5 Reasons Everyone Should Work In a Restaurant At Least Once

female waitress holding plate of food in restaurantHow hard could it be? Take an order, make an order, serve an order, clean the table, and do it again. Actually, restaurant work is about the hardest work you'll find, but it's also laced with some of the best life lessons one can earn.

Want to learn appreciation and respect? Restaurants are only second to the military for teaching these traits. Need to learn to make good friends? Again, combat is about the only way to develop these kinds of deep bonds. Not sure why the right management style is so important? Only field generals know how to manage under the pressure restaurant managers face. Why should you try out restaurant work? 


1. You'll Develop Skin as Thick as an African Elephant 

Like war, the restaurant environment is conducive to the absolute worst in people. They're hungry, often rushed, sometimes tired, and want to be served. People don't come to restaurants because they're in the DIY mood, they come for the sole purpose of having someone else prepare their meal, serve it kindly to them, and clean up their stinking mess afterwards. 

People who are ordinarily thoughtful, generous, respectful, and gracious morph into arrogant, demanding, trifling, petty, picky, filthy beasts when they're seated. They'll insult your intelligence, mock your station in life, complain about everything you do, complain about everything you don't do, and report you to your manager if you don't adequately thank them for their insults. The upside? After that, the rest of life (IRS agents, crabby DOT workers, and telemarketers) just doesn't bother you anymore. 

If you could use a thicker skin, restaurant work is a great way to learn how to ignore petty insults and do stellar work anyway. It's good training for wherever you end up in life. 



2. You'll Learn the True Meaning of Respect 

When you see people in a restaurant who actually are being kind to the wait staff, don't assume they're just naturally good people. They're not. They are either currently or previously employed restaurant workers. Nobody understands forgetting an iced tea, dropping the dinner rolls, or taking 15 minutes to bring extra napkins except those who've been in those trenches. 

After working at a restaurant for even a short time, you'll have a newfound respect for your fellow humans. You'll no longer wonder why the gal at the drive through can't manage to understand, "no cheese," and you won't be impatient when the new cashier doesn't know how the cash register works.

You'll be patient, and you'll be respectful for what it takes to learn a job that everyone thinks is a no-brainer, but is actually as complicated as working a Rubik's cube while juggling flaming batons and changing a baby's diaper, all at the same time. 



3. You'll Learn to Work Well With Others: Or Face the Consequences 

Restaurant workers are a lot like siblings. During the busy hours, it takes every hand on deck to wait the tables, prep the food, clean up and do it all over again. The ability to get a restroom break or grab a bite to eat once within 10 hours depends on making good friends with your fellow workers. 

People who give their coworkers a nasty attitude, or fail to help them out when they're in a pickle, won't have any volunteers when they need to pop in the restroom, stuff something in their mouths, or make a quick call home to check on their dying mother. Restaurant work teaches you to scratch the backs of others, so you can get your on scratched in turn. 

Need to learn how to be a team player? Restaurants show you how important teamwork is, and teaches you how to leverage it in the rest of your life. 



4. You'll Learn How to Do Without in the Land of Plenty 

The easiest place to starve to death in this country is between the kitchen and tables of a restaurant. Yes, the food is there. No, there isn't any way you'll get any in the near future. Many people go through life never really learning how to do without, even for relatively short periods of time. But restaurant workers learn quickly how to starve to death in silence while lugging endless heaps of food to other people. 

Hours are long, and the best times to work are when everyone else is ready to play. Holidays, weekends, nights -- those times when others are done working and ready to go out and have fun are the times when restaurant workers have to apron up and get a move on. Workers often go eight or more hours without a break. Like boot camp, it makes you tough. 

Why subject yourself to this? Because once you learn how to put your current needs aside and address the situation at hand, you can handle most any job thrown at you. You learn how to work quickly, how to get it right no matter how fast you have to go, and how to maintain a good attitude while doing it. These are skills every employer wants and needs. 


5. You'll Learn the True Importance of a Great Manager 

Good managers are the most underrated people on the planet. At a restaurant, this is easy to observe. A bad manager drives away the best employees, alienates the customers, and assuring that the quality of food deteriorates to that of a first grader's school lunch left on the bus during summer vacation.

The good manager does the exact opposite: luring the best workers and motivating them to do even better. Managing to please (most of) the customers without hanging their staff members out to dry. They help build an environment where the chef can do his best work, raising the quality of the food and drink offerings ever higher. 

Restaurants can instill all the values of respect, teamwork, and good management skills as the military, only without all the danger. These skills are valuable wherever you go and whatever you do the rest of your life. Serve on! 

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