So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Tag Archives: job

New link added : The Waiters Today

As you cats and kittens know, I’ve been a bit of an absentee landlord lately. It’s not due to a lack of interest, but, as I’ve noted in the past, it’s because I’m down to just internet access through my phone. I do have regular internet access once a week on Fridays but I usually don’t have time to do my usual posting or research or deep ruminations on the art of waiting tables.

There’s a new place for waiters of all stripes to hang out and it’s called The Waiters Today. Not having a lot of time to dig deep into it (this I can do on my phone later), I can’t comment too much on the content, but what I see looks really good. It looks like both social hangout and informational source. I hope that everyone goes to check it out. Feel free to report back on what you find by using the comment section.

Feels good to post anything these days. There’s a chance that I might be able to really  get back on-line soon, but until then, keep it clean and earn those 20% tips, my lovelies.

I’ll be adding it in the Links section but until then, go here:

http://waiterstoday.com/

Review of How To Be A Better Restaurant Customer

How to be a better restaurant customer –  stop sabotaging your own dining experiences. 

A simple compound sentence that forms the title of a provocative eBook by Marta Daniels, who began this project as a blog. Daniels, who has been in the business for over 10 years, has seen it all and has a great storytelling sense.  Using examples that waiters everywhere have experienced time and time again, Daniels’ goal is to educate the dining public about the ways that they make waiters’ jobs far more difficult than they need to be.

Everyone complains about bad service, but they don’t realize how much of the experience they hold in their own hands. Waiters aren’t robots  that automatically turn a diner’s presence in the restaurant into a super experience.  They are bound not only by the circumstance of the restaurant but also by the behavior of the guest. I think that the average diner would be amazed about how often waiters must deal with diners who come in with chips on their shoulder. Sometimes it’s because they’ve had a bad day, sometimes it’s because they have always sabotaged their own dining experience because of the way that they were taught by their parents or by unreasonable expectations that they’ve held for one reason or the other. We as a modern American country have become a “have to have it now”, “want to change the product to suit my needs”, “the customer is always right” and”I am entitled to have things ‘my way’ ” society.

Daniels challenges that paradigm by showing ways to actually turn dining from a zero sum game into a win/win proposition. It doesn’t have to be a “I only win if you lose” or “I have to rank you lower than me to raise myself up” sort of deal. she does this through concrete examples of self-destructive psychoses that we sometimes see with the dining public. She starts at the host stand and works her way through the ceremonial paying of the check and the leaving of the restaurant.

She covers the importance of reading the menu, the abusing of free stuff like bread, the sense of entitlement that some guests have, the modifying of the menu, the coming into for dinner moments before the restaurant closes, the wage structure and tipout responsibilities of the waiter, cell phones, unattended kids, would-be comedians, delusional types (like the people who have to ask you multiple times if the kitchen can do something that you have clearly said that they can’t do) separate checks, pen stealing, and numerous other behaviors that tend to drive waiters of all stripes crazy.

I’m hoping that some people recognize some of these behaviors and gain a new understanding about how these behaviors can impact the dining experience.

I do have a couple of quibbles.

The first is that a reader can get the idea that waiters don’t have any control of their circumstances and the second is that they aren’t psychic.

 To the first, great waiters can triumph even through double-seats, kitchen going down in flames, bad management (up to a point, that is), being so weeded that they can’t see straight, kitchen meltdowns, etc. I realize that this isn’t the purview of this book, but I would have liked to see some acknowledgment that waiters have some responsibility in service, even when faced with obstacles. After all, it’s true to a certain extent that these problems aren’t the guest’s concern, that they are there just to eat and have a great experience. I’m not sure how you would fold this into the theme of the book, but I wish that Marta had tried. After all, if you read my own blog, you know that waiters have strategies that they can employ to turn a potentially distasteful dining experience into an uplifting one.

