In the early 1970s, during my university days, I was a waitress at two Winnipeg restaurants and I learned so much from those experiences.
I was a waitress at The Paddock across from Polo Park and at the A&W Coffeeshop. I often think about those waitressing jobs because they taught me lots of important lessons.
I learned to work quickly and efficiently at a whole variety of tasks, especially at the A&W Coffeeshop where they really didn’t have enough staff and I was run off my feet.
I had to keep ketchup bottles filled, take orders, total up bills, clean the bathroom, make milkshakes and floats, clear tables, cut and plate pieces of pie and cake, fill drink orders, keep my eye on the kitchen for when my orders were up, make sure customers didn’t leave without paying, work the cash register, wash the floors and wipe down the booths. These lessons in working quickly and efficiently paid off big time in my teaching, writing and homemaking careers.
As a waitress, I learned to keep a smile on my face at all times and exhibit extreme patience. I knew my tips depended on me having a friendly demeanour and not looking upset when people took a long time deciding what they wanted or made negative comments to me. This skill came in very handy when I would be doing parent-teacher interviews at school and I needed to keep a smile on my face as I spoke with one set of parents after another for hours on end. Patience came in mighty handy as a parent and a wife and a classroom teacher.
I learned lots of other things waiting tables too. Like how important it was to get to know your boss and do the things that keep them satisfied with your work. To be tough and accept criticism. To ward off inappropriate comments and actions from male customers. To take responsibility even when something isn’t your fault and to act like you have things under control even when you don’t. I learned to relate to all kinds of people.
And…………… I gained a real appreciation for folks who work in the hospitality industry. This means I ALWAYS leave a tip. I try very hard not to complain and do my best to be friendly and kind to anyone who serves me.
Those waitressing jobs fifty years ago played an important role in my life. They weren’t easy jobs but they sure taught me plenty!