Moran: Everyone should experience working in a restaurant


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Tipping your waiter/waitress

Ben Moran

I was serving an elderly couple at work last weekend and struck up an interesting conversation with them. The conversation was about serving as a profession and we all agreed that serving was a job most people should attempt at some point in their life, preferably in their teens and early 20s.

Ironically, both of them were servers in their teen years and they had mixed experiences. She was a very good server and continued to work in restaurants throughout her college career, but he didn’t like it and wasn’t the best at it so he only worked as a server for a few months. However, both agreed serving was one of the most useful jobs they’ve had.

I agree with them. Serving has been the best job I’ve had and it has taught me different skills and talents that will be useful throughout my life.

One-tenth of the overall workforce in the United States is made up of restaurant employees, according to the National Restaurant Association. In relation to those 14.4 million workers, another 1.7 million jobs will be created in the restaurant business by 2026.

Finding a job in the food service industry shouldn’t be overly difficult and will yield a variety of benefits that include customer service, organizational abilities and general people skills.

First and most importantly, serving helps your patience in various ways. As a server, you use patience not only with customers but also with your fellow employees. Sometimes you’ll get a table of people who have no idea what they want or are just there to catch up, not order. On the other hand, bartenders, hosts, cooks and other staff will sometimes come across problems or get busy, and you have to adjust accordingly. Either way, you learn to be patient and get a feel for your situation.

A server’s job relies on a large number of people, and even though some service may be poor, it’s not always the server’s fault. You realize that when service is lacking, it doesn’t only fall on the shoulders of your waiter or waitress, and instead on problems that pop up in areas completely unrelated.

You learn about the ins and outs of food service and see them from the perspective of an employee and customer. Before I worked in a restaurant I always put all the blame on the servers. Maybe understanding came with age, but I believe I realized once I began to work in a restaurant that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I wouldn’t have thought about previously.

Servers are constantly on the move, which provides the added benefit of learning to multitask. This is something most employees in the restaurant business need to learn how to do. For servers, you are constantly focusing on running food, taking care of customers, turning tables and various other tasks.

Finally, as a customer I learned how to tip better because I’ve worked in a restaurant. This ties back to my last point of knowing what happens behind the scenes. Overall, a lot goes into being a server, and most servers’ primary income is their tips.

A lot of factors go into tipping, including the ones in this ISU case study, but communication with the server and overall experience are most important to me. When tipping, I always think about what I would want to be tipped and what I feel is appropriate. 

Overall, servers gain a wide variety benefits. I believe everyone should work as a server at some point in their life. I’m not saying it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but like the elderly couple I served this past weekend, different experiences and different outcomes don’t necessarily mean working as a server won’t be beneficial.