It is not for the meek, faint of heart or the easily confused.
So you think you’re smarter than the waitress who’s conscientiously tending to your night out? Or the individual at the pick-up window of the drive thru who makes sure your order is complete without you ever having to leave the comfort of your car. Making sure that your experience at these establishments is every thing you expect it to be really takes more than your average “slacker” to pull it altogether. Taking/Waiting on more than one order/customer at a time calls for some accelerated, focused organization. Some athletic ability is a requirement, for this can be a fast paced job, just short of running a 10K. Multi-tasking is a must have skill. Balance is a required trait to carry a loaded tray without spillage. Smiling while you’re being yelled at in front of the lunch rush for a mistake that wasn’t your fault calls upon the arts of problem solving and patience. Asserting control of a situation is a must or you will get mowed down out there.
None of these skills mentioned are sold at Walmart.
My experience in the bar/restaurant industry has taught me that the general public perceives the food server, (whether fast food or full service restaurants) as unskilled nitwits. Looking upon the job itself as menial. What most customers don’t realize is that most of these waiters/waitresses are in school and working in the service industry because these hours offer more flexibility.
I think it would be great to require all high school students, BEFORE they can graduate, to have to work a semester in a fast food AND full service restaurant. It is my belief that requiring this would instill a more benevolent and respectful attitude toward these servers and services that are offered to all of us across the country. It would teach them the aforementioned skills and it could steer these young individuals to study harder to move in a more lucrative direction for their futures.
The classroom should have 5 four top tables that will be filled with 20 individuals who are demanding, snobbish, self-centered, perverted, rude, and as pompous as the back side of a mule. You will need a pad, pen, apron and a tray. And don’t forget to bring the people skills (not sold at Walmart) mentioned above. The scene plays out that all these tables are individual, but they were all seated at the same time, because your section has cleared out from previous customers and your hostess thinks you’re an invincible beast when it comes to waiting tables. And you are. Because you have had this training! Be confident. The following tasks are quite simple. Take a deep breathe, get your pen and pad out of your apron pocket and roll to the first table. It’s show time! Introduce yourself and welcome them and that you are there for their drink order only. Always take the ladies and kids drinks first. You will be standing at a corner of the table so start with the person to your left and work clockwise. You will then move to the next four tables and do the same thing. The trickiest part of this is balancing a tray with a minimum of ten drinks. After you have delivered all the drinks, you will then go back to the first table and begin taking food orders and proceed in the same manner as you did with the drink orders.
Bear in mind that just because they were all seated at the same time, your tables are like your children. Some need more of your attention than others. As you go to each table and are listening to the food orders, you should be scanning the table as some of your guests will have already sucked down their drink and more than likely they will be waving their glass and rattling its ice in your face letting you know that it is empty. (As if you couldn’t tell.) Don’t be surprised if they expect you to drop what you’re doing and go fetch a refill right then. Soft drinkers are the worst. But don’t be deterred. Just shake your head and smile in acknowledgement and proceed on to finish your task of getting the food orders. Now seems like a good time to reiterate the fact that scanning the table is the focus of your job at all times. It’s not the well built blue eyed boy at the table, or (for the guys) the buxom blonde girl sitting there. I don’t mean never look at the customer, but as you are leaving or entering the kitchen you are looking at your tables. What are you looking for? Refills, empty salad bowls or appetizer plates. Does the establishment keep the condiments on the table? That would be your salt, pepper, ketchup mustard, sugar, sweet/low. Do any of these need refilling? The next step is like a hand off to the kitchen.
You will ring up the orders that will be sent to your cook, Chef or lord of the grill, with who you should’ve already made your BFF. A little advice here. Never treat anyone you work with as if they are beneath you, (which I have observed) because they are a fundamental part of the team. For instance the busboy will help keep your tables cleaned off so you can turn them faster. Okay, Back to the task at hand. Your tickets are turned in and out of your hands for the moment. This is when you go back and do the refills, which will be your call to get to the glass rattler first or not. By now your food is probably starting to come out. This is where you will call on your balancing skill to carry the large tray over your head loaded with 8 plates. Did I mention this job also keeps you toned and at a nice weight? Two tables down. Your 10K run will kick in here as you run back to the kitchen to get another large tray with 8 more plates. Tables 3 and 4 are now taken care of and then back to the kitchen to get table 5 fed. Time to check for refills again, more bread, if their food was done to their specifications and any condiments, complaints, etc. they may need or have. Now the fun really starts. Everybody wants separate checks. Most places have systems that will separate for you. But if not, break out the calculator. Let’s hope for the best that you are familiar with one. If not, be sure to ask for help, as you definitely want to charge right, or get stuck with the shortage. Now back to the tables to clear plates. A good indication is the napkin in the plate. Dessert anyone?
Patience will arrive at this time, because most of the time you have to fix these yourself and the damn ice cream is always frozen solid, the brownie has to be nuked at just the right temp or it will burn, and invariably the person who opened the new whipped cream lost the spout that comes with those big industrial size bags. Since this is training and we can play out our own ending, we are going to assume everyone is happy and full, no dessert was ordered and it is now time for those separate checks. Everyone has paid up, they all clear out at the same time as before and your hostess again thinks you are the invincible beast at waiting tables and the fun starts all over.
Next session will take place in the bar. Drinkers are a lot more fun and actually easier to take care of. All they want is a good drink or their beer refill. NOW!