Serve, and You Can Do Anything

Elizabeth Sabatini

From the beginning of starting my position as a waitress at a burger joint, I have always been a master at faking my smile. A shy person by nature, I did my best to put on a grin and make it seem as if I was at ease with this new setting, as I had never been a waitress before.

How hard can this be? I thought to myself, thinking that my experience as a supervisor at a popular Italian ice establishment would prepare me for my new job. I was more wrong than I have ever been in my whole life.

Serving is not an easy job. Over the years, I’ve had thousands of employers. You read that correctly. Think about it: my employer pays me a whole $2.13 to perform a myriad of tasks, but my true employers are the countless tables who’ve tipped me during my time as a waitress.

Fast forward past the monotony of serving customers the same food day in and day out for about three and a half years since I first put on that apron, and I continue my charade of being a “happy waitress.” I go to work dreading the shift ahead of me, but I smile at every one of my tables, only thinking of their tips that will help pay my bills.

So what makes me hate my job so much, you might be wondering? Although it may sound clichéd, I really feel like I have seen or heard it all in my time working at this restaurant.

Here are some memorable things that have really happened to me, making me genuinely miserable and outwardly happy:

A table splitting their check, but only paying one half, leaving me to pay the rest.

A woman changing her baby’s diaper on her lap in the middle of a busy day and then handing the dirty diaper to me to throw out.

Accidentally stepping on a mouse in the middle of the restaurant, ultimately squashing its little mousy face and killing it.

Having a man with special needs slap my ass repeatedly and not being able to do anything about it.

Feeling judged negatively by my manager because I admitted I never smoked pot before.

Dropping a tray of fries during a rush and walking around with chili cheese fries on my pants for the rest on my shift.

Not having the lovely conveniences of a host, busboy, or dishwasher and being expected to do the work of all these people, plus that of a server for my feeble base pay.

And somehow I survived all of these things.

I will not lie to you, making you think every moment of servicing diners is absolutely dreadful. Occasionally, customers and managers are not assholes, and they realize that you are a human being with dreams and goals, if you get personal enough with them.

For example, all of my managers have been supportive enough to schedule me around my classes and side jobs, and nice enough to let me work in the mornings because night shifts are my personal hell.

And I have a great regular who always requests me, leaves me a good tip, and tells me that I am better than my job and that I will move onto better things after college.

So I guess I don’t always fake my smile.

I’m not that shy girl who was so cautious just a few short years ago. I have learned to assert myself when I need to. Coworkers have even told me they didn’t think I was approachable at first because of my don’t-take-shit-from-anyone-at-work attitude.

Because of my crazy experiences, I feel like I can handle anything a future employer throws at me… even if that means sweeping up a bloody Mickey Mouse off of the floor to start my day.