Servers and bartenders are constantly on stage. We perform and entertain while providing a service to a paying audience. Instead of applause we are rewarded (or should I say judged) with money. In a way, our job is harder than a stage performer’s because we need to read every situation independently to assess the level of entertainment needed. Are these ladies looking to maximize their afternoon fantasies while their kids are in school? Are these men on lunch hour blowing off steam or is this a working lunch? Is this woman buried in her book wanting to finish a chapter before book club or is she using the book as a cover and is actually not reading a single word on the page? It takes all kinds. If we are lucky, the audience will return and reward us with more accolades i.e. money. Maybe this is why so many people in the industry are in the theater business? And there is nothing more difficult than shaking off a bad performance. But you swallow the bad taste in your mouth (grin and bare it… if you will) and move on remembering that every guest is a new opportunity to make someone’s day a little brighter. Because in all honestly, it’s really not about the money. At the end of the day if you are good at your job, then you will be rewarded.
I have had plenty of people say to me, “Smile!” or, “You should smile more!” or, “Don’t take yourself so seriously!” The pressure of working full time, or going to school full time, or making sure your bills are paid on time, or making sure your family is provided for sometimes creeps into your brain and takes over your facial expressions. Sometimes for no reason at all you zone into oblivion and just need to be snapped back to Earth. Maybe your friends are blowing up your phone making it hard to concentrate forcing you to shut off your phone completely. Whatever the reason, people never hesitate to tell a service professional that they should be happier.
The other day i had just finished carrying two full cases of wine stacked on top of each other up two flights of stairs. To my great relief, I managed to get them behind the bar and on the floor safely. As I opened the boxes and started putting the wine away I heard a voice saying something behind me.
“Excuse me?” I said as I turned around.
“Smile! It’s not that bad!”
“Oh I’m fine! It’s all good!”
“Well you’re putting those wine bottles away with this, ‘Ugh!’ expression on your face! Lighten up!”
“Oh of course! No worries!” with a smile and a ‘hahaha’ is what actually came out of my mouth.
What I wanted to say: “I didn’t realize that you expected a rendition of ‘Make ’em Laugh’ while my BACK was to you. I’m completing a requirement of my job that is actually benefiting you in that I’m making sure this bar is supplied with more of that overpriced sludge that you’re chugging. I just carried 70 pounds of wine up two flights of stairs. Maybe if you tried to lift something heavier than a glass from time to time you’d be able to go out to a bar in something other than an over-sized Hawaiian shirt with a stain on the collar.”
That last part was just me being mean. But… honestly!!!