Thursday, March 1, 2012

What I Learned from Bartending and Waiting Tables

My friend Gabriela and me. Late 90's. Met her waiting tables. Love her to this day.

I've felt challenged by a couple posts I've read, lately, to write down everything I learned from tending bar and waiting tables. It's been a long time, now, since I've done either, but I'm proud to have done both because, honestly? I carry these lessons with me every day, and each of them makes me a stronger force for the Kingdom of God. As you read what I've written, below, I challenge you to consider how these lessons might be applied to a Christian Walk.

  • Everyone prefers his or her cup at least half-full.
  • People are hungry for more than food and thirsty for more than whatever you can pour in their glasses.
  • The people in front of you deserve your perfect attention. They've been put there for a reason. But realize:
  • Perfect attention isn't constant attention; it's pleasant attention. It's attention with a genuine smile.
  • It doesn't matter what you did before or what you do after: if you dump all you carry on someone, it's over. Best not to expect otherwise.
  • Some people will run you just to run you, for reasons you'll never understand. No matter how hard or fast you run, those same people will almost certainly fail to give back. Don't allow them to run you to the point that you neglect the others you're serving: people who will give back, if you serve them well.
  • Every now and then, you'll be utterly confused and stunned by the ingratitude of others. Don't chase them down; let them go because--no matter what you do or say--it's not likely they'll turn around and throw you a bone of any sort.
  • Don't let one bad experience ruin all your other experiences.
  • It's much less important for you to deliver the main course than for the the main course to be delivered on time. Be thankful if someone else delivers it hot; you still have the opportunity to make sure it goes down well.
  • You can't do it all. If you make a point of helping others when they need it, someone will be there to help you when you need it.
  • People with "lesser jobs" matter. Greeters, bussers, dishwashers, etc. matter. Don't look down your nose.
  • Honesty matters. If you've messed up, best to say so. Everyone will feel better about the situation.
  • Consolidate your resources.
  • While you're getting something for someone, ask yourself: how can I serve a second person, right now? Or a third? How can I make this effort pay off for more than one person? In other words:
  • View all your tables as the one, big table it is. It's all you, Honey.
  • Wear slip resistant shoes and watch your footing. If you fall and seriously injure yourself, you might not be able to work at all.
  • People will take you more seriously if you know what the hound dog you're talking about, also if you've bothered to look and smell your best self.
  • There's no shame in taking notes. It's impressive to be able to remember an order...until you can't, or don't. 
  • Every now and then, you'll find yourself in the weeds at the same time as everyone around you. It won't be pretty, but you'll all survive. (Or, as my great-grandma used to say: "This too shall pass.") Tell yourself that
  • Sometimes other people will sink your ship and sink it fast. Respond with kindness and respect, but don't pretend like you haven't noticed. Truth in love: it's always the way to go. I refuse to stop speaking my mind; God gave it to me for a reason!

If you've tended bar or waited tables, do you have any thoughts to contribute?

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