Untitled Document The pros of being a server are the quick cash and flexible, short hours. The cons nobody tells you about usually don’t hit until later. You’ll know it’s quittin’ time when the food you used to love makes you queasy, that clean uniform sees three shifts before a washing and singing "Happy Birthday" is the best part of the day. Don’t quit just yet because for what it is, it’s a great job, especially for students, musicians or anyone who needs extra cash. But, there are a few things to prepare for before taking the plunge.

Even though customers are always right, they are the worst part about serving. Find a restaurant where people you can handle usually dine. If you hate senior citizens, don’t work at Coco’s or IHOP, and if you can’t stand ass-grabbers then stay away from the bars. Once you work in an establishment for a few weeks, separating the valued customers from imbeciles becomes instinct. They all have unique personalities and there are a few "types" you get in every restaurant.

One type is "the needy old lady" who orders as slowly as she walks to the table. She orders everything that’s a pain to get and requires constant drink refills. She’ll leave a tip, but doesn’t understand that you can’t get into a movie for $1.50 anymore.

Then there’s "the foreigner" who can’t pronounce anything on the menu. Have patience and repeat what they ordered while pointing at it on the menu. If the order is wrong, they’ll get mad and it’s your fault the manager had to give them a free meal. Oh, and if they order "Fa-gee-tas" don’t correct them. People hate feeling stupid.

People generally reward you when they’re difficult, except "the non-tippers" who always remember what days kids-eat-free and steal any condiment, salt shaker and crab cracker you leave on the table. You can forget about getting a big tip from these people. Once, a man told his server, "I usually don’t tip but you were good." He left her $2 on a $50 check.

Once you serve "Mad Man" you will know the meaning of pain. Instantly you can tell he’s a weirdo because his handlebar mustache is twisted upward like a movie villain who ties women to train tracks. He introduces himself as Mad Man and requests some drink you never heard of. Like a lonely drunk, he’ll tell you his whole life story and flirt to no end. Pretend you’re interested, try to stay busy so the conversation is minimal and he’ll leave a generous tip.

Working for tips is truly an art. The important thing is to know the restaurant’s policy on gratuity. Usually if a party has six or more people, you can tack on a mandatory 15- to 18-percent tip to the total bill. Selling extras like appetizers, desserts, coffees and expensive alcohol can score you larger tips. The key to earning tips is to save them. Sometimes servers have a hard night and go out with co-workers for drinks, blowing the whole night’s tips at another restaurant.

Dealing with company policy is a must because if you don’t, you might get one warning before you’re kicked to the curb. Remember this: Servers are replaceable. Most of the policies are easily learned as you jump into the role of server/salesman/actor. The company uniforms complete the role.

The worst uniform to work in besides the huge sweaty mouse costume at Chuck E. Cheese, is the 12-piece suit they wear at Olive Garden. At Ruby’s they wear white bobby socks, mandatory stockings and they look like candy stripers. Better than looking like a stripper named Candy, I suppose. At Hooters, their tight shorts are orange (of all the unflattering colors) and they wear a very small hooter-holding shirt teeter on the edge of a porn star wardrobe. At least they don’t come in red, blue and yellow like the twenty-gallon hats they wear while pumping lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick.

If the uniforms are manageable, watch out for hidden gimmicks. Some establishments have their servers go above and beyond to entertain. Every hour at Joe’s Crab Shack, the entire staff performs one of five dances to music such as the electric slide or YMCA. Cold Stone Creamery employees get to holler ice cream theme variations on popular songs such as The Adams Family theme song every time they’re tipped.

People don’t usually know about side work before they start working in restaurants. Usually side work ranges from cleaning silverware to wiping down surfaces and takes anywhere from one to three hours after your last table leaves. That means no tips during side work. Don’t make late-night plans because depending on how busy the restaurant is and how much side work you have you might leave at 10 p.m., maybe midnight. Don’t make holiday plans either because they are the busiest days of the year. Sometimes you even have to work Christmas and the worst part is restaurants don’t pay overtime.

It’s not wise to get too close with coworkers because it’s easy to be taken advantage of by them, be it the manager, fellow server or bartender. When dealing with others, be stern about what you want while having a good attitude and be a team player, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.

One of the hardest things to know is when to drop the check. If you drop it too early, people feel rushed. If you wait too long, people get pissed. It’s crucial to read the guest and feel out how they want the pace of their meal to go. Usually lunch crowds want faster service because they only have an hour to eat, but dinner crowds and older customers need more time.

When you drop the check, leave a solid last impression by bringing anything they might need, before they ask for it. When starting a new job, the company will train you for a week or so and they’ll teach all the tricks needed to work there. What management doesn’t tell you is that others servers will, too.

Hopefully reading about the pros and cons of being a server didn’t scare you off. Now that you know some tricks and tips you’re more prepared than someone who didn’t read this. Get out there with your smiling face, positive attitude and sterling resume, and apply. Can’t you just smell the cash?