So yesterday was the first day of my new job as a waiter. The night started off well as I pulled fruitlessly at the locked door to the resturaunt. I had to call into the resturaunt before someone noticed I was locked outside and they let me in like a neglected pet dog. I walked in and was greeted by the head chef and a line cook named Justin who would show me the ropes of how to set up before people started arriving.
I rolled some silverware, I made some coffee, I checked to make sure all kinds of things were stocked. I eagerly awaited my first opportunity to sit someone down and say, “Hello, my name is Ryan, and I’ll be your server today,” with a smile on my face that would make a Barbie doll look clinically depressed.
Things were about ready and another server and the bartender came in. It was five o’clock and we opened. I waited. …now when I said “I waited” sadly I was not waiting tables. I waited for people to show up. Eventually a couple came in and the other server, Fran, sat them down and began taking their orders. I listened and watched, shadowing her. A little while later, a second couple came in. Fran sat them down as well began taking their orders. As I stood there shadowing her, I couldn’t help thinking back to the first day I rode a two-wheeler bicycle…
I was in kindergarten in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. The other kids my age hadn’t abandoned their training wheels yet, but I saw some of the “big kids” on their two-wheelers, so I knew I wanted to go training wheel-less. So After a little convincing, I got my dad to take me out to teach me how to ride a two wheeler. Before I got on, I asked him, “How do I do it?”
He told me that once you pick up some speed, balancing on the two-wheeler is pretty easy. So like every good dad in the history of mankind, he put me on my first two-wheeler and held me as I started peddling. Almost a immediately I started shouting, “Let go! Let go!” Because I knew that I wasn’t going to go very fast if he was holding on the whole way. “Are you sure?” He asked warily. “Yes!” I shouted. So he did. And I took off down the road.
Attempting to stop resulted in me falling over, but it was cute and I was triumphant. And here’s how it relates to my waitering story…
The next group that came in was a group of four. “I got this,” I said confidently. “Are you sure you’re ready for a group of four?” Gary asked skeptically. “The question is, is the group of four ready for me?” I wish I had replied. Instead I said “yes,” and waltzed on over to the table like I owned the place. I took down drink orders and sent them to the bartender, he filled them out and I came back over with the drinks and took down their orders for food. I brought the order back, tallied it up and then sent it off to the kitchen.
I thought to myself, Self, waitering isn’t all that bad. Then another group came in, this one a group of three. I seated them and got their drink orders quickly. Then another group of four came in and I took them, got their drinks. Then I got the orders for the group of three, then I got another group of two come in, then I had to get deserts for the first group, food for the second group, order for the third group, and drinks for the fourth group.
I learned fast.
Making numerous rookie mistakes along the way I did fifteen covers out of the forty for the night. Gary and Fran had the rest. I got orders right, but keeping the timing was key, and one guy needed a refill on water every two minutes (and I wish I was exaggerating). I found myself having too much to do at one second, and nothing to do a minute and a half later. Eventually all I wanted to do was join my third group and have a Martini with them, but alas…
Likely the most important things I can take from the experience is that I now know that waitering is not particularly physically taxing. I never found myself lifting anything more than forty pounds and that’s really not that much. I also now know that it’s not that hard to interact with the guests. Even the grumpy, judging ones can be dealt with easily. However, the job is stressful. Timing everything and organizing orders and whatnot is something I need to improve on soon and quickly. Still… It was a hell of a lot of fun.
Wish me luck tonight!