Why Servers Make Great ParentsJuly 02, 2014
Before I had Eve I was first and foremost, an artist.
That being said we are all familiar of the term, "starving artists" for a reason, and although I wasn't literally starving it is quite hard to make a full living off of your art.
The occupation I kept to enable my artist life was to become a server and for me it was a match made in heaven.
1. There is a flexibility with your schedule that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. You choose your availability and can book more than the typical two weeks off a year. If you need to call in sick, guaranteed you can find someone to cover it in less than an hour.
2. It is one of the few jobs that you can control the amount of income you make purely based on your outlook and dedication.
3. You will always have weekdays off to plan doctor's appointments, do laundry and whatever else you need to do without being rushed or caught in traffic.
4. If you choose wisely where you work, you will become a part of an amazing, tight knit family who has your back through thick and thin. They also make great drinking buddies.
5. You meet people from all different parts of the world with various occupations, PERFECT for networking, especially as an artist.
6. You walk out with cash. Hard cash. In your pocket. Plus, every two weeks this other chunk of money just appears in your bank account and you realize it is from all those hours you worked.
The list goes on but I think you got my point. As a night owl who stayed up at all hours painting, serving was the ideal job for my situation, not to mention I love being around people.
Now when people view servers the range of opinions vary greatly. The most popular views would be those who look down on the job and those who appreciate their servers and the tough role they have chosen to occupy.
For those who look down on servers or consider it a dead end job please remember that 9 out of 10 times your server is either in school studying, is an actor, artist or musician, or already has their PHD and wants to bring in some extra cash. That or they simply just love to be around people. A bitter server does not last long and those who serve generally love what they do, so please don't make their job serving you any more difficult by being a jerk. It is not life or death if your food does not come out when or exactly how you desire so don't treat it as such. Relax. It is just food, you are going to be OK.
For those absolutely lovely people who appreciate their servers and display patience and understanding, I thank you, you are the reason I enjoy what I do.
I started serving when I was an artist because it was ideal, I never thought I would still be serving when I became a mother. But I am, and I love it. I had always thought I'd have to go back to the 9 - 5 office jobs I've had in the past until I realized that the jump from being a server to a parent is just a skip and a hop. I could use the skills I had gained as a server to be the best parent I could be and actually get ahead of the learning curve.
The flexibility of serving and the fact you get to choose your hours has provided me with the priceless ability of staying home with my daughter for the last two years. It is only in the last month that we have put her into daycare once or twice a week and I am SO grateful for all the time I get to spend with her and pursue my career as an artist.
I was going through my purse's contents the other day which inspired this post and train of thought and I figured I'd delve a little deeper in the idea that servers make GREAT parents. (I promise I'll explain the purse connection by the end of the post)
Serving has given me the wide range of skills that, funny enough, go hand in hand with the skills you need as parents.
In both "Occupations" you must be able to:
1. Work in a high energy, fast paced atmosphere with no chance of a break, unless you hide in the bathroom where inevitably someone comes searching for you.
2. Handle never being the first to eat, your guest/kid always comes first. In fact, you are lucky if you get a chance to scarf down anything while on the go. And by anything I mean whatever was left laying around, you learn not to be picky.
3. Be able to negotiate with a sloppy, fall down drunk, which pretty much sums up a toddler.
4. Have a thick skin and bear whatever attitude or insults your guest/kid throws at you.
5. Put up with being spilled on, whether it be alcohol or baby puke. Always carry extra clothing.
6. Be alright with being under appreciated, knowing that you are doing your best has to be enough to get you by.
7. Adapt to any personality type in mere seconds. Whether you have a table that doesn't make eye contact or another that tries to ponder the philosophies of life with you, you must have the right response to control the situation. Much like the ever changing personality of a toddler, you never know what you are going to get. Never.
8. Expect the unexpected.
9. Convince your manager / partner that you had accomplished something even though they never seem to know what the hell you have been doing for the last hour. Unfortunately your tornado of coworkers / kids have destroyed all evidence of any achievement. This is where you learn the skill of persuasion and sweet talking, something that comes in handy in both professions.
10. Sell like nobody else's business. Whether it be a 12 oz. steak with all the extras or convincing a toddler that broccoli is the new chocolate, you can and will sell it.
11. Appear energetic with a smile on your face, even if you spent the night drinking with buddies or pulling an all nighter with a newborn. Put on that smile and pretend like you aren't secretly dying for a chance to curl up in any available corner.
12. Constantly deal with people asking you "How hard can it be" when it comes to serving / parenting and manage to NOT punch them in the face.
13. Manage your time wisely. Serving is all about time management and so is chasing a naked child around in an attempt to clothe them so you can rush to that appointment you were supposed to be at 10 minutes ago. Once you learn time management it is all uphill from there.
14. Anticipate the needs of your guest/ kid even before they know themselves. This will save you so much headache and might even gain you some appreciation.
15. Understand that 1 minute to your guest / kid really feels like 5 minutes, 5 minutes really feels like 20 minutes. When they don't need you, you'll be hovering, and when they do you will be nowhere to be found. This is called Murphy's law. I hate Murphy's law.
16. Have "Full hands in, Full hands out", always be prepared to pick up anything, anywhere and it will make your life so much easier.
17. Master the concept of small talk and distraction. Guests / Kids can be easily manipulated in this fashion if done with skilled precision.
18. Handle the idea that when the restaurant is closed / kids are in bed, you still have at least an hour of side duties before you can relax. Try not to cry.
19. Deal with complainers, all day every day. Whether it is your guest or kid, both enjoy taking power trips, just smile and nod. There day will come.
20. Be physically capable of being on your feet, nonstop, for hours on end with people bumping into you.
21. Not check your phone for more than an hour, even though it sounds hard. Managers will call you out if they see you holding your phone and your toddler will chase you down until they hold it in their death grip shouting "GAME, GAME,GAME!?" at the top of their ironically tiny lungs. You will find yourself hiding in the washroom just so you can check a single text, you can forget about having time to reply.
22. Handle being yelled at, whether to run food or because you accidentally stepped on "Bunny." Try not to take it personal.
I could continue this list for hours I am sure, the similarities between being parents and being a server are endless. They are demanding jobs, both mentally, physically and emotionally. It takes a lot of skill to be either a successful server or be a parent, thankfully they require almost identical skills which means I'm covered.
While knowing you are doing your best might be enough for some servers a big tip never hurts, in fact it helps, a lot. (We always send you good karma) In the parents case, there are those special moments that keep us going, our versions of "big tips". That special hug that came out of nowhere or that tiny "I love you" as you close their bedroom door is more than any reward I could ever ask for.
And as I finish up this rambling post that secretly suggests every human being go through the service industry to prepare for parenthood and to generally be a more understanding person, I will leave you with a photo I took of my purses' contents. One photo is that of all the things I bring to work when I serve and the other of all those things I carry around in my baby bag with Eve. Those photos are what actually inspired this post and what made me realize serving and parenthood are more similar than I had ever thought. I am truly grateful to be able to not only do what I love, which is to paint and be a mother, but to also love my occupation and all the skills it has provided me with.
I'm pretty sure the only thing I have to replace was my apron and billfold with diapers and wipes. I also have to switch out my sunglasses and spare clothes with my kid's mini versions. And yes, I most definitely STILL need my wine crank for any impromptu "Mommy Juice" breaks.
Feel free to comment with any additional skills I may have missed out that both serving and parenthood requires, I would love to hear them! Feel free to add any other occupation that you feel prepares you for parenthood, I know there are more out there!