There is one thing that has never changed throughout the years I've worked in a restaurant, whether I was serving at a dive bar or a ritzy steak house. The owner/manager wants servers to SMILE! We all want to feel as if we are liked and nothing says that more than a big grin. Even if inside you are wanting to spit, servers are suppose to smile, smile, smile.
I like to smile. I like when people smile at me. I dine out and I even want to believe that this woman is that happy at her age, wearing a pink uniform, holding two pots of coffee aloft. Her smile says I don't mind listening to your dietary restrictions, refilling your coffee a zillion times, getting you more salad dressing. Who cares if my feet hurt. Who cares if you only tip me 10 percent. See my smile! I'm happy just to have you here. She likes me, or so I want to think. Chances are her smile is genuine. This smiling thing though can take a toll on servers and might be the reason some of them drink very heavily, or so I've been told. I only drink ice tea. Okay now and then a bottle of wine.
Remember Sally Field's academy award acceptance speech for the movie Norma Ray??? Okay, this might be a little too old of a movie for some to remember. In this movie she played a union organizer, quite a improvement from her early work as a flying nun. Sorta like a server who starts at Denny's and moves up to, well, just think of the nicest place in town. Anyway, in her acceptance speech she said, "You like me. You really really like me." She seemed surprise. That's how it feels to be a server, too.You smile and perform and do your very best and you want them to like you. Only it's not like getting an Oscar as Sally did. For servers cash means you liked them. Money on the table means you really, really liked them.
In the business there is something called the "verbal tip." These are the kind of offhand comments people make as they are leaving crummy tips...Oh you were great! Your service was excellent. We will ask for you again. Yeah right. How's that going to help me pay my electric bill! Those type of gushing compliments are red flags. Sorta like a guy on the first date who says you are so pretty and than asks if you ever considered braces. If they really thought the service was so great...then forget the talk and show me the money. Sally liked taking home that golden Oscar and putting it on her mantel. Spruced up her house. A reward for Sally's good work. Tips are the same, only without being televised on an award's show.
Now your server might be smiling outside and feel like this inside. Maybe she got too many crummy tips. This is not good. This means she's been wearing that pink uniform way too long. A younger woman might get away with this, younger woman get away with all sorts of things like not wearing make up and bras, but at her age, she's in trouble. It's time to go to the place all angry, old waitress must go....Walmart. At Walmart you can sit by the front door and just hand out carts. They really don't even care if you smile at Walmart. As long as you can breathe.
Still, writing and waitressing could be more similar than you think. I really really want to be liked by my tables, so they will tip me well. I do a good job and hope for the best. And I really really want to be liked by my readers so they will read me. I guess being a writer and a server isn't that different, after all. At least, though, I can smile on the page and save my facial muscles for work. Smile!