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Bell Curve


You're the new server at a dumpy downtown diner. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but because you haven't proven yourself, you get scheduled for mostly the lunch shift and occasionally the dinner shift during the week. You're averaging about 25 to 30 hours a week, so you don't get any benefits yet. You often feel like it costs you more in gas to get to work than it's worth to be there.


Right now you are slated for a mix of lunch and dinner shifts, both during the week and on weekends, so you are getting the same mixed bag of guests and you have to work really hard to hustle up some good tips. Tips are worse during the lunch shift because, unless you get a party of business execs who are spending their company's money, the checks—and tips—are smaller.


At this point you’re serving at a high-end restaurant in a city with a busy nightlife. You've managed to get a set schedule where you work mostly evenings during the week and every other weekend which gives you more time to see your spouse and kids on the weekend. In the restaurant, you get good sections, and the kitchen staff likes you and makes sure your food is prepped right and done on time. Guests appreciate your knowledge of the menu items and the wine list, treat you with respect because of this, and give some generous tips.


You've decided that you need a change and a more steady guarantee of how much money you'll be bringing in. Lucky for you, you're working for a corporation that has a hotel—and a restaurant that also provides banquet facilities. Now, instead of relying on your once puny paycheck and the willingness of guests to cough up decent tips, you get a guaranteed amount of money for each banquet you serve at. But the bonus is that, because you're in the party environment, you often get extra gratuities from the guests.


You've worked hard and kissed enough behind in this business that you've gotten yourself the sweetest gig yet. Working at Chef Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Caesars Palace in Vegas where the food is excellent, management is great to work for, and you actually have good benefits. Casino regulars ask to be seated in your section since they know how good you are at your job—plus they tip really, really well (more Benjamins under the check). Private parties at this level can be lucrative.