When I worked in an office and was having a bad day, I coped by keeping to myself at my desk, and taking breaks to go outside and breathe. If something was bothering me, I tried to not let it show on my face. NPR’s The Salt asked some waiters how they cope with having a bad day while having to interact with customers and provide service with a smile:
“I’ve had plenty of bad days. I’ve had deaths in the family,” says Emily Nevius, a waitress at Longfellow Grill in Minneapolis. “But it’s work and you put your work face on.”
Similarly, Laura Abusager, who has waited tables in Bloomington, Ill., for the past five years, says she tries to put on a “poker face” when she’s dealing with issues in the rest of her life. She feels like her work doesn’t suffer, but she says her coworkers can always tell when things are going wrong at home or in relationships.
The customers, too. “I feel like I get better tips when I’m in a good mood,” Abusager says, “and when I’m in a bad mood, it’s like they can sense it.”
Restaurant owners and managers know servers who can be fun and flirty or at least chatty and attentive not only get better tips, but add to the quality of the dining out experience in a way that’s crucial to the bottom line.
The Salt ends with some advice from author Ann Patchett, who worked as a waitress in Nashville for some time:
“Even if you make mistakes — you forget to put in their orders or your put in the wrong order or you drop their drinks on their heads, which I did once — you can tell them it’s your first day. Even if you’ve been doing it a long time, if you tell them it’s your first day, they’ll give you a 50 percent tip.”