How I Developed Patience via Serving

My favorite gaming company just put out a new video game this week that has me pretty distracted from reality – Diablo 3. Because I am a super nerd, I made sure I had the day off the day the game came out. After all, I needed ample time to feed my gaming addiction.

When I got my schedule for this week, I was pretty stoked to see the day after the game came out I was working a quick in-and-out shift. I would be there 3 hours at max, maybe leave $50-60 bucks richer and go about my merry-gaming way.

I was, of course, disappointed to find that we actually had a little business, but quickly turned my attitude around reminding myself that money is money. Can’t complain about walking with a large amount of tips, right?

As always, I wasn’t actually in my assigned station (refer to “Dear Co-workers”). I came into a station that was half occupied. I found myself growing more and more irritated with my evening since I was not getting my way; not only was I not getting my way, but it looked like I was going to be twiddling my thumbs for most of the evening.

I only have two major pet peeves in our industry: being bored and when “co-workers” fuck with my money. Seeing that I was going to be the restaurant’s bitch for the evening just pissed me off further. I’d rather be home casting spells and killing monsters to avenge Deckard Cain’s death!

I made myself busy: helping co-workers, running food, re-stocking, etc. I kept entertained with the usual busy work to pass the time. I saw peoples’ sections filling up while I only had a couple of tables. We were on a wait and I had a party of three whom, while very pleasant and friendly, were campers and another grouchy regular who thought she knew the menu better than I did.

My station happened to be right next to the patio, and I had been taken from patio to come inside with the assumption I would still be picking up patio tables. I am Superfuckingawesome Serverwoman, after all.

The patio started to get slammed since it was such a nice day. I was running smoothly until one of our bussers accidently tipped my tray just the slightest that dumped my four glasses of water, strawberry lemonade and milk all over my black apron and white shirt. It looked like a cross between a bad attempt to dye my shirt pink and like someone had unloaded all over my apron. Initially irritated and wanting to yell at him, I went about retrieving more refills knowing this would put me behind.

With some help after the spill, I caught up and got back into the groove. Superfuckingawesome Serverwoman was back in business, even if I smelled like an army of infants had just thrown up on me.

About this time, I had gotten sat with a party of two on the patio. I still had the campers inside and one other table. No biggie, I mentally coached myself, I only have a few tables indoors. I greeted the party of two quickly, noticing that the hostesses and manager were trying to figure out how to fit a party of fourteen out there.

I walked to the table, prepared to run through my opening spiel. I gave my icebreaker “How are you?” and immediately was greeted with a slow, movie-dramatic eye shift. The glare apparent on her face, she informed me they would need a minute before I could even get my name out. I nodded with a sincere “no problem” and turned to walk away. She put her hand up to grab my attention as I turned and gave a rude, “Wait, wait, we need some drinks.”

You just asked for a minute, you dumb bitch. Instead of retaliating, I launched into robotic and artificial enthusiastic offerings of our season cocktails and beers. She was extremely displeased with this, and informed me she wanted seven-up. When I let her know we had Sierra Mist, she looked even more put out. I wanted to look up and check if the sky was crumbling, but alas, it was still there.

She thought for a good minute (literally, they had time to seat the whole party and drop menus before she decided) and informed me should would like some of that stuff that turns the drink sweet. Wow. Apparently, soda isn’t sweet enough for her. My telepathy seemed to be broken so I gave her my most innocent confused face to which she responded, “You know, that stuff. (extremely concentrated pause) I think it’s red.”

I couldn’t help but smirk, trying not to openly mock her, and ask, “Grenadine?”

“Yeah, that stuff that makes the drink red and sweet,” she repeated.

The rest of the order went like that: looking pissed if I made suggestions, upset if I didn’t read her mind, and her husband egging her on the whole time.

What felt like an eternity later, I had their whole order down and was about to walk away when she informed me she had one last question: “Is there anyone who can go to my car to get my jacket?”

I laughed out loud, unable to help myself. Giving her a smug “Nope!” I quickly walked away before she could ask me any more ridiculous questions.

I greeted the party of fourteen after delivering the Shirley Temples and was pleasantly surprised by how polite, patient, and entertaining they were. After dealing with psycho, self-absorbed bitch, I probably would have been happy even if the party had been a bunch of pre-teens.

For the next half hour I was busy with drink and food orders, occasionally checking on my campers and the “charming” couple. Things were flying by smoothly; the miserable couple seemed to chipper up after their food was delivered.

Just as they were becoming bearable, though, they had to make sure to finish off the night with one last misery-filled complaint.

I had just delivered all the bar drinks to the large party when I had forgotten that she had asked for a small supply of things for their meal (ranch for her portion of the salad that she was sharing with her husband, more alfredo sauce, more dressing for the husband, butter)  probably a good 5-7 minutes ago. For those of you that work in the business, you know this is probably enough time for her to already have finished the meal. Once realizing all that I had forgotten, my heart plummeted.

I approached their table cautiously, asking if everything was okay. She does another slow, dramatic eye-shift from her food to me and launches into a tirade, “Excuse me, my meal is just about done! Where is all that stuff I asked for!? What did I even ask you for?”

I immediately apologized and began listing off the things she wanted, but she cut me off before I could finish with the perfect amount of you’re my slave tone, bitchiness and pure hatred for life, “I’m still waiting.” The look on her face was perfectly straight and expectant that I make all of the things she wanted appear in my hand with only two bites of her meal left.

I went on the rest of the night baffled by her statement. I’ve met some pretty horrid people in my time, but never someone who blatantly, to my face, disrespects me as a person. I understand her frustration; she practically finished her meal in the time it took for me to return to even check on her. I take full responsibility for my shitty serving moment.

But to treat me as less than a human who makes mistakes? I was, for once, silenced. I just looked at her, dumbfounded. And then of course, I laughed.

And the rest, well it hardly matters.

You could get mad. You could get pissed off. You could spit in her food. You could grab her by her weave and slam her face in between the door and its stopper like I thought about doing. But the simple fact is she will get no greater satisfaction out of you than your reaction, no matter how big or small. And I had no greater satisfaction than letting her know she had no power over me.

Serving has taught me an incredible amount of patience because I’ve seen the worst of the worst, as many of you have. I’ve used life’s waste of space to develop a sense of being “the bigger person.” Don’t get me wrong, I get tired of it – as every server should and will. But nine times out of ten, it’s not worth arguing with them.

If I had gotten upset, it would have effected the rest of my night. It would have effected the way I served my other tables, which in turns hurts my money. My focus is always the bigger picture – it helps to keep things in perspective.

Plus, it makes for awesome stories to tell your friends who aren’t servers about all the awful things other people do so they tip better.

I’m off to slay more dragons.
Good luck in your next horrid adventure, tell me if you have any success stories; I would love to hear them!

2 responses to “How I Developed Patience via Serving

  1. Excellent post. I have to learn from you to laugh at the stupid and not let it affect me so much

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