To the second point, we might not be psychic, but great waiters are mind readers to a certain extent. We read body and facial language and we have to read between the lines sometimes.  I understand Marta’s point in that, if something is important to you as a diner, then you need to be specific about it and not leave it to waiters to figure it out for themselves. If you have a certain quirk or a hot button issue about dining out that really ticks you off if it occurs, it’s best to address it with your waiter, not assume that they should know about it. I guess that I would like an acknowledgment that great waiters are psychic to a certain degree and this is one way that a guest can judge the competency of a waiter, i.e. if they ask the perfect questions in order to determine the exact nature of comments that you make. For example, if Mary M. Q. Contrary asks, “How hot is Rattlesnake Pasta?”, she might be asking for one of two reasons – she either doesn’t like hot food (the usual reason), or she loves hot food. It’s up to the waiter to ask, “What is your heat tolerance”? If the waiter assumes that’s she’s scared of hot food but it turns out that she actually loves hot food and the waiter says, “It’s quite spicy” because most people find it pretty spicy, she might very well be disappointed in the Rattlesnake Pasta that the chef has been careful to season to give the semblance of heat while being able to be enjoyed by the greatest number of people possible.

Another slightly anal quibble is the discussion of t-bone vs. porterhouse. Porterhouse is a t-bone. As she rightly goes on to discuss, it’s just a larger version of the t-bone, with the size of the filet portion of the cut and the thickness of the cut being the determining factors. Yes, it’s a “different cut” with a different name, but she misses an opportunity by making it sound like they are completely different cuts (well, technically they are, but not really, if you get my drift). Where she misses her opportunity is by not telling the guest, “We offer the Porterhouse, which is a large t-bone” and then going on to explain the difference. Instead of scolding the guest  for not wanting the Porterhouse because they want the t-bone (after all, not everyone has experienced a Porterhouse or knows what one is), she should let them know that the Porterhouse is a t-bone, a “super t-bone”, if you will. If they are annoyed that they can’t get a Porterhouse for the price of a t-bone, that’s their problem (I suspect that this might be the cause of any problems that she might have with this) They can’t get a 15 oz filet for the price of a 10 oz filet either. I don’t think that there’s enough responsibility placed on the waiter in this book, but it is written to educate the diner, so perhaps my quibble isn’t really fair when it comes to this point.

I hope that restaurant diners read this book with an open mind. The tone is one of tough love, of chiding and scolding done to emphasize the points that she’s making. that can be off-putting to some people, especially people who don’t recognize their own dining behavior. But much of this is stuff that needs to be said. There are already plenty of complaints, some richly deserved, about the level of service in the US. This book, through outlining situations that every one of us waiters have been through over and over, shows the other side of the coin.

I think that the idea is a novel one. Most of the time, when you read about restaurant service, it’s either from the aspect of improving service from the service end (like my blog), a waiter’s rant sort of blog, or critical comments from diners about the horrible experiences that they’ve had or complaining about the tipping system that has developed in the US. Daniels has found a unique angle to dining and this should be required reading for anyone who dines out in restaurants. Just understand that there is plenty of waiter ranting, but it’s done to help you, the diner, have a better experience and become a more understanding consumer.

Here’s another, possibly better, review of her book:

http://technorati.com/entertainment/article/how-to-be-a-better-restaurant/

You can get the book here:

http://howrc.com/

As of this writing, it’s available for $2.99. It’s a steal at twice the price.

                                                                                               Marta Daniels.

PS Marta, it’s tomatoes, not tomatos. But I’m not one to talk, considering how many typos and misspellings escape my careful editing of my own blog.

Take this job and shove it…

From USA Today:

JetBlue flight attendant strikes a nerve with stressed workers

NEW YORK — JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater was apparently mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore.After reportedly exchanging words with a passenger who had hit him on the head with a piece of luggage on a flight that arrived at JFK Airport here Monday, Slater took to the jet’s public address system to curse the flier. He then bid the flight — and by his own acknowledgment, his job — adieu by sliding down the plane’s emergency exit chute, but not before quickly grabbing a beer from the jet’s galley.

