I visit restaurants and retail stores weekly (sometimes even daily) and I think it's important to always understand the perspective of cashiers, retail associates, kitchen staff, servers, and all of the other roles that are important for the success of the service industry. One can easily forget what it is like to work in a role of serving others, whether it be folding the clothes on a shelf after a customer is browsing through it or taking an order over a headset in a fast food drive thru when a customer is talking on the phone.
Here are some of the restaurants and stores where I have worked over the years. I'm going to share the lessons I have learned from each job in hopes you can 1) relate if you've worked in a similar position, 2) remember the worker's perspective next time you go to a restaurant or store, and 3) realize you can learn from anyone and in any situation.
Lessons: Service. Chick-fil-A, regardless of your viewpoint of company executives' personal beliefs, has done an outstanding job of providing a level of service never before experienced in the quick service restaurant industry. Another major lesson is to be nice to those in restaurants. There is no reason to become enraged because your sandwich has pickles and you requested no pickles. Not only is that a trivial matter that should be examined from a broader perspective (such as world hunger), but never be disrespectful to someone that has power over making your food.
Although my departure from the company was questionable, I learned a lot from working here and it provided me a foundation for moving forward while serving others in various aspects.
Lessons: If you pick up an article of clothing and unfold it to look at it, DO NOT JUST THROW IT BACK ON THE SHELF IN A HAPHAZARD, CARELESS FASHION. Even today, many years after working at Kohl's, I have been mistaken as an employee because I would re-fold clothes that I unfolded to look at. Perhaps this is also due to me still wearing many of the clothes I purchased there because of the sweet discounts. Regardless, attempt to not be so messy when shopping. Oh and when you randomly put an item from one department in a department across the store because you no longer want it, yeah employees hate that too.
Lessons: If you own a small restaurant, take the time to learn the names of your employees. At Firehouse Subs, the owner never knew my name.
Lessons: As a copy and print center associate, I learned a lot about document formatting, types of paper, laminating, binding, and I found a new appreciation (or obsession) for pens and which are good versus bad. Additionally, I became protective of my pens (more on this later). I can also assemble office chairs in record timing. Similar to Kohl's, I urge you to be a bit more respectful of property when you're shopping in a retail store. If I find Sharpies behind the calculators, then we have a problem. One time there was a live snake on the pencil pouches during back to school. That was scary.
Lessons: A large cup of frozen yogurt with lots of toppings is a perfectly acceptable dinner. I really enjoyed working at Sweet CeCe's. I met many wonderful friends, great bosses, and could be a positive part of someone's day. This is a no brainer, but if you really take care of the people who work with you, they'll likely perform better and stay for a long time.
Buffalo Wild Wings
I truly believe everyone needs to be a server working solely for tips at some point in life. There is no reason to not tip your server. Even if you do not feel like you had "good enough" service or if your order was incorrect, you still need to tip your server a minimum of 15%. Also, just because you racked up a bill of $60 does not mean that you can tip based on what you "meant" to spend or what you "feel" is an adequate tip. The math doesn't lie. For $60, you should be tipping between $9-12. Period.
I made $2.13 an hour on my paycheck, which completely went to taxes. Therefore, my only income was tips. At the end of the night, I would tip out the bartender based on my gross sales for the night, not the total of my tips. Servers are essentially renting out "table real estate" and trying to turn those as quickly as possible into tips. If you cause problems in a restaurant, you can be sure the entire restaurant is talking about you. Again, do not upset the people handling your food. Finally, do not take a server's pen. They are precious commodities valuable in such a line of work. (See Office Depot above)
Aside from the tipping aspect, serving in a restaurant truly is a humbling experience. No one is better than anyone else and everyone has a story as to why they are working in a restaurant - whether it's what they love to do or it is a stepping stone to where they want to be. If you can serve others in a restaurant, you will have a deeper level of respect for any hard working person trying to get ahead.
Well, there you have it! Whether you agree or disagree on any of my key takeaways from my job experiences in restaurants and stores, I'd love to read your comments on this blog.
Thanks for reading!
Jesse is a Nashville native and avid traveler.
Follow me on Instagram: @jessehwalker
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PO Box 433
Hendersonville, TN 37077