The Prestige

I’ve done it.

I’ve finally figured out what keeps me from being a good server.

It didn’t come to me in a dream or epiphany, but rather steadily over the last few weeks.

Since I started in the service industry at the very beginning of 2012, I have improved a great deal. My mind and body sync up a little more nicely now, and I owe a lot of that to having to “deal” with people all day. I started as a hostess, moved on to a bartender after a few months, and now, I do a little bit of everything from bartending, serving, hosting, even training new employees and I even know how to work in some (easier) parts of the kitchen. Getting along with and connecting with my coworkers and feeling an actual desire to do well at this job helped me gain a lot of my sanity back.

As mentioned, I started serving after bartending and hosting for a while. I didn’t like just being a hostess. All these servers talking about their tips and tables and knowing when to bring salads and all the menu items and where everything was… so dreamy. PLUS they got to wear the long, slender-like pinstripe apron I wanted to be able to wear. Two giant pockets. Anyway I started bartending because the managers thought I’d be good at it. I was. Everyone I worked with loved me because of my work ethic. I always strived to do everything the right way, while also being a crowd pleaser overall. Then, I started getting bored.

Yeah, I got to wear an apron and serve tables sometimes, but this apron was tiny, and I wasn’t really making any of the tip money I kept hearing about from the servers. I wanted to know how to dole out change from my personal bank and carry big trays more than twice a week.

The servers all seemed to be in a special club, too. They just glided like serving was the most natural, easy, and financially rewarding job. Sometimes it got really busy, but as long as the hosts didn’t seat them 100 tables all over the restaurant, they normally seemed fine.

Then I got to be a server. My hours in this job code increased, and I kissed the bar and the podium goodbye for a time. I got to wear my heavy apron and get my own server book to put pictures of my loved ones in. I got to take orders and sing happy birthday and complain when I got a table who wouldn’t give me the time of day… just like I’ve always wanted! (At least for the year leading up to that point.)

Unfortunately, I started serving full-time during the busiest time of the year. During our namesake promotion, I served tables for 50 hours a week for a little bit (while overtime was allowed) and made a lot of money, and a pretty high cost. I had my first panic attack at my new job. Not only had I gone over a year without one, but it had been so long since a job stressed me out. I had to go home early and I cried so hard I threw up repeatedly. Every time I walked back to the kitchen for biscuit refills or tea pitchers I’d start balling and heaving.

I think it traumatized me a little. I used to be really gung-ho about being this great server who cared about everyone and never made less than 20%.

Eventually, I stopped caring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not heartless or lacking compassion. When people come in for a birthday or anniversary I really do care! I think it’s exciting! Everyone should be able to feel good about going out and having fun on their special occasions. On the other hand, I can’t make myself talk about more than the bare minimum. I do the singing, I do the little jokes, but I don’t let myself really care. People have started to scare me so much, that I just don’t really care about them as much as I used to.

It really sucks because I think of all these connecting things I could say, but I never get out there to say it, because I’m afraid they’ll look at me funny or say it’s none of my business. Things of that nature.

It’s gotten worse. It’s why I’ve actually asked to go back to seating tables instead of serving them, but in reality, I can’t support myself on those wages anymore. I tried getting a second job to help my brain cope with serving to make the most out of my hours, but I hate the responsibility at the new job more, therefore causing me to raise my hours serving tables again.

Maybe this is all the new anti-depressant’s fault. Who knows. Either way, I can’t wait until I graduate and get to work at home with my cat.

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2 thoughts on “The Prestige

  1. First I have a question: Why doesn’t working the bar garner tips??

    Also, just general thoughts reading through this: See, I think the opposite. I think it’s super important to connect with people and respect them as these weird separate entities who have lives and desires just like you do. I believe in empathy and kindness, but this doesn’t mean you HAVE to strike up a conversation and make sure that they know that you don’t hate them. I think it’s a personal inner peace that makes the world better from the inside out.

    However. I think that menial jobs deserve menial-type effort. Reading through your posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an intelligent, creative, thoughtful, funny, candid, and a special snowflake, and your efforts shouldn’t be invested in a server position. Your creativity and talent should go toward art and love and the talents you naturally possess. I think it’s a shame when talented Type A personalities invest so much time and effort in people-pleasing and arbitrary societal rules that they don’t have enough of their talents left over for the things they’re exceptional at.

    I could never, ever survive a server position, so maybe my take is completely off-base. However, if I had to do it, I would try to be observant, curious, and kind, but I would definitely do the bare minimum to keep my job and make enough tips. At the end of your life, no one will care that you always arrived to work on time and never mixed up a drinks order—it will only matter how much kindness, self-respect, and beauty you brought into the world.

  2. Working in the bar I do make tips, just not as many because we’re not a restaurant people really come to to drink at.
    As for everything else, I really don’t know what to say. I appreciate the nice things of course! I’m just really scared of everyone who walks in because I’m afraid they’ll yell at me. I shouldn’t care, but I do. It’s something I have to work with. I wish I gave more energy to things I like… maybe one day. (It’s always “maybe one day”)
    Thank you very much for the comment, and I hope you’re doing well ❤

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