1. You go out of your way to be nice to people you wouldn’t normally befriend.
There are some resources that money can’t buy, and one of them is friendships. Friendships can be the difference between you and free food, you and a terrible day, and you and getting fired. Being mean for no reason other than it’s convenient just hurts you.
Going out of your comfort zone is the only way you’ll grow.
2. You remember small details about people, and they always like you more as a result.
Remember that time you were inexplicably attracted to someone who happened to remember your weird interest in fridge magnets? It was because they remembered your weird interest in fridge magnets, and you felt so flattered you were able to overlook all those weird stains on their shirt.
Bonus: Remembering details about people helps you to remember their names.
3. You know that sometimes you have to just smile and nod when people treat you badly. (And that doesn’t mean those people are right.)
“The customer is always right,” really means “The customer is always right, because they are the ones with the money, but as soon as they leave we are totally making fun of them, because who the fuck actually behaves like that in public?”
Just because you have to give in to someone’s ridiculous behavior doesn’t mean you should lose sight of who is in the wrong. Or worse, blame yourself for someone else’s attitude problem.
4. You always carry a writing utensil so you can write things down.
Even if you have the best memory in the world, you never know when a shit storm is going to break out. Chaos could break out — or worse, your phone could run out of battery — and if that happens, you’ll be glad to have that analog back-up.
Plus, it’s a just a good idea to have a pen, as you never know when you (or someone else) will need it.
5. You actually pay attention when people talk to you.
Yes, it’s really hard to pay attention when people are speaking to you, especially if it’s loud, or your phone’s blowing up, or if what they’re saying is really, really boring.
Unfortunately, asking someone to repeat something they’ve said once because you weren’t listening not only wastes time, but it tells them that you don’t care about them, and you definitely don’t want them to think that.
6. You’re willing to do favors for people.
Sometimes, you’ll be in a position to do something for someone that’s easy for you, but would be hella difficult for them. Take the chance to make their lives easier, because you never know when the position might be reversed.
We’re all in this together, especially when “this” is a horrible dinnertime shift when half the wait staff has called in sick with turtle flu, and the stove decided it was all done with functioning.
7. You don’t sweat the small stuff.
Yes, there may be something wrong with the food, a crying child will be bothering people nearby, or a drunk person may get upset when you refuse to serve them more alcohol.
But unless you are ACTUALLY that drunk person, crying child, or bad food (or some sort of goddamned wizard), you have to learn to just roll with the stuff that’s out of your hands.
8. You know that a sincere apology goes a lot further than you think it will.
This is especially helpful whenever you’re in a confrontational situation. Instead of trying to make excuses, or giving a passive-aggressive apology, owning up to mistakes (sometimes even if it wasn’t entirely your fault) can often put out a much larger fire.
9. You know that there’s a time and place for personal problems.
Whether you’re currently working in the service industry, or somewhere outside of it, everyone has one of those awful days where all you want to do is curl up and weep. And then weep some more.
The thing is, that while it’s always important to be true to your feelings, learning when and where to do that are incredibly crucial. (Unless your dream job is auditioning for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, in which case, CRY YOUR EYES OUT.)
10. You know not the judge people by their appearance.
Some of the people who I thought would leave the worst tips, always left the best ones. It taught me that everyone should be treated with the same level of respect, because you never know what kind of a person they are just by looking at them.
This is a good rule to follow not only at work, but in life. (And hey, if Belle from Beauty and the Beast could figure this one out, then we should too.)
11. You know that manners make a big difference.
If there’s one thing you learn in a service job, it’s that some people are very rude. Those people can easily put everyone in a terrible mood.
Bottom line: Be aware that you’re in public, and you’re a grown-up. This is not to say that you have to open everyone’s door, but it doesn’t hurt to add in that little extra effort. You never know, it just might make their day.
12. You understand that just because someone is having a bad day, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.
Everyone has bad days. Being mean back won’t make things better, it will only put that person in an even worse place.
Vice versa, if you’re having a bad day, try your hardest not to take it out on the people next to you. Keep that ish to yourself.
13. You know that sometimes you have to work with people you don’t like, and it will make you a better person.
“If you can survive this, you can survive anything,” is a phrase I’ve had to tell myself before. I don’t know why, but every workplace has one. That one person who will just make you want to put a bottle of whiskey in your desk and take good, long pulls in the afternoon.
Just me? OK, well…
Even if you change jobs, there will always be THAT guy. So, it’s good to learn how to deal with people’s weird personalities. That’s not to say that you have to be overly nice to them, but at least be civil. And eventually, when THAT guy leaves, or you do, you’ll have great stories to tell your friends.
14. You know how to work well under pressure.
Being able to work under tight deadlines and multi-task is a skill, and a big one you learn when in a service job. Ever notice how the people going home with the biggest tips at the end of the night are usually the ones who had multiple tables going? No matter what you do in life, if you’re someone who excels when under the gun, you’re going far.
15. And even if they don’t say it, you know that people understand how hard you work.
It’s no secret that working a service job, or any job, is often thankless. But it’s the small things you do that will help other people get through their crappy days, and they’ll silently thank you for it with a generous tip.
And just in case you’re having one of those days, and you need a reminder: YOU ARE GREAT!