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Hello! I’m The Growing Artist, and I’ll be taking care of you this evening.

June 28, 2013

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I recently changed survival jobs and have found myself in the most stereotypical actress survival job- waitressing. I really enjoy my job, however it has been a learning experience! Waitressing is not as easy as I expected it to be. I give credit to the servers out there who make it look so effortless, because it takes a lot of focus, multitasking skill, and patience.

I loved reading The Enterprising Actor’s “What I Learned from My Survival Job” Series. I think there are definitely a lot of tips and tricks you can take away from a survival job and apply them to your acting career. Here are some of the things I have learned from working as a waitress. They are things that can be applied not only to my everyday life, but my acting career.

Lesson #1: Write EVERYTHING down. I am terrible about making lists and notes. Since I began waitressing, I have realized the importance of writing EVERYTHING (and I mean everything) down. When I first starting waitressing, I didn’t write down details. I wrote down the orders, but nothing else. Sometimes I even forgot to write down the table number- which isn’t a big deal if there are only a couple of tables to take care of, but the minute it starts to get busy- there is no way I’m going to remember what table ordered the Caesar Salad and Chicken Fingers. Now, I always make sure I take down the table number, as well as an initial for the color of each customer’s shirt. I’m terrible with remembering a face, so I need to find a way to remember each individual customer’s order. That way, I can make my delivery more personal- the Chicken Fingers go to the guy in red (“R”) at Table 5, rather than just making a generic “Chicken Fingers?” announcement to find out who initially ordered them.  Plus, if the kitchen has run out of Chicken Fingers, I know exactly who to approach in order to substitute the order. I also do this with Take-Out orders, because people often place their order, leave, and then return 15 minutes later to pick it up. If the place is full, it’s much easer to remember the Take-Out order goes to the guy in blue. It narrows down the many possibilities.

How I Apply It: I recently took a gigantic piece of poster board and taped it to my bedroom wall. I then wrote down my To-Do list as well as my long-term goals. When I write my To-Do lists on little pieces of paper or in a notebook, they just tend to get lost. This is a more in-my-face, no distractions way of focusing on the things I need to accomplish. I have learned to write down every little thing I may want to try in order to reach my goals. It’s better to write my To-Do list down as I think of it and narrow it down later. As I accomplish my goals, I cross them off- or if they are long-term goals, I write down dates that I accomplished that goal.

Lesson #2: Wear good shoes. Being on my feet for long shifts- sometimes up to 15 1/2 hours at a time, I definitely need something with good support. I also need something with good track. I have slipped and fallen right on my bum before while working. We use a lot of oil at the restaurant. Once that stuff spills- it’s IMPOSSIBLE to completely clean it up.

How I Apply It: I have learned this lesson previous to beginning my waitressing job, but it has definitely confirmed the theory. If I’m going to an audition where I’ll be wearing high heals (or even a certain pair of painful flats), I always wear a comfortable pair of shoes to the audition before changing into my audition shoes. There is no point in a painful transit. If I have to do a lot of walking or running up stairs- I don’t want to be attempting it in heels.

Lesson #3: Don’t take things personally. To be honest, I am still working on this lesson. I keep telling myself not to take things personally- but there is always that one customer or chef that kicks you when your down. You’re having a bad day, you’ve already made a couple mistakes, and Miss B. sits down at one of your tables. Well, Miss B. does not reply to your friendly “Hello! How are you today?”, she doesn’t even acknowledge you exist. Instead, she immediately asks for a glass of water. You smile saying, “Of course. No problem!” You quickly bring her a glass of water, only for her to look at it with disgust- saying, “Um… can I get some ice??” Note: Considering the restaurant I work in is not set up for extensive service- we sometimes don’t have ice available, or we don’t even have clean glasses to offer, and we “suggest” the customer take one of the bottled waters in the customer accessible fridge. Anyway, so you go out of your way to make sure Miss. B gets ice in her water- even though you know you will have to listen to the dish washer grumble later, and the manager will get on you about how we’re not making money on glasses of water! She then gives you a detailed order, which you take down. When the food has been prepared, you bring it to her table. She has a problem with the preparation of almost every dish. You take the food back to the kitchen, only to have the chefs grumble because they have to remake the dishes. You will probably be eating one of her denied dishes (which will be cold by the time you have time to eat one) on your break. At the end, you hope to at least get a decent tip. She gives you less than 10%. What can you do? You get good and bad. I have also waited on some extremely sweet and patient customers. I know I shouldn’t take the bad customers seriously- who knows why they act the way they do. Perhaps they’re going through a hard time, and it’s just easy to take it out on the server. It has definitely taught me to ALWAYS make sure I am nice to my server when I go out to eat. I always tried to be even before I started waitressing, but it makes me more aware to acknowledge when my server is going out of their way.

How I Apply It: Like I said, I am still working on this one, but I try to just laugh off the bad situations. Everybody goes through them no matter what job they have. I think this definitely applies to auditioning as well. I have auditioned for casting directors who looked at their phone the entire time I auditioned and never once acknowledged me in the room. I don’t know why this happens, but you can’t take it personally.

I hope to continue to learn from my survival job and apply the lessons I have learned to my acting. The more you experience in life, the more you can portray in your acting.

The Growing Artist Signature

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2013 10:27 am

    Waitressing! I don’t know how you do it. I have always avoided it at all costs!

  2. June 29, 2013 8:42 am

    I still refuse to do a typical waitress job, too, 😀 although I have a great admiration for people who do it, I just can’t – I’m happy working as door host (sitting people down, introducing the menu etc.) and assisting waiters during the lunch/dinner rush hours. I honestly don’t know how they manage. But I find that I’m learning a lot of useful skills that I see myself applying in auditions and gigs. I think any job and any life experience can only benefit actors. 🙂

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