To start this post off, I want to begin by saying that I love my serving job, and if in any way you're a server as well and know you could never enjoy your job, I would just ask you to read this post openly and in full before you give up that job - you may just need some words of advice. Also, as another disclaimer, I want to say that I've probably only served about 6 months total so far in my life, but I serve often, and I believe (and my tips seem to dictate) that I do I good job.
Also, I love my job.
My aim with this post is to help current or training servers become better at their jobs, and have better and happier work shifts overall.
There are probably other disclaimers about my life that I should disclose with my readers to help them be more knowledgable about my viewpoint on this, but I think all you honestly need to know is that I am a very happy, open, and hard-working person, and I think these few things together will aid anyone in visualizing how serving is a job suited for me versus if it is/will be suitable to you.
Serving tables can be so lucrative and fulfilling. Being that serving is probably the best option I have as a busy student with a social life, I can say that if anyone is able to balance the school life, work, and social life, serving will really help financially support him or her through it all, with minimal physical or emotional strain.
Below I have detailed some points for reasons TO BE a server and reasons NOT TO BE a server. (Last disclaimer: My "not-to-be" section advice mainly comes from observing some particularly struggling coworkers, and some experiences eating at restaurants myself).
TO BE a server (if you can do these things):
1) Realize that overall openness is key to dealing with customers. If you experience an asshole serving, don't spend the rest of your shift believing he or she is all over the worst person you've ever met, and that God dealt you a bad hand by giving you this customer. NO ONE is absolutely an asshole. (I believe that no one is absolutely anything, though that's my own philosophy). If I were to go home from that encounter, thinking just that I experienced serving the worst person in the world, I would just become depressed. Think just on the fact that he or she must have had a really bad day. That may honestly be all it is, but you can never know the circumstances, so don't spend your workshift dwelling, nor taking the experience home with you.
2) Don't feel you're above your coworkers or customers. A bit of a continuation of the last one: If you believe God dealt you a bad hand with a "bad" customer, instead of giving it to someone else, you'll just spend so many workshifts unhappy. Everyone, I repeat everyone, has their bad customer experience just as frequently as you. Further, don't approach a new table thinking by the looks or orders of some customers that you're above or better than them; it just makes for a negative experience for everyone. (This all goes along the lines of being an open person as a server).
3) Work hard, play hard. Go into your shift pumped and ready to treat your customers as though they were your own friends and house guests, and you will never find it annoying or exhausting to clean the kitchen, dining room, or to do your sidework well. Likewise, go into greeting your tables like old friends, and recognizing that each person is an individual with different, intriguing lives, and I doubt you will ever leave a shift unhappy, unfulfilled, or even (yes, I mean this!) with minimal tips. Also, if you're not willing to work hard to make the kind of money a server does, don't bother. More on that later.
4) Follow the Golden Rule every single day. If you can't put yourself in a customer's shoes when they ask for the second time to bring back a steak to have it cooked more thoroughly, then don't be a server. You have to be able to recognize that that person may have been waiting all day, maybe even all week, to make the money or make their way to your restaurant to have that steak, and if it's not the way he or she imagined it, don't scoff when they just want it cooked like they ordered it; wouldn't you want the same good service?
5) Be respectful during any situation. Yes, unfair things happen in the workplace, and sometimes you're not recognized by managers for the good work you do - sometimes only for the mistakes. C'est la vie. But getting heated about it and disrespecting a managers is at best just going to make your tasks at the moment less efficient, and at worst, you'll be fired. (:/) Likewise with coworkers, if you can't be a teamplayer and treat your cowokers with as much respect as your guests, you shouldn't expect their help, nor should you be a server. My biggest complaint would have to be going home after a shift thinking about how I have to go back to work the next day to work alongside a lazy person who's only out to help himself or herself. You can shake off a bad customer experience, as you may never see them again, but you can't shake off a coworker who may be working alongside you for years.
NOT TO BE a server (if you can't do these things):
1) Too emotional. If screwing up gives you backlash from a customer, or even a manager, and you can't stand the heat, don't be a server. Honestly, this unfair recognition still often happens to me (probably moreso from some condescending managers, but that's my plight), yet due to the "1) openness" portion above, I'm able to get over it and move on right away.
2) Don't like constantly helping other coworkers. If you get triple-sat on a busy day, and expect someone to help you greet one of those tables patiently waiting with grumbling stomachs, don't ever expect to get the help you need if you aren't willing to return the favor. (Huge server pet peeve right there).
3) Don't like working weekends. The money as a server without a degree is phenomenal, but you often have to forfeit late parties (on account of being too exhausted after a shift) or new movies at the theater. Obviously, no one is going to "like" working weekends, but you have to be able to get over this factor, and realize that the money is worth it.
Overall, the benefits of being a server still outweigh the drawbacks. The key in anything is truly having an open mind when you approach anyone or any job. If you can find that capability for yourself, you can do almost any job, and feel fulfilled doing it.