Once on the tarmac, Slater made his way to his car and drove to his home in nearby Queens.

Slater, 38, was arraigned Tuesday in New York City Criminal Court on charges of criminal mischief, trespassing and reckless endangerment. Although his actions landed him in jail, they won him a legion of fans on the Internet and on talk-radio shows across the nation. His dramatic exit struck a nerve with many overworked, recession-weary Americans— or folks who have been frustrated by the conduct of fellow airline passengers. Messages of support for Slater flooded Facebook pages and Internet message boards.

“He did what all working stiffs have only dreamt of,” a reader who identified himself as Brill Galt wrote on USA TODAY’s reader response line. “Millions of Americans WISH they could have quit in that fashion. … Free Slater!!!”

Read the rest of the article here: 

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/travel/2010-08-11-1Aattendants11_CV_N.htm

To me, this is the takeaway:

“Before scooting down the chute, prosecutors said, Slater went on the jet’s PA system where he said, ‘Those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride’.”

This goes for co-workers as well. For those who don’t show respect for their co-workers, this applies as well. The restaurant business is tough enough without us eating our own. You should show dignity and respect for the weakest among you.

Waitress loses job at Brixx Pizza in Charlotte, NC over Facebook post – from Well Done Fillet

From across the pond, a story about a waitress in a pizza parlor losing her job at Brixx Pizza in Charlotte, NC (not the savviest of operations from a PR standpoint) – thanks to our British War Correspondent Manuel for this one:

http://welldonefillet.com/2010/05/19/facebook-post-costs-waitress-her-job-oh-dear/

Oh dear indeed…

Just a reminder:

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/tips-on-dishing-on-guests-and-work-and-co-workers/

Perhaps I should go back and add a section on actually posting comments on Facebook. I talked about promoting your blog on FB, but didn’t cover this specific instance. Until I do, take this lesson to heart. Remember, there is a difference between dissing a guest over drinks after work and dissing them on a network shared by 200 gazillion people. At least you can be comforted by the fact that your new Chinese overlords will probably never see it, plus, for now, you’re safe in Pakistan.

PS, if you haven’t noticed, Well Done Fillet is permalinked in Ye Ole Blogroll. When you go there, you have to click the above graphic as he has recently moved his blog from point A to point B. You should visit him…alot.

PPS, if you live in Charlotte, you might want to consider whether Brixx Pizza is the sort of place that you’d like to patronize.

Disposable

So, I was cutting my grass yesterday with the almost new lawn mower that I purchased from the pawn shop and was thinking about the fact that this is the 4th lawnmower that I’ve owned in 10 years. The other three were stolen. I’ve actually been without a lawnmower for around 4 years, so this tells you a bit about my neighborhood and the fact that I don’t have a lockable storage area. For the past 4 years I’ve had a guy in the neighborhood do it, precisely because of the theft factor, not because of laziness. However, he has turned sick and can’t do it this year. So I trudged out to the pawn shop to find another cheap lawnmower.

I found a really good one that the pawn shop apparently had mispriced and which I got it for around $100. It’s a pretty nice one – a Troy-Bilt with a Honda motor. Normally, $100 lawnmowers from the pawnshop are the cheapest possible generic  movers with rusting decks and sputtering motors. Not this one. It’s a mulcher with the bag and an actual choke that resets itself when the motor gets running. No pushing the little primer rubber nipple and no continual lanyard pulling over and over until it finally starts (or not). Starts up pretty much with a single pull. Yes, there are more expensive and fancier mowers out there, but I was glad to get a mower that wasn’t just a cheap stamped deck and a motor barely strong enough to cut a dandelion (yes, I’ve got them too).

Anyway, I was thinking about how some people treat a lawnmower as almost a disposable item these days.

Perhaps it’s a theft issue like me – you don’t want to spend anything but the bare minimum because you know that there’s a good chance that it will be stolen so you spend the least amount of money possible.

