This evening, my kids and I ate dinner at Princess Restaurant, a busy little diner out by the lake. I recognized our server from pictures I had seen on her mother's Facebook page. The girl, a high school student by day, did a great job as our waitress and we were all quite happy with our meal. Leaving the restaurant, I couldn't help but remember my own stint waiting tables. It was my first real job as a teenager, and an excellent one for learning some important life lessons I would carry on into adulthood. Allow me to share a few.
Hard work is rewarded
Unlike any other job I have ever had, waitressing rewarded a job well done. Of course, there were customers who gave lousy tips no matter how good the service, but for the most part, the tips were a good reflection of how much effort a server put into their job. If I worked hard and put forth a positive attitude, I made more money in tips. A job that rewards strong efforts can help build positive character in a young worker.
Appearance is important
You can't deny that how you look makes a big difference, especially when it comes to the workplace. Whether you are dining at a five-star restaurant or a favorite barbecue joint, no one wants a dirty and disheveled server. Waitresses discover quickly that a little time spent getting ready for work earns a lot more tips than if they roll in looking like they just fell out of bed.
Pay attention to detail
Is there anything worse than the server who just can't seem to get anything right? When people go out to eat, they want a great experience. As a waitress, your attention to detail makes all the difference. Getting your customers' orders right, the first time, will really determine your success.
Attitude is everything
Have you ever listened to a piece of music that was technically perfect, but just felt flat and without emotion? Much like life, it doesn't matter how well you do your job, technically speaking. If your attitude doesn't shine, the customers won't respond. Learning how to put your troubles away and turn on a positive attitude at work is a life lesson of great value.
Life isn't fair
One of the lessons I learned quickly as a waitress is that life isn't fair. You can work like a dog taking care of a party of 12 only to be stiffed with a measly tip while your coworker rakes in the bucks taking care of smaller but more generous tables. Or worse, you can get stuck with lousy shifts while others make big dough on the busiest nights. Few jobs can seem as unfair as those in the service sector, but they do help you learn this important life lesson quickly.
It is important to save
Unlike many 9 to 5 jobs that your kids might have in the future, waitressing is often not steady work. Shifts are not guaranteed, and if the usual crowd fails to show up, servers are often sent home early. Therefore, it is important to save your money when tips are good, so that you have some cushion when they are not. This lesson can be a real lifesaver if learned early.
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