“2. Serving is a noble profession with centuries-old roots in cultures from around the world.”
To some, waiting on tables is what people do while waiting to do something else. It’s the go-to job for college students, aspiring actors/actresses, housewives looking for extra cash, and semi-retirees or seasonal workers. In this country, the general opinion of waitstaffs across the board is that they don’t really care about what they do and they are often ashamed of it.
This is disappointing. The nobility of service goes back thousands of years. Waiters/Waitresses, (or the more gender-generic Servers), can trace their roots back through the household staffs of Edwardian gentry, castles and courts of kings and emperors in Europe and Asia, even going back to ancient Egypt. In Sunday School, I learned a lot about the importance of service in general. One of my favorite quotes is in Luke 22:25-27, where Jesus emphasizes his own passion for serving.
“Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone’s friends. But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn’t it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant.”
One of the more recent influences on my growing respect for those who serve came from a Master Sommelier I met through work. Ron Edwards has become known as one of the most “approachable wine ambassadors” as an established member of the exclusive Court of Master Sommeliers, making him one of 214 experts worldwide who have achieved the prestigious Master Sommelier credential. There are numerous accolades and accomplishments in his bio, but my favorite part is found at the bottom.
“Master Edwards is also a passionate proponent of others centered, risk oriented service. He is regularly engaged by restaurants and hotels to inspire frontline employees and managers. His enthusiasm regarding the nobility of service, and how to live it, is infectious. Ron makes a positive difference in the service culture of each business that he touches.”
I learned about this from attending his presentations as part of Cooper’s Hawk’s advanced wine training. His words further cemented my belief in the importance of the role of service in my life and the lives of others.
At the restaurant level, the server is the pivot point, the lynch pin, key to a successful experience. A guest will be directly or indirectly impacted by every employee working, but their greatest interaction will occur with the server. The server bears the most responsibility for the guest’s comfort, well-being, and satisfaction. Made incredibly more complicated by the diversity of guests that come through the door each day, a successful server has to genuinely care about his/her guests. Regardless of their resources, their dietary needs, or their appreciation and level of respect for his/her role, a server is there to serve, to put the focus on the guest during the entirety of their time together.
Everyday, I wear a ring with the Superman symbol on it. It was given to me by my best friend many years ago. People often ask me about it and I give many answers as to why. The one I give most commonly is, “It reminds me to always be the hero.” To me, that’s what serving is. A heroic feat to be accomplished every day in every part of my life, whether I’m on the clock or not. I am a server and that is a noble thing to be. Enjoy!