The Real Poop
It is doubtful that anyone dreams about becoming a professional waiter (unless you're Christina Ricci in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star), or that anyone's mom goes around bragging about her son or daughter being a long-term server. Being a Cheesecake Factory worker is probably even a notch below being a plain ol' "factory worker."
This job is typically seen as a cop-out profession—one that flunkies who couldn't hack going to school or succeeding at a "real" job get stuck with. In reality though, this career path is typically a temporary one for people IN school, IN the process of working toward another career, IN the process of earning more money to support their family. Because it usually serves as a transitional job rather than something to which people assign serious career aspirations, waiters often get an undeserved bad rap. Of course, there is the occasional Applebee's lifer. Bless their heart.
The job requires people to be masters of multi-tasking (think managing several orders across several tables at once), knowledgeable of different types of food and beverages (not just burgers and Coke), able to accurately handle numbers and money (the cash registers are helpful but they won't do all the work for you), patient and diplomatic (you’ll have to smile and nod at screaming children…or adults), and reliable (miss your shift more than once and you may be off the schedule the next time you look).
Many of those who work as waiters are highly talented, educated, charismatic, and otherwise successful individuals. Circumstances may have brought them to this profession and, if not for the degrading reputation that is placed upon it by society, they might just keep at it, because it’s hard but typically satisfying work. Additionally, the money can be really good, jobs are plentiful, free food is usually available, what to wear every day is a no-brainer, scheduling can be flexible, and socializing while working is actually advantageous to the job. As long as it’s not socializing with your BFF via text during an eloooongated coffee break.
The hardest part of the job is dealing with snide guests who expect everything and are stingy with tips. Also difficult is getting to know the menu, learning the way that the kitchen runs and getting your timing down, juggling orders during rushes, working on holidays, and being on your feet for hours at a time.
The unknown/unexpected part of the job is the side work. Filling salt and pepper shakers, rolling silverware, prepping the tables before opening—these and quite a number of other tasks are frequently part of the job and not known to the uninitiated. Great…even more stuff you feel like you're not getting paid to do. Plus, salt and pepper shakers are notoriously bad tippers.
The easiest part of the job? Taking the cash! When you've had a good table and they leave a really generous tip…nothing feels better. Not even soaking your dogs in a bucket of hot water and Epsom salts. It's close though.