I have been in the medical field in one form or fashion since I was 16 years old, why then, did I pick waitressing anytime I was between jobs and how did I perform the job at a level similar to my phlebotomy positions? I guess it came down to my basic work ethic, I wanted to make my boss proud of me, I wanted to be proud of myself for a job well done, and ultimately, I wanted to make the most money that I could in the short time I knew I’d be at the job. These were temporary positions every time.
The first time I ever waitressed was for my best friend’s brother Kent, he managed a country western bar in Ft Worth and a couple of his girls had called in sick. He asked his sister Kaye if she and I wanted to make a little money and help him out in the process. I timidly agreed, I had never waitressed before, so I was nervous. He was calm and sweet, telling us just to relax and be nice to the customers, it wasn’t that hard to deliver drink orders, we would be fine. And, we were! I recall making good tips and Kent was so appreciative we helped out when he was in a bind.
Since my normal job was phlebotomy, taking blood from clients at the cancer center, (or wherever I was doing the job) waitressing seems like such a leap from the strict medical environment I was used to. Really, it is strict in its own way, menus to memorize, making sure the orders are brought out correctly and delivered to the right table, always remaining cheerful, even when you wanted to dump food or drink on a customer’s head sometimes…it was not easy work, just less life threatening I guess. I remember coming home from a waitressing job I had at Bill Martin’s Seafood restaurant one time, my feet hurt so bad, my hubby actually sat on the couch and rubbed them for me. So it was physically harder, but the tips made up for it…some of the time.
I’ve been a cocktail waitress, a seafood waitress and a waitress for a pie pantry called Tippin’s, which is no longer in business. When I was in the army, I even had a brief career as a waitress in a nightclub, but running from the boss’s constant attempts to touch me had me seeking other employment quick. Not to mention the customers always wanting to pinch or slap my butt, I prefer food waitressing to any of that nonsense. I found that the tips were better the fancier the restaurant, however, the menu was harder to memorize as well. Just like any job, the better the opportunity for earning good money, the harder, more challenging the job is. So don’t forget your servers people!! They are working hard for you, not to mention, also putting up with a lot of crap, whether it’s from the boss, other employees that may be jealous for one reason or another, or just grumpy customers who are never satisfied. I was glad the job at Tippin’s didn’t last long, by the way, the food was so good, had I stayed much longer I would have been the size of a large house.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to serve people as a waitress, it taught me a lot about dealing with the public, which helped me in my job as a phlebotomist. I cared about my “patients” just like I wanted to please my “customers”. Sick people can be grumpy as well, I learned to handle them gently and tried not to inflict any extra pain that what their disease or ailment was already delivering. I learned to keep a smile on my face, even if I was sad that day, or hurting inside because I knew the truth of their illness (that they were likely going to die soon), I could not let that knowledge transfer to my patients, so I smiled instead and asked them about their lives. I got to know them without getting too close, getting close was dangerous for my heart, I couldn’t stand for it to be broken repeatedly. I made the mistake one time and it took me forever to get over it. I felt like the loss was just as devastating as losing a loved one, my heart could not bear that more than once.
Waitressing taught me lots of other skills and lessons too, organization, working well with others, the customer is always right (even when they’re not), memorization, balance, how to properly set a table, dishwashing, menial tasks, food prep and more. Maybe that helped with all the hats I had to wear in my regular job as a phlebotomist as well, there was a lot more to my job than simply drawing their blood and labeling the tubes. I learned to be painless yet efficient, I worked quickly to get the room cleared so the doctors could get their results faster, I did other chores like specimen processing and data entry, dealt with cranky co-workers who always seemed to “have it out for me” and most of the time I kept a smile on my face. It is easier and takes less energy to be happy than it does to emit anger all the time. I had to be careful though, I’ve been told I wear my emotions on my face, my boss could always tell when I was stressed out or something was wrong.
I never got told that as a waitress though, maybe it was because I always had short assignments or maybe I felt happier and more at ease in that role. Was it because I knew it was temporary, cause it sure wasn’t easier, I don’t know. It was always the job I picked as my go-to, in-between job though. It was the only other skill I had besides phlebotomy and I knew I could handle it. I guess I owe a debt of gratitude to my best friend’s brother Kent for that very first waitressing opportunity because, without it, I would have never had a second career possibility. Would I choose that job as my in-between today? Probably not, but it’s nice to know I have it in my arsenal just the same. When my husband stops doing what he does and becomes a famous chef in a five-star restaurant, my skills will come in handy. 😉