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How To Survive Waitressing
Relieve Food Service Stress in Five Simple Steps
Sometimes waiting tables can be more stressful than waiting in the dental office knowing you've got to get a tooth canal. Really. As a waitress for going on five years, I'd like to share some of the waitress / waiter advice I've learned from being a waitress in the weeds Saturday night after Saturday night. Although this might not be a step by step guide on how to be a great waitress, hopefully the basic food service worker advice that follows will help you to get better tips and manage the stress of waiting on tables.
1. Share with others
Use the waitress forums and waitress blogs on the internet! Talking about the horrors and occasional triumphs (be they financial or interpersonal) of the art of food service (and it is an art!!) is a positive way to deal with table 59 who told you how great they thought you were after they ran you for two hours as they hand you three bucks on a seventy dollar bill. Really, talking helps. And livejournal has the answer in these communities:
2. Take A Moment and Figure Out How Much You're Actually Making An Hour
This technique is a good way to calm down... and when you are a calm waiter or waitress, you actually might find you can increase your tips.... Think Jackie O. Calm. Grace under pressure....
Ok.... you're just getting out of the "weeds" and you've been spoken to like a servant by children, had that experience where you're at a table full of teenagers and none of them do much other than quietly giggle (at you???), and you're thinking about why the hell you're actually waiting tables. Closing duties are ahead of you, and an overall positive feeling of calm is hours, maybe many drinks, away. Take a minute and do the math. Divide your average nights tips up into an hourly wage, and hopefully this will provide a moment of immediate relief from that "run far away" feeling. Hopefully. Most of the time. Note: THIS METHOD WORKS BEST ON BUSY SHIFTS AND IS TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS DURING EXTREMELY SLOW SHIFTS EXPERIENCING OCCASIONAL TURBULENT, CHEAP CUSTOMERS.
3. Be PROUD.
Really. Feel Proud. You are a waitress. Or a waiter.
And even if most other people don't understand what it is that you do, you know what you do. You know how hard the work can be. The psychological twists, the occasional nausea (at customers treating you like garbage, or at the garbage the customers leave behind at their table after they've left you with no tip and a headache), the aching muscles after you've walked how many miles? and you still have to mop and then roll silverware.... You are an incredibly strong person to do what you do. The things you learn in food service will help you throughout your life. Really. Think about it. It's true.
4. Develop "F*** It Mode".
I just recently learned about this, being a little neurotic myself, and it really helps. My boss Lindsay, a seven year veteran of waitressing at the children's themed restaurant where we both earn a living, said to me, "Sometimes you've just gotta go into F*** It Mode". I thought about this for a few days. Wasn't quite sure what it meant. And then it hit me. There I was in the Party Room with a group of twenty or more of our community's less polite members. I had finally informed them that they needed to stop flagging down our bussers to place their every-three-minute food orders (and yeah, i was making myself more than available to them but it didn't matter) and go through me, when a wave of calm came over me. I stopped worrying about everything going perfectly. I didn't really care if they left happy or not. I was one person, in a room full of twenty chronically angry people. There wasn't much I could do but my job. And so I carried on, taking orders, explaining that we were a simple pizza restaurant and that we didn't offer Philly Cheese Steaks on Whole Wheat (hmmmm....), sorry.... telling them to wait one minute, please, and smiling, and not really letting them get to me all that much. And at the end, I added my 18% grat, and gave them their twenty separate bills. And guess what? A lot of them came up to me, thanked me, and gave me extra tips. Yeah, sometimes you've just gotta go into "F*** It" Mode.
5. Sometimes, with some tables, let go of the tip.
Tipping. Arghh...Sometimes, you've got to forget about the fact that they really should tip you. Because sometimes they're not going to. And like there are a number of factors that make someone a sociopath that are out of that person's control, there are a number of factors that make someone a non or a bad tipper that are out of their control. Some examples off the top of my head:
poor breeding, no education, flat out broke but for whatever reason they needed to take someone else out to eat, they simply forget about it, and poor breeding.