Eat & DrinkWorkers Rights

5 Skills You Get From Waiting Tables That Will Never Leave You

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Whether you waits tables for a solitary summer after high school or make it a lifelong career, there are some skills that are gained while wearing the apron that will last a lifetime. Plenty of people will say that waiting tables isn’t a “real job” (which we will not get into because it IS a real job), but waiting tables will definitely provide you with skills that you will carry with you to your next job or throughout your life.

PATIENCE

It’s not an easy thing to acquire, but waiting tables will teach you the importance of it. Taking an order from a shy five-year old who takes four minutes to sputter out the words grilled cheese will force you to have composure. In your mind, you’re thinking about the 523 other things that need to be happening at that very moment, but your face will show the patience of a monk. When your income is based on how much someone leaves as a tip, patience and staying cool under pressure become supremely important. That level of patience and fortitude gets into your veins and will stay with you no matter what job you have.

MULTITASKING/TIME MANAGEMENT

Waiting tables trains you to do more than one thing at once. Going into the dish room to drop off some dirty plates? Well, on your way out, grab some clean ones and get some spoons while you’re at it. Taking charge of a section with eight tables and a total of 32 customers makes multitasking a necessity. If you don’t do it, you’ll wear out your nonslip shoes in a week. One trip around the dining room will let you fill water, drop off a straw, pick up a credit card, check on a burger temperature, and deliver some extra ketchup. Every job you have after serving will require multitasking and it’s a skill that never goes out of demand.

THE ART OF SMALL TALK

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If you’re a person who finds it uncomfortable to talk to others, waiting tables will solve that issue in about three shifts. Conversation is part of the job because servers are required to talk to complete strangers every single day. They aren’t always meaningful conversations, but “breaking the ice” is what you do the you approach the table. You quickly learn which customers want to talk a lot and which ones don’t want to talk at all. Mastering this is something that just happens and in no time at all, talking to strangers is perfectly normal.

ACCEPTANCE

Customers come and go. Some of them leave bad tips and some of them leave great ones. Waiting tables teaches you how to accept things for what they are. No amount of complaining about someone who left five bucks on a $100 bill is going to make that tip any different. You take that five dollars and shake it off so you can focus on the next customer who might make up for it. Coworkers come and go too. Working in a restaurant has the ability to make you extremely close with coworkers in a short amount of time. It’s like being in battle and these people almost feel like they are your family. When one of them quits and is no longer in your life, you accept it. You might be sad and miss them terribly, but tables are turning and there are tips to be made. You move on.

THE ABILITY TO CARRY THINGS

After carrying trays of food and water glasses for a few weeks, you will never carry a pizza box the same way again. You won’t waste two hands on that when you can use just one. You hold that large pepperoni pizza box like a tray! And at your next Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be able to survey the dining table and know exactly how to get it all to the kitchen in as few trips as possible. Stack those plates, line them up on your arm, grab four wine glasses by the stem and watch how impressed your great Aunt Fanny will be.

*Waiting tables may also give you varicose veins, a habit of eating dinner way too late, and a severe dislike of the general population, but let’s just focus on the positive, shall we?

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.

10 Comments

  1. Paul Heimbuch
    May 6, 2021 at 7:55 am — Reply

    Serving is NOT like being in battle. Ask any combat veteran. No similarities what so ever! You choose to verbally prostitute yourself to people. Smooch, coddle and suck up to strangers.
    This should be temporary, not a career. No waitwr/ server hall of fame that I know of. If this is the “career” you have chosen, then expect to be treated as such. A 40+ plus waiter clearly has little if any ambition. I look at my soldier, police and EMT friends and know that you are not as special or even as essential as you think.

    • Sasha Hernandez
      May 6, 2021 at 10:05 am — Reply

      I understand the point you are TRYING to make even if it is……. never mind i’m not going to stoop so slow considering you are a vet. The article did not say it was WAR!!!! It stated it’s like going to BATTLE. There are other definitions to the word BATTLE!!!! Do you realize that?? So before you get all butthole hurt, know the proper definitions of a word before you speak!!!!

