Day 100: Reasons why everyone should work in a restaurant at least once.
Instead of talking about what I had for dinner on the 100th day of my Happy days food version challenge, I want to tell you something about myself. When I was reading Law in UK, I worked in a well established Malaysian restaurant in London part-time and full-time during term break. My experience there shaped who I am today. This is the reason why I think everyone should experience working in a restaurant at least once in their life time.
1. Self-respect: I remember feeling like a complete worthless servant when a customer literally snapped his finger to call for me. Slouching on his chair snapping his finger as I walked away from another table. To avoid being in serious trouble, I could only smile and ask what I can help him with. Your self-respect is challenged nightly when you work in a restaurant. You learn that there will always be people who will make you feel bad about yourself like those who belittle you and talk down to you. Self respect is about learning to look past all that bullshit and learn that those people and their opinion of you does not matter. You know you better than anyone else.
2. Manners: Working in a restaurant helps me appreciate good manners. A simple please and thank you will suffice. I feel happy when customers treat me like a human being. When they acknowledge that I am a human being, not a robot that is there to serve them food. I was not particularly rude, but my manners were rather slacking before I worked in a restaurant. Now, whenever I dine out, I never fail to thank my waiters and say please whenever I am ordering. I apologise a lot more when I feel like I am troubling them. Most time than not, I would eat what was given to me rather than returning it to the kitchen unless it was not edible. From my observations, Malaysian tends to be rude to their waiters. We don’t practice saying “please” and “thank you” here and that frustrates me. Most times when they are ordering, they will say “give me…” instead of “can I please have…”. I think little changes like that can help make people’s day. I know it made my day when I have polite customers.
3. Patience: As you all know, diners can sometimes be a pain in the ass. Some are just impatient brats, others trying to impress their company. Being patient with disrespectful strangers might just be the most useful skills I have learnt. Being able to put aside personal preferences in order to get the job done, takes a lot of effort. But patient is a virtue. You will learn that quickly working in a restaurant.
4. Wait to be seated: I try to make reservation whenever I can. Especially when I am dining with 4 or more people. It makes it a lot easier for everyone. I also learnt that you should wait to be seated. No matter if there is a sign that says “please wait to be seated” or not. ALWAYS WAIT TO BE SEATED! That restaurant might look empty, but all the seats might already be reserved. It is good manners to wait to be seated.
5. Tipping: It is not the culture in Malaysia to tip. But I always try to tip whenever I am dining in a restaurant. Even my dad made it a habit to tip now because he saw how hard I work when I was a waitress and a good tip always makes me happy. Those who makes ridiculous request and withhold a good tip deserves to be publicly shame! Tipping no matter how little is a sign of appreciation. You might not enjoy the food, but remember that the waiter tried their best to make your dining experience a good one.
6. Do not go into a restaurant unless it is open for another hour: I used to hate customers that comes in 15 minutes before the restaurant closes and stay on for another hour or so. Not cool! Usually restaurants take last orders 30 minutes before it closes. When you do come at that time, please remember that the staffs have a home to go to after a long shift. We can’t kick you out, so just have some respect to leave when the restaurant is closed.
7. Friends for life: When working in a restaurant, you are completely you – very open, unfiltered version of yourself. You go behind the bar and bitch about the customers, eat untouched plate of food that they returned to the kitchen without shame, you no longer care about being professional. The friends you make working in a restaurant last for years because you got to know the stripped down version of them. I ended up with 2 sisters and a 3 years and still counting boyfriend after working in that restaurant.
Just remember diners, no matter who you are, please be nice to your waiter. It is true when they say “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person”. The way you treat your waiter reveals a lot about your character. I have served a successful lawyer, a royal family, a famous designer and they are all nice to their waiter. Those who came in and demand a seat saying “do you know who I am?” is a nobody to me. How much money you make means nothing if you have no manners. It does not cost a penny to be nice.