Perhaps it’s because the lifespan of many mowers isn’t all that great. Usually something goes wrong with the motor and it’s cheaper to get a new/used one than to get it fixed.

This last thing is the cause of the disposability of many items in our society, especially electronic ones. TV goes out? Better get a new one because it costs more to get it fixed. Dryer on the fritz? Same thing.

What does this have to do with us waiters?

Sadly, we are one of the most disposable workers on the planet. And part of it is our part.

When we treat it as a disposable job, we undercut our longevity. How do we do that, you might ask?

Many of us simply chase the dollar. When a hot new restaurant opens we migrate there, like Bedouins wandering the desert.

Some of us treat the responsibilities cavalierly by showing up whenever we want to, sleepwalking through shifts, not being team players.

Some of us don’t take our training seriously and just learn enough to be dangerous. Then, our only concern is where we’re going to meet after work to spend the money that we’ve made on booze and drugs.

Some of us look at the job as “something to do until I find real work”.

Management can be to blame as well, having been burned by waiters who have taken the above work attitudes.

Plus, there’s the whole “less than minimum wage” thing. It’s easy to get rid of a less productive or little-caring employee because they’ve got a stack of resumes “this high”. There’s a certain amount of culling that gets done in any staff over time. The weak sisters either get fired or get squeezed out of the prime shifts and sections. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to retrain someone else, although management would prefer to keep experienced waiters whenever they can because it takes a while for someone off of the street to “get it”. Once the training period for an experienced waiter ends, the real training begins, if you catch my drift. This last part is the saving grace for us waiters – this isn’t a job where you can hire a temp to come in to save some payroll and benefits dollars.

It’s also easy for a waiter to have a bad encounter with a guest. The law of averages dictates that this will happen eventually due to the extremely personal and varied encounters we have with a wide variety of guests that forms the core of our work experience.

If you’ve read this far, then you have the answers to the solutions to the problem of the disposable nature of your job.

Don’t be that guy. (guy used in a non-sexist way because that’s just the expression these days, just as I use waiter in a non-gender fashion).

Don’t do the things that I’ve outlined.

Don’t think of your job as disposable.

Don’t think of it as a placeholder until you get the job of your dreams. It’s your job now. Do it to the best of your abilities.

Don’t show up late just because you can (because you want to save those rare occasions for the times when you have a  legitimate reason to be late). 

Don’t slack on the training. Hit it head on.

Don’t come into work firing on only 3 cylinders. If you come in constantly hung over or tired, it’s time to take a good look at yourself, because you aren’t doing your body and mind any favors. I’m not saying that you have to abstain or that you won’t come in with the occasional hangover, but if it’s a constant state of affairs, you’ve got problems that you need to address before you kill yourself, either metaphorically or literally. You can’t stay in college mode forever.

Do be a team player. Often, it’s the opinions of your fellow workers that influence how disposable management sees you.

Do be productive. Be seen doing things like cleaning, not hanging out on the back dock smoking and joking. Don’t be constantly ducking running food for your co-workers.

Do be thankful that you have a job in this economy and remember that there are 10 people who want to take your place. And act like it.

If you do all of these things, you will make yourself seem indisposable when you have an unfortunate experience with a guest or you have a bad day/week. Don’t let something like that make it easy for management to get rid of you.

Managers are fond of saying that everyone is disposable, including themselves. This is true.

The key is in the degree that you can be tossed in the rubbish bin. Make yourself as hard as possible to be tossed away.

PS, I just cut my grass for the third time with this mower. Wish me luck.

Why waiting tables isn’t like your job…

One of the things that anti-tip trolls always trot out is, “I don’t get tips for the job that I do – why should you”?

Well, let’s compare your job.

Are you paid minimum wage or less for your job?

Are you required to read the mind and mood of your customer? Do you even have a customer or are you simply beholden to a boss in an office? If so, is your day to day income dependent on the the mood of your boss? Obviously the job itself could be be dependent on that, but very few jobs are in jeopardy if you piss off the boss on any particular day.

