowed to dine like a mythical rock star and dash leaving trash. Some guests stack their own dishes and wipe up their own spills, but other guests seem to delight in leaving it to you.

10. You know how the kitchen assault wrecks havoc on your nerves

While the dining area might be relatively quiet or pleasantly chatty, the back of the house is loud, steamy, clanging, banging and bright. While sometimes you’ll be wearing a headset that has the manager crackling out instructions, you are getting an ear-full of disturbance from the kitchen. This causes headaches and irritability, while at the same time you’re turning on a smile for your guests.

11. You know some co-workers eat off diner’s plates

It’s gross, but either you’ve done it or you’ve seen others do it – eating off diner’s plates. Sometimes it’s to try a new dish you would never order in a million years (like buffalo steak), and sometimes it’s because your budget is really that tight, and you had to get either gas or lunch. Maybe you are just that one young guy that does it to just gross out another co-worker! Yummy, yummy!

12. You know some co-workers drink left over alcohol on the job

As the shift progresses, some waiters or waitresses might finish off a glass of wine or other beverage when they clear the dishes. Sometimes a busboy might do it. By the end of the shift, that person might be a little happier or jovial than one would think they should be. There are others that managers watch out for who’ll hang too close to the bar, especially the underaged. This can be silly or annoying, or it can get really serious. With cameras, the practice won’t go on for long. You try to turn a blind eye and focus on your tables. Getting into other people’s business is not what you were hired for.

13. You know not to leave personal belongings around

It might be a $10 tie required by management for the staff, or it might be your actual cash. If you leave it laying around, it may be considered fair game to someone. Some staffers know the angle of the security camera and those co-workers will not be caught red handed – they might even consider it a game or get a rush stealing from you even if they don’t need to. You can’t let your guard down, because the one time you do is when your cash or belongings go missing. One big happy family…

14. You know practical jokes will be played

Sometimes it’s mean, sometimes it’s friendly fun, but practical jokes will be played. A co-worker may dramatize a nervous breakdown or suddenly a new voice will be on the headphones. If it is a funny voice with strange instructions then consider yourself lucky. If it is the screech of feedback or a scream, it might be time for you to plan some serious payback. When you are serving your last shift before leaving a job, you better watch out for being served yourself! Some places like to finish you off with a tin pan of whip in the face! Bon voyage!

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15. You know substance abuse is pretty common (even at work)

Some places are clean cut, but many are not. It is just reality. The dishwasher might abuse meth. Someone on the wait staff might be abusing Ritalin. Others might be drinking pure Mountain Dew concentrate! Whatever it is that is getting the staff by, it’s best for you to just note it, keep your distance, and move on. If you know that there is a permissive culture of drug abuse, you know it might just be best to move on.

16. You know there is a high turnover

It would be nice if there was some sort of routine, but you know here today is gone tomorrow. If someone isn’t well liked or is a poor waiter or waitress, they get few shifts or slow shifts. If someone is great, they are given too many shifts at the heaviest times and get burned out. Either way: a few months or a couple of years, there is a turnover. Management sometimes understands this and a great server will be welcomed back if they return after a hiatus. You’ll be used to saying goodbye, but sometimes you get to say hello again!

17. You know profiling is wrong but…

No-one you work with wants to say who they don’t want to wait on, but when people of certain demographics walk in, while the host or hostess is deciding where to seat them they will hear pleading from certain people on the wait staff to not seat the supposed “bad” guests in their section! If the hostess is lucky, you’ll be the seasoned waiter or waitress that doesn’t make a fuss who they can really rely on. If the hostess is unlucky, they’ll seat guests and receive payback –  like finding gum in their hair. You know this is all ridiculous, because while experienced waiters and waitress look forward to large business lunch and dinner groups, every other guest whether young or old, married or single, with or without kids is a pariah to some server.

Maybe you profiled when you were young and inexperienced because you had a bad experience or two, or you listened to some server and believed their prejudice. After a while you learned better. Poor tips can come from anyone, anywhere!

18. You know 20-somethings have the energy for waiting

You know 20-somethings have the energy for waiting, even the brain for multi-tasking, but they don’t have the maturity. Working with 20-somethings is likely to be high drama, like with ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends coming by unannounced and angry. Some young’uns just won’t stop talking about every unimportant thing in the world while you’re trying to deal with your table of twelve. Then there is the “who is friendly with who,” after work and then suddenly who isn’t friendly. Drama drama… You’ve been there and done that, and now just play spectator at the most.

19. You know sharing tips with the bar doesn’t feel great

It’s hard enough to earn tips, but sharing is the pits! If the drinks come slowly or not at all for your table, you are lucky – because the bartender is more interested in those actually seated at their bar or in their nearby tables. Bartenders are used to big tips and are hostile if they don’t get them from you in a timely manner. They are extra hostile if the drinks they are making are fancy, lady drinks that take a lot of time and ice but which result in poor tipping. Bartenders know they have more cleaning and more responsibility because alcohol can make or break an establishment, so you need to make bartenders your friends… Problem is, seasoned bartenders know this, too!

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20. You know you are supposed to report your earnings but…

You know you are supposed to report all your earnings (and you can’t avoid it when you are electronically tipped) but you LOVE LOVE LOVE getting cash! Have a guest leave you a twenty or a fifty and that guest has pretty much made your shift… at least for a few moments. Oh, those days of cash are quickly coming to an end….

So guests: be kind! Tip well and often! Show waiters and waitresses the respect and consideration that would make even a mother happy!

And servers: smile, smile, SMILE! At least for the next guests! The bad ones usually don’t return. Cultivate the regulars you enjoy!

Featured photo credit: Jusben via mrg.bz

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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