About halfway through my stint as a piano teacher, I began working as a server at a local restaurant. As strange as it may seem, I really liked this job, and continued working there for over two years (a long time in the restaurant industry!).
Though there were always those people that never tipped, or tipped poorly, I found that serving was performance-based pay, and I was motivated to serve better so I could make more.
The restaurant that I worked at was a locally-owned chain that was, frankly, dying. (I didn’t actually quit; the restaurant closed and I didn’t want to transfer to a new location.) As a result, they kept as little staff as possible, so we were almost always busy. We often served sections of five to ten tables at a time, and I learned a lot about multi-tasking! The staff was usually limited to two or three servers, a manager, cook, and dishwasher. We prepped our own salads, desserts, drinks; and bussed our own tables.
The restaurant had a lot of regulars, and I enjoyed building relationships with these mostly-older people. Seniors tend to be very particular about their food – it must be the exact same way it’s been for the past thirty years – so learning their likes and dislikes and who was easygoing and whose order you did not want to mess up was a big part of making your shift go smoothly.
I never felt unsocialized or cut off from the real world during my homeschool education, but my life primarily revolved around church and homeschool activities, so working in the restaurant industry was an eye-opening experience. There were an awful lot of words I’d never heard before, some of which might have been nice to know what they meant so I knew whether the remark was funny or nasty, but overall I’m glad I wasn’t constantly exposed to vulgarity growing up.
I was offered a manager position at one point, but knew I didn’t want to work the crazy schedule of a restaurant manager so I kept waitressing until the restaurant closed. I certainly never had trouble communicating or getting along with my coworkers, and was well-respected by those I worked with. They knew I was different, but that was primarily due to the fact that I was a Christian and acted like it – not really because I was homeschooled.