    • Hayden Lodermeier
      May 6, 2021 at 10:09 am — Reply

      Well then sir you have a very miserable life if you don’t even look at first responders as important people. Us bartenders/servers/waiters are important and very smart people. Yes you can make a career out of it. And it’s FUN. And we get to deal with assholes like you who want to belittle us because we aren’t in a desk job. I can talk numbers all day. I bet I make just as much as a person with a “ real job” but people aren’t good with numbers like we are so I don’t expect you to understand. Also if this is your mindset, don’t go out to eat or to have drinks. We aren’t saying that we’re more special than anyone. But not everyone can do our job. So treat us like the good people we are.

    • Sonya Bowman
      May 6, 2021 at 10:33 am — Reply

      No 40+ yr old should be serving for a career? Its just a job for kids, beginners? If thats how you feel then don’t be mad when you get teenage service! All customers expect us to bend over backwards for them and if we don’t you run to the managers like little bitches trying to get us in trouble, or leave $5 on a $100 bill! Id love to see you keep your cool while waiting on 6+ tables at a time, with every table demanding something special, complaining about why they can’t substitute a meat for a side! N complaining how terrible you were just because they couldn’t get what they wanted for free! It takes major patience, and skill to work with people like that day after day! Just because someone didn’t get a degree doesn’t mean their lazy or have no ambition! I actually love serving. Where else can you work a 6hr shift and bring home over $100? I love my customers and look forward to seeing them and giving them excellent service! Dont put others down just cuz were not saving lives! Not all cops or military people are saints!

    • Richard Trent
      May 6, 2021 at 11:52 am — Reply

      Please. The military is a job like anything else, and one heavily dependent on the support of others, no less. Soldiering may involve checking your independence at the door, but it doesn’t take much else. You know the tooth to tail ratio – grunts don’t function on their own, and rarely think for themselves. Waiters do. Waitering might not be the most dangerous job in the world, but neither is soldiering, and that includes during times of combat operations. Neither is easy, but one is decidedly simpler.

      Waiting tables involves quick thinking on ones feet while doing a dozen things at a time to keep a hundred people happy while staying out of the weeds. It’s a job that everyone should do at least once.
      That’s the point of the article, not this posturing.

    • ti
      May 6, 2021 at 7:11 pm — Reply

      Wow. Kinda harsh much? Didn’t take your meds? Fall down and go boom?
      Whatever the case, service is a battleground that must be faced on a daily basis. Being verbally abused, assaulted even makes this a definite situation that can be called a battle. You put a face on, teamwork, and pound those feet every day!

      Just because we are not killing people doesn’t mean we are not doing something similar to those in other industries that have a hard baseline.

    • Tanya Richardson
      May 6, 2021 at 7:16 pm — Reply

      He was talking about comradeship, not about “being in battle “ duh!

    • Liz Warner
      May 7, 2021 at 6:02 am — Reply

      You my sir are an asshole!!! Did you ever think a mother or a wife of a soldier is doing this job for the hours they are able to work and extra money for the family all while trying to take care of her household and children??? You might be a douche bag for making this comment!!!!!

    • Bianca Seymour
      May 7, 2021 at 8:24 pm — Reply

      Wwo I hope you never go out to eat. What you said is rude and down right ignorant. A LOT of college graduates decide to stay in the industry, ( I am one of them), because I can make what you make in three days vs your five to six days a week job. Sit down.

  2. Kristine
    May 27, 2021 at 10:31 pm — Reply

    I have a college degree, finished first in my class in culinary school and have spent 30+ years in restaurants, both BOH & FOH. I have done every job in food service and have learned that serving people makes me happier than I thought I ever could be. I have customers who I love and who care for me. I make more money than I ever did at a desk job and I have a great schedule. Your dismissive attitude and condescension are indicative of the ignorance with which you are afflicted. I feel sorry for you and hope I never have to serve your food.

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