I find myself having a hard time lately sympathizing with those who say or act like working at a coffee shop is hard. I have grown accustomed to working by myself every Saturday and Sunday night with long lines and absolutely nothing accomplished beforehand. It’s still not what I would consider ‘hard.’ Stressful, yes but in no way ridiculously difficult. I have to constantly remind myself that I started off as a waitress. If you’ve been a server, this already makes sense to you. If not, Lemme tell you. That is what you call hard. Especially at a little family owned restaurant. There were days I was serving (or trying to) 10+ tables at a time. There were many nights I went home sobbing. I was not prepared for what this job entailed. Serving drinks and food and taking to go orders and answering the phone and running back and forth and up and down ramps while simultaneously hearing yelling chefs and yelling owners and yelling fellow servers and whining unhappy customers… I was definitely not prepared. Coming straight out of being home schooled my whole life, you know they were desperate even giving me the job. Once I had the job, I was given what I now try to put nicely as excruciatingly painful and hard to handle tough love. Simply put, they were freaking mean to me at first, and I was not told until later that the point was to make me better. And that it definitely did. I was 18 and completely naive, I was working with a bunch of tough, world-wise New Yorkers. And thank God for that. I learned more than I can say in words and became so much stronger, work and life wise, because of that job. That,above all else, is where my tough skin and high tolerance comes from. Thought I’d pass on my little bit of knowledge into what I call my ServingVsLife Work Manual:
(Our new bartender at the apartment bar is JASON, a friend of the husband and I’s. Free drinks last night, and he refused a tip. Now that’s good service!)
1.It’s probably not you.
Serving– People are mean. They want somebody to take their anger out on, and a server is perfect bait. They don’t know you, and it is the easiest and most cowardly to take your problems out on a perfect stranger. If one little thing goes wrong and the person is already having a bad day (or life), be prepared to get an earful. Stay calm, nod your head, listen and never retaliate. Even if you did absolutely nothing wrong and it’s someone elses fault entirely, take the blame and don’t get sassy. It’s just not worth losing that tip, man. Oh, and they’ll probably feel really stupid afterward.
Life– I have a harder time with this one. If someone hurts my feelings or says something totally uncalled for, I want and almost feel I need to retaliate. I still haven’t mastered it but I’ve learned to take a few deep breaths first and remember– They have a reason for doing this. They’re hurting or they’re angry and whether it’s my fault or not, hell, blame it on me if it helps you. Again, It’s just not worth it.
(Courtney was my lovely date to Tonic and then after Kirby Lane, the perfect spot for all tipsy people. The service was impeccable and the food was great. That’s me and my new lover, Red Velvet. Oh la la)
Serving– This took me a while to get down when I was a server. There is a lot to do in a short amount of time and you can never just focus on one thing. This is also the hardest part for some of my fellow coworkers. There’s one girl in particular who absolutely shines with customers but has a harder time making mixes and restocking. The thing is, if we aren’t stocked and our mixes aren’t made…customers ain’t gonna be happy just talking to you all day. We’ve talked about this and she admits to having a hard time balancing. It’s tricky, but essential. Practice makes perfect in this case, so keep trying.
Life-I have a really hard time balancing life. I have no problem jumping into things,making new friends, gulping up all the knowledge around me,going new places, doing anything and everything I can to live life but balancing life is a lot harder in my case. I’ve started making notes and plans to myself on my refrigerator to keep myself in check and not overbook or double book myself. It’s not organized, but it’s definitely a start.
(I took my brother to Kobe Japanese Steakhouse for his 18th. I mentioned his birthday and they brought him a cake AND pretty chopsticks that came with a pretty box. Man. I shoulda mentioned it was almost my birthday too.)
3. Take a breather-
Serving– I remember there were times I would just go into the bathroom to cry as a waitress. I needed that little break to help me recoup, to get over a really hard moment, or to think of what to do or say next. Sometimes you just need to catch your breath, and get ready to go back out their with your game face on.
Life– I have got to learn to slow down. I am just constantly going and it occasionally wears me out. The past month, I’ve completely slowed down my pace. Taken time to smell the roses, Enjoy the little things, and Breathe. I’m picking it up again, and yes, I’m up and ready to go back to the crazy life.
4. Have their back, Homie will have yours too.
Serving– There are times when you really just need to help a gal/dude out. Whether it be making frapuchinos when you were supposed to go on lunch or bringing the meal down to their table, Sometimes a little goes a long long way. When you’re overwhelmed you’ll need that helping hand too, And they’ll remember that you were there for them.
Life– There have been times in my life when friends have just become so overly needy or clingy that it’s hard not to distance myself. But there have been times when I’ve been in some major need and I think of the handful or two of gems that have been there through it all with me through the years. Be there for them, Have their backs when they need someone to hold them up. If they’re a true friend, They’ll have yours too.
Serving– When the job is the hardest and the people are at their bitchiest, just remember to smile. Don’t just smile, but laugh. Have fun. I’ve learned not only does it make you feel good, but it makes people with chips on their shoulders pissed off too. It’s a double whammy of joy, and all you have to do is have a good time. Why not,right?
Life- At the top of the list of my life goals is to be happy. What more could you ask for than to lead a happy life? Not much is better than that and it’s something that so many people do without. I am going to smile, and I am going to be happy even if it kills me. I will die laughing,damnit.