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The demands of customers, being on your feet the entire shift and little base pay make waitressing a difficult job. Although an experienced waitress understands how to deal with frustration, a part-time waitress or a teenager waitressing for the summer might not be at the job long enough to figure it out.
Waitressing means walking throughout your entire shift. Leg cramps, in addition to knee, back and feet issues, can happen. In order to combat these medical problems, wear proper-fitting, supportive shoes with an arch. In addition, a waitress carries her tray with her wrist extended for a great portion of her shift. This can cause repetitive strain injuries and lead to soft-tissue pain and inflammation. If left untreated, a waitress is susceptible to conditions such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.
Most waitresses get a base minimum-wage pay, which depends on the state you live in. To boost that pay, a waitress relies on tips, which she pays taxes on. A good attitude and efficient service helps boost tips, but the best way to get more money is to get orders right, go the extra mile refilling drinks before being asked, showing your face often, but not too much, and making right anything that goes wrong. Some customers always tip below 15 percent to 20 percent no matter how wonderful the service. In addition, some restaurants have the waitstaff tip the bus boys and bartender, too, which can cut down on take-home pay.
Psychological strain comes with a waitressing job. Remembering the menu, drink orders, specials and any requests can be stressful. If a customer complains or is unsatisfied, for example, it's up to the waitress to make the experience better, even when the complaint is about the food. Sometimes a customer is rude, leaving the waitress to think quickly on her feet or feel guilty or upset. As a waitress, it's important to remember that not all people are understanding and, sometimes, their impatience will be directed at you. Remain calm and do what you can to rectify the situation.
A female waitress can be discriminated against easily. In general, people tend to tip more to attractive waitresses. Waitresses in male-oriented restaurants, such as Hooters, get more tips per hour than a waitress serving lunch at a family-friendly restaurant, for example. In addition, women are subjected to being hit on -- while doing their job and pretending like it does not matter -- or treated like they're beneath the customer. If a waitress feels this happening, it's best to get a manager involved and ask to switch tables without the customer knowing.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.