Working in a restaurant for the past three years has changed my life — for better or for worse. It’s an incredibly humbling job that will not only earn you easy cash but also prepare you for the real world and sharpen your people skills. It’s a job I wish everyone would try for a year or two, especially in college, because it’ll change the way you eat out forever.
You’ll never tip less than 20% again
If you’ve ever served, you know that your hourly rate is next to nothing, especially after taxes. Therefore, tips are the bread and butter of a server’s salary. Trust me, it gets harder to tip less than 20% even when the service is subpar — and easier to tip 30% when they do an amazing job.
You become less of a picky eater
In the restaurant I work in, the chef is always bringing up samples of the night’s specials for all the servers, hosts, and bartenders to try. How can you say no to free food? It’s also imperative to know how something actually tastes in order to recommend it to a customer.
You know not to complicate your order
Even though your server isn’t the one making or ordering the food, they’ll probably get the blame from the kitchen for sending down an obscure version of what is actually on the menu. There’s a reason the chef asks you to try to limit substitutions on the bottom of most menus.
You become more understanding
Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve forgotten to put down appetizers before and even dropped a turkey burger flat on the ground in front of one of my tables. Believe me, servers already feel the shame of their mistakes before you even know they happened.
You have an appreciation for what happens behind the scenes
The typical dining experience includes delicious food and a pleasant experience with your server. However, after working in the restaurant industry, you can’t help but take into account everything that’s going on in the restaurant.
You’ll understand sometimes it takes a few minutes to get your drink if the bar is packed — bartenders could write an entire article about their lives. And if the kitchen messes up your order, you’ll understand they’re communicating with the servers through computers and miscommunications are bound to happen occasionally.
But most importantly, you’ll understand the beauty and synchrony of a restaurant and how all the moving parts work together to make your food, serve it with a smile, and still manage to get people to come back and become regulars.