Are you sometimes told that you aren’t needed that particular day and you should just stay home and not make any money? Or are you told halfway through your shift that you aren’t going to be needed anymore that day and you should just go home and not get paid?

Does your product have the cost of your employment folded into the price of the product? Or is the customer expected to make up the difference between the selling price and the raw cost of manufacturing, shipping and warehousing and are they expected to pay you directly for your service to the company?

Could you go to jail for selling your product to the wrong customer?

Could you accidentally kill someone by simply selling them your product?

Do you serve your customer the entire time that they use your product? In other words, if you sell someone a TV, are you available a year later when something goes wrong with the product? Are you held personally responsible when your product doesn’t satisfy the customer?

Are you required to serve 20 customers simultaneously? Or do you get to serve them one at a time?

Do you get a paid vacation? Is it paid at your full salary or is it paid at minimum wage for only a portion of a normal 40 hour week?

Does your job require standing, walking, and carrying during the entire shift? Or are you allowed to sit down and take breaks?

Do you get enough tax withheld from your check so that you don’t have to pay the IRS large amounts of money out of your own pocket either quarterly or at tax time?

The answer to these questions, and even more, will tell you why you don’t get tipped at your office, retail, engineering or other “conventional” job.

Another thing that people trot out (but it’s a funny thing – you never hear these questions in real life, only on the internet) is”You are already paid to do your job. Why should I pay you for doing your job”?

Well, no, we aren’t “already paid for doing our job”. Actually we are paid just about enough to cover some of our tax burden, but only a portion of it – for instance, I only get about 1/5th of my Federal income taxes covered by my “paycheck” (which, in my state is ZERO). The hardest thing for “civilians” to understand is that the cost of their meal doesn’t cover very much of the actual payroll. It’s this fact that keeps menu prices where they are. If restaurants had to pay a full wage, the price of your food would skyrocket.

Additionally, we aren’t given a certain number of hours a week like the majority of workers are. We aren’t “40 hours a week workers”. We work according to the level of business.

Don’t get me wrong – waiting tables is satisfying and rewarding and one can earn a better than average wage. But it’s an often challenging job. It’s not a job that “a monkey could do”. Many people aren’t suited for it for a variety of reasons. 

There’s a reason why waiters generally make more money than other service jobs. We earn it. Every day. 

For those who say that it’s insane for a waiter to make $15 – 25 an hour while other “service jobs” might only make up to $15 an hour, don’t forget – the market has spoken. This is what the very consumers of our services have determined that we are worth. the fact that there are a tiny fraction of lamebrains who let others subsidize their dining shouldn’t deny the effectiveness of an employment tradition that has lasted for many many decades.

And finally, there’s something interesting about people who write things like, ” Why? Who cares? EVERYONE’S job is hard! EVERYONE has to deal with crappy customers… no special treatment!”

or “Tipping is just another example of the uneducated working classs trying to rip off the public because they’re too dumb to have a job that contributes in a meaningful way to society. Having to serve a
meal to someone for a living is obviously a low class way to get by, so servers desparitly try to appeal to our sense of empathy to solicit as much money from us as possible. It’s like they are
trying to take revenge upon us for they’re own shortcomings.If you ask me, I say if it’s going to be like that then two can play at that game. I recommend that all of you out the who are tired of
being victimized by greedy servers do the following:

Go out to the nicest restaurant in town and run up a huge bill.

When you are finished, leave without paying. Most “fine dining”
establishments don’t watch for this kind of thing, so it should be relatively easy to slip out unnoticed.

Servers are required to pay for “walk-outs” at most places” 

or

“uh, what? the waiters are already being paid!
more like, you don’t tip your
doctor or your mechanic do you”?

…yes, these are verbatim anti-tipping trolls…there’s also the classic generic, “If you don’t like making 2.13 an hour, get another job”.

