Food Retail Archives - I Hate Working In Retail


The Difference Between Average Servers And Rockstar Servers


First of all, am I going to say no? No. I literally get paid to bring you what you want. Obviously, you can have a coke and a water. Are you going to drink that water? No. You’re going to suck down the coke, I’m going to bring you two more cokes then I’m going to pour the full water in the dump sink after you leave. You know that. I know that. But yes, I will bring you a coke and a water.

After working as a server myself, servers are some of my favorite people on earth. They experience the best and the worst of humans – sometimes in the same thirty minutes. They deal with impressively high levels of stupidity on a daily basis, and they still manage a killer fake smile at every table. Well, the good servers do.

There is a distinct difference between the average server who is just doing their job and the rockstar server who is killing it. And the difference is this:

It’s Thursday night. The restaurant is staffed for a weekday dinner and you get absolutely slammed. Table after table is walking in and that manageable six table section is suddenly your worst nightmare because not only is your section filling up, but you’re also getting tables on the patio.

You have a family of four whose anxiety-ridden mother wants you to know that “We’ve never been here before!” meaning she wants you to hold her hand through all ordering procedures. You have a table of six truckers that want you to explain the entire beer list so they can all order Bud Light. You have a couple on a date who wants nachos as an appetizer with no sauce, no jalapeños, and everything else on the side. You have an elderly couple who wants to split a half a sandwich with a side of soup that your kitchen doesn’t make. And the hostess just sat you a group of nine teenage girls that have never been out to eat without their parents, “So, what do you have here?” …we have menus.

Behind the scenes, the kitchen loads your nachos full of jalapeños. You can’t put any orders in because the computers are full of other servers. The ice tea runs out. There are no straws in the server station. Did I just pour a coke or a diet coke? Absolutely everyone is in your way, and the bartender can’t get you the truckers’ third round of Bud Lights because she’s busy taking an order. Oh, and the hostess just sat you two more tables.

“Is the spicy burger hot?”

“This coke tastes weird.”

“Where those beers at, sweetheart?”

“We’re all on separate checks. All nine of us.”

“Can we have extra plates for these nachos? and extra sour cream? and extra napkins?”

“We’re all going to get milkshakes.”

(If you ever want to join the ranks of deeply hated restaurant customers, order milkshakes during a rush. Do it.)

So now you’re walking at speeds previously unknown to man. You’re printing checks, making milkshakes, taking orders, delivering food, and, “Yes, sir, I would love to change the channel to the game you want to watch so you can fully ignore your wife for the next forty-five minutes.”

And this is the moment.

This is the difference between the average server and the rockstar. This is when the average server starts blaming someone else for the fact that they are drowning:

“The manager didn’t schedule enough people.”

“The kitchen keeps messing up my orders.”

“The hostess sat me three times in a row.”

“People around here need to do their job.”

And the most popular: “I F*%$#%G HATE PEOPLE!”

So, go ahead. Blame away. It’s easy, it makes you feel better, and at the end of the day – you made it through. That makes you an average server.

The rockstars, on the other hand, they don’t blame. They just do it. They say to themselves, “This is the job. Those tables are my income. More tables means more money – so bring it on.”

And that’s it. That’s the difference. Rockstars don’t get angry. They just move faster, smile bigger, crack a joke and do the best job they can. If they make a mistake, they own up and apologize – sincerely. They say please and thank you to their coworkers. They make their tables laugh and somehow manage to do side-work in the midst of chaos. They’re the ones that are offering to take ANOTHER table while average servers are crying in the corner. And the best thing about rockstars: when they have a free minute, they’re helping everyone else. Because they are here to do a job and do it well. And they are most likely making bank.

I love rockstars. If you’ve ever served, you know the feeling of walking into work and being relieved that you’re working with people who are going to help your night go smoothly. Those are the rockstars.

