So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Holiday season redux

I talked recently about going into the holiday season.

Here are a couple of headspace adjustments (you military peeps who have ever worked with the Browning .50 cal machine gun know the reference):

Assume that you’re not going to get cut early. Assume that you’re there for the duration. This can be a bit of an adjustment from what you’ve been dealing with and it might take a little effort.

Get to work just a little bit early so that you have a moment or two to get your game face on. If you have opening sidework that has to be done, this gives you a little more time to get it done without being thrown into the lion’s den before you’re finished. And if you don’t have opening sidework, it gives you a chance to avoid being sat before you even get clocked in. Tell your manager or host/ess that you’re not quite ready to clock in yet, that you’re actually a little early. This gives you the chance to take a deep breath and get your plan for the night organized. Or, it gives you the chance to get your first table early if that’s part of your plan. This might just keep you from getting doubleseated right off the bat.

Consider beforehand any prior information about the shift that you are privy to – booked parties, special events in your neighborhood, specific goals that you might have (“I need to make $100 tonight”, “Rent is due next week”, etc.). If you give these things more than a passing thought, you are less likely to be thrown unexpectedly into the weeds by external circumstances.

Don’t assume that every shift is going to be a gold mine. Holiday business is not a guarantee of great money on any particular shift. Look at the whole season.

Don’t assume that everyone is going to be in the holiday spirit or is going to be extra generous because it’s the holiday season (especially during these hard economic times). There are grinches out there and people sometimes take their financial pressure out on you because of the “voluntary” nature of tipping; some folks can be thrown into a funk because of the traffic, parking, shopping crowds and some suffer from guilt over not being able to buy “proper” presents for their families, etc.

If you can consider these things before each of your shifts, you’ll do fine.

One bit of advice – don’t obsess over them. Continue to do your “homework” and continuing education but reserve most of your time off for your own personal interests. You need to leave the restaurant at the restaurant to a certain extent.


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