What’s the interesting thing, you ask? Well, eventually, you’ll get something like:

i took my Girl out for a nice supper, steaks, wine…the whole shabang! i noticed the waiter was slightly irritated and not keeping tabs on our table (not really doing his job) he only had about 6
tables to keep tabs on!

i gave him the benefit of my doubt and left him 10% on a $200.00 bill…

So, here was a guy who was expecting a special dinner with his “Girl”. He dropped a couple of bills on it. Seems like dining out is more important that even the trolls think it is. Who do they expect to serve them dinner if we all take a powder and “get another job”. Do they really want their special dinner or their “lunch in 30 minutes so that I can get back to work without being late” served by someone making $7 an hour? How easy do they think it is to wait on “only 6 other tables” while trying to provide a $200 dinner to a deuce? What do they really think “keeping tabs on a table” means, especially in a place where you can spend $200 on  “steaks, wine…the whole shabang”? I’m not dissing the last commentator for leaving 10% on the bill because, perhaps the waiter deserved it. But he “gave him the benefit of the doubt”? Nah. If he had “given him the benefit of the doubt”, he would have tipped 15% (or more). Leaving 10% on a table where you didn’t get reasonably good service is what you should do.

So, boys and girls, before you make boneheaded statements on the Internet, think before you do so. If you are just trying to get a rise out of someone, that’s one thing. But if you really believe some of the stuff that I’ve quoted, then, shame on you. Walk a mile in our shoes before you make judgments like that (that will be about the first hour of a typical waiter’s shift, BTW). And think about the unintended consequences of eliminating tipping in the US. You think you’re unhappy now?

You ain’t seen nothing yet…

vs

New link added – “Crazy Waiter”

http://www.crazywaiter.com/

I’m adding a link to a very nice waiter blog from France called Crazy Waiter. Full of vim and vigor, here is the “mission statement” from the creator of the blog:

“This page is made by a crazy waiter working in an entertainment resort near Paris. There I’ve learnt that you’re part of the scene. You are to be expected to do more than bringing the drinks and taking away the dirty plates. There are several trainings to make people aware of this.

We want to inform you, teach you and entertain you! On this page you’ll find inspiration, (improvisation) techniques, fragments, information, anecdotes, useful (background) informations etc. etc. for those who want to become a CrazyWaiter, restaurant fanatics and other interested people”.

He says, ” English is not my mother tongue, so please forgive all errors in Dunglish“. His English is very good for a second language, so he really doesn’t need to apologize. I find that the Dutch are usually very fluent in English, and obviously, he’s also fluent in French as well. I’ll bet that his German is top-notch as well…

It’s nice to have a Continental perspective on waiting tables.

I hope that you will raise a glass of Cheval Blanc chased by a sip or two of Jenever and toast the arrival of Crazy Waiter to the fold!

Image courtesy of Crazy Waiter

6th largest group of employees in the US

Yes, that would be “waiters and waitresses”. Here are the top 6:

Occupation Employment Percent of U.S. Employment Mean Wage
  Hourly Annual
Retail salespersons 4,426,280 3.27 $9.86 $20,510
Cashiers 3,545,610 2.62 8.49 17,660
Office clerks, general 2,906,600 2.15 12.17 25,320
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 2,708,840 2.00 7.90 16,430
Registered nurses 2,542,760 1.88 30.03 62,450
Waiters and waitresses 2,371,750 1.75 8.01 16,660

 

This is taken from The Bureau of labor Statistics:

http://www.bls.gov/oes/2008/may/chartbook_occupation_focus.htm#figure2

The National Restaurant Association predicts this:

Restaurants to add 1.3 million jobs

The National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast projects that restaurants will employ 14 million people by 2010, 1.3 million more than today. Read our 2010 Forecast to learn more about the fastest-growing occupations and the states with the strongest job growth over the next decade.

Keep in mind that this is all restaurant workers. The restaurant industry employs around 5,000,000 people, not including management.

Food for thought.

A rumination on the scrubbing if the line cook/chef pirate image

Photo Salon/AP

At Salon, Francis Lam is worried about the kitchen.