So, to all the servers out there: next Saturday night when you drop a tray of drinks, serve bread to a gluten-free kid, or introduce yourself to the same table twice, think about the choice that you have: you can go ahead and blame someone else or you can own it. This is the job. These guests pay your rent, buy your groceries, and would finance your netflix binges if anyone actually paid for netflix but we all have an obscure cousin’s ex-boyfriend for that. So treat your guests well, apologize sincerely, say please and thank you, and help each other out. The restaurant world needs more rockstars, and you probably need bigger tips – someday you may actually have to pay for netflix

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101 Thoughts Every Server Has While Working A Shift

Flickr: dana_moos / Creative Commons

1. Ugh, OK, another shift.
2. Busy or slow, busy or slow? I’m getting a slow vibe.
3. I kind of hope it’s slow, even though I reeeeally need money. Is that terrible?
4. I shouldn’t have picked up this shift.
5. No, it’s cool! Get your head in the game! It’s going to be a great shift!
6. Who’s working with me today?
7. YESSS, perfect, Greg will totally be OK with me getting cut if it comes down to it.
8. I *will* get cut first, right? I wasn’t even scheduled today. This was a favor.
9. Ah! A table.
10. Wait, do I know today’s specials?
11. Shit shit shit shit.
12. I’ll just let them settle in a bit while I caaaasually take notes by the specials board.
13. They’re settling in… for a while.
14. Should I go over?
15. Have they looked at the menu?
16. I’m going over. Just to say hey!
17. OK I should not have gone over.
18. I mean, how long does it really take someone to pick out a drink, though?
19. Is it that crazy that I was just TRYING to do my JOB?
20. I’ll just wait over here.
21. Shuffle the silverware around so it looks like I’m doing something worthwhile.
22. *So bored, trying not to look bored.*
23. Shit, now they’re all giving me a death stare!
24. OK that was actually fine. They might just be people with default angry faces.
25. Is it too soon to go back over?
28. Now I’m just staring at this table like an actual psychopath.
29. “How’s that water” hahaha but like, really.
30. Maybe there’s some food to run.
31. Ugggggggggh it’s the hot chef today.
32. If I run food he’ll be like, “Wow, what a great server. And a great person? We should hang out.”
33. I’m going to ask a question about the special. Show some real initiative.
34. Hahaha WHOOPS the kitchen is a LOT busier than the front right now.
35. Yikes.
36. Back to my section.

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38. Shit shit shit OK let’s do this.
39. You got this, you got this, just get in the zone.
40. That first table is eating, good, great.
41. Yes, of course I can get you a side of ketchup, I just can’t make eye contact with any other tables while I do it.
42. Ah, well, the other table grabbed me. I’ll get the ketchup in a moment.
43. There is a spot in heaven reserved for people who know exactly what they want, order it in seconds, with no special requests. I could kiss this two-top.
44. Now I just need to get to the POS…
45. Aaaaand someone else has grabbed me. OK. New order, real quick, no biggie.
46. You’re allergic… to sugar? And you’re watching your salt intake?
47. Ketchup ketchup ketchup do not forget the ketchup.
48. Sure, I have time to go ask the kitchen which dishes have sugar in them.
49. Perfect. They will love that.
50. But they can wait while I put the other table’s order in.
51. Wait, we’re out of the skirt steak? Since when????
52. And why is that table looking at me as if I’ve killed their family?
54. OK OK what was I doing?
55. Order in. Sugar question at the kitchen. Run some food. Back to table. Go go go go.
56. How gross is it if I eat some of table 22’s leftover fries?
57. How gross is it, if none of my co-workers see me?
58. Oh, excellent, 25 just got sat. And they need a high chair.

Flickr: francescarter / Creative Commons

60. All right. Full section. Good! This is good. I’m in a good ~rhythm.~
61. I feel kind of like a dancer. Is that weird?
62. No! There’s an art to this! And I am an artist!
63. Man, you know, I really do love my job.
64. Drinks are in for table 25. No one needs anything at this immediate moment.
65. Look at everyone, eating, and laughing, and having a good time. We did that. I did that.
66. Wait, no, that table is definitely pissed about something.
67. Hahaha oh right, the ketchup table asked for more water like a half hour ago.
68. Welp, not getting a good tip from them. FAIR.
69. Is table 22 seriously tapping me on the back WHILE I’m clearing plates from table 23? Who does that?
70. Aaaaand there goes the salad dressing down my shirt.
71. I fucking hate this job.
72. OK, whew. Breathe.
73. Goodbye table 24! You were great! I’ll miss you!
74. Wait, 10% tip????
75. Akjbfkjbkasfjbsbdfbdgbdf.
76. Maybe there’ll be another rush.
77. Well, OK, maybe there won’t be another rush.
78. But at least I’ll get out early!
79. I’ll get a head start on my side work.
80. Don’t watch the clock, don’t watch the clock.

