You’re in the Hamptons for the summer! Awesome, right? Except you need to get a job and your options are retail or restaurants.
You choose food service because you have a masochistic streak as well as a stunning lack of common sense. Welcome to the family.
I learned all this the hard way so you don’t have to. Here are my tips to help you survive your summer in the service industry.
1. Go to the beach as much as possible. It will make you feel better about the choices you’ve made in your life when you hear two people from Manhattan screaming at each other over who was on a piece of sand first.
2. Wear sunblock. Trust me when I say that it is excruciating to work an eight-hour shift with sunburnt legs.
3. Budget extra time for travel. Once the season hits, tack on an extra 20 to 40 minutes to get from wherever you are to wherever you work. If you arrive early, wonderful. Now start rolling silverware.
4. Road rage is a good thing. Remember that table during brunch that was over-the-top demanding? As in, “I need you to personally add more horseradish to this Bloody Mary until it is at the level of spiciness I require.” “Oh, you added too much. It’s too spicy now. I’m going to need a new one.” “No, this one isn’t right either. It needs more Worcestershire. And I want two olives, not four.”
Unleash all the pent-up frustration that’s been building inside you on the next person who doesn’t pull over far enough when they’re making a left-hand turn.
Equally as satisfying is yelling out of your car window at people who don’t use the crosswalks.
5. Cultivate a dry sense of humor. You know what’s funny? Getting screamed at by an irate customer because the water is too cold, the soup is too hot, and the bread is too crispy. Hahaha. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears up in here.
6. Practice your server face. Similar to a poker face in that the facial muscles remain fixed, the server face is used to convey agreeable calmness in the face of insane and unreasonable behavior. Your mouth should be slightly upturned at the corners. You are like a statue of Buddha, calm, serene, and still.
7. Be nice. This is good life advice in general, but particularly in the restaurant business. Everyone says they know the owners. Most people who say this are lying liars, but one out of every 20 actually does and you do not want them telling the boss about their rude server. Also, you’ll probably see these people again during the course of the summer, and let me assure you that it is unpleasantly awkward standing in line with them at King Kullen.
8. Silently judge everyone. Making fun of other people is an important tool for surviving those doubles you will inevitably have to pull when someone is too hungover to come in to work. Pretend your shift is an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” The diners are the B-movie and your thoughts are an unending stream of delighted vitriol.
9. Drinking games. After the shift is over, drink for any one of the following you encountered:
• A man wearing white pants and a pink shirt. Bonus shot if the collar is popped.
• If the entire table is looking at their cellphones simultaneously (tables of three or more). Bonus shot if all the phones are iPhones.
• Someone who cannot walk in the too-high heels she’s wearing. (Look for the wobble.)
• Teacup or toy dogs. Bonus shot if the dog is being transported in a designer purse.
• If more than one person in a group is wearing a fedora. Bonus shot if it’s just two people.
• Any man who has the top three buttons (or more) of his shirt undone.
• Anyone wearing a sweater draped over their shoulders. Why do people do this? Are their arms and stomachs hot? Bonus shot if the sweater has a Ralph Lauren Polo logo.
• On nights when you’re prepared to get black-out drunk, drink for every guest who asks for gluten-free.
Finally, reward for yourself at the end of the season. A vacation, a nice relaxing day at the spa, drinking yourself into oblivion. Whatever you fancy. If you can’t afford anything, just cry into your pillow every night.