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You can learn life lessons from waiting tables – The Bona Venture

Tyler worked in food service this summer at Pizza E Birra in his hometown Tyler Smith / The Bonaventure smithtj19@bonaventure.edu
BY TYLER SMITH, STAFF WRITER
Working in a packed restaurant on a Friday night as a teenager can be stressful, yet so rewarding for later in life. That young server wants to stop and argue with each customer complaint, but the possibility of going home with good tip money keeps him going.
That high schooler doesn’t realize that while the tip money will serve him in the short term, the experience will serve him for the rest of his life. Working in food service while growing up teaches valuable skills including strong communication, efficiency and attention to detail. Whether serving a cheeseburger or working in an emergency room, good communication is vital in the workplace. In a restaurant’s case, the staff must work together and with the customers to ensure smooth operation. That begins with proper communication.
When the kitchen runs out of asparagus, the chefs must make sure the servers know not to give it out. The server must relay the information to the customers, so they know not to order it. When the workload becomes too heavy, servers must learn to ask for help, accept it and reciprocate it later. Sometimes these scenarios or even certain coworkers can be difficult. But learning to speak civilly while also making a point prepares one for even tougher future instances. 
Strenuous situations such as when a journalist investigates a scandal, he or she must work efficiently to tell the whole truth. The same goes for restaurants. As a busser I would think to myself, “How can I maximize this trip to the kitchen?” I learned to constantly move around to make sure Karen has her extra bread and doesn’t complain. Even for the worst customers, servers know they must work efficiently to make tips and keep the boss happy. Well-organized work can help create systems and routines that will make daily tasks move along quicker. 
Upon learning to work efficiently and create those routines, the young server begins to learn attention to detail. Many restaurant owners act strictly about the maintenance of their business – and rightfully so. 
The boss comes over to the young server polishing silverware and voices displeasure. He or she tells the kid to start over. The kid would make sure for each following shift, those utensils appeared spotless. Each inch of the restaurant floor would be swept and mopped.] My boss once scolded me in front of the other servers for folding the linen napkins with the seams facing out.  It never happened again. 
People who serve in a restaurant growing up might not absorb these lessons. Regardless, the restaurant industry offers adolescents the opportunity to learn applicable life skills. Looking for your first job? Work in food service and be rewarded now and later.
smithtj19@bonaventure.edu
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