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.