The frigid mornings I wake up on the days in which I have to work KILL me. I call them “frigid” because there is no other word better to describe them. They’re cold and dark and I shiver as I pull the blankets off of me, even though I live in the sun shiniest state in the U.S. I make sure to set my alarm HOURS before having to go into work because I need my “me” time and it doesn’t matter if I had two days or four days off that week. I can’t seem to find enough “me” time to better prepare myself to go in to battle.
It is a war out there in the server-life. Between hungry customers ignorant to how the restaurant business actually works, to the incompetent hosts who are usually too young to serve and therefore too dumb to care, and then to the unhappy, unsatisfied, servers who must at every second of their shift put on a facade and switch vibes and characters from table to table to better fit their customer’s needs… One must say we must be insane to work in this type of environment.
Sometimes we luck out and have amazing managers or restaurant owners who make work a little less like “work” but those are too and far in between and though one may have cool bosses or alright co-workers, a server never really knows what a work shift will bring. It could be a day where it goes smooth like butter. A cake walk one might describe it as. All of your customers are easy going and maybe one could even go as far as saying they’re pleasant. Other days it seems you have waited on every coo-coo that breaths on this planet. Some days you’ll have a barrage of amazing tippers, setting up the trap to disable you from walking away from this job you loath so much. Other days, your self worth dies at every moment you close out a check and realize you have literally slaved yourself for someone else’s pleasure for a measly couple dollars. Cheap fucking bastards.
Many of you may be reading this and are thinking “if you hate it so much why do you do it?! QUIT! Find your true passion! Do what you love!” I say to you, Fuck off. Obviously that’s something to strive for…yet it takes time, no? So until then, am I to not eat? Not maintain a roof over my head or clothes on my back? Am I not to try to finish an education or at least take steps towards achieving my happiness?? Maybe these years of hatred for what I do currently will feed the fire for what I will achieve later on in life. Who knows?! All I know is that I have an opportunity right now to tell it like it is, while also maybe enlighten some people out there. Yes, at times we make good money. Most of the time we are whoring ourselves to our tables, bending over backwards (some may say “over”), eating up all the disrespect you customers dish out, all for a 15- 18% tip…20% if we lucked out.
One myth I would like to bust right here, right now, is the saying, “The customer is always right..” Let me enlighten you folks out there. The customer is not always right. In all honesty, they are hardly ever right. Most of the time we give into your shenanigans because it is easier (and looks better for the restaurant) to take the higher road and walk away peacefully from any sort of confrontation with a customer. The fact that in today’s world with online reviews dictating whether or not a business prospers or fails, one can’t run the risk or arguing or even remotely debating with a customer on whether they are right or wrong. For us people working in the industry, this is the biggest lump of BS we have to swallow, the fact that customers think they’re always right. It’s like saying, “Pedestrians always have the right of way.” Think about it. In a normal situation it is true. There’s someone standing at a cross walk, you yield to them and let them go. Now take someone who is crossing in the middle of a busy intersection, and doesn’t even bother to look both ways, they just walk out in to traffic and assume that because they are a pedestrian all traffic will come to a screeching halt just to let their inconsiderate asses cross. A car hits them… Guess what? You know who gets in trouble?? THE PEDESTRIAN. Each party in any given situation needs to recognize the part they play in whatever altercation or scenario they find themselves in. So let us put this example in a Server-life Vs. Customer prospective.
Scenario #3786- A table sits down. Mom, Dad, their two Kids. In today’s world technology has completely taken over, even those precious family moments that everyone wants to cherish so much. Kid#1 lets say, is a preteen who honestly could care less about spending family time, is on their cell phone checking FB, IG, Tweeting to her Twit friends, they are doing everything possible to stay connected while disconnecting. Kid#2 is a younger sibling who can’t stay still or focused for more than seconds at a time so to keep them calm and quiet are given a tablet in order to keep them occupied. Mom is on the phone speaking to Auntie Sharon telling her all about their awesome vacation, detail to detail, nothing missed, with the exception of telling her how awful of a time she’s having. Dad seems to be the only one focused on settling down and zeroing in on the menu, but in a reality, is back at the office thinking about all the work that needs to get done in order to make the money for next year’s family vacation. Insert Server Here… “Hey there!! (insert whatever lame introduction they’re told to say..) What can I get for you drink today?!” CRICKETS…
Alright, let’s try this again…
“Can I maybe interest anyone in one of our specialty drinks or maybe you’d like to start with a round of waters while you decide?” Not one person at the table even acknowledges her/him. So now it’s awkward to say the least…
Or we can even switch the scenario and say, Server walks over, “Hey there!…My na….” “We’ll just take some waters with lemons..” says either parent without looking up.
Either scenario has already set the tone for the entire duration for both customer and server. If it’s a seasoned sever they’ll handle it with the utmost professionalism and will slather them in kindness throughout their stay, while inwardly killing them with machetes and machine guns. But for the majority of the servers out there, they will semi-neglect this table and focus on the others who DO treat them like a human being and not some worn out shoes strewn over a cable wire to be ignored. They will provide this table with the most basic of service which in turn aggravates the customer who sees this server happily and attentively serving other tables around them. Here is where vicious cycle begins because once the the customer becomes aggravated, they will find everything wrong from that point on from the food.. to the atmosphere.. anything and everything will be sub par. They’ll complain to management, which in most cases will fall on deaf ears, for servers are very vocal and would have most likely already mentioned what “douche bags” the people at that table are. No one likes to be ignored. No one likes rude individuals. So who in their right mind would want to be attentive to such people? People who have proven within the first 15 seconds of interaction don’t care enough about them to even acknowledge them as human beings.
Like I said before, it is a vicious cycle. It’s not just seen in the Server-Life but in all areas of customer service. It’s very difficult to deal with the public especially in an age where values, morals, and respect for one another is almost nonexistent, and technology and disconnect from the real world around you is prominent. If only we took more credit for our own individual actions..owned our “mistakes” or lack of education.. We could all move on, be better people, and make everyone’s life around us just a tee bit better.. and the things we wouldn’t want to do (such as work) could at least be a BIT more enjoyable. There wouldn’t be such a sense of dread when it came to going into work or doing the other countless things in life we may have to do instead of wanting to do. I mean that’s the way I see it, and for most of whom I speak to.
This is my first official “blog” piece. I’ve been a writer for more than half of my life but today starts a new wave for me and my writing. I will not only speak of my Server-Life.. but of all Life around me, as I see it. My mission is to change an outlook, to give people the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.
Stay tuned for not only more Server-Life stories, but also stories from the day to day encounters of Life around us, as I see it.
My name is Natal Galvan and I am here to write to you.
Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Vagabond Tap House, A.C, N.J
If you ever find yourself in Atlantic City, NJ make sure to stop by this place!! AMAZING food and a wonderful selection of craft beers, and let me not forget to mention an incredible sunset view 🙂