Food & Nutrition

10 Lifelong Lessons Learned from Waiting Tables

Waiting tables taught us some valuable lessons that we still use today—outside of restaurants.

Close up African American waiter hands with notebook, taking customer order in cafe or restaurant, coffeehouse worker wearing black apron serving client, writing down, service conceptfizkes/Shutterstock

When you work a serving job, you fill your brain with all sorts of ultra-specific knowledge, like what side comes with which dish, what the happy hour specials are, and which cook can put up a plate on the double. Once you hang up your apron, you might think you’ll never use those skills again.

That is until you’re readying for a dinner party and all of a sudden you find yourself remembering the right way to polish a wine glass. It turns out that some of these lessons are more useful than we ever knew. Check out some of the most valuable lessons our staffers have learned while working at restaurants.

Teamwork

Cheerful caucasian barista giving five african american waitress for great job during teamwork in own cafeteria.Positive diverse male and female employees in aprons collaborating on successful startupGaudiLab/Shutterstock

“It’s important to build good relationships with your coworkers. It’s nice to know someone has your back and can quickly bring that extra side of ketchup to your table when you have your hands full—and you can do the same for them!” —Katie Bandurski, Assistant Editor

Attention to detail

Fork, knife and napkin, very shallow focusKondor83/Shutterstock

“Where I worked, it wasn’t uncommon to have to roll 30 to 40 silverware bundles each night. I considered myself pretty good at this task—polishing each fork and knife, creating a neat fold and neatly stacking each bundle until it formed a stack that was nearly a foot high. One night my manager took a glance at my giant tower of silverware and told me to do them all again. Ten years later I can still feel my shock and anger—I was so proud! She pointed out that I had rolled the napkins with the seams facing the outside. ‘You must pay attention to even the smallest detail,’ she said. To this day, you won’t find a napkin folded with the seams out on my table—and I know to pay attention to the tiniest details of any task.” —Nicole Doster, Senior Editor

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