Several months ago, my quest for employment took me to a local restaurant as a server. I viewed it as a stopgap between finishing graduate school and my eventual full time job (I have a master’s degree so I thought it would not be long). Well that short-term stint turned into an 8-month adventure in which I learned a whole heck of a lot.
Going into it, I thought serving would be an easy way to support myself for a while. I mean it never looked that hard whenever I went out to eat but I quickly learned that was ignorance talking. The first few weeks were definitely a challenge. Between learning how to navigate the computer, handle guests, handle the kitchen, and handle the trays of food I was flummoxed.
Eventually, around my third month, I finally caught on and the job became easier. One thing I would never again do is underestimate the work of a server but I think that is what a lot of us do. We think to ourselves what is so hard about taking down people’s orders and then bringing them their food?
But what people don’t realize is that not only does the server deal with customers but they have to deal with the workers in the kitchen, navigating the restaurant while trying not to crash, helping out other servers when they get a spare minute, and many different varieties of a lack of space. These include the lack of space on trays, the lack of space for loading up food, and the general lack of space everywhere. To this end, there is no such thing as personal space when you work at a restaurant; you get very close with your coworkers.
However, the great thing about it all was that I made some great connections there both with coworkers and customers. Above all, serving is a very social job due to all the human interaction that is required. So for a social creature like myself, it really is a rewarding job.
My coworkers were always willing to help and made for great storytellers and listeners. If you ask anyone, I was usually good for one laughable moment. Beyond my coworkers, I met some really great customers as well. Just to name a few of my favorite interactions: there were the girls who told me they loved my beard, a gentleman from New York who gave me traveling advice, yet another who gave me advice on how to buy a house, and a gentleman on his way home from a work trip on Easter that spent about hour talking to be about life in general. But perhaps my favorite was the time a mother told me her daughter liked me, I just don’t know if a parent gets cooler than that!
Just a few weeks removed from my last days as a server, I am starting to realize just how many valuable skills I learned there. My balance has improved, which if you cannot tell from the title of this blog has always been a challenge. My social skills are improved and I have really perfected my story telling skills. All in all I won’t forget my days as a server!