I worked as a part-time waitress, from age 18 until age 18. I performed terribly. Back then, in Alabama, servers made $2.13 + tips.
One week my manager approached me, with pen and red binder.
“Sign here, to confirm for our tax records that you did, in fact, make at least the minimum wage. You did not declare enough of your cash tips.”
“Um, but I did not make at least minimum wage, I made less.”
“Yep, you are not good at this.”
He was correct.
Sometime later, after losing the urge to continue to pursue Academia, I worked full-time for a locally-owned, Tavern-style restaurant as a server and cocktail waitress. Not fine dining, but cloth napkins, gas burning lanterns. Upscale. The owners also owned a popular bar in the swanky part of Southside, Birmingham (The Five Points area, to be specific) where I poured occasionally. Note: Servers still only make $2.13 an hour + tips in Alabama (and many other American states). They really do work for themselves and you.
I loved my work. I took the time to learn the restaurant/service craft: Learning the menu, how to talk to people and make suggestions. The art of booze and talking booze. Maintaining equilibrium for the dinner rush / bar push for about three intense, crazy, physical hours, only to then slowly break down the establishment into a clean, organized place. The next morning, you would build it up, try to keep equillibrium, tear it down.
Taking your work home usually meant alcohol, delicious food, or another server. There was no huge deadline for the FOH staff, just closing time and the clean up.
All humans should really spend at least three months of their life as a server/waiter. Everyone. If you get hissy or huffy about the service you receive when dining out, consider the following.
Today, I pulled an old journal and found the remarks below. Enjoy
EDR = extended dining room
AOA = auditory order acknowledged
Alabama Medium = Medium Well
FOH = front of house (what and who you see as the diner)
86 = something the restaurant has on menu but does not have currently.
68 = when something that was 86’ed becomes available to diners again.
Conversations Had On a Daily Basis
Stuff Said to Me: That Pissed Me Off Enough To Scrawl
Some Stuff I Thought Worth Telling the Good People