If you’ve ever held down the host stand, hauled a heaping tray of food, or mixed drinks for a living, you may have accrued some rare wisdom from your experience. Not only do you know how to slave away for poor wages, you’ve learned the following lessons that are applicable to infinite environments, outside the restaurant industry.
How to handle difficult people
As we speak, there are millions of students sitting in lecture halls, scribbling notes. I’m a staunch supporter of higher education, and believe firmly that it leads to immense personal growth. But I also know there are skills employers demand that you can’t learn in a classroom.
Choice among them is the ability to handle difficult people. Regardless of the industry, all professionals can expect to encounter angry, stubborn, and inefficient ass holes who will make their working lives hell. But restaurant folks are no strangers to pacifying angry people, and we do it well.
How to stay cool under pressure
In the six years I waited tables, I suffered vivid nightmares. I would dream I was at work and would suddenly forget the contents of the menu,would be unable to find my tables, and would be frozen in place while my boss looked on angrily. I later discovered these stress dreams are common for restaurant employees, because of the high pressure we experience in the workplace.
But despite the fast pace and overwhelming feeling that overcomes service industry employees when the restaurant is bustling, we know how to appear calm and confident to guests.
How to exceed expectations
Every corporate restaurant preaches a set of bullshit values that revolve around delivering superior service. In spite of meaningless missions statements our income depends on the service we provide, and despite the problems we encounter at work, servers and bartenders find a way to make the guest happy, every time. Do we always succeed? Fuck no. But if we don’t try, we don’t make money.
How to meet the deadline
Servers, hosts, and bartenders possess an innate sense of urgency. When there’s hot food in the window, we can’t afford to bide our time. Restaurant folks be runnin.
How to convey bad news
We often break the news to hungry guests that their food will take another thirty minutes, their favorite brew of beer is no longer available, and that we forgot to send their order to the kitchen (woops). But we know how to break the news so you don’t strangle us to death.
How to work as a team
The work in a restaurant ebbs and flows, but when things get busy,employees come together to get the job done. We have no choice but to ask a colleague to drop off our food, and we’re expected to pick up the slack for others when needed. In a restaurant, there’s no room for selfishness, and supervisors sniff out the weak and do away with them quickly.
How to supersede workplace drama
Most restaurants are glorified extensions of high school. There’s always some gossip floating around, and it seems like everyone is having sex with everyone else. But we know the time and place to gossip, and we get the job done in the meantime.
How to be punctual and reliable
Oh, so you woke up with a raging hangover? You ate some bad fish, and have food poisoning? You have a viscous head cold? Well if you work in the service industry, you better suck it up and show up for your shift, on time. Showing up late or calling in sick too often is the best way to lose your job. Restaurant employees learn the importance of punctuality quickly, and show up despite the circumstances.
What have your worst jobs taught you? Tell me in the comments, or tweet me!