Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


A Teen's View

Getting a job

April Hildebrand

School was out and summer had arrived! The weather was hot and wonderful. Summer means beaches and tanning, swimming, relaxing, shopping, day trips, friends, and of course, riding horses. What could be better? It's what I've done every summer. There's no homework and I don't have to worry about anything except sleeping, eating and the occasional chores. But this summer I had my license, and driving costs money, of which I had precious little.

Even though I wasn't ready to face it, I knew it was finally time to start working. I couldn't continue bumming money off my parents. I thought for a good while what I had wanted my first job to be. I thought the best job to maximize my income would be to be a waitress. How much I made in tips would be up to me. The nicer and more consensuses I was, the better the tips would be. I applied at five different restaurants. I thought, "With the current economic status, I'll be lucky if I get any calls." I got one phone call in response to my multiple applications. I went in for a first interview the next day and was hired after my second interview that same day.

I was so excited and I thought, "I'll be serving in no time!" Ha! Try a month later! I never knew waitress training was so intense! I had to pass eight different tests before I could start. For the lunch test I had to know every single ingredient in our seven salads. I thought, "Okay, I'll study this at school the day of the test and I'll do fine. How hard could it be? After all I'm a straight A student." It was harder than I thought. I missed three ingredients out of the seventy-two I had to know. I failed the test. At this restaurant, one cannot serve unless you pass with a PERFECT score. I redoubled my efforts and passed on my second try.

Throughout my training, I shadowed an admirable server, but the work was much more independent than I thought. It wasn't so hard when she went up to the tables and said, "Hello I am Carrie; how are you doing today?" When I started serving, I had to introduce myself and be friendly in my own natural way. I was so used to her doing it that at my first table I actually stuttered. I'm not a shy person, but now I understand that being friendly and my facial expressions directly correlate to my tips. Even when I am swamped with people, I have to wear a smile and be patient.

Once I got the hang of the basics, things went pretty smoothly… or so I thought. A table of five ordered their drinks, and since Carrie was quite overwhelmed, I took them out for her. I carried them out and I handed the first three customers their drinks. As I was handing the second to last customer his drink, the last drink fell off the tray and landed in the lap of a woman wearing a sun dress. My face turned as white as snow during a blizzard, then fiery red from embarrassment. Although she couldn't have been more understanding of my inexperience, I still felt horrible for ruining her dress... and Carrie's tip! For the record, I haven't spilled a drink since!

For the next few days, each time I picked up a tray, my heart skipped a beat, and I broke out in a cold sweat; and no I'm not exaggerating!

Just recently I have completed my training and I have begun serving on my own. I thought I was doing great! I had tables all day long and I hadn't messed up… yet! I was serving three tables as my shift was coming to an end. Each had ordered a garden salad as one of their sides. Of course, they each presented a different challenge to me, each making at least one special request on their salads. When I returned to the table with the salads I found I couldn't read my own handwriting … my brain was fried from the eight-hour day.

By the time I figured out whose salad was whose, their dinners were ready! To make matters worse, I failed to notice my two other tables needed my attention! I was on the verge of tears. Thankfully the other customers understood I was incapable of being ubiquitous. Surprisingly, I received positive feedback from my managers.

I started out dreading getting a job, but I found I actually do truly enjoy working, which is the most important thing in my opinion. If one can enjoy their work, it doesn't really feel like work. I set goals for myself each day and being bubbly and friendly all day makes for a great day altogether.

And as a final note, I must say I never knew what a difference a simple "thank you" would have on a person's day until my customers said it to me! Now, I always make a note of saying "thank you" to everyone. It's such a nice way to end any conversation!

Read other articles by April Hildebrand