Not going to lie, this isn't where I thought I'd be at 30. Slinging latte's and running food orders was not what I saw in my career horizons when I was a grad student at USC. But here I am, earning minimum wage on the brink of either a full on mental breakdown or (and?) financial ruin. Is it weird to admit though that I'm still happier working in a restaurant than I ever was working on Capitol Hill?
Being a member of the service industry is an incredibly humbling experience. You learn things about yourself and humanity in general and get a front row seat to the best and worst that the human personality spectrum has to offer. While this isn't an ideal situation (and hopefully not long term), I am grateful for the experience.
You'll often hear industry (that's how we refer to oursleves) people lamenting how everyone should work in a restaurant at least once so that they know how not to be a jackass. I agree with this whole heartedly so I wanted to share some of tips on how not to be an asshole while dining out.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SERVER AND ALL OTHER STAFF IN THE RESTAURANT WHEN SPOKEN TO
It burns our proverbial butter and sets the tone for our first impressions of you when we say hello and are greeted (if you can call it that) with dismissiveness. When we say "Hey, welcome to blah blah blah" do not hold up your fingers and signal how many in your party, do not continue to look at your phone like we haven't said anything and please DO NOT just immediately go seat yourselves. We are human beings, say hello back and act like you have some goddamn sense.
2. DON'T SEND YOUR SERVER ON A WILD GOOSE CHASE
I get it, I've been there too. I've needed sugar, or ketchup, or soy sauce, or whatever. BUT, keep in mind that odds are that your server is taking care of a lot of other people, not just you. Try to tell him or her everything you need all at once so they don't have to keep getting one-off items for your table.
3. WE'RE NOT FOR RENT
So often in the service industry I've encountered people with an air of entitlement. Let me be super, crispy, clear: while we will concede that you are paying for an experience, our dignity isn't on the menu. Do not belittle, disrespect, humiliate, or verbally assault your server. It makes you look like a piece of shit and it won't get your better service, you'll get quite the opposite. Which brings me to my fourth point...
4. IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD THE TIP, STAY YOUR BROKE ASS HOME
Once more for the people in the back: if you can't or do not want to tip your server at least 20 percent, stay your ass home. Most servers earn an incredibly low hourly wage and tips are how they make their living. Tip 20 percent AT LEAST. Obviously, if you have a bad server and a horrible experience, adjust accordingly. But if everything went smoothly and you like your server, break them off a little something something.
5. WE AREN'T MIRACLE WORKERS
If you've walked in at 2:45pm and the lunch menu ended at 2:30pm nooooooo we can't make lunch happen for you. Sorry, its out of our control. You want a piece of cake and its sold out? No we can't magically bake a new cake in the middle of service for you. We aren't Genie and this isn't Aladdin.
6. IF WE HAVE A FULL BAR, PLEASE DON'T ASK US TO MAKE YOU SOMETHING OFF THE MENU
I work at the bar of my restaurant and I love it! I get to interact with so many dope people from different walks of life and for the most part (99.99%) I have amazing human beings who just get it. There have been times however when I've been in the weeds (a term for when you're overwhelmed by orders and can't handle them) and I've had people be like "excuse me, can you make me a cocktail that is fruity but not to sweet with like a minty lemon flavor using like vodka, tequila or gin?" My answer... noooooo. I have 7 tickets each with like 4-5 drink orders on them, now is not the time to ask me to experiment. Common sense people.
7. BECOME A REGULAR
If you find a restaurant you like with a server that you vibe with, keep going back. You'll establish a relationship with the restaurant/server and odds are they'll move heaven and earth for you, if at all possible. Chef doesn't do substitutions normally? For you s/he will! Happy hour doesn't start for another 30 minutes? They'll probably hook you up anyway.
8. PLEASE, JUST BE A NORMAL EMPATHETIC HUMAN BEING
While there is no excuse for shitty service or bad food, cut us some slack. We aren't trying to ruin your dining experience, but sometimes things are out of our control. Though we are serving you, we are not actual servants. Please remember that and speak to us how you would want to be spoken to.
That's all I have for now. If any of you work, or have worked in the industry have any more suggestions that I might have missed please tell me! I would love to hear them. For the rest of you, I hope you find this list helpful and that you take all of this into consideration the next time you dine out!