Flickr: dalbera / Creative Commons

81. I’m just gonna like… go smirk at the chef. Like, a “People, amirite?” look. He’ll get it.
82. He didn’t get it.
83. I’ll just wipe down these tables one more time.
84. Isn’t it weird that just an hour ago I was going out of my mind busy, and now I’m literally just standing here trying to remember all the words to the theme song of Three’s Company?
85. Ten more minutes, just tennnnnn more minutes.
86. How’s Greg doing? Maybe he’ll play some Never Have I Ever.
87. Wait is that a three-top coming in?
88. Don’t seat them in my section. DO NOT seat them in my section.
90. OK, try not to be mean. These are people too.
91. People… who … asked when we closed, found out it was in ten minutes, and decided to sit anyway.
92. People who are terrible.
93. Well at least it’s an easy enough order.
94. I’ll just keep cleaning around them.
95. And stare at them as they finish.
96. And figure out a good “Never Have I Ever” to get Greg out.
97. Or just stew here in my grumpiness.
98. And they’re gone! And they left a good tip. Now I feel like a dick.
99. Whatever, I’m done.
100. Clocking out.
101. Time to drink.

Flickr: intangible / Creative Commons

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Fact: people in restaurants can be terrible, and being terrible can seriously piss off the people who touch your food and drinks. These are the last people you want holding a grudge against you. But there’s a way around it. Take a look at this handy guide to things that really get under the skin of your server… and then do the exact opposite.

Splitting a bill 30 ways, especially after it’s been delivered
Most servers are happy to split a bill up; just give them a heads up before you order. Other places don’t allow split bills, so have cash on hand. Otherwise, you’re forcing a server to do math that would give Archimedes a headache.Linger during a dinner rush
There are dozens of people waiting. Maybe you should show your friends pictures of your dog in costumes somewhere else, instead of filling up on water like a camel while starving people drool over your table.

Say, “Oh, I didn’t like this — can I get something else?”
You ordered the miso-glazed salmon before realizing you like neither miso nor salmon. And you hate hyphens. If you want little nibbles, hit up a tapas bar or Old Country Buffet.

Slip him/her your number
Classic, classy move, Robert Browning. If she wanted to see you in a situation where she wasn’t being paid to be nice to you, she would have given you her digits.Write a message on a receipt in lieu of a tip
“You look great today” isn’t gonna get anybody a post-work drink, or, you know, food for their kid. And “the service was terrible” isn’t going to get you any further away from the gates of hell. If you aren’t gonna tip, the lack of money will make your point.

Tip in change
Unless you’re packing a handful of quarters or Sacajawea dollars, nobody wants to deal with the contents of your car’s cup holder, especially your sticky-ass pennies.Ignore the list of ingredients, then send an order back because you have allergies
You have celiac disease and you just ordered a sandwich on sourdough with a side of bread pudding and a Hefeweizen. You don’t get a re-do on that.

Use a Groupon, then give a discounted tip
Getting a meal for 50% off doesn’t mean the service is also discounted.

Snap, scream, or whistle
Unless you’re an unfrozen caveman, this is an unacceptable mode of communication.Say you’re friends with the owner and expect special treatment
This is an especially bad idea if the owner is a prick. Unless you can produce a full back tattoo of the owner, your so-called relationship is dubious.

Order off-the-menu items
Yes, they have fish. Yes, they have rice. No, the folks at the Italian place aren’t gonna make you sushi with risotto. So don’t ask.

Send a half-eaten entree back
“Oh, this is overcooked,” you say, as you slide a half-eaten steak and missing sides over to the server. Was the other half medium-rare?Blame the server for everything
You are aware the server didn’t make your food, right? Or set the hours of operation? Or price the menu? Or clean the plate? Or forget to put a gluten-free option on the menu (seriously, enough with the gluten!)? She’s also not the complaint box. Direct your rage elsewhere, Dr. Banner.

Leave literature of any kind
A pamphlet about the virtues of living a Godly life might be enlightening, but pamphlets don’t put money in the ol’ tithing basket. And nobody wants to see your post-hardcore slowcore band, so save that flyer for a telephone pole.

Order while on the phone
These people are also likely to yammer throughout dinner, and can’t figure out the correlation between talking to their wife and their burger coming with honey on it.Show up for a big table 30mins before the rest of your party
You get in. You get a table for 10 right at 6p. Then you sit there, alone, for 30mins while the restaurant has to turn dozens of people away. And the server feels too sorry for you to ask you to leave. Your pouty eyes and a-hole friends are costing her, and the restaurant, tons of money. Make sure to leave a nice pamphlet when you go.


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