Lifetime restaurant people are seriously lacking in life skills. By seriously lacking, I mean we don’t have any. I’m not kidding. We literally have no idea how to go about building a successful life. It’s really quite tragic. Because life skills are not that hard to develop. Essentially, having life skills means that you avoid fucking things up. You pay your bills and credit cards on time. You commit to a serious relationship and try to build it. You avoid making any kind of financial decision that can leave you heavily indebted. You avoid excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol.
Lifetime servers cannot master these simple skills. Lifetime servers are essentially, losers. We don’t pay parking tickets on time. We can’t maintain a serious relationship beyond 2 years. We get hooked on marijuana and beer. We all have horrible, horrible credit scores! We don’t know how to properly take care of our car. Our fridges and cupboards are nearly empty even though we have lots of money to spend. Our clothes are always wrinkled. We are always late. Always.
Servers think that waking up at 11:00 am is getting out of bed early. Servers do not make their beds I can assure you. If a server can do a load of laundry, make lunch, feed their cat, and iron their work uniform, and brush their teeth, all before their night shift, they think they are a big time go-getter. They think their moving and shaking. Meanwhile the bills are piling up. Mom has left about 4 messages on the phone. The car is begging for an oil change. The cats are praying to their cat gods that you’ll remember to feed them, or at the least change their litter box. Dishes are piling up in the sink.
Servers live their lives according to one basic principle, “ I’ll do it tomorrow.”
The great tragedy of all this is that servers are blessed with a very important set of skills; social skills. Practically all servers are naturally extroverted. Some more then others, some just a little. Servers have pleasant personalities, gregrarious and outgoing spirits. They have a good sense of humour and infectious laughs. They walk around 8 hours of the day smiling like idiots for no good reason except that it’s their job. They get along well with most people they come across. They feel comfortable at parties and are storytellers and comedians. They have a lot of friends and acquantances and are generally liked by a lot of people.
I know this because I’m one of them. I have a pretty good personality and I’m kind of funny. Not all the time, and it usually requires a couple of beers to bring it out, but I’m funny. I care about people, I know how to handle myself in social occasions. Most people I know really like me. Furthermore I can comfortably say the same about the people I work with and my friends who work at other restaurants.
So given this combination of decent intelligence and excellent social skills, why am I still serving like many other people my age?
Because I just don’t have that thing called “it”. Whatever “it” is, that makes people successful, fulfilled, or at least content. For some reason it’s just not there for me. It’s not like I didn’t have my chances. My parents did everything and beyond to help me succeed. Helping me finance my university studies, buying me a car for graduating, lending me money when I needed it, and providing neverending support.
I earned a couple of degrees. I’ve been working on a graduate degree for nearly a decade! I’ve been surrounded by caring and wonderful friends. I work hard at my job, and I try to do a lot of the right things.
I just made too many mistakes. Relationship mistakes. Financial mistakes. Bad life decisions. Poor choices. I got in over my head a couple of times. Got hooked on alcohol for stretches at a time. Just one too many mistakes. Combined with a lethargic apathy towards life. A constant striving for mediocity, always settling for a slight notch below. It all seems to happen so fast, and yet not too fast that you don’t see it all playing out painfully in clear sight.
My story is the same story you’ll hear from a lot of lifetimes bartenders. It’s an aggravating tale full of dissapointment and head shaking bewilderment.
It is this inherent lack of life skills combined with an abundance of social skills that is the root of why customers drive servers crazy. A lot of guests at restaurants have the exact opposite skill set as servers. So you have extroverts with no lifeskills, serving introverts (of varying degrees) with lifeskills. The servers get frustrated because the guests have little or no personality, don’t smile, aren’t “nice”, or just plain rude. The guests look down on the server because, quite simply, they are servers.
Basically both sides can’t see what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes. A lot of guests do things that a server can’t imagine they would ever do. A common expression I hear around servers is “what is going through their heads”. A lot of guests cannot imagaine ever putting themselves in a position where they have to serve other people.