Say thank you to restaurant staff!

August 30, 2020

Everyone should be made to serve tables in a restaurant at least once in their lives. Only then could they appreciate the difficulties.

My first job as a waitress at age 16 was at a delicatessen. I was so rattled by trying to keep five tables of customers happy that my hands shook and I messed up the orders. Fired on day four, I felt like a failure.

At age 19 after my freshman year at college, I was hired as a bus girl in a nice restaurant in Leisure World. The faster I cleaned a table, the faster waitresses Carol and Bonnie could turn tables for a profit. They were supposed to tip me out a percentage at the end of their shift.

Bonnie hated me. Perceived me as an uppity college kid. She didn’t bother to tip me the share I deserved, so I bused Carol’s tables a lot faster.

They hired another waitress named Sandy who always looked like a scared rabbit. One day at lunch rush, Sandy got so rattled on her shift that she threw all her checks out the window and walked out the back door.

The panicked manager, Marco, asked me to step in. I went to each table and explained there had been an emergency, retook their orders and served them in a timely fashion. The next day I was promoted to waitress, and by summer’s end, Bonnie and Carol showed me some respect.

A server has to learn many skills. How to please their customers, how to get along with chefs, and how to time every action from taking orders to presenting the check in a way that will please everyone. They sometimes handle unruly and unkind patrons.

In my 15 years of dining out in the coastal area and surrounding towns, I have rarely received poor service. That’s because the wait staff are trained and aren’t given five tables at once on their first day!

Today’s restaurants also divvy up the tasks to different workers.

But I think I get good service when I dine out because I am a good patron. The first thing I do is introduce myself. Once I learn their name, I use it every time I speak to them. I smile and try to put them at ease, because I have never forgotten how stressful it can be to do this job well.

You would be amazed at how many guests expect perfection and act as though theirs is the only table in the entire world. Of course, some servers can be brusque or inept, but the management wouldn’t keep them long.

Yesterday I dined at Mariachi in Rehoboth. My server’s name was Lizeth. She was kind and attentive, and so I asked her a few questions. She has been serving for over 10 years, and the situation with the COVID virus has impacted her greatly. There are fewer diners than before, but there are also fewer servers. She is one of five, and there used to be 12. The bottom line is that she works harder than ever to make less money than before.

The people who work in those hot kitchens deserve even more appreciation because they have to be fast. One time when someone in the kitchen called in sick, I had to make club sandwiches for some really cranky lady golfers. Because I was slow, their server got no tips.

The restaurant industry needs our support now more than ever. And when you receive good service, say so! Tell the manager, too. Tip well, but a simple compliment can make someone’s entire night easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

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