And probably for good reason:

Ten years ago, Anthony Bourdain became a star when he released “Kitchen Confidential,” his restaurant-as-pirate-ship memoir, and pretty much single-handedly defined our image of the “real life” of restaurant cooking: a manly adventure of hot-shit line cooks and sodomy, rum and lashes of cocaine. It’s an intense world where the abuse comes from all angles, and, as in sports or war, is filled with heroic, violent mythmaking.

So when a chef in Canada got canned last week for speaking a little too frankly to a journalist about life in his kitchen, Tim Hayward speculated in the Guardian that the chef may have just been trying to join Bourdain’s party: “By telling the gritty truth like ‘chef’ [Gordon] Ramsay does it, surely he should have expected admiration, kudos and unlimited girls …” But for the chef’s sake, I hope not. Because that ship has sailed — a culture drowning, ironically, in the very waves of celebrity Bourdain helped to create.<snip>

The article is headed by:

Why kitchens stopped being like pirate ships

10 years after Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential,” the bad-boy chef is an endangered species

The post is a must-read, and you are hereby commanded to go here:

http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam/2010/04/01/bourdain_kitchen_confidential_no_more/index.html

Ways that you know that you’ve “got it” as a waiter

It takes a little while to become a great waiter (and for some it takes more than a little while, and, let’s face it, some people never get it).Here are some signs that you’ve finally “got it” and you’ve passed from being a beginner and an amateur to a professional. Keep in mind that the job is such that even the most hardened professional will occasionally have issues and make mistakes. People who claim that it’s just “taking orders and bringing food” don’t understand the complexities and vagaries of waiting on an expectant, sometimes demanding public and trying to negotiate a restaurant system that must serve as many as 200 guests at a time at different stages of their meals.

Also, just because you’ve “mastered” a couple of these doesn’t mean that you’ve “got it” quite yet. You need to be able to deal with most of these situational issues before you can be confident that you’ve really “made it” as a server. And you should keep in mind that even the best server has the occasional hiccup. If you are a seasoned server and you find yourself dealing with an increasing number of these issues that you thought you had long ago conquered, you should refocus and/or deal with the issue of burnout. Burnout doesn’t have to be the eventual end of a waiter’s career, but it takes awareness of slippage and a desire to re-find the passion that was once there.

These are in no particular order except to say that I’m writing them down in the order that they come to me and that might be significant as to their relative importance.

Most double and triple seats don’t cause an undue amount of stress.

When the kitchen goes down in flames, you manage your tables so that it doesn’t affect them and you don’t panic.

In the weeds simply means that you’re busy, not panicked, one step behind instead of three steps behind and your focused and not distracted about the things that you haven’t done yet.

A 20% tip is the standard, not the exception.

You’re 10 minutes early for all of your shifts, not 5 minutes late.

You find yourself blaming yourself for your mistakes, not passing it off on others or circumstances.

The little knot in your stomach preceding a potentially busy and stressful shift is one of anticipation, not fear.

Your interaction with the management at the terminal when they have to correct a miss-ring is seldom, not often.

On your days off, the time that you think about your job is when you’re doing some research on food and beverage, not spent stewing over the “bad day” that you had last week.

Work seems more like play than work.

You have discovered the miraculous ability to slow time down, in the same way that a seasoned NFL quarterback does.

You rarely have to say to your guest, “I’ll have to ask someone about that”.

You rarely say to your guest, ‘I don’t know”.

You don’t let a 12% tip rattle you or ruin your night.

You finally realize that some people are bad tippers regardless of your best efforts and the high quality of your service.

The time spent ringing in your order is reduced by half.

You are able to read the kitchen in all phases of service and are able to “feel the flow” of the entire restaurant, including seating.

Your guests rarely have to wait an inordinate time for their food, even during the crush.

You make more money than the year before with fewer shifts.

And perhaps the most important thing is the feeling of confidence that you feel in yourself and the sense of confidence that you can feel from your Manager On Duty.

Feel free to add your own in the comments section.