If you didn’t notice, I skipped last week’s story. To be frank, this challenge has gotten increasingly demanding week after week. As the year comes to a close, I’ve already told my favorite stories and I struggle to come up with new ones with some life in them. Last week was a much-needed break that I didn’t realize I needed, so thanks for hanging in there. With that said, we’re back for the last month of the year.

There’s a special place in my heart for restaurant workers. This wasn’t always the case though. I had my first real experience working in a restaurant around three years ago. I was recoiling from losing my job and my relationship, both under non-ideal circumstances. It was one of those periods in my life where I got smacked in the face with reality and realized that I had been fooling myself in a number of ways for years. In many ways I needed to start over.

I was also broke. So I tried something I thought could generate some quick & easy cash: working in a restaurant. I wanted to leverage my strength in communicating with people and my sales experience, so I put my sights on becoming a server at a fancy steakhouse.

I quickly realized it wouldn’t be the fast, easy cash I had been gunning for. Despite my competence and business experience, I couldn’t honestly say I had been a server in a restaurant before. So I had to start like everyone else does in the food & beverage industry: bussing tables.

Night after night I plugged away. I showed up early, stayed late, hustled every day cleaning tables, washing dishes, and doing all I could to support the bartenders and servers. I was determined to be the best damn bus boy the restaurant had ever seen. If I proved myself indispensable, they couldn’t possibly deny my request to serve. Right?

I made my plans clear to my managers from the beginning. Everyone in the restaurant knew I was gunning for a server job. I knew I could handle it and I just wanted the chance, but there was a clear line of seniority among the employees. Many servers bussed tables for months or years before they got the chance to serve, so my measly single month on the job made it hard to justify bumping me in front of any of the existing servers who had already worked there for years.

One night, as is inevitable in this industry, one of the servers didn’t show up for his shift. I saw my window. Out of necessity, my manager put me on the floor without any formal server training and told me to go for it. I wasn’t the most experienced server, but perhaps I was the most honest. If i didn’t know something, I told my tables I was new and I would find the answer and get them everything they need. I made good money that night and quite enjoyed serving my customers.

Now with some strong evidence, I made my case for the promotion once again. My manager agreed I did well and said he would get me back on the floor as soon as he could.

But weeks went by and I remained stuck on bus duty. Seniority, and all. Maybe I was overly impatient, but I couldn’t stand making pennies every night anymore. I knew I could make more. I needed to make more.

Now that I could honestly put server experience on my resume, I applied at a few new restaurants to see if I could expedite the process. Within a week I made my jump.

After about 4 months at that second restaurant, I was making enough money with my video production clients that I could afford to quit the restaurant. The whole process took less than 6 months and it taught me invaluable lessons of humility and resourcefulness. Also, now I tip much better than I used to.

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