This one goes out to all the haters.
It goes out to all of the “professionals”- the office workers, executives, teachers, doctors, etc.
This goes out to the people who can make their six-month internship look like gold on a resume by marketing all of the transferable skills they learned.
This goes out to the employers who don’t see 3 years of serving as “professional experience.”
But mostly, this goes out to all of the people who scoff, roll their eyes, and/or ask the infuriating question “okay, but when are you going to get a real job?”
Serving. Is. A. Real. Job.
A “job” is not confined to a 9-5, desk-working, high-salary occupation. A job is a place or trade where one can go in and exchange labor for dollars. That’s basically it. Obviously serving falls into that category.
But beyond the basic “job” definition, let me explain a little bit further.
Servers are expected to have a near-complete grasp of company policies and procedures as well as menu descriptions in as little as 5 days, with a total of roughly 15-20 hours of training. Servers are legitimately tested on their menu and restaurant knowledge throughout their training. Like actual sit-down-and-write tests.
Both during and after training, servers hone their hospitality, math, communication, prioritization, and organization skills. In one six-hour shift a server can take on as many as five different roles in a restaurant, from host to busser to food runner, even occasionally to bartender depending on the restaurant. They are the kings and queens of wearing many hats at work.
Restaurants are fast-paced places. Impeccable timing is necessary to make a restaurant run efficiently. Servers have to be sure to greet your table within 60 seconds, deliver drinks within 2-4 minutes, and keep an eye on the kitchen to make sure your appetizers, entrees, and desserts all come out at the right times. But servers don’t just have one table to take care of. Remember, you are not a server’s only guest. Prioritization is key in a server’s life. They must quickly learn how to delegate tasks to bussers and/or other servers with a few free minutes so that they do not get stuck “in the weeds,” a term for being overwhelmed.
Beyond the logistical hell that can be a restaurant work environment, servers also have to interact with up to (and sometimes over!) a hundred people each shift. And you know what? So many of these people are assholes.
And servers can’t just make the assholes leave. They have to smile, bear with it, and even apologize for doing absolutely nothing wrong because their fucking hourly wage depends on their guests liking them. Servers have to connect with their tables and develop a working rapport within 60 seconds. They have to calculate how often they think you’ll want them to check back at the table, how much you’ll want to chat with them, and dear lord they have to learn very quickly how to gracefully excuse themselves from your conversation because they just got sat or they need to run drinks at the bar.
Talk about transferable skills, yo.
Full-time servers work anywhere between 35 and 60 hours a week. They have the potential to make more money than those who work in an office full-time and definitely often make more than teachers or other professionals.
“But there’s no room for professional growth as a server! Once you’re a server you’re stuck there!” Ha! Or not. Restaurants often hire from within. A great server can quickly climb the ladder to General Manager. GMs can further climb up the ladder. Seriously. Work hard and don’t suck at your job as a server and you can do a lot in the hospitality industry.
Just because servers work in an environment without a fixed schedule or salary and have flexible, creative job descriptions does not, in any way, mean that serving isn’t a real job.
Check yourself the next time you’re about to ask your friend or family member when they’re going to quit waiting tables and “get a real job.” Because you are shaming them for having a great job. You are saying that because they choose to be in a position that provides incredible service that they are somehow subordinate and/or less of a person than you. And that is hella silly. Because when you go to a restaurant you want a good server, don’t you? And what kind of a person is going to be a great server if they show up to work thinking they don’t have a real job?
And don’t forget, folks- always tip your server. You can fuck up at your job and still get paid the same salary, so don’t take it out on you waiter if they’ve had a bad day or forgot to bring you your ranch.